Still reeling from DWG KIA’s Mid-Season Invitational loss, it’s back to square one for Korean sides as they look to put the region back on top as the strongest in the world
Still reeling from DWG KIA’s Mid-Season Invitational loss, it’s back to square one for Korean sides as they look to put the region back on top as the strongest in the world. To earn a chance to do so at this season’s World Championship, they must first conquer their domestic competition in the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) where 10 sides will battle it out for 3 Worlds spots and 1 LCK trophy.
The LCK Summer split begins on Wednesday 9th June, starting with the regular season. The regular season is played out using a double round-robin where all matchups are decided by best-of-three series.
All games are currently set to be played offline at Riot’s LoL PARK in South Korea’s capital, Seoul, and a reduced attendance is to finally be allowed back into the venue to spectate.
The regular season will conclude on Sunday 15th August and the top 6 of the 10 sides will move on to the playoff stage. Playoffs are usually held a week or two after the regular season is completed and a grand final would normally be held in some form of arena. Currently, with COVID-19 making such plans much more difficult, final dates and locations for playoffs have not yet been announced.
Although the playoff format has also not yet been confirmed, it will likely be unchanged from the new format that was only introduced for the Spring split at the beginning of this season.
That format sees the quarter-finals kicking off the knockout bracket by pitting 3rd against 6th and 4th against 5th. The 1st and 2nd seeds from the regular season earn byes to the semi-final, where the 1st seed has the added luxury of choosing which quarter-final winner they will go up against. The winners from each semi-final go on to the grand final, where Korea’s latest champion will be crowned and a Worlds 2021 favourite will be christened.
As is often the case between the mid-year, Spring to Summer off season, very few roster moves were seen as teams instead look to build on the rosters already constructed and aim to build the teams’ overall strength and synergy.
As a result, it comes as no surprise to see Spring champions DWG KIA enter the Summer split as the overwhelming favourites. Up until their MSI final loss to China’s RNG, DWG had won their last four tournaments in a row (including 2 LCK titles and 1 World Championship), and despite their mid-season disappointment, it will still take a huge upset to see them knocked off of Korea’s top spot.
Their biggest challengers for the domestic title will likely be Spring runners up Gen.G who have finished in the top 3 of the LCK in the last 3 splits. Their lineup includes the likes of former MVP Clid, former All-Pro BDD and former World Champion Ruler, all of whom will be looking to rise back to the heights they have previously reached with different rosters.
Another obvious contender comes in the form of 3 time Worlds winning organisation T1, who sports all-time great Faker in the mid lane. Despite stumbling in the Spring split while constantly chopping and changing their roster, the side looked much more settled in the later stages after deciding on a regular 5 and will hope to continue building on that momentum heading into this crucial stage of the season.
Third place in Spring, Hanwha Life Esports will also look to make a charge in Summer, led by Chovy in the mid lane who is often heralded as the best in his role over recent seasons. Joining them as a team hopeful of improving this split is previously fifth-placed DRX. The team will see their infamous, yet often successful head coach cxMax return to oversee his side after a 5-month suspension following allegations of violence and verbal abuse during his time with Griffin from 2017 to 2019.
Having seen them win the last two LCK splits, predicting DWG KIA as the eventual winner this time around may seem like the easy choice. However, the team’s clear dominance of the region during this time is too much to bet against and I’d honestly rate their chances ahead of the rest of the teams in their region combined!
Losing superstar top laner Nuguri to the LPL’s FunPlus Phoenix looked like what could have been the beginning of the end for the side’s reign, however, despite failing to win MSI, the team still looked as strong as ever domestically with Khan doing a superb job at plugging the top lane hole.