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  • Edward Brady

2022 League of Legends World Championship Quarters roundup: What’s at stake

- By Edward Brady

The World Championship (also known as Worlds) is the second of two yearly international tournaments in the League of Legends Esports scene, where players compete on franchised teams for fame, pride, a considerable salary, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash prizes.

24 teams from 11 regions across the globe will compete for the ultimate prize in LoL esports, the Summoner’s Cup. The tournament started with the play-in stage on September 29th, before advancing to the main stage groups which began on October 7th and eventually ended with the finals on November 5th.

The quarterfinals stage has concluded, and it was a mixed bag that leaned towards the better end. While the expected favorites in JD Gaming crushed Rogue with no resistance, and the T1/RNG series didn’t quite live up to the hype, Gen. G vs Damwon KIA, and EDG vs DRX were two of the best series in the game’s history back-to-back. With only 4 teams left, and 4 leaving us, let's look at what’s at stake for each of the competitors while reminiscing on the departing teams.

JD Gaming (LPL #1) – The last hope: Coming into the World Championship, the LPL is expected to dominate with all 4 teams being considered championship contenders. Their second seed, featuring Tian gets knocked out in what was expected to be an incredibly easy group, and the other teams fall soon enough to their hated rival that was underrated. Now, only their #1 seed stands to run the gauntlet and save the region’s reputation from the Korean onslaught.

Hey, this looks familiar!

While JD Gaming might be in almost the exact same position as 2021 EDG, there are some differences. There weren’t many blunders in the group stage, this team is the real deal. 369 Is looking like one of the best players in the world, Kanavi is putting on a jungle masterclass, the bot lane is a threat, and Yagao is a rock, looking to become the first-ever Chinese mid-laner to win a World Championship. This is very much a team that can win it all. However, their opponent is quite possibly the strongest team still left standing. As their opponents also only lost 1 game on their way here, the battle between T1 and JDG should be a must-watch clash of titans. With so much on the line for all involved, we can only hope it lives up to the hype.

T1 (LCK #2) – Returning to Glory:

T1 is throwing the game back to 2015. The most successful squad in history has ravaged through their competition with little to no difficulty. It hasn’t mattered who it is, aside from a fluke against Fnatic (that they corrected via brutal beatdown), T1 has not dropped a game at Worlds 2022. Despite what happened earlier this year, their match against Royal Never Give Up was a return to the status quo. Even when RNG found a lease on life, T1 against all odds snuffed it out.

With one of the youngest rosters in the world (only dragged up by Faker), T1 is looking to create, yet another dynasty. Gumayusi has regained his pre-MSI form, and Zeus has proven himself as the final piece of the puzzle. The 18-year-old has made his name on carry champions and coming up clutch when it matters most. Their match against T1 will be a must-watch league. Zeus vs 369 is the unofficial heavyweight title fight for the claim of “undisputed best top-laner in the world”. Only 2 matches stand between T1 and a return to the top. And they don’t seem intent on letting anything stop them.

Gen. G – Unfinished Business:

When looking at a player’s legacy in any sport, one of the first questions that come to mind is, “how many championships did they win?”. You can have all the stats and 2nd places in the world, but if you don’t take home that trophy, there will always be a lingering asterisk.

Gen. G seems to be key to fixing that asterisk for a whole heap of good players. Everyone aside from Peanut had their domestic woes solved back in the summer, and it’s time for them to repeat the process on the international stage. While Ruler is gunning for his 2nd Summoners Cup (a story in and of itself), the rest are attempting to get their first after many years of searching. Peanut was on the losing end of the original Madison Square Garden match of destiny back in 2016 and was on the SKT roster that lost the streak. Doran and Lehends are from the Griffin squad that exploded onto the scene only to shatter just as fast. And finally, Chovy isn’t just a former Griffin member seeking to join Viper in the Champion’s club, but someone who’s been in contention for best player in the world almost every year of his career. Bringing home, the big one could cement his status as the game’s next big superstar. This superteam is the favorite against DRX and the proverbial Goliath of the LCK. Just don’t let DRX put the rock between your eyes please.

DRX – The ultimate underdogs:

The only one out of the 24-team field to enter the tournament with a negative win rate, and the only one of the 8 LCK/LPL team’s that people didn’t consider a title contender, have quickly become one of the best underdog stories in years. Despite the expectations, this group of 5 is looking like a team of destiny. The (potential) last ride of Deft has been a wild one, and after game 2 featured one of the most insane inhibitor respawns in LoL history, it was looking like it was going to end by crashing and burning. But against all odds, DRX brought it back in what was only the second-ever reverse sweep! Deft and BeryL stood up to one of the best bot lanes in the world, Kingen and Pyosik defied perception with their performance, but the true star of the show was the man in the mid-lane Zeka. Over the course of their 3 victories, Zeka posted a KDA of 28/5/18 with the crowning jewel being game 5 where he solo killed Scout not once, not twice, but 5 times!

The Cinderella run is still going strong and Deft fans everywhere can only hope that the clock won’t strike midnight against Gen. G. Regardless, DRX have defied all expectations and punched well above their weight class. It is certainly a run to be proud of.

And now, a memorial to the fallen

Rogue (LEC #1) – The odd ones out: This year was a nice story, but it was always going to end here. Thematically, skill-wise, expectations-wise, and even with the asterisk that surrounds their group, Rogue simply did not belong in the group of 8. From the first draft to the final nexus, JDG was simply better in every way. Despite the shellacking, it’s hard to fault them too much. Any combination of LEC and LCS players would’ve gotten blasted into the next century. It’s just the unfortunate nature of “the gap”. Still, winning a title and having a quarterfinals appearance under their belt is a good way to send off the organization. KOI is getting a great group of 5 and coaching staff to enter the LEC next year.

…you are going to resign Odoamne right?

Royal Never Give Up (LPL #4) – Kryptonite:

This team simply cannot beat T1 at Worlds. Most teams can’t beat T1, but RNG has become infamous for their struggles against the Unkillable Demon King and his legion of superstars on the biggest stage. It’s a shame, given how good they looked most of the year, and that the meta shifted in GALA’s favor, but their old nemesis was there to take vengeance for MSI and one-up RNG once again. Even with seemingly everything in RNG’s favor during game 2, and the series poised to be a 5-game banger, T1 somehow won the elder fight, RNG collapsed, and they never recovered.

The Worlds woes for RNG continue. At this point who knows if they’ll ever break through and take that final step.

Damwon KIA (LCK #3) – Zero-sum game: Damwon KIA suffered from the same unfortunate truth as 2016 ROX Tigers, 2018 KT Rolster, and many traditional sports teams: in any great series that ends up as an instant classic, someone has to lose. Damwon played their hearts out, put on a show, and continued the legacy of banger LCK civil wars at Madison Square Garden. Canyon in particular all but hacked his PC and enabled “God mode”. But in the end, the reverse sweep was denied.

As penance, Damwon must give Canyon all of the money. It doesn’t matter that he is already under contract until 2023, give that man a blank check.

Edward Gaming (LPL #3)– Goliath felled: It’d be easy to just copy-paste DK’s rundown. EDG/DRX will be a series that is remembered for years and is on everyone’s must-watch list. It’s just sad someone had to lose it. This one is slightly more on EDG, given they were favored and were an inhibitor respawn away from losing 3-1. Even Viper trying to put the team on his back couldn’t save them when Scout got solo killed 5 times in game 5. There were clear points where the series slipped away from them. And given the underwhelming regular season and unexpected exit, we might see some significant changes to the former World Champions.

EDG, you got your one good tourney. Now back to your regularly scheduled program of international heartbreak.

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