2020 Worlds Knockout Preview Pt. 5: Damwon v. G2

Intro

Now that there are only four teams left, we’re given the match everyone has been waiting for. Damwon has sat in anticipation for almost an entire year, waiting for the opportunity to get revenge for last year’s series with G2. G2 has waited to make another statement against the LCK, and solidify themselves as the “Korean slayers.” And the fans have wanted to see two of the cleanest, most talented teams in the world fight it out. Aside from that, there’s not much to be said. Damwon, with the exception of one sloppy game, has dominated every opponent they’ve faced. G2 looked a little shaky in groups, but seemed to patch up their holes in the quarterfinals, with a slick 3-0 over Gen.G. So now, we’re left with what could be the two best teams left (if TES continues to play sloppy) in what some say, could be the best worlds Bo5 ever.

Overall Matchups

When you look towards the numbers, stats say Damwon is by-far better. Entering last week, G2 were outmatched by Gen.G statistically, and Damwon is miles ahead of even them. But that being said, I don’t think the statistics are fair judgments here, depending on what you’re expecting out of G2. Their seven games in group stage override their three in the quarterfinals, as the sample size is much larger. But no one will tell you they performed like themselves in the group stage. If we’re to assume that their last series is the form they’re currently in, almost every statistical category can be thrown away, as only 30% of the games are valid. And while I absolutely hate the term “eye test,” and how it’s used in sport social media to justify bad takes, G2’s situation is specifically fit for an eye test. The first week was rough, but mainly due to some unusual blunders from the team. It felt like they didn’t take those teams seriously. And we’ve seen what is Bo5 G2, both in the LEC playoffs, and now the World Championship. They’re a different beast.

The similarities between these teams are endless, so we’ll start with the top side of the map. Wunder and Nuguri have both experienced similar highs and low in pro play. Wunder made his name as a carry top laner by breaking out solo queue picks like Soraka, Sona, and even hybrid Shyvana at one point in 2019. That being said, his hubris sometimes got the best of him; like the LEC game where he locked in Garen, and was effectively useless for the entire 30 minutes of gametime. But now when you look at him, he’s as flexible and smart as any top laner in the world. With several Shen and Voli picks, he knows how to play weak side, and enable teammates like Caps; but also holds onto the ability to 1v9 with champions like Camille, as we saw in game 1 of their Gen.G series. Nuguri is, and was, the same way. Coming onto the scene last year, he made his name by pioneering gold-stacking Vladimir builds, to hyperscale even quicker, and become unstoppable. But in their series against G2, his over-aggression led to a lot of punishes from G2’s side. Now, he’s respected as the best LCK top laner, and possibly the best top laner in the world. With his newly-found ability to play champions like Ornn, Sion, and Volibear, he can be whatever his team needs.

The jungle is arguably the biggest mismatch of this showdown. Many think of Canyon as the best jungler at the tournament, and he’s done his best to prove it so far. Jankos hasn’t performed poorly, but before the Gen.G series, looked to be out of the meta. He, like Karsa, likes to find ways to put his lanes ahead, and hasn’t jumped onto the carry jungle train that most people have by now. That being said, in their Gen.G series, he played Nidalee, Lillia, and Graves, all super well. He’s been able to adapt, and quickly rise as another high-performing jungler. But despite that, Canyon certainly has the advantage, and this advantage means more, when you look at the junglers’ focuses. Both love to roam with their mid laners up to the top lane, so if their pressure is being matched, the skill levels will be tested, and I would almost always prefer Canyon in that 1v1.

The mid lane is where things get the spiciest. Showmaker was pulling off Akali quadra kills, and other outstanding plays in the LCK all year. He made most mid laners besides him, and of course Chovy, look like jokes. He’s not really a “lane kingdom” type player, but his mechanical skills are there, and when he works with Canyon, the duo can do just about anything. Caps is effectively the same way. While he had his challenges from players like Larssen, generally speaking, he smurfed the LEC. Then, in their series against Gen.G, he looked like he was playing in a gold game. I can’t think of the last time I saw an 11/0/11 KDA in pro play, and I’ve never seen a Sylas dominate a game that hard before either. He, too, likes to roam with his jungler and make plays. So really, there’s not much edge on either side. It’s hard to know how good each laner is, when they’re not playing against the same competition. But I have a feeling that whoever edges out an early lead, will push it as hard as they can.

The bottom lanes are, you guessed it, almost mirrors of each other. The supports, Mikyx and BeryL, both love roaming and creating map pressure for their solo lanes. Thus, Ghost and Perkz are often-times left to farm and carry later. The main difference is Perkz’s ability to play-make, as opposed to Ghost. Now that he’s settled back into his role this year, Perkz is looking outstanding on champions like Ashe and Senna. His past experience as a mid laner allows him to make the most of their agency, and it’s honestly pretty scary. Ghost isn’t that way. He has played two games of Ashe, and two of Senna, but he favors the Jhin; a safe farmer, who can clean up kills his laners have left for him. And he’s largely been dealing with similar ADCs in the LCK. So we’ll have to see if Perkz’s aggression is challenging for Ghost to overcome, or if he can match it when he has to.

Overall, this matchup is a slugfest. A real slugfest. G2 is by far the best pound-for-pound western team… ever. But Damwon have shown zero weaknesses in their past, almost 30 games this year. The decision is often going to be based on the teamfighting, and/or skirmishing prowesses of each team. The only large advantage I can think of is Canyon over Jankos, but with the playmaking and roaming of Mikyx, I don’t see him allowing his jungler to fall too far behind. When turned on, both teams look unstoppable, but one of them has to stop here.

Important Questions

Will G2 challenge Damwon’s top side?

Both teams have outstanding solo lanes, and mid laners who are willing to sacrifice themselves to push their top lane advantage. Damwon specifically is known for this, as Nuguri is often the focal point of their early aggression. The question is, will G2 opt into that 3v3, or simply take their pressure bottom lane instead? We’ve seen how effective bottom lane dives can be, in the FNC v. TES series, and it is a fair strategy, but if Wunder gets slammed by Nuguri, there’s little hope that a fed Senna can outdo a fed Camille.

Can Jankos play well in this meta?

Jankos found ways to adapt to the meta in this past series, but still proved to play more of a supportive role. His Nidalee build opted for an Athene’s, as he wanted to prioritize healing over damage. His Lillia wasn’t the main carry, and mainly sacrificed itself for Caps’ Sylas. If he wants to win, he’ll have to either pick up the gauntlet, or give it to Caps in an expert fashion.

How hard can Caps carry?

This isn’t to say the rest of G2 is bad, or even significantly worse than their mid laner, but Caps showed how hard he could carry in a lot of the LEC summer split. His Zoe was magnificent, and even when he was put on things like Kog’maw, he managed to find his way into the action. If one of his teammates has a breakout performance, he won’t have to carry, but it’s likely that he’ll be the biggest decider on G2’s side. If he has another Sylas performance like the one against Gen.G, Damwon could quickly pack their bags and head back to Korea. But without it, who’s left to lead G2 to the finish line?

My Expectation

While it’s incredibly close and hard to call, G2 hasn’t been as spotless as Damwon has. There have been clear blemishes, as far back as spring, and as recent as the group stage. So it’s much easier to see Damwon coming out on top. I’m going to pick a 3-2 in favor of Damwon, but that being said, if Damwon loses some early games, it could cause some mental booms to happen. We’ve seen it in the past from LCK teams; even arguably from Gen.G last week. It’ll be up to Damwon to stay strong, even through the challenging moments, but I think they can do it.

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