Thorin's Esports History - DanDy's S4WC Masterpiece
Choi "DanDy" In-kyu and Samsung White (SSW) unleashed their full potential at the Season 4 World Championship and won the tournament with an emphatic 12:2 (85.71%) game record. Even the games they lost appeared as if they had played them in a cavalier fashion and the games they won were so forceful that few could deny they were one of the best teams to ever competitive LoL. Yet with Mata earning MVP honours, certainly deserved, there is no historical marker to draw attention to the jungling masterclass DanDy delivered that year.
Consistently out-performing his opponents, DanDy showed himself to have mastered all of the meta champions, developed the deepest pool of off-meta picks and was capable of such impact with his play that if SSW picked with him in mind then he would outright dominate his counter-part and even if they placed pick focus away from him he could handle any match-up. This tournament was DanDy's masterpiece.
Dominating the biggest stage
Samsung White's group saw them facing China's number one seed, as SSW came in as a second second and thus a pool two team; the LMS' ahq, Garena gauntlet winners; and Dark Passage, the International Wildcard Gamescom winners. The Koreans smashed the group with a perfect 6:0 to earn first place.
In the quarter-finals, it was NA number one seed TSM that SSW met, with Bjergsen's men having finished second behind Starhorn Royal Club (SHRC) in their group. SSW destroyed the first two games, with the first seeing Amazing losing his red buff to an early invade. The mismatch over the first two games was so great that SSW appeared to be attempting to style on their opponents with an incredibly low wave-clear comp for the third game and an invade from TSM allowed the NA side to get two early kills without giving anything up. TSM would take the game, but SSW came back in the fourth to close the series out.
The semi-finals was a rematch the two of the OGN Champions semi-finals that year that SSW and their sister team Samsung Blue (SSB) had played. On those previous occasions it had been Blue who had won out, going on to the finals, with only two games won by SSW in the eight played. In spite of this, many expected the tide to turn at Worlds and it did, as SSW dominated their sister team with a clean 3:0 sweep and move on to their first major final of the year.
In that final, SSW would face some familiar faces as SHRC, China's second seed, was powered by ADC Uzi, a finalist from the previous Worlds, and inSec, the Korean jungler best known for his mastery of Lee Sin mechanics. The series was reminiscent of the TSM quarter-final, as SSW won the first two games handily and appeared to mess around in the third, allowing SHRC to steal a little hope for themselves. As with the aforementioned series, the fourth saw the Koreans closing the deal and taking the series and the Summoner's Cup.
SSW Support Mata was crowned the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the competition, but the award could just as well have gone to DanDy, such was the gap between him and all the other junglers in the competition. Looking back now, the reasons stack up on top of each other to show the Season 4 World Championship was the masterpiece performance of DanDy's decorated career.
Master of the meta
The meta-game pool of champions at the Jungle position was notably shallow at Worlds in 2014. Kha'Zix and Lee Sin would be played 58 and 28 times, respectively, accounting for over 60% of jungle picks at the tournament. Next highest picked were the trio of Jarvan IV, Elise and Rengar, who only combined for 46 picks total, around 32% of jungle picks. With those five champions amounting to almost 93% of jungle picks at S4WC, six other champions were picked a total of 10 times for less than 7% of the total picks.
Being a master of Kha'Zix and Lee Sin was at a premium, as those two picks were in the top five most picked champions over all roles for the competition. Kha'Zix finished World as the number one champion pick by far, beating out second place Janna by 13 picks. DanDy not only showed proficiency on those two core meta picks, but was near untouchable. On Kha'Zix he would win four out of five games, with the sole loss being the infamous pick-ban mockery of trying to style on TSM in their third game in the quarter-finals. On Lee Sin, DanDy was one of the player associated with the blind monk and again showed his quality, winning four of his games upon the champion.
Not only was DanDy the best at playing those champions, but he showed himself to have mastered the match-ups against them. The Korean faced eight Kha'Zix and three Lee Sins and his team did not lose any of those 11 games, with only three of his games in the 14 his team played being against any other champion. ahq's NAZ, Dark Passage's Crystal, EDG's ClearLove, TSM's Amazing, SSB's Spirit and SHRC's inSec all picked Kha'Zix and all saw their team add one to the loss column. The very same NAZ, Crystal and Spirit also tried to bring Lee Sin against DanDy and could not find a win. Against the tournaments most picked jungle champions, DanDy could not lose.
