DWG KIA are trying to establish League’s new dynasty. And who else should they meet in Worlds semifinals but the old one? DK vs T1 could be a turning point in League of Legends history.

Everyone knows the SK telecom T1 dynasty. For years, they were the best team in League of Legends, nearly untouchable at the top. Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok starred for a team that won three World Championships, more than any other team in the game’s history.

Those days are long over. Now, a team is trying to carve out a new chapter in LoL history. DAMWON Gaming prevailed at Worlds 2020, and are serious favourites to repeat in 2021 going into the semifinals.

DAMWON haven’t dropped a game all tournament, sporting a perfect 9-0 record. They’re led by an equally impressive mid laner, Heo “ShowMaker” Su, and are looking to establish League’s next dynasty.

As fate would have it, these two teams are squaring off in the semifinals at Worlds 2021. It’s Faker vs. ShowMaker, the historic dynasty vs. the possible new one, and it might be the most pivotal series in LoL history.

Can T1’s young talent keep up?

From left to right: Canna, Oner, Faker, Gumayusi, Keria. (RIOT GAMES/Colin Young-Wolff)

While this may be the organization that established League’s first dynasty, SKT – now T1 – have undergone significant changes over the last few years. Faker is the only player remaining from those championship lineups.

Gone are Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong, Bae “Bang” Jun-sik, and Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan. Nowadays, Faker is flanked by a treasure trove of young Korean talent.

Kim “Canna” Chang-dong and Ryu “Keria” Min-seok got their starts in 2020, while Moon “Oner” Hyeon-joon and Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong debuted full-time this year. All have been impressive in their own right. They’ve showed up huge at Worlds, and now clash with a similar pool of talent. Do T1’s young stars have what it takes to overcome their counterparts on the other side of the rift?

Statistics

T1 and DWG KIA have clashed five times this year.

Of those encounters, T1 have triumphed only once. Week 6 of LCK summer.

The total game record between them this year stands at 9-6. T1 have never failed to at least take one game in a series, though. And for much of the year, they changed their lineup seemingly every week. Only midway through the summer split did that solidify. Of the games T1 played against DK with their current lineup, the map score is 4-3, still in favour of DWG KIA.

When it comes to Worlds 2021, there’s some interesting comparisons. Canna is statistically one of the most impressive top laners at the tournament. He leads the entire Worlds top lane pool in KDA, at 7.4.

Canna also has the second-highest CS/minute of top laners at the event. His opponent on DK, Kim “Khan” Dong-ha, places upper-middle of the pack in most statistics despite DK’s undefeated record.

Neither Faker or ShowMaker have their focus on their lane, with none of them placing in the top 10 of CS/minute among Worlds mid laners. Rather, they’ve been enabling their teammates – Twisted Fate, with his global teleport, is the most played champion for both, and they place first and second at the top of the KDA charts. This latter accomplishment is reproduced by T1 and DWG KIA’s junglers, Oner and Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu, as well.

Lastly, the bot lane. DK’s Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun and Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee have always had fewer resources invested into them, and that’s reflected in Ghost’s stats as compared to Gumayusi’s. Gumayusi, similarly to Canna, may be the most statistically impressive player in his role so far – he sports double the KDA of any other bot laner, and tops the charts in the CS/minute department. He also places second in gold/minute.

Turning the pages of destiny

Arguably the world’s best right now, ShowMaker is looking to take DWG KIA to the top. (RIOT GAMES/Lance Skundrich)

The implications for a DK win in this series are massive. They’ve rolled over the competition at Worlds 2021 so far. They’re easily the favourites to win it all. And if T1 can’t stop them, who can? While EDward Gaming and Gen.G are both solid teams, neither should have any better chance than this in-form T1 will.

“First of all, I don’t really care about the record,” DWG KIA coach Kim “kk0ma” Jeong-gyun said at DK’s post-quarterfinals press conference. “The teamwork with coaching staff and players is really matters for me. So I don’t really think about winning three 2-0s. I’m just thinking about winning the next match.”

“I used to play against them only in the domestic league, because of the group draw or quarterfinals draw at Worlds,” said DK support Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee in response to a question about the matchup with T1. “So this will be our first time playing against them. I do think that T1 is a very strong team right now, so I think we have to keep our cards up.”

In 2016, SKT and Rox Tigers played what many consider the best series in Worlds, and maybe League, history. It was an absurdly close best-of-5 between the two tournament favourites, between SK telecom and the one of the only teams that could touch them at their prime.

Will the DAMWON vs T1 series be as exciting? That’s quite a challenge.

But will it be a bigger turning point in the game’s history? Probably.

No matter what result we get on Saturday, it’ll go down in League history. DWG KIA are on the verge of establishing League’s new dynasty. Whether they will or not is now up to the most successful team in LoL history. Sometimes, storylines just write themselves.


Stay tuned to Esports.gg for the latest League of Legends news and updates, and coverage of Worlds 2021.

Shawn

Shawn "Germanicus" Heerema

Writer of the Month: August | Twitter: @GermanicusCVIII

A writer from Niagara, Canada, Shawn covers VALORANT, League of Legends, and PUBG. He previously wrote for THESPIKE.GG and is a journalism student at Ryerson University. He has also been accredited press for Worlds 2021 and VALORANT Champions.