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LCK Spring Week Two: DRX Dominate

Mike Plant  | 
LCK

DRX are the last remaining undefeated team in the LCK. (Photo courtesy Riot Games/LCK) 

The League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) completed their second week of the 2020 Spring Split. DragonX beat Afreeca Freecs to claim sole possession of first place, while T1 took down Gen.G to create a three-way tie for second. We take a look at where things stand in the LCK by looking at the top story lines so far in Korea.

DRX DOMINATE

DragonX continued their dominance in the LCK by picking up two more series victories to become the last remaining undefeated team in Korea. DRX opened the week by defeating Hanwha Life Esports 2-0 before knocking down Afreeca Freecs 2-1.

There was not much drama in the series against HLE. DRX opened game one with a standard composition into HLE’s enchanter heavy team. HLE opted for Tryndamere into Ornn and put Karma mid and Soraka bot carry to run an interesting protect-the-Tryndamere team. DRX exploited HLE’s early weakness, though, and sped up the game before Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin could get going. DRX never trailed in gold and won 11 kills to three in 24 minutes.

Another start-to-finish win in game two set up a match against AF with first place on the line. DRX picked up three of the first four dragons in game one and held a 3k gold lead 25 minutes in, but it wasn’t enough to close out AF. With AF’s Karthus and Varus scaling up with items as DRX’s Renekton and Elise were falling off, AF took control of the crucial mid game team fights to win game one 14 kills to four in 36 minutes.

AF continued to skirmish well in game two, preying on Choi “Doran” Hyeon-joon’s Irelia in the side lanes. But despite holding a 10 kills to four lead at 25 minutes, DRX were still slightly up in gold because of their six to two turret take lead. That’s the power of picking Ziggs and Miss Fortune in the early game.

What DRX needed was a team fight win, and they finally got one at 30 minutes. AF lined up in a choke point at top river, allowing Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu’s MF and Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon’s Ziggs to combo their ultimates for instant destruction. The three kills DRX picked up led to Baron and a quick game win just two minutes later.

Game three was DRX’s most dominant effort of the series. Despite not blowing AF away in kills, they managed the map well enough to catch AF napping and take top inhibitor without contest in an otherwise even game state. That led to Baron priority for DRX, forcing a fight that Doran’s Ornn and Deft’s Miss Fortune combo’d well to win. DRX then immediately closed the game, not wasting any time in the 25 minute win.

DRX may have one of the youngest rosters in the LCK, but they aren’t playing like it so far. They outmaneuvered AF’s veteran core of Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon and Kim “Kiin” Gi-in throughout the series. Kiin roughed up Doran in every laning phase, but Chovy did the same in both of the games that Song “Fly” Yong-jun played for AF. DRX still have their weaknesses to overcome, but they are a deserving 4-0 to open the LCK Spring Split.

T1 BEAT GEN.G

The other great match of the week was between T1 and Gen.G. Kim “Clid” Tae-min faced off against his former team for the first time, but his replacement Moon “Cuzz” Woo-chan and T1 got the last laugh with a 2-1 victory.

Cuzz made his presence known early on in game one. Gen.G were going for an early dragon stack after securing the opening Cloud Drake. They then had priority on Infernal Drake at 13 minutes, but Cuzz bursted it down with Explosive Cask and Smite. Clid didn’t save his Sonic Wave/Resonating Strike combo and was punished by losing the objective and his life.

T1 then went on to secure the next three drakes, giving them Ocean Soul and control of the game at 31 minutes. T1 won an extended Elder Drake fight at 40:30, turned that into Baron, and used the pair of buffs to march into Gen.G’s base. The final score was 12 kills to four in T1’s 44 minute win.

Gen.G bounced back with a dominant game two win. They didn’t end up picking up First Blood until 18 minutes in, but Gen.G had already built a 5k gold lead based on three turret kills and CS leads in every lane but mid. Kim “Canna” Chang-dong’s Kled counter pick into Kim “Rascal” Kwang-hee’s Akali didn’t make an impact, as Rascal carried the game with a 4/0/1 score and most damage dealt (15.8k) in the game. Gen.G won eight kills to one in 31 minutes to force a game three.

