DWG KIA outlasted MAD Lions by going the full distance in their semifinal series and winning in five games to advance to the MSI 2021 grand finals. It is the first time since 2017 that a representative of the LCK returned to that stage in MSI.
Despite a valiant effort from MAD Lions which featured a snowballed win in Game 2 and an excruciatingly close result in Game 3, they head back to the LEC with their heads held high.
For DWG KIA, they enjoy an array of milestones for their franchise. They become the first defending world champion to head to the MSI finals since 2017 and the third LCK team to vie for the trophy. Among the players, with Khan especially, he becomes the first player to appear in two finals with separate teams.
The grand finals will take place on May 23rd at 8:00 a.m. PST/1 p.m. GMT.
The draft for the first game of the series exhibited a difference in priority in the realm of team fights and individual poke as DWG KIA chose the former whereas MAD did the latter. That distinguishing feature was evidenced in the early game where solo laners Armut and Humanoid notched solo kills over Khan and ShowMaker with Jayce and Zoe. That, in turn, allowed MAD to burst out into a lead in the early game with their largest gold difference being around 1.5k.
But as the game continued, DWG KIA deciphered MAD’s composition as they split apart the European team’s and picked each member off one-by-one, slowly taking over the enemy base with each minute.
Ultimately, it was indeed DWG’s precise engagement that handed them Game 1, as with a Canyon triple kill with his Rumble near the edge of MAD’s base, the Koreans ravaged the nexus to go ahead one game to none in the series.
MAD improved their team fight capabilities in the second game of the series with their draft of Lee Sin, Volibear, Sylas, Xayah, and Braum. Although MAD started behind in the early portion of the match, they went on to take prime control that started with a pair of clever dives onto the bottom turret, killing Ghost and BeryL in the process with Braum mitigating Nautilus’ engagement tendency.
To their credit, DWG managed to equal the issue later on in the game as a result of MAD losing ground on fights where the latter’s chief dealer of damage, Carzzy, was taken down before anyone else–even if he stole a Baron in a risky play while engaging the defending world champions.
But it was MAD’s game to lose as their extension of subsequent fights steamrolled DWG. Through Carzzy’s Xayah, the Koreans couldn’t muster enough strength to kill the young Czech ADC’s performance, leading the series to tie up at 1-1.
Perhaps this year’s MSI’s most memorable match happened in Game 3 of the series. In an affair that seemingly lasted as a marathon, DWG and MAD exchanged leads on various occasions all the while flirting with near-death scenarios.
Nevertheless, how can one talk about the game without first mentioning Armut? As the Turkish player warned, he led the way for MAD as he dominated his counterpart in Khan throughout the game, paving the way for his teammates to seize the majority of control. But much as MAD pushed forward for the win, DWG pushed back in an equal manner to wrestle the momentum back in their favour.
Even when MAD secured the baron buff in the 21-minute mark, DWG found the perfect pick through ShowMaker’s Shock Blast on Orianna which helped them get the ace and return the game at an equal issue.
Such integral moments continued later on as an elongated fight in the dragon pit, which left five players split between the two teams with little to no HP in their inventories making last-ditch movements to gain the all-elusive kills. Ultimately, it was MAD who came out on top who proceeded to orchestrate a stranglehold on DWG as they pushed deeper into the blue nexus.
Everything then came ahead in the closing fight where MAD threw all they had to the nexus. DWG was extremely close to stifling MAD’s last-ditch attempt to take the series lead, but the EU representative found enough time to use a couple of auto attacks to destroy that nexus, end the game, and hand them series point for Game 4.
Everything that amounted to Game 3 was shown in stark contrast with Game 4. MAD burst out in front with a barrage of aggressive plays throughout the map, with Elyoya notably ganking at the bottom to help Carzzy and Kaiser build a lead and possibly take Europe back to the MSI finals.
However, DWG rediscovered the form that took them to the forefront from last year and punished MAD for their constant engagements.
In total, Game 4 lasted around 23 minutes as MAD was bested in every way through a kill score that tallied 26-8, setting the stage for the first Game 5 in MSI since SK Telecom T1 vs G2 Esports in the 2019 semifinals.
In the final game of the series, DWG wasted little time to embattle MAD since, thanks to BeryL’s prime usage of Alistar, they killed each member in a scattered fashion in the half-hour of game time. No matter what MAD mustered to try and rally back from their deficit, DWG stayed on top of them which was done under the familiar tutelage of ShowMaker’s Zoe Ghost’s Tristana.
With nothing else stopping the LCK team, DWG continued to wear MAD down until they could no longer do so, striking the latter’s nexus to signal the series victory and an advance to the grand finals.