League of Legends

Profile of Damwon’s Playstyle

LeagueofLegends2 - Profile of Damwon's Playstyle
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I wanted to make this post mostly because I've seen a few fans comment that Damwon seems to play LPL-style or safe Korean macro or a bunch of different things that, in my opinion, are just mischaracterizing. I also believe that most of the subreddit, given that reddit is mostly a western media site to begin with, does not watch much LCK, so I wanted to give a brief overview for people who might not have been able to catch most of their games.

Here is my thesis:

Damwon's identity as a team is that they play team compositions in absolute textbook style.

  • They do not play for any particular tempo, win condition, or timing, rather they rely on fundamentals to win. This is not to say Damwon is some infallible monolith of perfect play – rather, Damwon plays by very simple rules
    • If Damwon drafts an early game team composition that is top-centric, e.g. Renekton-Nidalee, Camille-Nidalee-TF, they will look for a dive pre-10 minutes on the Renekton lane, likely with an 8 minute Herald take off their solo lane priority, and look to accelerate Renekton and crack him out of lane. Recent example games
      • DRX vs DWG – Game 2 LCK Summer Finals
        https://youtu.be/DnQg-1bU_A0?t=575
        At precisely around 8 minutes on the clock, you see both of Damwon's solo laners begin to aggressively push their lane opponents in. Beryl moves to mid lane to ensure that Jayce cannot take any aggressive stance, Nidalee begins to solo Herald from the solo priority she has. This is transitioned into a top lane dive threat on Volibear and ultimately a first brick take
        https://youtu.be/DnQg-1bU_A0?t=614
      • DRX vs DWG – Game 3 LCK Summer Finals
        https://youtu.be/08R0YFzF3LY?t=574
        Exact same setup. Beryl begins moving into mid lanes, solo lanes push, Nidalee takes Herald.
        https://youtu.be/08R0YFzF3LY?t=705
        Damwon sees DRX take the Dragon, Canyon moves for a top lane dive. Kill converts, first brick is taken
      • DWG vs DRX – Worlds Quarterfinals Game 1
        https://youtu.be/fxQKa4edyzY?t=625
        5 man pull for the Herald which devolves into a winning teamfight for Damwon. Herald is originally intended to be used top but DRX rotates to stop
        https://youtu.be/fxQKa4edyzY?t=792
        DWG is not willing to take the 2v2 so they compromise for a lackluster Herald summon mid lane where it does not even crash.
      • DWG vs RGE – Worlds Groups Day 2
        https://youtu.be/0uMibN_j3eE?t=813
        Beryl rotates for Herald as Pantheon. DWG actually intends to drop Herald mid here for Sylas (as accelerating Lulu is much less consequential):
        https://youtu.be/0uMibN_j3eE?t=996
        but good rotation from Rogue prevents this from succeeding. Instead, they opt for plan B, which is still just crack Nuguri out of top
        https://youtu.be/0uMibN_j3eE?t=1052
      • DWG vs JDG – Groups Day 1
        https://youtu.be/7VnmOO9mDIQ?t=916
        Damwon does the Herald a bit later on this one due to timings (they took Dragon off bot priority earlier but took longer to rotate. But still the same set play. An early Herald take into:
        https://youtu.be/7VnmOO9mDIQ?t=980
        A play top side to crack Nuguri out of lane. Obviously this doesn't work, but it's still the same play they make against DRX
      • DWG vs PSG – Groups Day 3
        https://youtu.be/qhJAbFGupzg?t=880
        Early Herald take, 4 man pull. Canyon drops Herald mid because top lane has been heavily focused by PSG and Damwon is unsure if Nuguri is accelerated enough to be worth funneling gold into and because they cannot find proper footing to make a play happen
        https://youtu.be/qhJAbFGupzg?t=994
      • DWG vs JDG – Groups Day 6
        https://youtu.be/pc2evGr2D4Q?t=1002
        Same play again. Notice Alistar has begun moving towards Herald again. In this game, the Camille is ahead so they look for a reset timing to try to crack Sett out.
        https://youtu.be/pc2evGr2D4Q?t=1109
      • In all of these games, the early leads accrued off rotational play around objectives like plates and early towers usually lead to a massive snowball in gold advantage. In many of these games, the snowball is relatively bloodless. Damwon is not really a "skirmishing" team, they're much more map-based and macro-based. Not every team that plays for "early-game" plays for massive fights or 3v3s or skirmishes. in Damwon's case, most of their early game drafts are centered around top side objective control in turrets, heralds, plates, and the rare kill. This isnt to say they aren't good at skirmishing or don't skirmish at all – just that they oft don't do so if a lead can be accrued without the risk that an early fight brings.
      • It's important to note that every single one of these drafts from Damwon are playing around a strong 3-man core on the top side of the map and are drafting early-mid game team compositions.
    • If Damwon drafts a mid/late-game front-to-back teamfight comp, they obviously do not do this. In general, when Damwon plays scaling comps, they play relatively anemic early games that feature incredibly low risk. They give objectives until they hit proper key item spikes to blow the game open in one teamfight. This does not mean they do nothing, they do take what objectives you give them for free, but in general, when Damwon plays scaling, they play to scale. Example games:
      • Damwon vs PSG – Groups Day 6
        https://youtu.be/7X7DJR2judI
      • DWG vs DRX – LCK Summer Finals Game 1
        https://youtu.be/r03GtVJw82Q
      • DWG vs DRX – Worlds Quarterfinals Game 2

