2020 World Finals Preview: Damwon v. Suning

Intro

After a long worlds 2020, we’re now left with two teams: Damwon, and Suning. The first is this year’s rising star. After a slightly disappointing exit from last year’s world championship, Damwon swapped out their bottom lane, and continued their meteoric rise to the top. Their LCK summer split is arguably the best of all time, and I can’t think of a more stylistically flexible finalist in recent history. The only team that compares is Samsung White. Similarly, their worlds run hasn’t been contested at all; only losing a couple of sloppy games that might just be discounted as not taking their opponents seriously. In fact, if they’re able to continue their domination through this final, Damwon could claim the title of the best worlds team ever.

Suning are surprisingly similar to the Damwon of last year. Riding the coattails of their outstanding top side, Suning are utilizing Bin’s ability to hard carry, in combination with SofM’s ability to set him up. But the difference between them, and 2019 Damwon, is the strength and leadership found in their bottom lane. SwordArt is among at least the top 10 when it comes to most international experience out of all the active players. Meanwhile, huanfeng has blossomed into clearly one of the top ADC talents out there right now, and continues to get better every game. The rookies now face off against an established team, that are looking to start a dynasty. The question is, can the miracle run continue?

Overall Matchup

Damwon’s dominance over this year’s competition can’t be overstated. When taking a look at the macro stats, they are the most impressive across the board. Their average game time is only 30:00, whereas the average for most worlds attendees was closer to 35:00. They average almost 2,000 gold over their opponents at 15:00, and have a team K/D of almost 3 (it’s at 2.7). And they still hold onto an 88% baron-taking ratio. When it comes to individual games and stats, things get even scarier. They’re 11-2 in total, giving them an 85% win rate, and as stated earlier, I’d say both of those losses are excusable. One of those wins, in fact their last-played game, was the quickest game in worlds history, ending before 20:00. Three of their five players are in the top five KDAs of the tournament. And three of the top five damage per minute games were recorded by them as well, including the top two.

To my disbelief though, Suning has stats that sometimes even challenge Damwon’s. Their average damage per minute is actually above Damwon’s by 68. Their CS/min. is also above Damwon’s, by 0.6. And they have a lead in things like tower ratio, first blood percentage, wards per minute, and wards cleared per minute. Few, if any, gaps appear in their play, with the biggest being their lack of dragon and herald control, but they both still manage to be passable. When it comes to individual statistics, their team resume isn’t as impressive, but huanfeng’s resume is outstanding. He has the tournament lead in multikills, CS/min., and is also in the top five KDAs. It’s clear he’s the carry, outside of Bin, and is currently playing out of his mind.

Because of the overall strength of both of these teams, I find it hard to identify specific advantages in individual roles. Even certain ideas that have been pushed, like Bin’s champion pool being small, seem false, considering he’s played nine champions, which is two more than Nuguri. As a result, it’s most important to glance at stylistic matchups, as their much more likely to cause the leads, rather than huge individual lane gaps.

When looking at these matchups, it’s a battle of two regions, and thus two styles. Suning love to fight. They get most of their leads through either teamfights, or early jungle ganks, resulting in skirmishes that they win. The best examples of this are found in their last series. Their last two games were both led by early ganks from SofM; one as Shen, and one as Jarvan, and both resulted in multiple kills. From that point, they simply leveraged that early advantage through the mid game, and into team fights, where they eventually won out. This style has also allowed them to comeback on multiple occasions, like against JDG. In that series, they didn’t grasp onto many early leads. Specifically in the top lane, things were rough, and they just waited until the time was right to strike at either a baron or dragon fight. It’s hard to see Suning out-macroing Damwon, but it’s not out of the question to see them outperform them in action-packed moments.

Damwon, while able to fight, definitely grant themselves leads through objectives. It can be seen with their outstanding control over both dragons and barons, as well as their first tower ratio mimicking their win ratio, with an 85%. That level of consistent objective control is hard to match, especially in a meta where dragons decide the state of the game in most instances. A lot of this pressure and setup comes from their support BeryL, who leaves Ghost alone to grant Canyon access to these parts of the map. His roaming is incredibly efficient, and a key point in their gameplan.

The issue with this stylistic matchup for Suning, is it requires much more from them to get things done. In a world where one team has map control for most of the game, it’s hard to attack, because they know what’s coming. Damwon’s dragon control will force fights by themselves, in the case that they pick up early dragons and threaten a soul-take, while Suning must look for clever teleports, flanks, etc. As the series goes on, either Suning will have to improve their macro strategy, or find ways to disrupt the flow chart of their Korean opponents.

What this series will mostly come down to, is who can take the strength of their opponents, and mimic it the best. That doesn’t mean swapping gameplans, but means; will Damwon be able to fight well enough against Suning, or will Suning be able to take enough map control from Damwon? Both teams have their one strength, so if they can take at least a slight hold onto their opponent’s, it’ll be pretty free for them to find victories.

Important Questions

Can Suning sew in some chaos?

If Damwon are just allowed to play their game, without much in their way, this could be a quick 3-0. I don’t think a single player on Suning outmatches Damwon in terms of strategic play, so if it’s a strategy game, they’ve already lost. Suning, in this case, need to force skill-checks, and chaotic fights to break up the patterns of Damwon’s flow chart. If they can do that, they could find leads that lead them to more, and better fights.

Will Bin show us more?

As I said earlier, Bin has played more champions than it seems. But his greatest performances have remained on both Gangplank and Jax. If he relies on both of these champions as a crutch, Nuguri has both Kennen and Lulu to fall back on. Lulu dominates Gangplank if played well, and Kennen does the same to Jax. Bin is either going to have to expand his horizons in the matchup, or force his team to ban counter picks, whenever he’s on blue side.

Which ADC can carry harder?

Huanfeng has been one of the two obvious focal points for Suning, but Ghost has been doing just as well for Damwon, just with less help. His ability to minimize mistakes on his own is better than any other ADC I’ve seen this year. He’s essentially 1v2ing laning phase, while still maintaining CS leads, and winning teamfights five or ten minutes later. If Ghost performs as well as huanfeng, Suning’s biggest win condition is gone, so it’s up for the rookie to give all of his strength if they want to win.

Can they keep BeryL in lane?

While BeryL is the master of roaming, Suning and SwordArt specifically are the masters of 2v2 kills bottom. It seems every time SwordArt gets his hand on Leona, they’re forcing aggression all game in order to feed huanfeng. If Suning can turn this bottom lane matchup into a 2v2 lane, not only will they see better in-lane results most likely, but they’ll take away a lot of the map pressure BeryL brings. If BeryL is able to roam free, it’s hard to think of a scenario where Suning have more to offer across the map.

My Expectation

Before branching into statistical analysis, and more in-depth thought, I was pretty sure this was going to be yet another 3-0, this time in favor of Damwon. However, now that I’ve looked into it, I think it’ll be a 3-2 either way, or a 3-1 minimum. I still think Damwon has the edge, as they’re still great teamfighters, but with much better objective setup. That being said, Suning have clear win conditions, and have continuously proven to know what to do when it counts. I’m going to go with 3-2 Damwon, but it could easily fall the other way.

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