The third quarterfinal of Worlds wraps up. Damwon KIA continue to impress.
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.
22 teams from 12 regions (The Vietnam Championship Series couldn’t send their 2 teams due to covid travel restrictions) will compete for the ultimate prize in LoL esports, the 70-pound Summoner’s Cup. The tournament started with the play-in stage on October 5th, before advancing to the main stage groups which will take begin on October 11th before eventually ending with the finals on November 6th.
The third quarterfinal has concluded, and Damwon KIA are just too good. This is their world, and we are all just living in it. Let’s see how it went down
TLDR: The last hope of EU is broken systematically by a dynasty in the making.
Summary: Damwon KIA are something special. They were a tournament favorite coming in. People fully expected them to defend their title with the only challenge being 1 or 2 other teams. They were very dominant on their road to victory last year.
This is just ridiculous.
Game 1 was barely even a match. It was even up until Damwon got the rift herald at 9 minutes and lost nothing for it on the other side of the map. From there, DK quickly turned it into a 2k gold lead that MAD would never get back and would run over MAD Lions in every single fight. Khan was not shut down early on the Gwen and outscaled Armut. Canyon made Lee Sin look broken with good movement and map play, while Elyoya couldn’t keep up. Humanoid was the only point of power, and even he was outmatched by his counterpart Showmaker. The bot lane went all Damwon KIA’s way as Ghost was untouchable on Miss Fortune while doing massive amounts of damage, while BeryL would land big Rakan engages every time he went in. The game only lasted 29 minutes, DK ended with a 10k gold lead, and all MAD Lions got were 3 kills and 4 towers. This was supposed to be a match between the two best teams from each region, and Damwon KIA made MAD Lions look like a mid-tier LCK team.
MAD Lions were not ready to go without a fight and flipped the script in game 2. Great plays by Elyoya on Jarvan IV, Kaiser’s Rakan, and Armut’s Jayce would reveal the game plan. Shut down Khan’s Kennen at all costs. They made multiple trips to the top lane to put him in an early hole and allow the rest of MAD to get ahead. Ten and a half minutes in, Khan lost his first tower and the herald charged on the 2nd, he had died 3 times and he was down almost 30 cs to Armut. Elyoya already having his mythic item and 4 kills, roamed around the map to get everyone else ahead. While Damwon would fight back by making some key picks thanks to Canyon’s Lee Sin, MAD Lions at 23 minutes had an almost 7k gold lead and a 13-6 kill lead. MAD were showing cracks by overextending, but Armut and Elyoya were 1 full item up on their counterparts. By the 30-minute mark, MAD had mountain soul (which would have likely crippled Ghost’s Jhin) on the table and a massive lead. There should not have even been a way for them to lose that game. This looked like MAD was going to make it a series.
Unfortunately for them, MAD Lions made one, fatal, mistake. And that was all Damwon needed to win the game.
At 29 minutes, Damwon KIA forced a baron take while MAD Lions had little vision. This was so they could pick a fight on their terms and force MAD to walk into them. This is where the mistake happened, courtesy of Armut. He didn’t track his lane opponent. And that was all Khan needed to do this.
EU and Korean Kennen ultimates. They go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Even though MAD got soul afterwards, the momentum completely swung in DK’s favor. Ghost was huge, Khan was back in the game, BeryL was still finding engages, and Showmaker had scaled to late game. Canyon played beautifully from a deficit. DK’s teamfight comp came online and completely ran over the EU hopefuls. Even when MAD thought they found a good fight by punishing a pick onto Humanoid, Khan shut the door on them by landing another massive ultimate.
When it came time for the final game, it looked like that throw from MAD had broken them. BeryL’s Pyke was a monster in the bot lane while Ghost’s Ziggs was a consistent source of magic damage, and even stole a dragon with a hexmine. Showmaker busted out the predator Syndra which surprisingly worked. Khan took notice of how he was being shut down in lane by Armut last game and returned the favor with interest. He completely outmatched Armut’s signature undefeated (in domestic play) Wukong at almost all stages of the game, be it the 1v1 or the teamfights. And Canyon was putting on an absolute clinic on Lee Sin. He was always where he needed to be, hit every crucial Q he threw out, was all but unkillable despite going in 24/7, and consistently landed kicks onto key members of MAD. Damwon held a 10k gold lead by 21 minutes.
