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DAMWON Gaming survived lane swaps, funnel strats, Nidalee jungle, and solo top Pyke to defeat Lowkey Esports 3-1 and advance to the Worlds 2019 Group Stage. Korea’s third seed showed a lot of flows in their gameplay, but was nevertheless the classier side on the Rift today, and is ready to meet the stronger Main Event teams next.

The return of the funnel strats

Game 1 was like anything anyone would’ve predicted. To avoid laning against Garen/Yuumi, Lowkey lane-swapped their Tristana/Shen lane to pressure Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon up top and punish him for his greedy Cull start.

Lowkey quickly took control of the entire early game and funnel-fed Nguyen “Celebrity” Long Hiep’s Tristana all 15 turret plates, skyrocketing his networth high above everyone else’s. At 13 minutes, Celebrity was nearing 9K networth, with most other players hovering around 4-5K.

Still, DAMWON had the superior mid-game team fighting and for the longest time it looked like they would turn the game around and this fat Tristana would go down as one of those intentional challenges the Koreans like to impose on themselves. Squeezing through DAMWON’s poor map control around Baron, however, Lowkey stole the major objective and kept themselves ahead.

Another Baron went into Lowkey’s favor after DAMWON allowed it to be stolen underneath their noses, which also translated into immediate Elder Drake. Celebrity’s quick pushing had also opened one of the lanes leading into DAMWON’s base but a good teamfight by DWG actually put them in the gold lead and at the very doors of Lowkey.

Once again, Celebrity came big for his team, cleaning the majority of DAMWON at his Nexus turrets. Smelling an opening, he TP’d immediately to the exposed base of the Koreans and with the help of a few of his teammates killed the Nexus right before DAMWON could respawn and turn it all around.

Lowkey 1-0 DAMWON.

DAMWON back to business

The 15 minutes of fame that Lowkey got in game 1 — while impressive — were all the VCS team could get in the series. Right from game 2, the LCK third seed started playing like the favorites they were picked for and Lowkey quickly realized they are being outclassed.

While DWG continued to make silly, rookie mistakes like giving away first bloods, having Nuguri suffer on top and even getting aced at Baron once due to poor positioning, it wasn’t a big enough opening for Lowkey to exploit. Lowkey tried everything: from Pyke top lane to Nidalee but nothing worked. DWG gathered more and more pace and by game 4 when the series ended, the Korean side was firmly and control and LK only got a handful of kills on the board.

DWG’s future in the main event

While DAMWON proved they are not a Play-In team, going almost undefeated through groups and knockouts, they don’t seem like a Main Even team either. Their early game is ripe with mistakes and a faster team could end them there and then. Nuguri doesn’t look in top form either, and if LK were able to shut down his early game (even though, yes, he always managed to recover and not without solid help from Canyon), so will the strong Main Event teams. DWG’s baron control was also poor against LK, ranging from warding mistakes, to allowing steals, to being aced.

Looking forward, DWG have two group stage drawing options:

  • Group B with FunPlus Phoenix, GAM Esports, and J Team
  • Group D with Invictus Gaming, Team Liquid, and ahq

For DWG, Group B is perhaps the preferred one. They already beat one VCS team and so far this year, the LMS hasn’t shown much to convince fans it’s a region to fear. In contrast, in Group D, DWG will have to fight Team Liquid, whose bot lane is in top career form, and Invictus Gaming who, despite slow Summer Season, are still the defending champions.

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