Will the LPL continue its rain or will LCK be back on top once again?
After one month of almost daily League of Legends play, the League of Legends World Championship will come to its conclusion in the form of Chinese representatives from the League of Legends Pro League (LPL), Suning, facing off against Korea’s League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK), DAMWON Gaming. These two teams will face off on Saturday, Oct. 31 to decide who will hoist the Summoner’s Cup.
What's to come - setting the stage
This final has the Cinderella story of Suning who went from 11th place in the LPL’s Spring Split — not getting to touch playoffs — to getting themselves at the biggest stage and representing their home country on home soil. While on the other side it has the titans of DAMWON Gaming. There isn’t much to be said about DAMWON Gaming apart from that they seem to be dominance incarnate. Throughout the whole tournament they’ve only dropped two games — one in the group stage to JD Gaming after having clinched quarterfinals and one against G2 Esports in the semifinals.
There is just so much to say about them Suning. Suning is a team full of young up and coming rookies who have come to prove themselves at the only international tournament of the year — due to COVID-19 cancelling the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI). You have the likes of Tang “huanfeng” Huan-Feng who went absolutely ballistic in the quarterfinals match against JD Gaming. There’s also Lê "SofM" Quang Duy, this jungler is a certified monster, he can do everything and anything. Both Chen “Bin” Ze-Bin and Xiang “Angel” Tao came up huge in the semifinals match as well.
The only player with Worlds Championship experience on this Suning squad is Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh. Even then former League of Legends Master Series (LMS) star hasn’t gotten to this stage of the tournament — getting past the group stage and going all the way to the finals. After defeating his former Flash Wolves teammate from the LMS, Hung “Karsa” Hao-Hsuan, in the semifinals, he looks to cement himself as one of the greats after all of his long tenure of great play.
Suning have gone up many levels at Worlds, going from that 11th place LPL Spring Split team to this team that could possibly win it all. All the way from the group stage to playoffs, Suning displayed a variety of different tools. They can 1-3-1, they can play around two lanes with a pick comp, the list goes on and on. Couple that with them having very solid laners that can all carry and perform well in their positions.
This well-rounded play showed as they were able to top G2 Esports in the group stage — a team who got to the Worlds finals last year and won MSI last year. They also defeated JD Gaming in the quarterfinals who were favoured to win and upset one of the tournament favourites in Top Esports. The more Suning played, the more Suning showed why they aren’t to be trifled with and that this is a meta that is very well suited for them. Suning brings something to the table that DAMWON Gaming hasn’t possibly really faced yet, at least not at this strong of a level.
When it comes to DAMWON Gaming, they just seem unbeatable when they decide to be. They are far and above their LCK brethren both regionally and internationally. It showed as they mopped the floor with DRX in the quarterfinals — a repeat of the LCK Summer Split finals. DAMWON Gaming doesn’t do anything without purpose, from stealing a camp, to stealing a buff, to taking an objective and even getting a kill. This team picks and chooses what they want to go for, they get it and they win the game — most of the time the enemy team has no say on the matter.
DAMWON Gaming has some of the best laners in the world right now with Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon in the top lane and Heo “ShowMaker” Su in the mid lane. And what people used to think was the weak side of DAMWON Gaming in the bottom lane, it’s no longer there. Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun and Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee have stepped up, proving that they aren’t to be punished easily and they can also carry the game alongside their solo laners in Nuguri and ShowMaker. Add all of those players together and have them play around their — what is probably an MVP finals candidate — in Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu, this team is just stacked from top to bottom.
It’s not gonna be easy for Suning to face off against this goliath that is DAMWON Gaming but the chances of this final being explosive are decently high.
Similarities to past Finals
When looking at this final and the road that led up to it, one can’t stop but compare it to past Worlds finals. Obviously, the go tos everyone will choose is when the LCK has toppled the LPL in the past. First in 2013 with what used to be SK Telecom T1 versus Royal Club, that showed us a glimpse of what would be Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and SK Telecom T1’s dominance for years to come. As well as show us one of the League of Legends GOATs (Greatest of All Time) in Jian “Uzi” Zi-hao. This was a dominant run, only dropping three matches — one in groups versus the LPL’s Oh My God and two in semifinals versus another LCK team, NaJin Black Sword.
The finals one can probably most compare it to is the 2014 Worlds finals. As it had a supremely dominant Korean team in Samsung White — like DAMWON Gaming has been — matched up against a Chinese team that also had a trek during the playoffs at Worlds in Star Horn Royal Club. Samsung White only dropped one match leading up to the finals which was a consensus “throwaway game” for the team against Team SoloMid. While on the other hand, Star Horn Royal Club only dropped one game in the group stage but had 3-2s both in quarterfinals and semifinals leading up to eventually being defeated 3-1 by Samsung White.
Perhaps we’ll see a similar fate for the LPL team once again, but seeing the past two years of pure Chinese dominance, one thing that fans, analysts and even pro players alike can hope for is a good match.
Images via Riot Games