In the first Semifinal of the weekend, the lone remaining LPL representative will take on the most historied organization in Worlds history.
The story of Worlds 2022 closely resembles last year’s event. LPL came into the event with very high expectations. People thought all four LPL teams had some chance of winning the tournament. But like last year, we are left with three LCK teams against the LPL Summer champions. LPL beat the odds to win it all last year, can JDG repeat EDG’s performance?
They might have an uphill battle, considering Faker never gave up the Worlds trophy when the event was hosted in North America. He won in 2013 and in 2016, which was his last one. T1 didn’t come into the Worlds 2022 as the biggest favorites, especially after their not-so-great Summer. But it is hard not to think this can be the year Faker wins again, after a great Group Stage run and a 3-0 series against RNG.
On the other side, JDG had more games where it looked like they were maybe falling behind, but they just kept out-teamfighting anyone they faced. There were no gold leads this tournament where the LPL champions did not have a chance to get back into the game, as we saw during their tiebreaker against DWG KIA.
The battle of carry top laners
Top lane players of both these teams have been a big talking point all Worlds long, with many considering Zeus and 369 as the two best top laners in the world. 369 was one of the biggest reasons for JDG’s rise to the top in LPL. He was a player known for his inconsistent performances, hence the “rolling a three” jokes, but the 2022 Summer has been almost nothing but nines. Zeus, on the other hand, is still playing the first full year of his professional career. Of course, it is easy to forget thanks to what he shows on the Rift.
We saw what kind of difference flexible and capable top laners can make, especially in East vs West matchups. In a meta that rewards getting early game leads and pushing the tempo, players capable of creating individual advantages are a big luxury. And we saw both 369 and Zeus create leads for themselves, over and over, regardless of what champion they played. Zeus dominated his lanes in carry vs. tank or carry vs. carry matchups, while 369 was solo killing his enemies and 1v9’ing games on Ornn.
It will be interesting to see how the top lane will play out, and how can the junglers will be able to affect the lane. Considering Kanavi has been on more farming junglers and Oner generally tends to leave the top lane alone, we can see a lot of 1v1 time for these players. Zeus’ champion pool has been more favored towards late-game carries like Yone, Fiora and Jax, while 369 was more willing to play tanks like Ornn and Gragas. Sure, Zeus showed he can punish these tanks in the past, but 369 is a stronger laner than anyone T1 faced so far, and this flexibility can give JDG advantages in the draft.
The return to glory for Gumayusi and Keria
As much as I am looking forward to seeing the top lane duel, it is hard to ignore the fact bot lane has been the most impactful role in this Worlds. Most teams have been giving a lot of draft and early-game attention to the bot side, and many individual carry games have come out of this lane. And considering the players that will be down there in the T1 vs JDG matchup, let’s turn our focus.
After dominating the LCK in Spring, and turning everyone’s eyes towards themselves as the best bot lane in the world, Gumayusi and Keria both had an underwhelming Summer. Their underperformance was a big part of why T1 couldn’t compete with Gen.G, while Hope and Missing found their groove as a duo and were a big part of JDG’s rise. But it has been the opposite so far during Worlds 2022.
Gumayusi may not be back to his peak form, but he is looking much better than Summer. He dominated Group A, which was stacked in terms of bot lane duos, and almost solo carried his team during their 42+ minute comeback win against RNG. Keria also looked much better, he played one of the best Tahm Kench games ever last week, and he looks comfortable with the varied meta champions in the support role.
Hope and Missing is a little bit of a different story. They looked great on Aphelios/Lulu, the former being Hope’s best champion. But they are struggling to create leads on other bot lane picks. LCK also showed a lot of willingness to play pushing lanes, which will impact more than the bot lane. It is hard to play a farming jungler and not get your jungle invaded when your bot lane is permanently under tower, which will be tough considering Kanavi’s playstyle.
If JDG is able to give their star jungler enough room to play in the early game and if they can get him through the late game, JDG will have a big advantage over T1. Oner, while not playing badly, is probably the weakest link in this T1 roster and Kanavi is probably the best jungler remaining in the tournament. T1 will probably keep his Graves permabanned, but Kanavi has many more champions in his pool and it will be interesting to see what he can do in the series.
Worlds 2022 Knockout Stage Schedule
Semifinals, October 29-30
- October 29, 4 PM CST (11 PM CET)
- October 30, 4 PM CST (11 PM CET)
Worlds 2022 Finals
- November 5, 7 PM CST (1 AM CET*)
*Indicates next day.
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Image credit: Riot Games