Fortunately for MAD, this was not a position they were unfamiliar with as, against all odds, they won a fight at baron nashor to steal it and start a comeback. MAD had a real shot at a comeback due to unforced errors from Damwon. Humanoid was quickly reaching full build on Victor and Carzzy could rip through DK with a well-placed MF ultimate. But unlike the Lions, Damwon KIA made sure their mistakes weren’t fatal. Canyon’s Lee Sin would continue to be a playmaker as the rest of DK cleaned up their act to pull off the win and the 3-0 sweep.
This ends the MAD Lions’, and Europe’s run at Worlds 2021 as a whole. And my feelings on the matter are… mixed.
On one hand It’s Damwon KIA. Almost no team in the world can stand up to them in their current form. They were not the favorites going in, and they put up a decent fight despite what the score line would tell you.
On the other hand, that was supposed to be EU’s pride and joy, and DK swatted them aside with all the effort of swatting a fly. Khan even said in a post-match interview, "When we were prepping for this game, we didn't feel too threatened by the Western laners, since their laning phase is weak. We knew we were gonna make RO8 for sure, and with our future opponent being so strong, we prepped more for that match".
Europe as a whole failed to impress much at Worlds 2021. MAD Lions had to struggle immensely to get out of groups (the 1st seed of their group is likely one of the weaker ones too) and got swept in quarterfinals, Fnatic imploded before they even played a game, Rogue was the only one to really exceed/live up to expectations and even then, they went 2-4 and lost out to the NA 3rd seed. The top two leagues, and the LCK in particular look leagues above EU, and now there are talks about if it was actually Europe who was on par with the east or just G2. MAD Lions can still be proud with how much they accomplished this year domestically and internationally, but there could be some dark times ahead for their home region.
Meanwhile, Damwon KIA are currently cementing themselves as the 2nd great dynasty and reinstating the reign of the LCK overlords. Damwon hasn’t lost a series since July. They are 9-0 at Worlds 2021. They are one botched game 5 at MSI away from being a clear favorite to be the first ever team to complete the golden road (win both splits and both international events).
They have knocked out a tournament favorite in FPX, the only consistently good NA team in Cloud 9, a Rogue that looked scary in the regular season, and a MAD Lions who didn’t lose a single best-of-5 in domestic play and took DK to 5 games last time. Damwon KIA are looking scary, and their upcoming match against T1 is already being talked up as the “true finals”. EDG have been underwhelming, and neither Gen. G, or C9 have impressed enough to give them a realistic shot at beating Damwon KIA.
There is a very real possibility Damwon KIA will win their 2nd title without losing a single game. Every player is on fire. Showmaker has been almost unmatched in the mid lane, in terms of laning, or the mid and late game. Ghost and BeryL, despite all the complaints they got at MSI and during Summer, they are showing up in massive ways at Worlds. I am impressed by what I’m seeing here, and they are cutting down on the dumb errors and silly mistakes. The true stars of the shows are Khan and Canyon.
This is Khan’s last opportunity to win a title, and he is not wasting it. He is destroying every top laner he comes across and has been a lynchpin in DK’s success. Those Kennen ultimates kept the undefeated dream alive. He is looking to finally secure that coveted international title, and he is playing possibly the best League of Legends of his entire storied career.
And Canyon? This man sometimes looks like he’s cheating. Everything from stats to the eye test are showing that he is the best jungler and possibly best player in the world right now. He went 14/4/31 on 3 games of Lee Sin. He snowballed his early leads in games 1 and 3 and came back in a massive way from a deficit in game 2. It almost looks impossible to shut this man down and if he keeps this up, he will be well on his way to earning his 2nd finals MVP in two years. DK vs T1, despite being an interregional match and a rematch of the finals, might just be one of the most hyped-up quarterfinals we could’ve gotten this tournament with how the two teams are looking. We can only hope it lives up to expectations.
The World Championship will continue October 23rd with the 4th best-of-5, South Korea’s Gen. G vs North America’s Cloud 9, starting at 7am CST. You can find the full schedule at https://lolesports.com/, and catch every match there, on the LoL Esports YouTube channel, or at https://www.twitch.tv/riotgames.