Many teams will be making their first-ever appearance at this year’s League of Legends World Championship. Joining them will be Griffin and Damwon Gaming (DWG) hailing from the LCK (League of Legends Champions Korea). Will they be able to live up to the high expectations that viewers from around the world have of LCK teams? Will they bring back the glory days of Korea? These are the types of questions that are on everyone’s mind. Let’s dig deeper to find out the answers!

Griffin was promoted into the LCK after defeating MVP in the LCK 2018 Summer Promotion tournament. The team consists of top laner Choi “Sword” Sung-won, jungler Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong, mid laner Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon, ADC (Attack Damage Carry) Park “Viper” Do-hyeon, support Son “Lehends” Si-woo with substitute top laner Choi “Doran” Hyeon-joon and support Jeong “Krabbie” Sang-hyeon completing the line-up. Ever since Griffin was promoted into the LCK, they have made a great impact by placing in the top two-three split in a row. They also lifted the 2019 Rift Rivals trophy alongside their fellow LCK teams: SKT Telecom T1Kingzone DragonX, and Damwon Gaming.

As a team, Griffin is known for their innovative playstyle, which has brought them huge success. For example, support Lehends is always able to bring out a unique champions pick such as Elise (Jungle Champion) and Pantheon (Top lane/ Mid lane Champion) to confound their opponents — this tactic has proved to be extremely successful at times. ADC Viper can play a non-traditional bottom lane champion like Yasuo (Top lane/Mid lane Champion) or Viktor (Mid lane Champion). This flexibility from Griffin‘s bottom lane duo (consisting of Lehends and Viper) resulted in the pair being one of the best bottom lanes in the LCK. Jungler Tarzan with his pathing is consistently able to create great ganking time for his laners and as a result, helps in snowballing the team to victory. Griffin has one of the most promising mid laners in the LCK in the form of Chovy — a player who is considered to be the next “Faker” (SKT Faker is a T1 mid laner who is regarded to be the world’s No. 1 League of Legends player). Chovy has a deep champion pool, and his prowess on Akali makes that specific champion a must ban toward him. Griffin‘s weakness lies in their top laner Sword. Sword has a weak champion pool, and this factor can be abused by opponents during the Pick and Ban phase. His substitute Doran has a lack of experience, which will count against him. Griffin also has never won a best of five series in the finals with the exception of their victory in the Kespa Cup. This leads to the question of are they able to hold their own if they ever make it to this year’s World Championship Finals (which is a five-match series). The loss of their head coach Kim “cvMax” will also raise questions of how well will they fare without him.

Based on the picture displayed above, Griffin is drawn in Group A alongside G2 EsportsCloud9, and one other team that will be placed with the rest from the current ongoing play-in stage. G2 Esports poses the biggest threat to Griffin because of how their playstyle is both aggressive and innovative, which has brought G2 Esports huge success in both the 2019 MSI (Mid Season Invitational) tournament and their domestic league.
However, Griffin should easily defeat Cloud9, who I consider their ADC Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi to be Griffin‘s biggest threat. Whichever team that wins the play-in knock out round and subsequently places in Group A should also be easy picking for Griffin.

The year 2019 brought the arrival of Damwon Gaming into the LCK after they were promoted in the 2019 LCK Spring Season Promotion tournament. Coached by Kim “Micro” Mok-kyoung, the team’s starting lineup consists of top laner Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon, jungler Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu, mid laner Heo “ShowMaker” Su, Sin “Nuclear” Jeong-hyeon, and support Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee. Rounding up the team as substitutes are top laner Lee “Flame” Ho-jong, jungler Son “Punch” Min-hyuk, ADC Lee “Aries” Chae-hwan, and support Ryu “Hoit” Ho-seong. They had a good run in their very first split finishing in 5th place in the regular LCKSpring season. They went on to secure fourth place in the play-off, which resulted in them joining Rift Rivals where they lead LCK to victory. Damwon Gaming had an even better run in the summer season where they ended up as the second-best team in the regular season. Unfortunately, they were defeated by SKT in the LCKSummer Semi-final, thus finishing in 3rd place. Damwon Gaming then went on to play in the LCK Regional Finals. This is where they won against Kingzone DragonX, thereby ensuring that they qualify as the LCK 3rd seed for this year’s League of Legends World Championship.

Damwon Gaming’s strengths lie in their solo laners. Top laner Nuguri is always able to outplay his opponents, and even when falling behind he can still mount a comeback in team fights most of the time. Nuguri is also known for his Vladimir, which he likes to pull out even when it is not in the meta. Midlaner ShowMaker, like his IGN suggests, is always putting on a show in the mid lane. He is arguably one of the current best mid laners in the world, and his proficiency on a champion such as Akali is to be feared. Jungler Canyon has really good synergy with his solo laners and is often able to help snowball their lanes into victory. Given that Coach Micro lead Invictus Gaming to obtain the World Championship title last year, Damwon Gaming has the know-how on how to win the coveted title. Their weakness stems from their bottom lane duo. ADC Nuclear might have a fearsome IGN, but he does not pop off in game usually. He instead is frequently put on a scaling ADC champion and is left alone to farm in a lane. Meanwhile (instead of aiding Nuclear), support BeryL is off roaming and making plays in other lanes. BeryL is known for his Alistar and Yuumi, which he is highly skilled in. However, on other champions, he does not perform as well on, and this results in a really weak bottom lane duo for Damwon Gaming.

Damwon Gaming will either be placed in Group B or Group D in the 2019 World Championship after knocking out Lowkey Esports in the first play-in knockout series. While they are still expected to be able to win in whatever group they will end up placing in, they will still need to work on their early game (I see them conceding many first bloods). In conclusion, I personally feel that Griffin and Damwon Gaming can make it far at this year’s championship as long as they can fix their current issues. Together with SKT T1, I expect the two teams to bring back glory to Korea once again.

Chances of winning the 2019 World Championship:

Griffin: 75%
Damwon Gaming: 70%