EDWARD GAMING (EDG) ended DAMWON KIA’s (DK) reign as League of Legends World Champions, beating the Korean juggernauts 3-2 to bring back the Summoner’s Cup to China.
It was a tough road for China’s top seed as they needed two-game fives to earn their spot at the Grand Finals. But even before the match started, EDG was already counted out by many of League’s analysts and casters.
EDG’s road to the Finals
EDG was China’s last hope in Worlds 2021. The region crashed and burned during the group stage with only EDG and RNG getting out. Bad luck added to the region’s misery as both squads had to face each other in the quarterfinals, with EDG sending RNG home to face a volley of Korean squads en route to the World Championship.
Awaiting EDG in the semis were Gen G. Korea’s second-seeded team. After a tough five games, it was EDG who had the pleasure (or misfortune) of facing DK in the grand finals.
Taking on the giants
DK was undoubtedly the best team in the world coming into the tournament.
Analysts and LoL pundits had already crowned DK championship prior to the finals. The defending champions were head and shoulders above their regional rival. What made their prediction hold more even more weight was that Damwon never dropped a single game in the Group stage and quarterfinals.
It needed a resurging T1 to take DK to the limit, giving them their first two losses in the whole tournament. But DK (aided by their veteran experience) punched their way to the Grand Finals.
However, EDG came out of the gates swinging in the Grand Finals. They take a massive win in Game 1, following great last pick Zilean support. Zilean’s ulti, Chronoshift, revives any ally who was killed when the skill is active on them. This rendered all of DK’s heavy burst damage to nothing.
Game 2 saw DK come out with a cheesy Malhazar mid and Qiyana jungle to counter EDG’s heavy engage comp. It worked as both DK’s mid laner Heo “Showmaker” Su and Jungler Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu denied any form of possible engage from EDG.
Additionally, Kim “Khan” Dong-ha‘s free farming top lane Graves became too big for the Chinese side, ending the game with a 7/0/6 KDA.
Game 3 saw EDG take an early lead, controlling the map early on. But it was some great team fights courtesy of Showmaker and Canyon that brought game back to the Koreans, particularly Showmaker’s Sylas who managed to find EDG’s backline during team fights.
Solving the mystery of Canyon
Game 4 was a showcase of map control for both sides. Headlining the charge for EDG was rookie Jungler Zhao “Jiejie” Li-jie, who stepped up massively and controlled DK’s star jungle Canyon, denying him of jungle camps and controlling most of river for EDG. With last year’s finals MVP seemingly caged, EDG had an easy time ending the game 33-minutes in.
The decider saw DK go for a meta lineup, prioritizing the top lane Graves. But EDG opted not to go head to head with DK, picking the team fight-centric Kennen for the top lane match up.
Meanwhile, DK tried to outdraft EDG, banning all the meta jungle picks before picking Trundle, who has the advantage in the Xin Zhao matchup.
It was a big mistake.
With their backs on the line, EDG played to their strength: team fights. A 23-minute fight saw EDG find a great engage around DK’s mid tier one tower, taking down four from the Korean side and losing only one. That fight gave the team a Dragon soul point and swung the momentum completely on their side. Another team fight 29 minutes in saw EDG grab the Ocean soul and wipe DK.
A scrappy team fight at the Elder Dragon at 36 minutes gave the Chinese enough leeway to eventually take Baron and end the game 41 minutes in. EDG’s team fight prowess gave them 20 kills against DK’s 9.
EDG’s mid lane Lee “Scout” Ye-Chen was named the Oppo MVP, while his teammate top laner Li “Flandre” Xuan-Jun was the first Chinese solo laner to win Worlds.
“I have really faced so many challenges through this journey, so many difficulties. So finally I was able to have a really good result and super happy in this moment,” Lee said in the post-match interviews.
It was a tough road for the Korean mid-laner. He was part of the SKT T1 team in early 2016, but was transferred to EDG during the summer season. The team had never made it past the quarterfinals in Worlds until this year.
Lee also dedicated the win to his role model and former teammate, League of Legends superstar Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, who were sent home by Damwon in the semi-finals.
“I also (dedicate) this revenge for Faker. I am happy about this part,” he added during the interview.