2020 World Finals Results Are In!
For the first time since the 2017 World Championship Grand Final, the League of Legends Champions Korea finally returned to the biggest stage in Damwon Gaming in an attempt to hoist the Summoner’s Cup once again. They went up against Suning, the tournament’s dark horse from the League of Legends Pro League in China, looking to take the trophy for their region’s third consecutive win. In an action-packed and highly entertaining best of five, Damwon Gaming proved to be the better team after taking the series 3 to 1 and becoming the 2020 League of Legends World Champions. Here are some of my thoughts regarding the League of Legends World Finals 2020.
As mentioned, the series was a lot closer than the 3 to 1 score line suggests.
In the first game, both teams drafted scaling team fight compositions, which intended to shine in fights around objectives in the later stages of the game. While this was the intention for the most part, Damwon Gaming had the better early game, and Suning was simply unable to have the proper setup around objectives.
Damwon got a very early Infernal Drake soul, and the game could have closed there. However, Suning was quick to punish an over-forced side lane play from Damwon that allowed the LPL representatives to get a Baron buff and allowed them to posture for the Elder Drake, which they were able to take. Despite these efforts, Suning lost. This meant that they simply lost both buffs. Damwon was more decisive and had better setups around the next Elder Drake and Baron Nashor Spawns, and they emerged victorious from game 1.
Game 2 featured a relatively crazier draft phase, with Damwon Gaming picking themselves an Evelynn and Lucian combination. Suning chose Fiora for Chen “Bin” Ze-Bin in the top lane, and a Rengar for superstar Vietnamese jungler Lê “SofM” Quang Duy. Suning drafted an immensely difficult composition to pilot, but the crazier thing in this game is that SofM was building tank items on Rengar with Conqueror as his keystone, and Bin played team fights perfectly as Fiora, a champion people often think of as something that is for split pushing only. As it appears, Rengar is a decent matchup into Evelynn as his ultimate allows him to pinpoint Evelynn’s location even when stealthy. This game displayed both the creativity of Suning and their mechanical excellence, culminating in a pent kill for Bin as they destroy Damwon Gaming’s base.
Game 3 featured another seemingly crazy draft: Suning first picked the Nidalee, which allowed Damwon Gaming to get Jhin and Syndra. They then followed with an Akali counter pick and a Jax blind pick. Jax is often conceived as a more situational pick and Damwon answered this pick later in the draft with Kennen.
For the most part, the game did revolve around the top lane matchup of Jax vs Kennen, as Damwon shut down Bin’s Jax early on in the game. Damwon was able to get a very early Cloud Drake Soul in this game as well and were able to get a pick on SofM’s Nidalee near the Baron, which they then started. Suning, despite being a man down, decided to contest Damwon in the pit, and with some great work on the side of Xiang “Angel” Tao’s Akali.
Suning was able to secure the Baron following this sequence of events, which enabled Suning to stay in the game for longer, giving their carries more time to get items. It was starting to look like the tides had turned towards Suning’s favor, but Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon’s Kennen was able to spot Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh’s Alistar in their jungle, possibly attempting a flank. The team collapsed on SwordArt, which then snowballed into a Baron and the game win.
The fourth game was the most straightforward one in this series. Damwon Gaming got lane advantages throughout the early game: shut Bin’s Gangplank down, skirmished in the bottom lane, the top side river went in Damwon’s favor, and Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu was simply too far ahead for anyone in Suning to stop. They got a very early Infernal Dragon Soul and closed the series out from there.
Is the LCK Back?
While this was of course a victory from a South Korean team, one must be careful of claiming that another era of LCK dominance is upon us. If you look back at Damwon Gaming’s year, they were not even the best team in the LCK in Spring, and after the Midseason Cup, Damwon were more or less unopposed in summer split with a 16 to 2 match record and a 34 to 5 game record. They even cleanly swept DRX 3 to 0 in the LCK Summer Split Finals. This simply means that Damwon is miles ahead of their regional competition, and as a region, they are not “back”, but they have one strong team that can hopefully help all the others improve and be more competitive globally. Of course, that is assuming the members of this squad stay together—a lot of contracts in this team are about to expire, and other teams might put forward some offers that would be hard to resist.
If anything, Damwon’s victory just proves two things: First, great talent still comes out of the South Korean server, and all that has to be done is for this talent to be fostered and directed the right way for it to be expressed in the highest level of competition. Second, which is actually connected to the first point, Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun has persevered through the years from being relegated twice in teams like CJ Entus and BBQ Olivers, and is now a world champion. As viewers we should not be quick to judge that a player is not “good enough” whenever their team results are not so good.
To Suning, the Fallen Lions
Suning came in as the LPL’s third seed, with a relatively young roster, which seemed to be under the care of SwordArt. As is the case with teams with younger and relatively inexperienced members, many analysts claimed that they might not be able to keep up with the pressure and the consistency of opponents in the highest level of competition. And yet, they overcame every hurdle: Bin was a consistent carry threat throughout the tournament; SofM has proven his abilities to be world-class and his creative ideas for the game seemed to be effective; Angel, one touted to be more of a “role-player” within the team and has truly risen to the occasion, showing that he can compete with the best mid-laners in the world; SwordArt has shown that he has always been a world-class support and that his efforts have not been in vain through the years. And finally, Tang “Huanfeng” Huan-Feng—the boy from the seaside, has shown the capacity to carry despite the team’s claims that they often leave him to his own during the laning phase.
They have been a pleasant surprise to watch throughout the tournament. They went against the LEC’s first seed in G2 Esports in the group stages and they conquered that group, getting first place. They emerged victorious against one of the tournament favorites in JD Gaming in the quarterfinals, won against an opponent that they were not able to take down for the entire season in TOP Esports (another tournament favorite) and they put up a worthy fight against Damwon Gaming in the finals. Suning showed great adaptation in terms of their drafting and their gameplay. They have grown so much over the course of the tournament and it would surely be great to watch how this squad would further grow in the next season.
Worlds is now over, which means that the 2020 competitive season is now over. We now enter the dark depths of the offseason, where teams we love might never be the same again. There are several changes in the horizon for the game as well: the item system is going to receive an overhaul and there seems to be some changes on the horizon for jungle experience as well. Preseason will bring great changes to the game as we know it, and who knows which team will be the best from whatever meta comes out of it.