      • DWG vs DRX – Worlds Quarterfinals Game 3

      • I'm too lazy to list every game where they just play scaling and the examples aren't super interesting, but basically, they scale until they can do this:
        https://youtu.be/r03GtVJw82Q?t=1463
      • And if you watch the way Damwon takes teamfights in FtB comps, it's very textbook. That fight against DRX is possibly the best example I can give. They do not break formation almost ever. You can check the other DRX QF games, they very rarely will ever break out of front-back phalanx (as LS likes to call it)
    • This isn't to say Damwon does anything particularly special. In fact, Damwon, if I had to describe it, does the least special things of any team at the tournament. If you had to write a manual on expectations for what a draft should do Damwon, tries to play that manual out.
      • There are obviously exceptions. The primary caveat to this is that Damwon will play around Canyon over the rulebook. This sometimes leads to disaster:
      • Canyon really wants a red buff (DRX vs DWG LCK Summer Finals Game 2)
        https://youtu.be/DnQg-1bU_A0?t=264
        In fairness this one can be interpreted still as a the textbook play cause they see Lillia top, but he doesn't have appropriate priority in the mid-lane for this
      • Canyon really wants a red buff part 2 electric boogaloo (DRX vs DWG Quarterfinals Game 2):
        https://youtu.be/USI8ppEAIJQ?t=1158

The main takeaway I want to give you guys on the Damwon style is this: Damwon plays the game to the pace that matches their team comp. They are one of the most rigid teams when it comes to playstyle at the tournament. Draft is probably one of the most fundamental important parts about Damwon, because their draft entirely dictates the way they play a game. In essence, Damwon drafts a team with a clear picture of how they want the game to progress. Their drafts are almost always built around a particular theme and they execute said theme.

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If we look at their one loss to JDG, they drafted an early game team comp, failed to create the leads created in all the example gives I gave (in part due to their normal rotations critically failing thanks to crafty map play out of JDG), and were forced to teamfight their way out of the hole. It is important to note that even in that losing game, once Damwon got behind, they still continued to try to force as many teamfights as possible through the early-mid game because they knew their comp was one forced to accelerate. Their team comp was a brawly mid-game team fight comp that excelled at securing objectives in Kalista. And even in the losing situation, that is exactly how they played said team comp (they even got Dragon Soul).

Damwon does not play LPL League of Legends, or LEC League of Legends, they just play good fundamental League of Legends. Now you guys might be saying:

"But /u/TormentedLoL, aren't you just jacking off to the Korean team now? Don't all good teams just play good League of Legends? Aren't you just painting Damwon as this unbeatable monolith that plays their compositions perfectly."

And I'd say

  1. Yes, but most have their own particular identities about how they want to play. If you look at how Suning plays, I'd say most of the times they don't execute specific drafts in a set playstyle
  2. The weakness of this playstyle is incredibly obvious. I'm not trying to set up Damwon to be unbeatable. In fact, I think Damwon's largest liability, is precisely in the fact that you should be able to guess at exactly how they want to play the map the moment draft ends – maybe even halfway through draft.

Anyways, thanks for reading, hope you guys found this insightful.

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