The greatest of all time vs. the greatest of modern time: DWG KIA, T1 to battle for berth in Worlds 2021 finals

Two of the most decorated teams in League history are set to meet in what could be a turning point for the esport.

Photo via Riot Games/Getty Images

DWG KIA have sat atop the proverbial League of Legends throne for the better part of the last year. With three straight LCK titles and a World Championship banner to boot, DWG KIA are well on their way to establishing themselves as the next great League dynasty. 

This weekend, they’ll stride into the most important match of their title defense run when they take on T1, the team they had to beat to secure an LCK title earlier this year. This time around, though, the stakes are immeasurably higher. If DWG KIA defeat T1 this weekend and eventually win Worlds for the second consecutive year, they’d be the only other team in League history to win back-to-back world titles apart from T1 themselves. 

Only two organizations, Samsung Galaxy and SK Telecom, have won multiple World Championships. Should DWG KIA win two more matches at this year’s tournament, they’d join the esport’s most exclusive club. Perhaps it’s fitting that to reach League’s most prestigious pedestal, DWG KIA will have to thwart the organization that’s stood atop it since the game’s earliest history. 

Obvious connections

Photo via Riot Games

This season, T1 and DWG KIA have faced off in five series, with DWG KIA holding the edge by a score of four to one. Of those five matches, none were clean sweeps. The four regular season matches between the teams all came down to decisive third games, while the final match played to close out the LCK 2021 season resulted in a 3-1 victory for DWG KIA. 

DWG KIA and T1 are the only franchises in the history of Korean League of Legends to three-peat as LCK champions. Should DWG KIA secure a second straight Summoner’s Cup, they’d join T1 as the only other team to do that as well. They could also potentially join them as the only team to finish second at the Mid-Season Invitational and first at the World Championship in the same season. The parity between the two organizations is already evident, but by the time Worlds comes to a close, there’s a possibility those comparisons grow even stronger. 

The next instant classic?

The semifinal round of the World Championship has played host to some of the most memorable series in professional League history. From the epic 2019 bout between FunPlus Phoenix and Invictus Gaming to the 2014 clash between Royal Club and OMG, the Worlds semifinals have traditionally featured some trademark bangers throughout the years. None, however, were more memorable than the all-timer of a semifinal match between SK Telecom T1 and the ROX Tigers in 2016—a series that is still viewed as the greatest best-of-fives ever played in the history of pro League

That series in particular was viewed as the “true finals” of that season’s tournament; the winner of that stacked best-of-five was practically a shoe-in to defeat whoever came out of the bracket’s other half. 

This year, DWG KIA and T1 are doing everything they can to push the “true finals” narrative once again. DWG KIA and T1 battled for an LCK title months ago, just like ROX and SKT had a few months prior to their Worlds semifinal meeting. Not to mention, SKT’s longtime head coach Kkoma—who had helped the team claim victory in that legendary match—struck down his former team as the coach of DWG KIA earlier in the season. 

Between the countless storylines, interpersonal rivalries, and epic matchups all across the Rift, it’s hard to make a case as to why this match shouldn’t be considered the narrative climax of the tournament—despite the fact that there is still a significantly more important series waiting on the horizon for whoever wins. 

Matchup to watch: Could it be anything else?

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It’s one thing for the defending world champions to face off with the best League team of all time. It’s another for the greatest player in the game’s history to go toe-to-toe with its most promising piece of rising talent. Even though all 10 players on the Rift have their own compelling stories, none are as intriguing as the one that features ShowMaker and Faker.  

While DWG KIA and T1 may have faced off five times this season, ShowMaker and Faker have only played each other in four of those matches. In the Spring Split, T1 substituted Faker with Clozer for a match against DWG KIA, but other than that one mixup in the game plan, Faker and ShowMaker have been consistent rivals throughout 2021. 

In the games they’ve played against each other this season, ShowMaker held a relatively significant edge over Faker. Across their four head-to-head matches, ShowMaker posted a KDA of 5.3 in comparison to Faker’s mark of 2.3, according to League stats site Games of Legends. Additionally, in the games in which they’ve gone head-to-head, ShowMaker put up higher damage numbers than Faker, with an average damage per minute of 482 that’s higher than Faker’s DPM of 459. 

Above all else, ShowMaker has won more games against T1 this season than Faker has against DWG KIA. Nothing measures superiority quite like victory, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that ShowMaker has the upper hand in terms of recent history. 

As far as expansive history goes, Faker and ShowMaker represent two incredibly distinct generations of League of Legends, despite the fact that their reigns over the game’s international scene contain quite a bit of overlap. Come Saturday, the precise midpoint of the two players’ trajectories will be on full display. Should DWG KIA and ShowMaker claim victory, League will finally transition into a new, full-fledged dynastic era. Should T1 and Faker emerge victorious, the greatest organization (and greatest player) in League history will prove they’re not going away any time soon. 

Our prediction

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T1 and DWG KIA have both improved since their last meeting in the LCK Summer Finals, and the two teams are riding into the Worlds top four as the clear-cut strongest squads at the tournament. Together, they’re posting a combined game record of 17-1 at the tournament. Each team defeated at least one regional champion en route to their Worlds semifinal appearance. DWG KIA cleanly defeated the LEC’s MAD Lions in the quarterfinals while T1 took down EDward Gaming of the LPL in the group stage. 

This weekend, we’re expecting an epic showdown between the two best teams from the uncontested best region in professional League. With prior meetings from earlier this season in mind, as well as noted differences between the two teams’ strongest players, we’re staking a claim on a nail-biting 3-2 DWG KIA victory heading into an all-important semifinal meeting between two of the most legendary League teams of all-time. 

Still, that prediction doesn’t count T1 out entirely. The team came within inches of defeating DWG KIA on multiple occasions this season. With all of their regular season series coming down to a do-or-die game, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if “Silver Scrapes” rings through the halls of the Laugardalshöll Arena on Saturday. 

T1 and DWG KIA will meet in the Worlds 2021 semifinals on Saturday, Oct. 30 at 7am CT. 

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