If there’s anything we know in League of Legends history, it’s that Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok lives for these clutch moments. Faker was nothing short of phenomenal on Rumble in game three, landing Equalizers that both dealt heavy damage and warped the way Gen.G had to navigate fights. Faker picked up T1’s first four kills, including one on Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk’s Xayah through his Zhonya’s Hourglass stasis.

Picking up Cloud Soul at 35:30 gave T1 the final stats they needed to prevail over Gen.G. Canna’s Ornn ultimate caught Ruler mid lane at 37 minutes and T1 also picked up kills on Rascal and Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong to give them the numbers advantage to end the series.

Both teams showed why they belong among the LCK elite, but T1 had the better team coordination this early into the season. Gen.G definitely have the stronger upside until T1 can develop Canna or Kim “Roach” Kang-hui into a consistent threat, but Faker remains the ultimate trump card.

JUST PICK ORNN

Korea has long been known for their carry top laners. Bok “Repeared” Han Gyu. Park “Shy” Sang-myeon. Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho. Lee “Flame” Ho Jong. Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho. Kim “Khan” Dong-ha. Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok.

So there is obviously a lot of pride in continuing the tradition of being a carry in top lane. That ambition and pride in being a carry can manifest itself in different ways. Some top laners don’t want to play tanks, seeing them as crutches for less mechanically skilled players. Some want to show they can be the best on every type of champion, regardless of its skill ceiling or kill potential in lane.

Whatever feelings LCK top laners have about Ornn, they and their teams have flourished when picking him. For a champion with the fourth-highest pick/ban rate in the league, his 68.4% win rate is the highest of any champion that has been played a minimum of 10 games. That number now dwarfs that of Aphelios, who still sits at a strong 60% after two weeks.

Ornn fits into any composition, can be flexed between top and mid, and gives his team a huge influx of gold through upgraded items. Teams that have picked him have been winning. Yet, he still only has been present in 76.5% of champ selects. Why is that?

You can say that he is open to being counter picked, and that’s true. Sett, the newest champion, has a direct counter kit to Ornn and has been picked or banned in 50 of the 51 LCK games so far. Fortunately for Ornn teams, he has the flexibility to switch to mid lane for a better matchup. The strength of the upgraded Abyssal Mask makes it very easy for Ornn to rush health and magic resist against ranged mages to withstand the lane. He also can match up with waveclear.

So with that said, it seems like the LCK’s Ornn priority is too low so far. Whether it stems from a lack reading the meta or stubbornness regarding tank champions, expect to see Ornn’s pick/ban percentage continue to rise until the champion sees nerfs.

LOOKING AHEAD: LCK WEEK THREE

Wednesday, February 19th – 3 a.m. PST: DragonX vs. T1

Two teams coming off wins in the biggest matches of week two meet for the first time in week three. The teams have similar strengths, as DRX play through Chovy and Deft, while T1 play through Faker and Park “Teddy” Jin-seong. Both Canna and Doran have struggled in limited action and have taken a backseat in priority. It would make sense that Cuzz’ experience would help T1 come out on top, but Hong “Pyosik” Chang-hyeon matched up well with Spirit.

Friday, February 21st – 3 a.m. PST: DragonX vs. Gen.G

DragonX have the better match record so far, but Gen.G have shown more firepower on their team across every role. Rascal against Doran is a mismatch on paper, so DRX will need to create advantages elsewhere. Chovy and Deft have been a better to open the season than Bdd and Ruler, but it’s hard to see any one position DRX can make up the difference. It might not matter, though, if DRX can run Gen.G around the map like they did to Afreeca Freecs in week two.

Mike Plant
Mike Plant
Michael Plant has been playing League of Legends since 2010 and analyzing it nearly as long. More recently, he's been interested in the developing PUBG and Fortnite scenes. When he's not playing or watching video games, he's more than likely following one of his Houston sports teams.