With the trio of other junglers (Jarvan IV, Elise and Rengar) who made up the other 32.39% of jungle picks at the tournament, DanDy went a combined 7:1. On Rengar he won all four games; on Jarvan he went 2:1, with his loss being the other "troll" game, against SHRC in the final; and on Elise he played what had been one of his mains earlier in the year only a single time. While others picked these champions only when forced to, with Rengar finishing as the eighth most banned champion of all roles, DanDy showed proficiency at moving around his larger champion pool based largely upon the opponent, without relying solely on Kha'Zix and Lee Sin.
DanDy's S4WC picks:
Lee Sin 4
Jarvan IV 3
DanDy's ability to play Jarvan IV and Rengar would be keys to securing SSW not only the championship but in such emphatic fashion. One can see the extent to which DanDy was more comfortable and successful playing the champions in observing that his four Rengar picks accounted for 21.05% of the total Rengar picks in the competition, while his three Jarvan IV picks added up to 17.65% of all Jarvan IV play at Worlds that year. Those two picks would make up staples of his pool at Worlds, making up over 41% of his champions played there. This, despite having not played a Jarvan IV game in the Summer.
The fourth most picked jungle champion at Worlds was Elise, which DanDy had played 11 games over OGN Spring, OGN Masters and OGN Summer combined. At Worlds he would play only a single instance of the champion, in the first game against TSM. Scouting for what DanDy would pick outside of the obvious two was not easy for opponents, especially thanks to how he concealed his picks.
A slow reveal
In the group stage SSW banned only a jungle champion in only one game, the second against EDG when they decided to remove Rengar. With no bans against them in the jungle and five out of six games without a ban themselves, SSW were able to leave DanDy on just three champions in the group stage: Kha'Zix, Lee Sin and Jarvan IV. with those ending up as the three most played jungle champions at Worlds it meant that as SSW cruised to their perfect 6:0 group finish, they had given up nothing in terms of what else they had in store for future opponents.
Likewise, in the quarter-final, against TSM, DanDy played a single game of Elise to go along with two Kha'Zix picks and a lone Lee sin pick. This expanded his pool to only four champions played in 10 games and kept his Rengar still hidden. It would only be in the semi-final, against sister team Samsung Blue, where SSW could reasonably have been worried about the threat of actually losing, when DanDy brought forth his Rengar. He would play the champion North American players had infamously struggled on in the first two games.
For the final, all cards had been shown and DanDy played Jarvan IV and Rengar twice each over the four games. Up until the semi-final he had been playing only Kha'Zix, Lee Sin, Jarvan IV and Elise. From the semi-final on he played Rengar four times, Jarvan IV twice and a lone Lee Sin game. In hindsight, it was a masterful and disciplined unfolding of his champion pool and transition from the most played champions to the off-picks which he could still pilot to victory for SSW. Consider that without any jungle bans against him DanDy did not play a single game of Kha'Zix after the quarter-finals.
Bans play heavily to our favour
Part of the reason DanDy did not need to fear jungle bans directly was both that he showed they did little, he had powerful team-mates who commanded power pick threat status and that so few teams wanted to limit their own pool in the jungle against SSW. With DanDy known to be able to play more champions than practically any opponent, it was risky to ban a jungle champion if SSW had any bans themselves and especially if they were on blue side and had the option to also pick a jungle champion first. Over the entire tournament not a single team dared ban a jungle champion against White.
SSW, on the other hand, used jungle bans and DanDy's depth to tactically neutralise specific threats at the jungle position. After banning only a single jungle champion in the group stage, SSW brought out a Lee sin ban in all of the first games against against TSM. With Amazing known for his Lee Sin, this removed his most famous pick. Like-wise, SHRC's inSec had displayed so much prowess on the very same Lee Sin that the ward-hop into kick combo is known as "the inSec kick". As such, SSW banned Lee Sin in all four of the games in the final. SSW had the luxury of removing one of the two most prevalent meta picks in the jungle while nobody else could take that risk, that was the impact DanDy could have purely in the pick and ban phase.
Your turn, my turn
A classic sign of one player dominating another in League of Legends is when someone is able to win both sides of a specific match-up. DanDy displayed this very feat on four separate occasions in the World Championship. In the group stage he did it against all three of his opponents.
DanDy picked Kha'Zix in the first game against EDG and ClearLove picked Jarvan IV in their first meeting, with SSW winning the game. In their second meeting, the EDG Jungler had his team pick the bug first and DanDy responded with Jarvan IV and SSW yet again won the game.
DanDy picked Lee Sin in the first game against ahq and NAZ picked Kha'Zix, with SSW winning the game. In their second meeting, the ahq Jungler had his team pick the Lee Sin and DanDy responded with Kha'Zix and SSW yet again won the game.
