Underdog Edward Gaming beat Damwon 3-2 in a best-of-five series. Due to the pandemic, this year there was no live audience, but millions tuned in online to see who would win.
Edward Gaming represented China’s LPL, a region that won Worlds in 2019 and was expected to perform well again this year, although the fan favorite LPL team and 2019 world champion, FunPlus Phoenix, dropped out early after a dismal performance.
Damwon, the returning champion, represented South Korea, which has historically dominated Worlds, with the exception of a few titles going to Europe or China. Last week, it beat out the dynastic winners, T1, another South Korean team that has the most Worlds titles under their belt and the legendary player Lee Sang-hyeok, better known as “Faker.”
Edward Gaming team members expressed they had improved a lot over the course of Worlds. In an October interview, Tian “Meiko” Ye, who supports for Edward Gaming, said the Chinese teams still need to improve. “We learned a lot and also, we made some adjustments, in terms of our aggressive playstyle. I feel we just keep working harder.”
Ye said then that after Worlds, he would go on vacation, go traveling and exploring, and get some rest. Fan expectations added pressure, he said during the tournament, but “it has really motivated me to do better on the stage.”
After the finals, Edward Gaming’s mid-laner, Lee “Scout” Ye-chan said, “I have faced so many challenges throughout this journey. I was finally able to have a good result. I’m also happy I helped [T1 player Lee Sang-hyeok] ‘Faker’ take revenge.”
Edward’s upset prohibited Damwon’s star mid-laner, Heo “ShowMaker” Su and his teammates from becoming the first repeat world champions since SK Telecom T1 in 2015 and 2016. It also deprived top laner Kim “Khan” Dong-ha of a championship before he begins his mandatory military conscription.
Su said in October that growing up, his parents opposed him playing computer games.
“In the beginning, they were against me playing, but after I entered some competitions and brought some results home, they started to trust in me,” Su said. He said they hid his computer mouse several times, and each time he would either borrow a friend’s equipment or locate where his parents had hidden the mouse to continue playing.
“I never had a monitor in the first place, so I always played with the television, using that as my monitor,” he said. Despite the obstacles, he managed to rank up and play “League” at the highest level, Challenger, and started earning money from amateur competitions before signing on with Damwon while he was still in high school. “These days it feels like they’re very proud of me, and they’re cheering me on.”
The biggest PC game in the world with over 100 million monthly active players, “League of Legends” is a competitive title played by amateurs and pros alike. The objective of the game is to out-strategize the other team to ultimately take out their base and to grow stronger by obtaining gold via destroying small minions, other champions and enemy turrets. Two teams of five fight using weapons and magic across a jungle filled with wild creatures. In “League” esports, the biggest event of the year is Worlds, and it’s usually dominated by Asian teams. This year was no different.
Every year, “League of Legends” puts on a show at its World Championship esports finals. In 2017, it flew a giant dragon in augmented reality into the “Bird’s Nest” Olympic Stadium during the Beijing finals. In 2018, it had a virtual Korean pop band, which also released real music. During the pandemic, parent company Riot Games has scaled these celebrations back, keeping this year’s finals pared down to a single venue in Iceland.