As part of the Finals Media Day, and after an interesting Q&A section with Riot’s Global Head of LoL Esports, Naz Aletaha, and Global Head of Esports, John Needham, both Edward Gaming and DWG KIA faced off from one another in front of the media once again.
The LPL v LCK showdown
Kk0ma was first up, asked to discuss his thoughts on Jarvan IV coming into the finals - a champion that the LPL and EDG’s Jiejie in particular have used to good success, but that LCK teams have struggled with. “I think each region has its own characteristics; they have a unique “colour” to their teamplay and the way they think. Jarvan IV as a pick suits EDG really well. Because Jarvan is one of EDG’s most picked champions, we are paying a lot of attention to it and having a lot of conversations around that pick.”
Scout and ShowMaker were asked to rate each other as players and what they thought each other's strengths were. ShowMaker considered Scout versatile, saying “Scout has a very deep champion pool and he is a very versatile player.” Scout on the other hand said “I think ShowMaker has a very strong, very wide champion pool. He's definitely a very strong player, so we need to prepare fully for him coming into the finals.”
Ghost was also asked to evaluate rival Viper, especially in the light of Viper praising Ghost in his previous press conference as his biggest inspiration. “I think he’s a very talented player,” Ghost began, “he’s really good at everything; he’s very well rounded. I really think that he’s very clever when he’s playing. I think he has great mechanics, but at the same time he’s very intelligent about how he plays the game.”
Towards the end of the conference, BeryL and Meiko were also asked to rate each other, alongside what they were looking out for from their finals opponent. “Meiko is a very experienced player,” BeryL answered, “his plays are very sharp. He’s really good at some old bot lane matchups… I have to keep my eye on him. I think all I can do is play my best in the matchup.” Meiko answered “I really think BeryL is a very good player, I’ve learned a lot from him. Also, he’s got a very wide champion pool and he’s always got really good roam timings.”
A storyline that got brought up and asked of kk0ma was that he and EDG’s coach Maokai were actually on the same coaching staff last year at Vici Gaming. Now they face each other as rivals at the World Championship finals. Maokai had already said he was excited to face off against kk0ma in a previous interview, and kk0ma had this to say: “Last year was my first time working in the LPL and I got to work alongside Maokai there. I think he did a fantastic job last year, and I have great memories of working together with him. I’m pretty amazed we’re seeing each other at the Worlds finals.”
Kk0ma was later asked about making Worlds finals for the fifth time and what made this time different. “I have never thought about myself as being hugely successful,” kk0ma answered, “I always just worked hard and I got lucky and I made it to Worlds finals five times. It’s been awhile since I made it to the finals. If DWG KIA can win this one it’s going to be a back-to-back title for them, so I really hope they can accomplish that and become the champions again.
While one narrative had an unexpected continuation for kk0ma dn Maokai, for Khan this is likely the end of his League of Legends story. Military service beckons, and that makes this finals appearance all the more impactful for the legendary Korean top. “Unless the “issue” of military service gets resolved, this will be my very last match on stage. So because of that I really want to end my career on a good note and in order to make that happen I have to prepare thoroughly.”
Of course, the ultimate good note would be winning Worlds. When Khan was asked about any hypothetical celebrations (with no limitations) should he win Worlds, he had this to say: “I’ve never thought about it actually. I’ve not gotten ahead of myself. When I have celebrated in the past, it’s always been a spur of the moment thing, so I have nothing in mind yet. I’m only focussing on what to do and how to play out the finals.”
Inevitably, eventually the topic of predictions came up. “It’s going to be 3-1,” kk0ma said, backing his own team, “because I think my coaching staff and players are slightly better than our opponents.” ShowMaker was more confident. “It’s going to be 3-0, because I played five games in the semis,” he answered glibly, “so I just want to pick up a 3-0 and go home.”
Meiko thought otherwise. When egged on to provide a little trash talk, the EDG veteran support was confident enough. “I’m quite tired playing full sets of Best of Fives,” he said, “so in the finals we’re going to win 3-0.”
DWG KIA’s superstar jungler, Canyon, was asked about preparing for the finals, and what it meant to be on the cusp of becoming back-to-back champions.“Right now I’m very nervous preparing for the Worlds finals but excited at the same time,” he started. “The difference between now and last year is that I focussed on winning Worlds and that was my goal [in 2020], but this time around it’s more about protecting and defending our title. Nothing has changed other than that.”
In contrast, this is Jiejie’s first time at Worlds in general, nevermind finals. Indeed, it’s EDG’s first time at a Worlds finals despite long-standing expectations for the organisation from years past. The EDG jungler was asked where his aggressive and “brave” playstyle came from. “Because this is my first Worlds journey, what I’ve focussed on really heavily is my own performance and not thinking about other stuff, so that’s the reason for my aggressive playstyle.”
Scout was asked for his take on why LeBlanc was so high priority at Worlds. “She has really high mobility,” he stated as one of her major advantages, “and also she offers a lot of poke.”
ShowMaker also got asked about whether his upcoming free agency in two weeks time was weighing upon him or affecting his preparation. He wasn’t best pleased by the question. “I am a member of DWG KIA right now. I don’t get why I’m being asked this question and it doesn’t affect me at all.”
While ShowMaker’s future was shut down as a conversation, BeryL’s extensive past with DWG KIA was. He’s been with the organisation since it was formerly known as MiraGe back in 2017, and is the only player remaining from the original roster. “You never know what’s going to happen in a man’s future,” he said reminiscing, “I never imagined this kind of success. As for motivation to keep playing, I actually don’t pay too much attention to it; I just follow the flow of time.”
Speaking of, BeryL was asked about how much money he planned to spend on Genshin Impact, a popular RPG and gacha game, which he infamously spent around $7000 on after winning Worlds last year. “I actually don’t know,” he replied after laughing, “I just follow my heart.”
The success and victories BeryL talked about are part of what’s been leading pundits to heavily favour DWG KIA coming into the finals. Viper and Meiko were asked what they and EDG were going to need to do to overcome the odds. Viper answered, “I think our team has to keep up a really good form on the day to beat Damwon,'' whereas Meiko opined, “I think our team’s coordination and synergy needs to be better in the finals [to beat DWG KIA].”
Scout had the honour of the final question. He was asked about what made this iteration of EDG strong enough to make the finals where so many other versions had failed over the years. “We just keep improving our drafts, we just keep making some improvements [in our play] and growing as a team. If we just show a normal performance and focus on ourselves in the final we have enough confidence to get the win against DWG KIA.”
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Featured image courtesy of Riot Games.