It has been three years since Korea has managed to make its way back to finals, and much more amazingly, no team has been as dominant as DAMWON Gaming (DWG) since the days of season three SK Telecom T1. Despite dropping the first pentakill in Worlds finals history and the game itself to their opponents Suning (SN), DWG went on to be victorious in the finals series with a commanding 3-1 finish.
Power Through Decisive Control
In my previous article that previewed the match-up between the teams, I made the analysis that although SN were the underdog against the heavily dominant DWG, their propensity to find new and jarring ways to try and wrench an aggressive advantage could allow them to find a path to an upset. The first game wasn’t emblematic of that analysis: though SN had a strong composition, especially for scaling into the late-game, they made the pivotal error that many teams have made in the season 10 meta by not respecting the power of dragons on a team’s scaling. Sure, your Ezreal and Azir are late-game monsters, but Ashe and Orianna with four dragons and an elder drake or a baron are no longer cowed by that difference in scaling. Dragons, in effect, counter scaling compositions that completely cede early pressure for turtling. Unsurprisingly, this passive approach to DWG simply does not work; giving them the early game is a recipe for guaranteed loss.
The second game, however, was emblematic of my analysis: SN brought Fiora and tank Rengar. In a truly insane draft, SN intended to counter the Evelynn pick from DWG with a tank Rengar jungle to literally serve as “Radar Rengar” for middle and bottom lane while top lane had the strong solo pick in Fiora to prevent camping top. This caused DWG to resort to buying and placing three separate control wards along the bottom river just to try and deal with the Rengar. The insane draft from SN not only shellshocked the casters and the audience, but truly messed with the mental of their opponents, allowing them to take the game and the first pentakill in World’s finals history. I think “PENTA-PENTA-PENTA” is going to be a favorite personal meme for quite some time.
In the next game, SN tried to keep the unnerving novelty going with two omnistone keystones on their Jax and Nidalee picks, but found little success. SN had stumbled onto an almost perfect scenario and draft the game before, with the Radar Rengar serving as the lynchpin for Chen “Bin” Ze-Bin to carry on the Fiora, but that strategy only worked because of how specifically powerful it was to that exact scenario. The inclusion of omnistones in their next draft was cute, but it wasn’t cute enough to go against a team so dominant that they tie for one of the best teams to ever be on the scene.
This is, in essence, was how DWG were able to secure their victory in the series: when your opponents can’t challenge your early game prowess or outscale you because of losing control of neutral objectives, their only real possibility of winning is to find a composition and a strategy that comes as a sucker punch to the meta, and they need to do it three times. SN were inventive, and perhaps so much so that they put on one of the best Worlds performances ever, but a good performance doesn’t win you the championship. Once they realized, it was too late.
“Ring the BeryL!”
If winning the late-game against DWG is nigh impossible, the best chance that teams predict they have is to try and wrestle the early advantage away from DWG. It’s tunnel vision of the mind that allows DWG to lure their opponents into their traps, aiming to purposely make their enemies desperate for an early advantage and using that to prepare brutalizing counter-engages that outclass any team at any turn. For that precise reason Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee is my pick for the MVP of the series for DWG.DWG’s strategy of using Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu to constantly favor one side of the map can consistently put their top-laner Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon in an extremely vulnerable position. He was so open to ganks, he even dove underneath his turret as part of a larger attempt by SN to “handshake” bottom-lane away for control of top-lane in exchange. With the pocket pick of Pantheon in hand, this was when (as Kobe amazingly put it) DWG “rang the BeryL,” with BeryL shifting his positioning to the opposite side of the map to not only even out pressure, but bait the enemy team into trying to try and kill Nuguri top-side. Although Nuguri and Canyon had immense pressure and skill in these games (as did the other members of DWG, obviously) BeryL was the quintessential member of the team who kept their identity of counter-engagement and debilitating rotations consistent.
Ask not for whom the BeryL tolls, for he and DWG, they toll for thee.