Ten hopeful teams entered the LCK Summer split, with the top three sides earning their place at this years’ Worlds as they all look to put Korea back on top and prove that the region is once again the strongest.
The region with the most World Championship victories, League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) has now not seen an international winner for more than two years. Ten hopeful teams entered the LCK Summer split, with the top three sides earning their place at this years’ Worlds as they all look to put Korea back on top and prove that the region is once again the strongest.
As Griffin’s rise to success took place over the last two years, DAMWON Gaming was much more subtly making their way up the LCK food chain and has finally seen their hard work culminate in a Korean championship. Back in 2018, then a Challengers Korea side, DAMWON was known for being a top opponent for scrims by Western teams and their LCK debut for 2019 was eagerly anticipated. Though they failed to reach the top two of the LCK in 2019, their improvement has been steady with key top/mid duo Nuguri and Showmaker staying with the team throughout.
The introduction of Ghost in the bottom lane has proven to be the final piece of the puzzle after he was made the starting ADC ahead of the Summer split. Since then, DAMWON have dominated their region and finished the regular season top of the table with a 16-2 record, losing only to second place DRX and third place Gen.G. As the LCK regular season is played out using best of three series, looking at DAMWON’s individual match record is perhaps even more staggering as they won 34 and lost only 5. This means that, aside from the 2-1 losses to DRX and Gen.G, the team won 13 of their 18 series with a perfect 2-0 scoreline.
Topping the regular season standings gave DAMWON a playoff bye straight to the gauntlet final where they were up against second seed DRX. It was here that DAMWON Gaming’s dominance fully showed itself as they swept DRX 3-0 despite the latter boasting superstars of their own in the likes of Chovy and Deft.
Winning the series not only crowned DAMWON as the latest LCK champion, but in doing so they have also deservedly earned a first seed spot at the World Championship group stage for this year’s tournament in China.
Although there was a clear skill discrepancy between first and second place (showed by the 3-0 final scoreline), the second vs third matchup of DRX vs Gen.G in the playoff semi-final proved much more hotly contested.
Game 1 was Chovy’s to carry as he flexed his muscles with a 10/2/2 performance where he all but completely nullified Bdd’s Twisted Fate to finish the game with a 4k gold lead in his lane alone. Not to be dissuaded by the first match, Gen.G hit back in game 2 to level things 1-1 in the fastest match of the series while DRX was held to a measly 3 kills in 25 minutes.
Gen.G carried the momentum through to game three, this time only giving up 4 kills, as another sub-30 minute victory gave them the lead in the tie for the first time through a game where Rascal and Clid’s Volibear/Hecarim duo dominated.
Unfortunately for Gen.G, however, tournament realm server issues meant that their momentum was abruptly halted as a long delay took place before game 4. With a wait of up to 4 hours discussed, the sides instead chose to carry out the match on the live server despite an unavoidable change in patch from 10.16 to 10.17.
Though this didn’t lead to a huge change in pick/ban behaviour, it did lead to an overall shift in the series as DRX was able to re-compose themself to claw the series back to 2-2.
Finally, game 5 saw Gen.G’s Bdd take a more supportive approach in picking up Karma for the mid lane and perhaps indicating an intent to play around ADC Ruler’s Kalista. This opened up control for opponent Chovy’s Sylas pick, one that saw him secure the most kills in the game and ultimately book his side a place in the grand final against DAMWON.
Boasting an outrageous 16 KDA for the regular season, DAMWON Gaming mid laner Heo “ShowMaker” Su was the deserving winner of this splits MVP award along with the ₩ 5,000,000 prize that came with it. Showmaker was not only the safest mid laner with the lowest average deaths (0.74), but he also had the highest kill participation (71.5%) in his role. This highlights his willingness and ability to aid his team around the map, while his varied champion pool shows this with roaming picks such as Twisted Fate, Galio and Corki while also showcasing lane dominant champions as he picked up wins with the likes of Jayce and Lucian.
To stand out in a league where his role is stacked with stars like Faker, Chovy and Bdd, Showmaker has proved himself as one of the World’s best and will be a frightening prospect for any World Championship opponents.
DAMWON Gaming to win the LCK
Despite being one of the stronger sides, very few would have tipped DAMWONG to be realistic contenders in a league with T1, DRX and Gen.G also involved. They had failed to reach the finals in each of their three playoff appearances prior and had seemingly not made significant roster changes that could propel them enough this time around.
However, the consistent improvement of their young talent finally took them above and beyond the competition, eventually winning the split with ease and heading to Worlds as the clear strongest side in their region.