- Damwon Gaming made quick work of the Play-In Stage, clinching a spot in the Main Event Group Stage. Here’s a recap of the matches.
Clutch Gaming, Damwon Gaming advance to Group Stage
Damwon Gaming take down feisty Lowkey Esports
The Korean 3rd seed went almost unscathed through the Play-In stage. With the victory, they make it to the Group Stage of the League of Legends World Championship 2019.
Damwon Gaming went 4-0 in the round-robin phase, the only team in the Play-Ins to do so. Grouped with Brazilian representatives Flamengo eSports and their Turkish counterpart Royal Youth, Damwon Gaming made quick work of both. In the draw for the Knockout Phase of Play-Ins, they drew the Vietnamese 2nd seed Lowkey Esports from Group C.
The young Korean team, led by star top laner Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon, unexpectedly dropped the first game of the series. The early minutes of the first game saw Lowkey with a gold lead after 2 kills on Nuguri. Forced to make a play despite the gold deficit, Damwon’s clean teamfighting gave them a 3 for 1. However, Damwon’s greed got the best of them when they stayed to get Lowkey’s mid outer turret. Lowkey’s ADC Nguyễn Phước “Celebrity” Long Hiệp’s Tristana teleported in with a newly completed Infinity Edge to get a 3 for 1 back.
The action didn’t stop there. The earlier engage gave Damwon false confidence, thinking they can get another teamfight win despite the gold deficit they were in. They spotted Lowkey Esports taking a drake and engaged but ultimately lose a disjointed fight as Lowkey aced the Korean squad. After that, Damwon didn’t stop forcing the issue. They managed to get a decent fight in the top lane at the 18-minute mark and get a 4 for nil. After that, they collapsed on a scattered Lowkey team and get their own ace.
However, Lowkey Esports managed to sneak a 30 minute Baron to extend the game. Then, on the next Baron spawn, Lowkey Esports jungler Đỗ Ngọc “DNK” Khải exploited a gap in Damwon’s positioning and stole the Baron. Damwon can’t seem to control the objectives despite their lead, losing an Elder Drake at the 38th minute.
In a surprising turn of events, Damwon botched their final push and Celebrity teleported to the top lane and into the history books: This is Vietnam’s first-ever win against a Korean team.
- Related: Worlds 2019 – Play-ins Day 4 Recap
Nuguri is surely getting some nerves as he was once again the first casualty of the game. However, Damwon’s draft filled with their comfort picks allowed to them to execute near perfectly the rest of the game. Damwon Gaming’s support Cho “Beryl” Geon-hee Alistar is night and day compared to his other picks. Without objectives to help them offset the skill difference, Lowkey did not put up much of a fight and lost in under 26 minutes.
Also, this is the first time I’ve seen the Qiyana ult interaction with Taliyah wall. I’m not sure if that’s something they planned back in the draft, but it did get a genuine wow from me.
Lowkey Esports surely knows how to capitalize on early game aggression, as they get another first blood in this game. However, Damwon Gaming gave them a taste of their own medicine as the Korean squad matched their aggression and won virtually every fight in the game. When your opponent does you better than you, there’s not much you can really do. However, a silver lining for Lowkey came in the form of an ace in the Baron pit that allowed them to stall the game for a while. That did not last long, unfortunately, as Damwon closed out the game after getting another Baron.
Armed with confidence and much needed early game adjustments, Damwon started the game on fire and never looked back. Damwon’s bottom lane repelled an early dive and maintained control of their lane, something they didn’t have in the past games of the series. Despite Lowkey’s attempts to get back into the game and the series, Damwon Gaming was just the better team in every aspect of the game. They were outplaying Lowkey Esports mechanically and strategically, something Korean teams have been famous for.
Credit to Lowkey Esports for not giving up at all. No one expected them to win even one game or at least even stay close in any game. Let’s hope we see more growth from the Vietnamese scene.
Player of the Series: Heo “Showmaker” Su
- Related: Worlds 2019 – Play-ins Day 3 Recap
Clutch Gaming sweeps Royal Youth
The North American 3rd seed started the Play-Ins with a loss to CIS team Unicorns of Love. Despite a shaky showing, they managed to win two quick games against OPL team Mammoth. This gave them the bye for the three-way tiebreaker that allowed them to secure the first seed out of Group A.
Meanwhile, Royal Youth needed a tiebreaker to clinch the second seed out of Group D. After losing to brTT’s Draven in their first game, they made sure he was a non-factor the rest of the games they played. As a result, Royal Youth made it out and were matched with Group A’s first seed, Clutch Gaming.
Clutch Gaming’s star top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon’s ability (and willingness) to play unorthodox champions in the top lane give them a huge advantage in the draft. Clutch Gaming can flex pretty much anything except the support champions. Meanwhile, Royal Youth depend on jungler Can “Closer” Çelik and Na “Pilot” Woo-hyung to carry them in the early game and late game, respectively. To do so, they prioritize early picks for Closer and then mostly put Pilot on scaling hyper carries. With that said, Clutch was able to draft a potent duo for Huni and jungler Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo, giving them early game priority and turret plate leads.
With a superior teamfighting composition, Clutch Gaming dismantled Royal Youth over and over again. Thanks to a huge gold lead, they were able to set up vision control for objectives without contest. Whenever Royal Youth approaches, Clutch immediately turn on them. In the end, it was a clean, easy game for Clutch.
Royal Youth tried to make adjustments to their draft. They gave away the Rumble to Clutch in order to pick a winning top-jungle duo with Renekton-Elise. In the process, they give up a very strong Pyke away to Clutch Gaming. With the Pyke, they managed to get a 2v2 kill in the bottom lane. Meanwhile, Clutch also won a 3 for 1 in the Rift Herald area.
Thanks to superior roaming and map control from Clutch, they managed to turn around fights and build leads everywhere across the map. With a massive gold lead, they easily take Baron and even ace Royal Youth when they tried to contest. Down 12k gold, Royal Youth tried to defend their base but it was all futile effort as Clutch Gaming took a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.
- Related: Worlds 2019 – Play-ins Day 2 Recap
Huni might have the world record for most marksmen played in the top lane. With a Lucian in the draft, I was foolish to think it was that simple. Instead, it was Ezreal in the top lane of Huni and Lucian for bot laner Cody Sun. Royal Youth tried a hail mary with Jayce and Blitzcrank, hoping to run away with the early game.
The plan quickly went awry, as Cody Sun got an early 2v2 kill in the bot lane. To add insult to injury, Lira managed to get a kill on another 2v2 skirmish in the mid lane. After that, it was the Cody Sun show as he flexed his skills in the bot lane and completely outclassed Pilot and Tolerant. The Blitzcrank pick, while game-changing, is extremely difficult to play with from behind. You simply can’t hook any target, because that might just kill your team by giving the enemy a free engage.
Armed with a 7k gold lead before 20 minutes, Clutch methodically strip Royal Youth off of objectives. After the first Baron, Royal Youth didn’t stand a chance. A few minor hiccups prevented Clutch Gaming from ending the game quickly but the end result was inevitable. Clutch completed the sweep at the 37th minute of Game 3.
Huni might finally get what he wished for: a reunion with Faker and Fnatic in the group of death.
Player of the Series: Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon
Splyce, Unicorns of Love, Hong Kong Attitude and Isurus Gaming will fight for the last two spots in the Group Stage of the Main Event. The Knockout Stage of the Play-Ins will resume tomorrow. Stay tuned for more Worlds 2019 updates.