With 22 teams reduced to only two, the 2020 League of Legends World Championship comes to a close this Saturday with a series that is set to crown a new winner.
With 22 teams reduced to only two, the 2020 League of Legends World Championship comes to a close this Saturday with a series that is set to crown a new winner. Both sides entered the Shanghai-based tournament among the expected favourites, though only one will leave satisfied.
Hailing from China’s LPL, Suning will enter the Pudong Football Stadium as the clear home favourites where a reduced capacity crowd of approximately 6,000 fans will be backing them to bring the third successive Summoner’s Cup to their region.
Suning went into the knockout stage in the China-side of the bracket, where they faced both JD Gaming and LPL first seed Top Esports. Both series were not in Suning’s favour on paper, in particular the latter against a Top side that had beaten Suning 3-0 in the LPL playoffs earlier in the split. They managed to beat the pair against the odds, all after they had topped group A despite being a second seed where a tiebreaker over European champions G2 secured them first place.
Now facing DAMWON means that Suning will have come up against 3/4 of the top-seeded sides at the tournament, adding to the classic cliche that you must eventually beat the strongest teams if you are to win such a prestigious trophy.
On the opposite side of Summoner’s Rift, LCK hopefuls DAMWON Gaming look to bring the World title back to Korea for the first time since 2017 and halt China’s current reign before it becomes a dynasty.
The Summer split has proved extremely dominant for DAMWON so far, making light work of their LCK opposition (including two 3-0 wins over DRX) as well as dashing Europe’s World title hopes by beating G2 Esports 3-1 in the semi-final (with a sub-19 minute match to close out that series).
Spear-headed by solo lakers Nuguri and Showmaker, the side was first tipped for greatness during the 2018 World Championship, then a Challenger’s Korea team, as rumours were rife of their dominance in scrims over some of the best teams in the tournament. Though there have since been roster changes in the jungle and bot lane, the lineup remains almost the same and their core players have only gone from strength to strength.
The final step in their journey to greatness now awaits them; a best-of-five series where they themselves are the favourites against opponents who have shown their strength as underdogs already and will enter the final with the home crowd behind them.
Bin vs Nuguri
Nuguri made an immediate name for himself upon qualifying for the LCK, picking the now-removed Kleptomancy rune on almost every champion he played with the sheer confidence (sometimes over-confidence) that he would be able to dominate his lane against any opponent to the point where he made the rune worthwhile. His potential was further displayed during last year’s World Championship, beating Invictus Gaming’s TheShy, often considered one of the best ever top lakers, on two occasions during the group stage.
Though Nuguri has only performed as a pro since 2017 and at the top level since 2019, his opposite number Bin is even more inexperienced having only made his LPL debut this season. The eighteen-year-old grew up playing the game with his father, and even helped him out on occasion to by playing on his account when games weren’t going his way.
Both have shown their proficiency on the tournament’s meta picks (Gangplank, Camille, Ornn, Renekton etc.), however each also have their own favoured pick that the other has so far not touched. Bin holds a 100% win rate with Jax while Nuguri has the same with Kennen, and this subtle difference along with varied champion pools should lead to interesting pick/ban interactions.
SofM vs Canyon
Having initially plied his trade in the VCS, Vietnamese jungler SofM has spent the last nine splits in the LPL without significant success. The Spring split saw him finish 11th with Suning, however the decision to go with Bin as the starting top laner propelled the team to 4th in the Summer regular season and 3rd in the playoffs. Now qualifying for Worlds for the first time, SofM has finally earned the chance to show himself on a greater stage and has made a good account for himself so far.
His Lee Sin expertise have been particularly noteworthy, making stellar use of the champion through an unusual tank build including Knight’s Vow, Spirit’s Visage and Warmog’s Armor. A champion that usually drops off later in the game, SofM’s tankiness instead allowed himself to be a constant menace rather than a coin-flip ult-bot as the champion would be with regular Lethality/Black Cleaver items.
On the other side of the rift, DAMWON Gaming’s lesser experienced Canyon will look to take advantage of his strong laners to assert his dominance on the game. Though both junglers have played Graves the most at the tournament, Canyon has done so in 9/13 of his matches compared to SofM’s 5/15. Such a champion can be heavily dominant in jungle control, however he can also be reliant on the states of his laners who need to gain priority in order to allow him to invade. With both Nuguri and Showmaker on his side, Canyon will surely look to use this in his favour.
Having won both of their knockout series as underdogs so far, Suning will expect nothing other than to bring home the Summoner’s Cup when they leave the Pudong Football Stadium on Saturday.
Though their stature as underdogs could, in theory, mean that they can play without pressure, the expectation from their region (the largest of any) will be immense. China’s player and viewer bases dwarf all other regions and, as the LPL’s last hope this time around, the demands on Suning to perform for one more series will be immense.
Up against them is a DAMWON Gaming roster that had high expectations coming into the tournament and have so far shown that analysts were right to back them. Making light work of both DRX and G2 in the knockouts has set them up for what should be their toughest series of the tournament. DAMWON will also undoubtedly be feeling the pressure from back home as Korea’s first chance at winning a World Championship since Samsung Galaxy did so in 2017.
When trying to predict a winner, DAMWON’s level of play has simply seemed too clean to bet against. Though Suning have enjoyed their time as giant-killers throughout the tournament, DAMWON have looked a level above the sides that the LPL third seed have come up against so far and will be an entirely different task to take down.
Despite the fact that I’m going for DAMWON, I would still be rather surprised if Suning does not pick up at least one game themselves. Their performances have been among their best at the tournament and they’ll be no pushovers in this final series.