LCK Summer 2021 Review
review
LCK Summer 2021 Review

After DWG KIA brought the World Championship title back to Korea’s LCK last season, the region’s top sides once again battled it out to become the best in their league and earn qualification to this season’s Worlds to defend the crown.

Lee "Couple Sodi Pops" Jones
Freelance Esports Writer
30th Aug, 21·☕️ 7 min read
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After DWG KIA brought the World Championship title back to Korea’s LCK last season, the region’s top sides once again battled it out to become the best in their league and earn qualification to this season’s Worlds to defend the crown.

Tournament Winner: DWG KIA

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Having dominated the last two LCK splits while picking up a World Championship trophy in between, DWG KIA were unsurprisingly the strongest in Korea once again. However, a brief early season did give a slither of hope to their competition.

Despite opening the first week of the split with 1 win and 1 loss, the team decided not only to bench some starting members but also chose to move star mid laner ShowMaker to the bot lane and jungler Canyon to mid in a bizarre roleswap. Perhaps even odder was that it almost seemed to work! DWG took their next two series against Afreeca Freecs and DRX, however a subsequent loss to Fredit BRION and a win over Hanwha Life was enough to see the team reverse the changes.

The remainder of the regular season went more according to plan for DWG, ending top of the table with a 12-6 record by the close of the regular season. Despite being joint in wins/losses with Gen.G and Nongshim RedForce, DWG managed to come out on top with a superior game record across their series (29-14).

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Topping the league meant that DWG KIA earned a playoff bye straight into the semi-finals and was able to choose from Nongshim and T1 as their opponents. The holders chose the former and looked to have made a smart decision as they dispatched NS 3-0 to reach the grand final.

In between DWG and their 3rd successive LCK trophy was the formidable T1, whose mid laner Faker is the only person other than DWG coach kkOma to win 9 LCK splits. The winner of the tie would be the first to earn a 10th.

The series started well for DWG KIA, taking the opening two games to secure an early match point despite doing so in fairly scrappy affairs. Game 3 was an obvious worry as T1 turned on the style to earn their first victory in the series’ shortest game. However it was DWG who secured the title in game 4, despite T1 having started the stronger, as Faker’s side seemingly threw their lead with a questionable Ryze ultimate that ultimately led to DWG’s comeback.

Featured Match: DWG KIA 3-1 T1 (Playoff Final)

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A series to decide the first 10-time LCK winner, kkOma and Faker’s squads were sure to put on an exhilarating display in the playoff grand final.

Game 1 started in a dramatic, scrappy fashion with numerous turret dives in the opening minutes as DWG earned a small gold lead. T1 answered back by winning a skirmish near the rift herald before both teams continued to fight across the map during the early game.

Continued scraps slowly stretched DWG KIA’s gold lead, however stalling into the mid/late game eventually saw T1 pick up successive barons and claw their way back. It was the second baron, however, that ultimately led to T1’s defeat as DWG were able to clean up the subsequent teamfight and take the 1-0 lead.

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Game 2 began more cagey, only seeing a handful of kills in the opening 10 minutes as T1 accrued a slim lead. At this point the game completely changed, both sides were once again up for a bloody match and kills began to flow as they did in game 1. T1’s Canna was particularly targeted, having been dived a number of times, as he racked up 5 deaths alone within 16 minutes.

DWG looked to take control during the mid game as a number of objectives and fights went in their favour in quick succession. Within a few minutes they were well on top; taking dragons, a baron and a 4k gold lead. A further baron at 29 minutes was the beginning of the end and DWG’s stranglehold on the game eventually saw them destroy the nexus in 35 minutes and move the series to match point.

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With their backs against the wall, T1 began a resurgence in game 3. The three-time World champions earned a steady gold lead, despite neither side picking up a kill, in the opening 8 minutes, however the next 13 minutes saw T1 stomp DWG into submission to take the series to game 4.

T1 continued their momentum into the opening of game 4, focusing on veteran top laner Khan (playing his final LCK series before mandatory military services) to accrue a healthy lead in the opening stages. The match continued into the later game as T1 reached the 30-minute mark with a modest 3k gold lead along with an important infernal soul-point.

As DWG looked for a way back into the game, their opponents seemingly handed them one on a silver platter. A Faker Ryze ultimate behind DWG suddenly split the T1 lineup and allowed the leaders to make a charge for their 3rd and final win. Although the gold lead remained in T1’s favour immediately after their mishap, the damage had already been done to their momentum and DWG decisively took control, securing baron and barrelling down the mid lane to end the match, series and LCK season as the back-to-back-to-back Korean champions.

Featured Player: Peanut (Nongshim RedForce)

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The only active player remaining from the famous ROX Tigers lineup of 2016, Peanut is back to his old form with Nongshim after ups and downs on other lineups since. The veteran jungler has now been crowned as the Most Valuable Player in the LCK this split, as well as making the All Pro Team, after playing an integral part in his team’s unexpected 3rd place regular season finish.

The three-time LCK winner finished the split with the second-highest KDA (5.75) and gold per minute (361) as well as the highest CS per minute (6.74) of all junglers. Even more impressive is the fact that he did so while also boasting a pool of 14 unique champions used - 2 more than his next closest competitor.

Best Bet

DWG KIA to win the LCK

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Undoubtedly the most obvious choice for the overall winner ahead of the split, DWG KIA allowed no upsets in securing their 3rd successive LCK title. Despite their early blip in form, the World Champions were on top throughout and went from strength the strength as the latter stages of the season approached.

Their ability to ensure they’re at their peak during the most important series is a sign of great champions, and this control will do wonders for their upcoming World Championship run as they look to avoid burnout while ensuring they can perform to their best when it matters most.