Are South Korea and the LCK back on top?
The LCK is the best region in the world right now.
DRX are your 2022 League of Legends world champions, a statement the players themselves would not have believed at the start of the season. And yet, DRX's performance during Worlds 2022 was a testament that having a 'never-say-die' attitude does go a long way. This also puts the opening line ("Don't ever say it's over if I'm breathing") to Lil Nas X's Worlds 2022 anthem "STAR WALKIN" into a different perspective.
With DRX taking T1 to all five games in the grand finals of Worlds 2022, nobody could have predicted the outcome. A team that isn't even the best in its region took out titan after titan on their road to the grand final, which was by no means easy given that they started in the Play-In Stage. They finished top of their group twice and even took down the reigning champions EDward Gaming and the LCK's number seed, Gen.G Esports.
T1 was a whole different beast with the three-time champions being in their fourth all-LCK grand final, the most of any region since the inception of Worlds. And while T1 held a perfect 3-0 record in the world championship grand finals when facing another LCK team, that record was broken with DRX's fairytale run. It was also the first time in Worlds history that a team from the Play-In Stage won the Summoner's Cup.
However, those weren't the only records broken that night. According to Esports Charts, The grand final between DRX and T1 drew a peak viewership of 5.1 million people, over a million more than last year. It also had an average viewership of 987,437 people, less than the past two Worlds iterations. This could be down to how the games played out with the bracket providing some predictable outcomes. While talks of changing the bracket are a separate issue, it does go to show that an inter-region grand final does work, especially if the storylines are perfectly aligned.
Another aspect of an all-LCK grand final that made for great viewing (especially if you're Korean) is that it ended the LPL's four-year grand final dominance. Chinese teams won three out of the four grand finals they appeared in since 2018, which coincided with T1's fallen dynasty after the Worlds grand finals the year before. While they couldn't replicate their fortunes from yesteryear, it was DRX's turn to take charge in the LCK. A team that could barely qualify for Worlds ended up winning the entire tournament - you can't make stuff like this up.
And with the conclusion of Worlds 2022, that grand final has singlehandedly placed the LCK back on top as the region to beat. The fact that T1, a team that is both highly revered and feared, could lose to a team that has never beaten them in a best-of-five series says a lot about the region as a whole. The LCK are also the only region to have all four qualified teams in the playoffs, a feat that has hardly ever happened. This goes to show just how competitive the LCK truly is.
As for DRX, they will be revelling in their victory in a season that had more downs than ups. Despite poor showings during the Spring and Summer splits, all that matters at the end of the day is lifting the Summoner's Cup, something they can do with much joy and relief. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for T1, who lost their second grand final in a row for the season. This was also the first time it has happened in the organisation's history.
The off-season now approaches and we'll see some movements across the globe. While it remains to be seen if both T1 and DRX will be making any roster changes, we can see that happening for the former as opposed to the latter. Despite coming close yet again, T1 has not been able to add another Summoner's Cup to its collection. While they can relish in the fact that they still hold the record for most world championships, the game and its history waits for no one, even a three-time world champion.
Worlds 2022 Champions - DRX