Image credit: LoL Esports
The League of Legends Championship Korea (LCK)’s first seed, DAMWON Gaming, have beaten the League of Legends Pro League (LPL)’s third seed, Suning, on Oct. 31 3-1 in the finals, to become the 2020 World Champions.
DAMWON Gaming have capped their 2020 World Championship campaign dropping three games throughout the tournament: one game to JD Gaming in Group B, one to G2 Esports in the semifinals, and one to Suning in the finals.
In their latest series, DAMWON progressively ramped up in intensity in front of the Pudong Stadium’s crowd, one that heavily favored their opponents throughout its duration. They proved their resilience in the longest game of the series, Game 1, and their decisiveness in the shortest ones, Games 3 and 4.
In the first game, Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon proved that he had grown leaps and brounds from his 2019 days as he accepted the tank assignment, playing Ornn in a teamfight composition alongside Graves, Orianna, Ashe and Pantheon – with Heo “ShowMaker” Su’s Orianna serving as the core damaging component. However, Suning were the ones dictating the pace through their successful skirmishes and their mistakes.
Ultimately, Suning’s mistakes were more costly; a 21:30 team fight around Infernal Drake soul saw them botch a flank and get aced, conceding the soul to DAMWON. Later, after claiming Baron Nashor, better Drake setup allowed them to claim the elder drake at 30:40, only to get aced 5-for-1 within a minute. From that moment onward, DAMWON dominated the teamfights, claiming Baron Nashor at Minutes 35 and 42, Elder Drake at the 37-minute mark, and the game after 44 minutes of action. In the process, ShowMaker ended the game with a 8/1/11 KDA line, participating in 19 of his team’s 21 kills.
However, Game 2 went the opposite way, most markedly in the top side. Although Chen “Bin” Ze-Bin’s efforts in Game 1 were rendered fruitless, his Fiora performance on Game 2 – one capped with a Pentakill in the end of the game – caused an uproar on social media.
Overlooked were the performances of teammates Xiang "Angel" Tao and Lê "SofM" Quang Duy, who routinely picked apart DAMWON’s carry threats, ShowMaker’s Lucian and Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun’s Aphelios and bought time for Bin to scale, and Suning’s resilience as they survived the early pressure of Canyon’s Evelynn, and as they secured Cloud Drake soul at the 29-minute mark in a 3v2 situation. Those events ultimately bought time for Bin to scale to Trinity Force, Ravenous Hydra and Death’s Dance at the 32-minute mark – enough firepower to end the game on a 10/1/4 KDA and to score the first pentakill at a Worlds final.
Despite Suning’s best efforts, Games 3 and 4 went DAMWON’s way as Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu took over on Graves and Kindred. However, the Chinese team’s resilience differed between the two games.
In Game 3, Angel’s Akali created chaos during teamfights, allowing Suning to secure Baron Nashor at the 23:33 mark and the Elder Drake at 29:21, and contained Nuguri’s Kennen in 1-3-1 assignments. Eventually, DAMWON broke through on Minute 32 after snagging a kill on Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Chieh’s stray Alistar before forcing a 5-vs.-4 Baron Nashor situation, one that ended in a 3-for-1 and the game.
As for Game 4, it was the most lopsided one of the series, as DAMWON secured leads in the top and bot lanes, and as Canyon’s Kindred (8/0/7 KDA) hulked their way across Summoners’ Rift. Nuguri’s Ornn (2/0/12 KDA) and BeryL’s Pantheon (4/3/4) frequently started team fights or shut down escape paths, and ShowMaker’s Syndra played decoy to Ghost’s Caitlyn (9/1/5 KDA) and Canyon decimated their foes. Try as they might, skirmishes further swelled DAMWON’s lead to an unrecoverable extent. After 27 minutes of action, they sealed Korea’s return at the top of international League of Legends competition.
The Korean organization has allowed the LCK to claim the world championship for the first time since 2017, when Samsung Galaxy beat SK Telecom T1 3-0 in the finals. The final was also the first to end in a result other than 3-0 since 2016, as Suning’s draft denied DAMWON the opportunity to sweep them.
DAMWON steadily improved from 2019, when they lost to G2 Esports in the 2019 Worlds quarterfinals 3-1. Their signing of Ghost proved determinant as the bot laner allowed the team to play around him as a reliable lategame carry. In turn, that allowed Canyon to be nimbler around the map, his ensuing decision-making without the threat of bot lane collapse earning him the 2020 Worlds Finals MVP trophy.