We're finally hours away from what could be the greatest BO5 of Worlds 2021. Two of the most explosive teams in the entire tournament, MAD Lions and DAMWON KIA, are set to meet each other in the Quarterfinals. Which regional champion team will come out on top? Our hot take might surprise you!
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- Worlds 2021 Group A Recap - DAMWON KIA
- Worlds 2021 Group A Recap - Cloud9
- Worlds 2021 Group B Recap
- Worlds 2021 Group C Recap
- Worlds 2021 Group D Recap
DAMWON KIA at Worlds 2021
Damwon has been nothing short of terrifying so far at Worlds 2021. Their undefeated record gave fans hope at what could be a repeat win this year for the returning champions of Worlds 2020. As of now, one could argue there is no better pick for the projected winner of this year's Worlds. This match will be a massive uphill for MAD, who will have to use their 2-3 defeat against DWG from earlier this year at MSI 2021 as experience.
DAMWON KIA's 2021 Recap
This year hasn't come without it's challenges for DWG; Several roster moves and role changes occurred for the team throughout 2021. They swapped top laners with FunPlus Phoenix shortly after the culmination of Worlds 2020, giving away Nuguri for Khan in what was considered a major loss at the time. Additionally, Showmaker briefly replaced Ghost as the ADC with Canyon moving to mid in July. However, things seem to have worked out just fine for them despite the shuffling. DWG KIA placed 1st in the 2021 LCK Spring and Summer Split; The team also made it to the finals of MSI 2021 only to lose in a full length BO5 against RNG.
If there were any doubts about DAMWON as a team coming into this year, they were crushed in their 29 minute opener to Group Stage against FPX. FunPlus Phoenix was the cream of the crop in the LPL, they dominated throughout the majority of 2021. However, they looked lost against Showmaker's Leblanc and Beryl's Yuumi. This team continued stomping on their opponents throughout the Group Stage with relative ease until they ended with a 6-0 record. There doesn't appear to be a real weak link in this roster, as every player has had games in which they shined in Group A.
How can MAD Lions defeat DAMWON KIA?
So how do you beat Showmaker and friends? Well, it might be helpful for Mad Lions to take a look back at MSI 2021 and gain some inspiration from the now knocked out RNG. A huge part of that MSI victory was how RNG kept drafting and playing to their comfort, never making major departures from their play style. It's frequently said that MAD Lions is a best of 5 team, they do a fantastic job of adapting. However, I think it's important for them to not lose their signature LEC aggression. This team loves to take scrappy skirmishes everywhere on the map, their superb team fighting has been a major factor in several comeback victories throughout 2021. The other thing to focus on is the mid lane matchup.
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Showmaker has been named several times in this piece so far and for good reason. He's an easy pick for the best midlaner in the world right now, if his play at Worlds 2021 hasn't confirmed that - I don't know what will. MAD cannot give Showmaker his power picks, they need to deny champions like the Ryze, Twisted Fate, and Sylas. When he's on a comfort pick, Damwon just seem to sync much better.
This was a key factor in the strategy in the MSI 2021 BO5 between MAD and DWG earlier this year which went to 5 games. The mid lane matchup between Showmaker and Humanoid was a little more manageable without some of those picks in play, however MAD still ended up losing games 4 and 5 of that series back to back. This can likely be attributed to a huge loss of momentum, which we know young teams tend to thrive on. Getting off to an early lead in the series may prove crucial for MAD to pull through and secure their way through to semifinals at Worlds 2021.
MAD Lions at Worlds 2021
Expectations haven't been kind to the remaining EU representative at Worlds 2021 so far. MAD struggled early on in Group D, dropping their very first game to Team Liquid in only 27 minutes. However, they were able to bounce back the next day with a 46 minute comeback win against Gen.G - proving their resilience as a team. That same virtue of perseverance stuck with MAD throughout the end of Group Stage as they battled their way out of a 4 way tiebreaker and ended up making it to quarterfinals.
This isn't the same MAD Lions as last year, the team that lost in a BO5 to Supermassive Esports and got knocked out of Worlds 2020 is long gone. The new and improved version of this team should be ready to deal with the expectations and pressure that come from being the top team that the LEC has to offer, but they still have a ton to prove to the haters.
MAD Lions 2021 Recap
MAD's 2021 Journey has been nothing short of impressive. They finished 3rd in the 2021 LEC Spring Split Group Stage with a 10-8 record, but cruised through the upper bracket of playoffs with back to back 3-1 victories over Rogue and G2 Esports to catapult themselves into the finals. Once again, they triumphed over Rogue with a 3-2 win this time, proving themselves the most improved team of Spring Split.
After Spring, MAD headed to MSI 2021 and learned some valuable lessons after giving İstanbul Wildcats their only win of the Group Stage. Things picked up from there though, as they survived the Rumble Stage with a 5-5 record to make it to quarterfinals. It's notable that they dropped a game to the 1-9 Pentanet.GG, once again displaying their weakness for playing down to weaker teams. They also lost to Cloud 9 whilst beating DAMWON, so consistency was a real problem for this team at MSI 2021.
After placing 3rd/4th with that BO5 loss to Damwon, Mad Lions played out a very similar run in the 2021 LEC Summer Split. They came 3rd again with a 12-6 record, but were able to excel in the playoffs with even more dominance. First they knocked G2 Esports down to the lower bracket with a 3-1 series, next they 3-0'd Rogue. Finally, they finished Fnatic off with a 3-1 victory in the Summer Split Finals - proving without a doubt that they are the best team in the LEC.
How can DAMWON KIA defeat MAD Lions?
DAMWON KIA have been here before. They've had plenty of time to prepare for MAD Lions and have survived encounters with this team before. If I was a coach, I'd much rather be on the side of DWG, because they just look unstoppable at the moment. They can rely on any of their players to carry in a tough spot, while only needing to really shut down Armut or Carzzy from the side of MAD. It does seem to be a top lane centric meta at the moment, so they might need to give Khan a little bit of extra help in defeating the Turkish top-gapper on the other side of the river.
Realistically, DWG just need to do what they're known for. Making sure they play clean and efficiently while crushing any attempts of scrappy comeback wins from the side of MAD. They cannot be caught off-guard by the aggressive plays that we've all come to expect from the EU representatives. Ensuring that Showmaker is on a comfort champion would help a ton too, but I think he'll excel regardless of what champion or role he has to play for his team in this best of 5.
To wrap things up, I think the biggest key for Damwon is just to avoid dragging games out at all costs. MAD excel in high pressure late game situations, they know how to raise chaos and thrive off of havoc. Putting DWG into an unfamiliar situation will likely be their goal, it's just up to the Korean Powerhouse to avoid playing into it.
As for my prediction? As much as I'd love to see DAMWON KIA repeat and bring yet another world championship to Korea, I think MAD Lions' Journey in 2021 speaks for itself. This team literally has an anime storyline going for it along with the hopes and dreams of an entire region. If MAD can't stop DAMWON, I don't think any team at Worlds 2021 can.
MAD Lions 3-2 DAMWON KIA
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