Damwon Gaming hoists the Summoner’s Cup after winning the finals at Pudong Football Stadium in Shanghai on Saturday. (Riot Games)
League of Legends Champions Korea’s Damwon Gaming hoisted the Summoner’s Cup for the first time in three years, beating China’s LoL Pro League’s Suning at the LoL World Championships Finals on Saturday at Pudong Football Stadium in Shanghai.
This year’s finals marked the first such event this year with a live audience, upon the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic. The opening ceremony, featuring Riot Game’s virtual reality K-pop group K/DA and performances of previous World Championships theme songs, kicked off the finals, watched online by millions around the world.
While Damwon was the favorite heading into the match, dark horse Suning had already defeated two Chinese teams -- Top Esports and JD Gaming -- that had people expecting the closest championship match in recent years, as finals for the past three years were one-sided events.
The first two games were nail-biters, with each taking a game off the other in the best-of-five series. Damwon Gaming was first on the board after mistakes from both sides, but Suning fought back in the second game with an unorthodox strategy, finishing the game with the first-ever pentakill -- one player killing the entire opposing team -- on the world finals stage.
Then, Damwon outclassed Suning in both micro and macro elements of the game for the next two games and sealed the series 3-1. Damwon’s Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu was named the finals MVP.
“I feel great because we set off a good start in making LCK the best league in the world again,” said Damwon’s Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon after the win.
Damwon Gaming and Suning face off in the World Championship Finals. (Riot Games)
During the introduction of Damwon players before the match, the audience of 6,312 remained dead silent, only cheering for the Chinese team, evoking criticism online. In the end, Damwon managed to silence the Pudong Football Stadium crowd once again with a convincing win.
“Make it a library. Shanghai Library,” said Damwon’s Heo “ShowMaker” Su in the game as he closed out the series.
Heading into the tournament, many analysts around the world considered LCK to have slipped to just the third-best region, behind Europe and China, after failing to put a team into the world finals in the last two years. The Korean dynasty that won the world championship from 2013 to 2017 was history, after China had won for two consecutive years and seemed to be forming a new dynasty.
With its win, Damwon was able to return LCK to the throne. It also became the first team that had been promoted from the Challengers Korea league to win the World Championships, and the third team other than the former SKT and Samsung from the LCK to win.
Meanwhile, LCK will enter a franchise system starting next year.
By Lim Jang-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)