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With Worlds 2022 about to begin, the League of Legends Champions Korea circuit (LCK)’s Damwon Kia is one of the 24 teams from across the world making their way to the biggest event of the year. Every team entering the League of Legends World Championship has the same goal: to stand at the top uncontested and hoist the Season 12 Summoner’s Cup high.

The third seed team from League of Legends Champions Korea is a familiar organization for League of Legends esports fans. The reunion of the 2020 Damwon Gaming top side in the summer split was a massive upheaval for the team as Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon returned to the org that he won the Worlds Championship with after a prolonged break after his disastrous results at Fun Plus Phoenix. With their upgraded roster in the summer split, the team is fighting for the organization’s second Worlds Championship at Worlds 2022.

Damwon Kia Worlds 2022 Starting Roster

  • Top: Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon
    • Noh “Burdol” Tae-yon
  • Jungle: Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu
  • Mid Lane: Heo “ShowMaker” Su
  • Bot Lane: Seo “Deokdam’ Dae-gil
  • Support: Kim “Kellin” Hyeong-gyu

The Revolutionaries of Modern League of Legends

League of Legends, prior to season ten, had fewer incentives to be aggressive on the map. As such, the ideal game state for most team compositions was the 1-3-1 or 1-4-0/0-4-1 deviant that prioritized securing farm for primary carries for 5v5 teamfights.

The significant change of season ten was the addition of the Dragon Soul, a powerful buff that can almost single-handedly win the team the game after obtaining it. The major difference between the Dragon Soul and the other preceding buffs, such as Baron buff, was its permanence. Once a team acquires the Dragon Soul, the buff will permanently boost the combat capabilities of every champion in the team until the very end.

Damwon Gaming understood the importance of Dragon Soul and created a strategy to optimize their chances of acquiring the buff as fast as possible. Approximately a minute before the Dragon spawns, Nuguri would make sure that the top side isn’t pushed into their side so the enemy team cannot rush the top side of the map while Damwon was focusing on controlling the bot side river in preparation for the Dragon.

After the top side wave is neutralized, all five Damwon members will overload mid lane around a minute before the Dragon spawns to get first entry onto the bot-side river. First set-up was important for Dragons, due to their relatively lower HP compared to Baron Nashor. As a result, the team with set-up could easily burst the dragon in five seconds while the enemy team is timidly checking into the enemy’s vision control. Damwon’s ability to consistently acquire first set-up in this fashion secured them the World Championship title in 2020.

Damwon Kia’s offseason move after their championship win was exciting news for most. With Nuguri leaving to Fun Plus Phoenix, the team acquired Kim “Khan” Dong-ha, the most dominant top laner in LCK history. With the addition of Khan came tactical experience that propelled the team forward.

Damwon Kia began to play in a 2-3-0/0-3-2 deviation to play for deep pushes in side lanes instead of their traditional neutralizing strategy to attack the side towers of the enemy team. Unfortunately for the team, the noticeable form loss in certain members with the innovative strategy of Edward Gaming in Worlds 2021 resulted in them missing the World Championship.

With the resurgence of T1 and Gen G as the dominant teams in the LCK ecosystem, Damwon Kia is no longer the dominating juggernaut of LCK in 2022. With the addition of Nuguri, the team has seen some synergy issues as Nuguri’s philosophy of playing the game is drastically different from the LCK style after his year in Fun Plus Phoenix with Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang. Nonetheless, their flexibility in draft and cohesive map movements are worthy of praise.

Players to Watch

The Worlds meta will have a two key differences from the knockout stage meta, and both of them benefit the players worthy of mentioning in Damwon Kia. For top lane, top lane blind picks such as Maokai will become more rampant with him being more than capable of dealing with more aggressive laners only to outscale them in front-to-back teamfights. This, however, also enables champions like Kennen and Vladimir, a Nuguri special, to be available since counterpicks such as Aatrox are no longer easily blindable as before. Nuguri’s strength has always lied in using his laning prowess to neutralize unfavorable matchups to become a key member in teamfights through creative positioning. In that way, this is the perfect meta for him to thrive in.

Deokdam has suffered from during the Sivir and Zeri meta. With the introduction of Miss Fortune though, champions like Kai’Sa and Senna become more prevalent. Deokdam made a name for himself with Kai’Sa last split, and he should be much more comfortable in this meta than the one before.

How Damwon Kia can succeed at Worlds 2022

Damwon Kia faces a rather difficult group with JD Gaming and G2 Esports as their competition. Without the recent changes in the game in patch 12.17 and 12.18, it would have been easy to write them off against JDG, the first seed team from LPL. With the new changes, however, Deokdam is enabled to play champions such as Kai’Sa and Miss Fortune. These new champions will provide alternative options to Zeri and Sivir for the Damwon Kia bot laner who struggled to perform in those champions.

It is still a stretch to state that this team has what it takes to win the World Championship. Nonetheless, with the new changes to the game and plenty of time to integrate Nuguri into the team, Damwon Kia can make a very deep run if they remain true to the strategic prowess that was the foundation to their success in the past.