The 10th annual League of Legends World Championship tournament ended, signaling the end of the 2020 professional circuit. In it, the Chinese representative Suning Gaming went head-to-head against the Korean DAMWON Gaming.
Suning came in as the third-best team from China, losing out in the semi-finals to the eventual first-place Top Esports. Their route to the finals had been tough, winning a group consisting of G2 Esports, Europe’s first seed, and Team Liquid, North America’s third seed. The group wasn’t even decided until a tiebreaker match between G2 and Suning where Suning emerged victorious. They had to face off against the top two Chinese seeds in the knockout stage, unseating JD Gaming 3-1 and then Top Esports 3-1. Suning AD Carry huanfeng showed up big on his Jhin pick, leading his team to two upsets and taking them all the way.
DAMWON came in boasting a nearly opposite story. They were first seed in their region, demolishing DRX in the playoff finals 3-0 to make it safely to the World’s stage. They cleaned house in their group as well, finishing 5-1 over the likes of Europe’s Rogue, Taiwan’s PSG Talon and China’s JD Gaming. Their first playoff match was a rematch against DRX, where they won in another 3-0 stomp. In game two of the semifinals, a G2 win was the first best-of-5 game loss they had endured in the second half of the year. However, DAMWON responded by winning games three and four, the latter of which being the fastest Worlds win ever recorded at 19 minutes. They were clear favorites going into the finals.
Suning made it competitive, though. Game one was as back-and-forth as a game gets. DAMWON held the lead at the five-minute mark to be overtaken at eight minutes in. Suning held the gold advantage until 23 minutes when DAMWON took over, only to regain the lead by the 28-minute mark. DAMWON was well-and-truly in control by 36 minutes in, with their ability to play the game in a macro sense far outweighing the mechanical gifts of the Suning members.
Game two didn’t feel as competitive. DAMWON took an early lead and seemingly never faltered until they utterly collapsed 30 minutes in. A won teamfight was converted into a cloud soul buff and then a baron and then three turrets and an inhibitor. Without giving them time to rest, Suning picked another fight. Their top laner Bin came away with all the glory, killing all five members and earning the highly-coveted pentakill, the first ever in the World Finals.
Game three felt quite similar, with DAMWON taking the lead through the majority of the game. The tides turned when Suning won a teamfight and converted it into a baron followed by two more kills and two turrets. Despite DAMWON having the Cloud Soul buff, Suning fought valiantly and almost pulled it out. However, the hole they dug early was too tall to climb and they fell short, giving DAMWON a 2-1 lead.
Game four was when the skill gap became clear. DAMWON took a lead and never looked back. It was a real exemplification of what separated the two teams: the difference between junglers. Canyon went on to win the series MVP for DAMWON, outclassing Suning’s SofM. The other members all had their differences but Canyon was far and away the better jungler and perhaps the best player on the rift.
With that, DAMWON became champions of the 10th annual World Championship. They were the first Korean team to win in three years, joining the ranks of Samsung’s two championships and SKT’s three. They deserved it as well. Nuguri, Canyon, ShowMaker, Ghost and BeryL will go down in history as the best players this year.
This does not discount Suning. Their run to the finals was nothing short of miraculous and once there they fought tooth and nail to stay competitive. It’s an especially rough ending for SwordArt, who after years of playing this game competitively finally got the closest he’s ever been to a championship of his own, only to be sent away again.
It was an exciting series to cap off an exciting tournament. Maybe these two teams will see each other again next year, or maybe a new challenger will make a run for the crown.