DanDy picked Lee Sin in the first game against Dark Passage and Crystal picked Kha'Zix, with SSW winning the game. In their second meeting, the DP Jungler had his team pick Lee Sin and DanDy responded with Kha'Zix and SSW yet again won the game.
In the semi-final, DanDy picked Rengar against SSB and Spirit picked Lee Sin. SSW would win the game. In the third game of the series, Spirit had his team pick Rengar and DanDy responded with Lee Sin. SSW would again win the game and with it the series.
In all four instances, the famous "give me his champion" approach was applied by the opposing Jungler, who decided to take the champion he had been beaten on and try to use it against DanDy. In all four instances DanDy selected the champion he had previously beaten them with and used it to secure the win for his team. How much of those picks was pre-meditated and how much was ego we can never know, being as DanDy himself could not necessarily be certain the opponent would try to take the pick away from him, but it certainly highlights the Korean legends ability to play both sides of the match-up.
There's nothing you can do against me
The final of the World Championship should have been the most high pressure match of DanDy's career, yet the way it unfolded and he dominated fellow jungle legend inSec made it appear as if he was always in control and certain of the outcome. SSW's Jungler would exploit and shut-down his opposing jungler's entire champion pool and expose the gulf between them.
inSec had not been considered among the world's best junglers heading into Season 4 Worlds, but his run coupled with miraculous play from his team had seen him through to the final in unique fashion. inSec's SHRC had upset EDG and OMG in full Bo5 series to even reach the final. The latter series had been notable for inSec's ballsy off-meta picks which had won them two crucial games in their 3:2 victory over a scary OMG side.
Through to the end of the second game, inSec's best champions over the tournament had been Lee Sin, Rengar and Kha'Zix. For the third game, OMG came out with a direct attack at the SHRC player's champion pool. They banned Lee Sin and Rengar and had Kha'Zix picked for their jungler LoveLing. With all of his mains gone, inSec shocked the world with a fiddlesticks pick. Somehow the pick worked and the game was won.
When the fourth game again tied up the series and took it to a decider, OMG again went to an attack on inSec's pool. Banning out Lee sin and Rengar again and again picking Kha'Zix first rotation, they were perhaps daring him to attempt a second fiddlesticks. Instead, he selected the entirely out-of-the-meta pantheon and SHRC managed to win another game with an unusual jungle pick in their composition.
In the final itself, SSW were able to do what OMG had been unable to do in isolating inSec's champion pool and leaving DanDy to destroy him. The first and third games of the series saw SSW on red side, so the Korean team banned out Rengar and Lee Sin both times, similar to OMG, but did not elect to pick Kha'Zix on either occasion. inSec responded the first time by picking Kha'Zix, which DanDy picked Jarvan IV into and dealt with.
In the third game, SHRC chose not to pick their jungle champion before SSW and saw Jarvan IV selected again, daring them to take Kha'Zix a second time and try to prevent the same outcome. inSec went into his bag of tricks and instead selected Rammus, which amazingly did finish on the winning side, but thanks largely to the carry performance of SHRC ADC Uzi. inSec's Rammus pick finished 1/3/14.
Games two and four were on blue side, where SSW could pick first, and their strategy was adapted accordingly. In game two they banned Lee Sin and first picked Rengar. inSec tried a second straight game of Kha'Zix and again learned that nobody was going to beat DanDy on Kha'Zix this tournament, least of inSec - Spirit was an elite Kha'Zix and had already tried it, after all.
In the fourth game, the final one of the series, SSW again banned only Lee Sin, in terms of jungle champions, and again picked Rengar. inSec hoped to repeat the miracle of his previous off-meta picks and went for the very same Pantheon that had helped him win the decider against OMG. There was to be no fairy tale ending this time around, as a 3/6/1 game on pantheon saw inSec downed.
DanDy had not only delivered a final lesson to the once king of Korean jungling but also put the winning touch to SSW's World Championship campaign by showing that he was the only Rengar god in the tournament, boasting a stat line of 11/1/23 for the champion over the two games he had played it in the final.
DanDy's reign as the jungle king was cemented with his Season 4 Worlds masterpiece, but his departure for China and mountains of money has seen his legacy fade. To remember DanDy at his peak, as perhaps the best Jungler to ever play the game and one so far ahead of his competition at the world's number one tournament than he constantly delivered advantages and edges to his team in seeming every single game.
Photo credit: lolesports
Custom Artwork by Sammie