At MSI, the MAD Lions pushed DAMWON KIA to the limit before losing 2-3. Coming into the Worlds 2021 quarterfinals, any scenario close to that of MSI feels like a dream. DK are coming in as juggernauts, looking better than ever after a 6-0 group stage. MAD Lions look much weaker than they did coming into the tournament after barely escaping their group stage with tiebreakers. So do the MAD Lions have a chance at victory, and if so, with which player does it lie?
Khan vs Armut
In this carry top meta, Khan is having the tournament of his career. The DAMWON top laner is on a mission to claim international glory in what is likely his last Worlds before retiring. He either leads or is top 3 among top laners in all laning and damage stats. His champion pool is perfect for the current meta, and he has shown his ability to win both sides of potential top lane matchups. In addition, his team provides him the resources to carry games, which is demonstrated by his first blood stat, which is the highest among all players.
Although Armut has looked uncomfortable on specific picks, he has been playing, despite catastrophic laning phases (specifically that LNG game). When Armut does lock in his comfort picks, like the Gnar and Wukong, he looks like a completely different player, capable of living up to the MAD Lion teamfighting reputation. However, the absence of meta top picks like Jayce and Graves are somewhat worrying for his matchup against Khan.
DAMWON KIA has an advantage in the top lane, both in player skill and champion pool. In addition, DK plays much better around their top laner than MAD does.
Canyon vs Elyoya
Canyon is looking good as usual at Worlds 2021. He leads junglers in first blood percentage, mainly from the top lane, and looks immaculate in teamfights. He’s also played six unique champions in six games of varying archetypes, from assassin junglers like Talon to team fighters like Trundle.
On the other hand, Elyoya looks worse than he did domestically. He is one of the two only junglers with 0 first bloods during groups and has made some suspect plays, with the most noticeable ones coming from his Qiyana in the early game against LNG. However, in MAD fashion, he came up clutch in mid-late game scenarios and was integral to the team making it out of groups.
Once again, DK has a significant advantage. Canyon has simply shown a better performance throughout Worlds 2021. Even if Elyoya did not have the fumbles in the early game, his performance would still not measure up to that of Canyon, who looks unstoppable.
Showmaker vs Humanoid
There is not much to say about Showmaker. Like Canyon and Khan, his performance so far is pristine. Honestly, it feels as though he has not been tested at Worlds. Showmaker has taken somewhat of a backseat for Khan, playing Twisted Fate for half of his games to facilitate his top laner. Still, Showmaker reminded us of his own carry potential with his Kassadin against Cloud9.
While he is not as disappointing as Doinb’s performance, Humanoid is underperforming relative to many analysts pre-World’s expectations of him. We have seen some insane performances from him, like the tiebreaker against LNG, but he also has shown some suspect decision-making, like his final Azir engage against GEN.
Even if Humanoid was consistently playing at the level we saw in the LNG tiebreaker game, it would be difficult to favor him over the Showmaker we are witnessing at Worlds. The DK mid laner seems to never misplay and holds a significant edge in this matchup.
Ghost vs Carzzy
Ghost looks infinitely better at Worlds than at MSI, no longer a significant point of weakness for his team. At Worlds 2021, he has been a reliable weak-side bot laner for DK, aside from one game against Rogue. However, the same cannot be said for Carzzy’s hit or miss showing. There were games he pumped out huge damage numbers in, like the tie-breaker match against LNG, but he also had games where his positioning cost the game, albeit the blame is not solely on him.
With how the Worlds meta is shaping out, I give the advantage to Ghost for his ability to contribute to his team and play weak-side proficiently.
BeryL vs Kaiser
Like his lane partner, BeryL looks much better than he did at MSI. However, he has not been particularly standing out among his support peers. He is not significantly involved in DK’s early games and action in general, indicated by his KP% being the second-lowest among supports and the lowest in his team. On the other hand, Kaiser is coming off a strong showing in groups. His Rakan play was a significant factor in the MAD mid-late game magic and why they even escaped groups. He is a major catalyst for MAD’s plays, supported by his 72% kill participation, the highest on the team.
Currently, Kaiser edges over BeryL because of his standout performance in the second round robin compared to BeryL relatively quiet performance.
Damwon KIA vs MAD Lions
DK has one of the best early games in the tournament. On the other hand, MAD has had average early games at best. DK also is known for their mid-late game prowess in both macro and team fighting, making MAD’s only possible advantage practically nonexistent in this matchup.
Final Verdict: DK
DK individually outclasses MAD in most roles, and their team playstyle exploits MAD’s weak points, and matches or even exceeds MAD’s strong points. In addition to this, the meta is much more favorable for DK compared to their last clash at MSI.