image credit Riot Games
Even if this match did not highlight the top teams of their respective regions during the Summer Split, see the strategies applied is already a significant indicator on how teams from the LCK and LPL will approach the World Championships. And the least we can say is that the show was there.
A champagne draft
Aatrox is a champion who crystallizes a lot of attention at this beginning of Worlds. Yet both teams decided to don’t ban itand it is finally the DRX who were able to seize him. On the other hand, the duo Caitlyn/Yuumi has been banned from the first rotation. The DRXs have decided to continue innovating, with a maokai jungle, a champion who was making a comeback on the competitive scene. At the level of midlanethe tone was set from the start: blood would flow. Akali and Leblanc were chosenwhich gave Xiaohu a small advantage on the lane phase, as Akali struggled against Leblanc.
After the first phase of picking, the two botlanes were still hidden, so ADCs were particularly targeted during the second rotation of bans. Finally the RNG locked out Nilah, to which the DRXs responded with the Tristana/Rell combo. Alistar was the last pick, in order to offer both engage and peel, depending on the situation.
Start of the game
Despite some attempts by the DRX, these are good the RNGs that have begun to impose their rhythm. Thanks to Xiaohu’s logical domination on the midlane (because of the match up), the LPL team was able to take advantage of a botlane push to take the first dragon in the game, without their adversaries being able to defend it. Since it was an Ocean, the best dragon to recover for the lane phase, this action consolidated their position at the start of the game. Wei and his Vi managed to surprise Kingen’s Aatrox on top, picking up first blood, and allowing Breathe to begin scaling on Jax in prime condition. Unsurprisingly, LPL representatives were able to dominate the first 10 minutes, recovering valuable resources. Their lead was still less than 1k gold (even if the Ocean Dragon stats brought an additional bonus not visible on the scoreboard), which was far from ensuring their total domination later in the game.
Only, the game was going get carried away on the toplane. Despite its Eclipse, the Kingen’s Aatrox got solokilled by RNG’s Jax. This action boded badly for the DRXs, as it meant that the pick they had prioritized was in trouble. Taking this kind of champion first and seeing them get outplayed is never a good thing, as it involves playing 4.5 vs 5 for a while. DRX were far from admitting defeatand succeeded in recovering the first tower of the match on the midlane thanks to a first push during the second dragon of the RNG. Even if the RNG responded very quickly by taking the T1 top, the advantage on the map still went to the DRX, given the strategic importance of a T1 mid.
It’s Bazooka Time!
While the RNGs seemed to have the game in hand, the DRX decided to set the record straight during the third drake. They led the masterful teamfightrecovering an ace (including one hat-trick for Deft) losing only Kingen. This allowed them to regain a slight advantage to the golds, while completely restarting the game. It was still too early to claim victory, the RNG not only having a not bad composition at all in terms of scaling, but in addition, some of their picks were able to destroy a Trist in a fraction of a second.
Only, the fourth dragon was going to change that. The RNG tried to take the vision to 3, without knowing where the XRDs were. The Koreans who waited quietly in a bushtook advantage of the opportunity to kill two Chinese players, take their second drake, as well as a 3k gold advance. By collecting these two kills, Deft was able to complete his third item (fourth counting the boots). With that stuff and her stopwatch, her Tristana is all at once changed from serious threat to final boss of the game.
Surprise to see me?
While the DRX dominance seemed well established, the LCK representatives had obtained their third drake without possible contestation of their adversaries, they wanted take the Baron to conclude this match. This could have been the case, without the intervention of Xiaohu and his Leblanc, who stole the lens from under their noses. The game was relaunching, while the gap to golds was only 2k for the DRXs.
the sixth dragon was going to be just as decisive. The RNG managed to steal it on the wire, tying at 3 dragons everywhere. In the fight, Deft began to clean up until the too many jump-ins. Breathe could punish him and take the shutdown. A dragon, their main carry dead, that could have been the end of the DRXs. But Zeka was playing a kunoichi on a mission. He managed to kill Wei then Breathe, saving his team and the action. Finally the situation had not evolved so much, on this fight, but the gap between the dead, allowed the DRX to recover their first baron.
Armed with the Nashor buff, they were able open the RNG database. The two teams met again around the Dragon, and the RNG seemed to take advantage removing Beryl from the start of the fight. Only Pyosik was tired of having his lenses stolen neutrals under his nose, and gave back to the RNGs by stealing this dragon and soul. The DRXs won the fight that followed, and were able to finish the game. For a first confrontation between the LPL and the LCK, it was a real bang.
As expected, the representatives of China tried to play around skirmishesbut the Koreans were prepared for this style of playand were able to thwart most of the attempts thanks to a excellent vision. It should also be noted a best draft for the LCKthe lack of range repeatedly felt for RNGs, and without a slightly overconfident jump-in from Deft, the game could have been folded sooner. Nevertheless the LPL has nevertheless shown that there is great answers to Aatrox, and teams might give it less priority. Level jungle, the players have not completely convinced. Vi seems limited from his nerve, while Maokai was helpful, but not decisive (except on the steal Dragon at the end, but it’s completely to the credit of the player and not the champion). Finally the two midlane assassins have been a bit sheriffs of the game, preventing other carries from fully unleashing. They seem to be viable optionsbut it is not not sure if this is the dominant archetype on the midlane during these Worlds. As for the botlane, given the number of bans on ADCsthere is not too many conclusions take away for now, except that the lane still seems important.
Elias “Upset” Lipp seems to have always been present on the competitive League of Legends scene, but the German is in the end “only” 22 years old. He is currently playing his first Worlds and he did not wait long before making people talk about him…