Early LCK title favorites DAMWON Gaming and Griffin shine with wins over KT Rolster and Jin Air Green Wings
The penultimate day of the 2019 LCK spring split’s opening week had no surprises. DAMWON Gaming, already established as one of the early favorites, swept reigning champions KT Rolster, while summer runner-ups Griffin also scored a 2-0 victory over Jin Air Green Wings.
DAMWON Gaming continues to justify the hype, sweeps KT Rolster
Despite failing to win the CK title last summer, DAMWON Gaming arrived in the LCK drawing plenty of attention, even more so following an upset over SK Telecom T1 in the 2018 KeSPA Cup quarterfinals. The hype so far seems more than justified, as the recently-promoted team leads the standing with two series wins and a perfect 4-0 record.
Game 1: DAMWON comes out on top of a fiesta to opens the score
As DAMWON’s bottom lane duo Sin “Nuclear” Jeong-hyeon (Xayah) and Ryu “Hoit” Ho-seong (Rakan) forced an early 2-on-2 trade, KT responded by committing four players to the fight thanks to Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong (Lissandra) using his Teleport advantage. With a well-executed dive, Bdd walked away with the first blood while his team came close to adding a second kill.
DWG’s response came as mid laner Heo “ShowMaker” Su and jungler Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu executed a classic Galio-Nocturne combo, diving Byun “Gango” Se-hoon (Kalista) and No “SnowFlower” Hoi-jong (Leona) for two kills. The fiesta at the bottom lane continued as KT’s five players committed to a dive on Nuclear and Hoit. DAMWON also committed its five members to the play, but the reigning LCK champions walked away with four kills, with Gango being the only loss on its side. ShowMaker, the only player standing for DWG, managed to defend the turret, and in the end KT wasn’t able to make anything out of the play.
DAMWON aggressively contested a Mountain drake call by KT, committing four members to the play. Once again, however, the team failed to turn the advantage into something bigger. As KT Rolster went for a repeat of its second dive, DWG found a quick response, taking two kills and immediately turning that into a turret for the bonus gold. KT’s inability to turn its kills into objectives ended up costing them, as the first turret gave DAMWON the space it needed to go rotate the map, clearing KT’s outer turrets in the process.
As time went by, DWG’s better scaling turned the fights in their favor. Down five turrets to two, KT had to take risks and went for Baron. The first attempt ended in a huge teamfight, with ShowMaker almost taking out the enemy team entirely by himself. The second attempt also went nowhere as Canyon forced an engage to stop the execution. The dance around the pit continued until DWG finally found its fight, taking out four players on KT’s side. With some long death timers, the team ignored the Baron and went for the Nexus instead, closing out the 41 kills fiesta in 37 minutes.
Game 2: A much more controlled game by DAMWON
KT once again had a good start, securing an early Infernal drake and picking off Canyon (Kha’zix) inside his own jungle for the first blood. This time, however, it didn’t take long for DAMWON to turn things around. A poorly executed play while trying to take down Nuguri (Vladimir) ended with Bdd (Galio) paying for the mistake and the first turret bonus going to DWG.
DAMWON was now free to rotate towards the bottom side, and the team did so while securing two Infernal drakes and executing a well-synchronized dive to add four more kills. The turret went down right after that. At the same time, Nuguri scaled out of control as the reigning champions could do nothing to stop his split push. KT went for a risky Baron call, but DWG responded immediately, taking out for players on KT Rolster’s side while securing the objective for themselves.
The team only needed one Baron-powered push, easily taking down the three inhibitors before acing KT in order to close out the series.
Griffin dominates relegation-tipped Jin Air Green Wings
How can you not love Griffin? They might have gone from underdogs to title favorites in the span of five months, but the team has stayed true to its unorthodox style, stealing the spotlight with unusual picks. The creative drafts once again played a key part in a series as Griffin had little trouble in sweeping Jin Air Green Wings.
Game 1: One death away from a perfect game
The draft featured a true Griffin special: AD Carry Park “Viper” Do-hyeon went with Vladimir and Son “Lehends” Si-woo resurrected a long disappeared support Ornn pick. But it was Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong who stole the show with his Evelynn pick. Mid laner Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon (Sion) and the bottom lane duo set up a trap as an unsuspecting Moon “Route” Geom-su (Ezreal) walked towards the bush where the trio had been hiding. JAG’s AD Carry didn’t even have the time to react as Viper got the final hit to secure the first kill of the game less than a minute in.
Griffin set the bottom lane as its primary win condition. JAG had no way to deal with Viper and Tarzan’s burst damage, and the outer turret was already down to the ground 13 minutes into the game. Kim “Malrang” Geun-seong (Xin Zhao) was responsible for what would turn out to be JAG’s only kill, as he and Heo “Lindarang” Man-heung (Irelia) successfully executed a dive on Choi “Sword” Sung-won (Urgot).
Viper and Lehends were free to roam around Summoner’s Rift, and pickoff after pickoff Griffin continued to grow its lead. With Jin Air’s base down to one lane turret and three inhibitor turrets, Griffin went for an easy Baron at the 24 minutes mark. While his team went for the siege, Lehends found a solid three-men engage with his Ultimate, creating the advantage the team needed to end the game in 27 minutes.
Game 2: A single elemental drake separates Griffin from the perfect game
Looking for a shake-up, JAG subbed off its starting bottom lane for Lee “Stitch” Seung-ju (Tristana) and Park “Nova” Chan-ho (Alistair). The team’s first and what turned out to be its only objective in the entire game came at the eight minute mark, with Jin Air taking advantage of its river priority to go for an Ocean drake. First blood went to Tarzan (Zac), as Griffin’s jungler executed a good bottom lane gank to take out Nova.
As Tarzan continuously slingshot himself from JAG’s blind spots, Griffin picked up one kill after the other, soon building up a 10,000 gold lead. At the 25 minute mark, Tarzan landed right in the middle of Jin Air’s backline, helping his team secure two more kills to go for the Baron. Already up by 16,000 gold, a single push was all Griffin needed. Tarzan once again reached for the backline, helping his team secure four more kills in order to close out game 2 and sweep the series.