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With Worlds 2022 about to begin, the League of Legends Champions Korea’s DRX are one of the 24 teams from across the world that are making their way to the biggest event of the year. Every team entering the League of Legends World Championship have the same goal; to stand at the top, uncontested, and hoist the Season 12 Summoner’s Cup high.

After a rollercoaster of a season, DRX battled through a rough summer split to get themselves into the LCK regional finals where they finally got revenge against a team that had their number all year as they punched the last ticket to Worlds 2022.

 

DRX (LCK) Worlds 2022 starting roster breakdown

  • Top: Hwang “Kingen” Seong-hoon | Signed in November 2020, formerly a member of  Bilibili Gaming
  • Jungle: Hong “Pyosik” Chang-hyeon | Signed in December 2019
  • Mid: Kim “Zeka” Geon-woo | Signed in December 2021, formerly a member of Bilibili Gaming
  • Bot: Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyul | Signed in December 2021, formerly a member of Hanwha Life Esports
  • Support: Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee| Signed in December 2021, formerly a member of DWG KIA
  • Sub/Jungle: Lee “Juhan” Ju-han | Signed in July 2022, formerly a member of PSG Talon

How they got here

After missing out on Worlds 2021 when the team got there in 2020, the organization knew they needed some changes. But instead of blowing it up completely, the team kept their top side of the map while looking to make changes to their mid and bot lanes. They brought back Deft after a one year absence away from the team while also bringing in world champion support player BeryL and took a flyer on widely unproven mid-laner Zeka. Entering 2022, the team definitely looked better than their 2021 summer form that saw them finish dead last in the LCK  but the jury was out on whether the team was playoff good, let alone Worlds 2022 contenders.

With the LCK 2022 spring split underway, the first two weeks were ugly for the team. With a 1-3 record, the team looked like they didn’t upgrade at all. But starting in Week 3, something switched. The team went from getting 2-0’d by everyone to 2-0’ing everyone. A nice five-series win streak against some of the better teams in the region, including DWG KIA shot them up the standings into fourth place where they would stay for the rest of the season.

With the LCK having four Worlds 2022 slots, DRX looked like the far and away fourth-place team just behind the three juggernauts of T1, DK, and Gen.G. But then playoffs came around. DRX matched up against Kwangdang Freecs, a team with a significantly worse record then themselves. DRX lost in five games and where eliminated in fifth place.

Heading into summer, DRX still looked like the probable fourth seed at Worlds 2022 with many thinking KDF’s run was a fluke. The good news for DRX was that KDF’s run was indeed a one-time affair with the team not even making playoffs in the summer. However, the bad news was that there were two teams that emerged in the summer that proved to not only contest DRX for their fourth seed, but actually surpass them. Liiv SANDBOX and KT Rolster both finished the summer split with better records than DRX and both 2-0’d DRX in the regular season.

DRX still qualified for playoffs as the sixth seed but their once hopeful Worlds 2022 opportunity was quickly fading. The team needed to improve fast. DRX matched with LSB in the first round of playoffs and just like in the regular season, they got smashed this time 3-1 and DRX were relegated to the LCK Regional Finals where they would most likely have to face LSB and KT again back-to-back to earn their spot at Worlds.

Sure enough, that path was exactly the one DRX had to take. In the lower bracket, DRX matched up with KT with the winner heading to the qualifier match for Worlds and the loser having their season end on the spot. DRX went down 2-1 against KT and before the team took the stage for their potential last game of the year, the team made a switch in the jungle position. Out was Pyosik and in was Juhan, a player the team just signed to the roster not even a month prior. But Juhan proved to be the spark the team needed, DRX pulled off two wins in a row to move onto the qualifier match against LSB.

DRX kept Juhan in the starting roster to begin the LSB series and in Game 1, they got a victory to go up 1-0. In Game 2 DRX gave one back to tie the series up at 1-1. DRX subbed back in Pyosik to see if things would change but with Pyosik in, the team lost again which for the second straight series forced DRX into a tough position. Facing elimination DRX put Juhan back in and after a Game 4 win to put the entire season on one game, Juhan popped off in Game 5 giving DRX their first match win against LSB in four tries and most importantly, the fourth spot at Worlds 2022.

Players to Watch

DRX has a couple of players of note on their roster. Deft is making his seventh Worlds appearance in what could be his final year of competitive play. As one of the all-time great bot laners, Deft hasn’t had the best split but from a storyline perspective, watching one of the best to ever do it play on the world stage potentially one last time will be special.

In the opposite side of the career spectrum, Zeka has quietly had an impressive summer campaign for someone who is pretty much a rookie still. Zeka is still just 19 years old and is in his third split of major region play but this year has been his best. He placed in the top five mid-players in the league in player of the game awards and actually led all mid laners in the award as well. There has not been a more valuable mid-laner to their team than Zeka has been to DRX.

And finally, there is Juhan. As someone who was just kicked from PSG Talon after a poor 2022 Mid-Season Invitational performance, Juhan made his major region debut in the 2022 LCK summer split in three games but didn’t play another until he was put into an elimination game with the entire year on the line for DRX and crushed it. Juhan was the primary reason why the team qualified for Worlds in the first place despite only playing a grand total of nine games, six of them in the LCK Regional Finals.

How DRX can suceed at Worlds 2022

As the LCK fourth seed, DRX will be playing in the play-in stage to kick off their Worlds 2022 campaign. Although they are in the much more stacked group of the two, they are still far and away one of the favorites to make it out. As a team from the LCK, for DRX to succeed, they should not be just shooting for a group stage birth or to be competitive in their group, they should be looking to at the very least, make it to the knockout stage.

Anything less than a Top 8 would be a failure for any LCK team. With that said, that’s not a guarantee. DRX will definitely have to work for it and with their jungler situation in limbo, it’s not clear they will have the cohesiveness to play against tougher competition.

However, if the team can put their trust into one starting roster on the same page or somehow weaponize their jungler combination, as long as the rest of the team can play up to par, the team should be able to challenge for a quarterfinals spot. But if Deft can channel his prime and BeryL play like he did in his Worlds 2020 championship campaign, perhaps the team can make some serious noise and take out one of the Worlds 2022 favorites.