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League of Legends Worlds 2022
Dec. 13, 2022
Boris Zhang, Grade 12

League of Legends, commonly known as League, or LoL, is a 5v5 MOBA developed by Riot Games, popularly amongst students at Burnaby North. Every year, in October and November, Riot Games organizes the League of Legends World Championship, an international tournament in which teams from around the world compete for the title of the best team in the world. In each of the 12 global regions, teams compete locally to determine who competes at the World Championship, comprising two parts: play-ins and the main event. Teams from minor regions, such as Turkey and Brazil, and the 3rd/4th seed of major regions, North America,  Europe, China, and Korea, compete in play-ins. The top 4 teams qualify for the main event. The main event is made up of the group stage and elimination. There are 4 groups, and each group plays a double round-robin to determine the top 2 teams from each group who would qualify for playoffs. The playoffs contain quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals. All matches are a best-of-5, in which the first team to win 3 matches wins the series, and moves on.

This year’s group stage was extremely exciting. Groups A, B, and C all featured highly competitive teams from Europe, Korea, and China. Finally, Europe’s Rogue, China’s JDG, EDG, RNG, Korea’s T1, DRX, GenG, and DWG were the teams to make it out.

In the quarterfinals, JDG matched up against Rogue. For many, this was expected to be a clean sweep by JDG, as JDG was China’s #1 seed, and China is historically one of the top regions in the world. The results did not disappoint, as JDG moved on to the semifinals with a 3-0 victory. In the second match, RNG faced T1, a match expected to be tightly contested. RNG was the reigning MSI champion and one of the top teams in the tournament. T1 won the first game, but after they overturned a significant deficit in game 2 to go up 2-0, RNG cracked, and T1 annihilated them in game 3 for a 3-0 victory, moving on to the next round. The third quarterfinal match featured GenG vs DWG KIA. As GenG entered the tournament as Korea’s #1 seed, the best team from Korea, they were heavy favourites. During Korea’s regular season, DWG had never beaten GenG in any best-of-5 matches. However, with the help of DWG’s star jungle and mid-laner, Canyon and Showmaker, they pushed GenG to game 5, where they put up a good fight. GenG won game 5, winning the series 3-2. 

Finally, DRX played EDG in the final match. Many expected EDG to beat DRX with ease. EDG were the reigning world champions, having won Worlds 2021, while DRX were the 4th seed from Korea, meaning they were statistically the worst team from Korea. The outcome was a surprise to all. EDG won the first two games, while DRX won the following 3, completing the reverse sweep and taking the series. To put into perspective how rare a reverse sweep is, it has only happened once before, between China’s Top Esports and Europe’s Fnatic at the 2020 world championships.

In the first quarterfinal match, JDG faced T1, an exciting matchup as both teams were some of the best from their respective regions. Things looked promising for JDG, as they went up 1-0 after game 1. However, T1 bounced back to take the next three consecutive games, sending China’s last representative home. For the second match, GenG faced off against DRX. Nearly everybody believed that GenG would stomp DRX, as they haven’t lost to them all year. After GenG took game 1, many thought that GenG would proceed to sweep DRX 3-0. However, DRX, just like T1, won the next three games, sending Korea’s best team home in one of the most remarkable upsets of the season.

DRX vs T1 in the finals was an even more exciting matchup than anybody could anticipate, due in part to two specific players: DRX’s ADC, Kim “Deft” Hyuk-Kyu, and T1’s mid-laner, Lee “Faker” Sang-Hyeok. Deft is widely regarded as one the greatest ADC players in League history, while Faker is considered the best mid-laner and the greatest player ever. The two go back a long time, both attending Mapo High School. At the time, Deft reached Challenger rank, meaning he was one of the top 300 players in all of Korea, while Faker was ranked first, the best player in Korea. Deft’s friends used to joke that Deft couldn’t even brag about being Challenger since there was a kid who was literally ranked #1 right down the hallway. After high school, the two went drastically different ways. Deft joined a Korean e-sports team, Samsung White, and made it to the semifinals of Worlds 2014. After that, he would not make it past the quarterfinals for 7 consecutive years. While he did win the mid-season invitational in 2015, he never found any success at worlds. On the other hand, Faker went on to win the 2013, 2015, and 2016 World Championships, as well as the 2016 and 2017 mid-season invitationals, cementing himself as the greatest player in League history.

Moreover, word quickly spread around the League community that this was Deft’s “last dance.” He is 26 years old and faces mandatory Korean military service. Therefore, many fans believed this was his last year competing as a pro gamer.

With no surprise, the finals were an exciting match. The two teams fought tooth and nail in one of the most competitive best-of-5s we have seen all year. It went to a decisive game 5, in which DRX chose unorthodox champions, such as Bard and Hecarim. These are champions that nobody played before this, so it shocked all the viewers when they were selected. Despite the unorthodox picks, DRX managed to come out on top, and Deft finally won his first world title.