DWG KIA outlast T1 3-2 to advance to LoL Worlds 2021 finals

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DAMWON Gaming KIA following their victory over T1 to advance to the grand finals of the 2021 League of Legends World Championship. (Photo: LoL Esports/Riot Games)
DAMWON Gaming KIA following their victory over T1 to advance to the grand finals of the 2021 League of Legends World Championship. (Photo: LoL Esports/Riot Games)

Defending League of Legends (LoL) world champions DAMWON Gaming KIA (DWG KIA) now have a chance to make history by winning the Summoner's Cup for the second-straight year.

In a clash between South Korean titans, DWG KIA outlasted T1, the winningest LoL team of all time, in a best-of-five showdown that went the distance in the semi-finals of the 2021 LoL World Championships to earn the first spot in the grand finals.

In the most exciting match of the entire tournament thus far, DWG KIA bounced back from a 1-2 deficit to defeat T1 3-2 in a decisive fifth game. 

While each side exhibited both stellar play and innovative drafts during the series, what ended up being the difference was their level of execution. DWG KIA showed their mastery of the game as they figured out every strategy and tactic T1 threw against them to win the series.

The defending champions were dominant in the first game of the series, with a team composition geared for top lane dominance and range advantage. 

T1 tried to push for early game aggression, with Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok taking first blood on DWG KIA top laner Kim "Khan" Dong-ha.

However, DWG KIA executed clever trades while efficiently rotating around the map to obtain objectives. Cho "BeryL" Geon-hee's Maokai pick also had a huge impact on the game, with traps that prevented T1 from engaging on their terms. With all the poke and burst damage coming from all sides, T1 were pinned with no way out as DWG KIA swept the series opener in only 29 minutes.

Game two started with a slow burn, as both teams were neck and neck in gold and exp early on. T1 then displayed their team's growth through their execution, opting for split push tactics and only forcing team fights where they had the advantage.

During a clash for the Dragon, T1's advantage was reinforced by a clash between Faker, the consensus LoL GOAT, and DWG KIA star Heo "ShowMaker" Su, with Faker coming out on top. 

But it was Moon "Oner" Hyeon-joon that stole the show with a huge Baron steal, allowing Faker and the rest of T1 to take the second game of the series after 37 minutes and hand DWG KIA their first loss at Worlds.

Both teams pulled out innovative drafts in game three, with DWG KIA picking Beryl's Maokai again while T1 answered with Ryu "Keria" Min-seok's controversial Zilean debut.

While DWG KIA had a slight lead in the early game, T1 quietly scaled their champions and made cross trades in the map. Keria's Zilean pick was pivotal in the late game, as his perfectly timed revive ults gave T1 a much-needed safety net. Ziliean also gave the team so much movement speed that made it difficult for Maokai to lock in any traps on any of them.

And with a deadly combination of speed and burst damage, with revives in their back pocket, T1 defeated DWG KIA once again in 38 minutes of action to take a commanding 2-1 series lead.

With their backs against the wall in a do-or-die game four, DWG KIA needed someone to step up to keep their hopes for a second-straight Summoner's Cup alive. It was ShowMaker and Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu who answered the call, as they shut down Faker and bot laner Lee "Gumayusi" Min-hyeong to throw a wrench at T1's plans.

Despite being branded as the 'next Faker', ShowMaker outshone the GOAT in a 30-minute game four to make his own claim to greatness and force the series to a deciding game five.

Game five saw the return of Keria's Zilean from T1, but DWG KIA already found the answer for it: champions with long-range pokes. 

Both teams tried to keep the score even in a tense do-or-die match, with cross-map trades on both sides. DWG KIA, however, proved why they were the superior team by using cunning play to choke out T1's resources, leaving them unable to take on the dragons and barons. 

The relentless poke damage from both Showmaker and Jang "Ghost" Yong-jun also prevented T1 from scaling and stamp out any hopes they had for a comeback.

In the deciding fight of the series at the dragon pit, Canyon's smite secured the Dragon while the rest of DWG KIA steamrolled through all of T1's members. After 36 minutes of action, the defending champions secured the 3-2 series victory and a spot in the grand finals.

DWG KIA will face the winners of the semi-final match between EDward Gaming and Gen.G Esports in a best-of-five series in the grand finals on 6 November. 

Should DWG KIA raise this year's Summoner's Cup, they will be the second to achieve back-to-back Championship titles after T1.

Meanwhile, T1 bow out of Worlds 2021 in 3rd-4th place with US$178,000 in consolation. While this isn't the result they were hoping for, it is still an admirable showing when considering only Faker and Keria had previously experienced Worlds while the rest of the team were essentially still rookies.

For more esports news updates, visit https://yhoo.it/YahooEsportsSEA and check out Yahoo Esports Southeast Asia’s Facebook page and Twitter, as well as our Gaming channel on YouTube.

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