When I go, it’s for gold: DAMWON Gaming and Suning face off in League of Legends World Championship Final

Photo of League of Legends 2020 Worlds Semifinals
Riot Games/Courtesy

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What’s black, white and blue all over? No, not a zebra at the north pole. Not a penguin holding its breath, either. It’s K/DA, of course!

The augmented reality K-pop stars shocked the world with their surprise debut at the 2018 League of Legends World Championship, and they’re back for “More” in 2020. The group dropped its first music video in two years on Wednesday, just days before the 2020 World Championship Finals.

K/DA is expected to bring down the house in the finals match opening ceremony at Shanghai’s Pudong Soccer Stadium. But make no mistake — these girls won’t be the stars of the show.

After K/DA’s performance, all eyes will be on Suning and DAMWON Gaming. The two teams are the last ones standing in the month-long, 22-team World Championship tournament. At the end of their best-of-five series on Saturday, one will take home the Summoner’s Cup.

Suning, hailing from China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL), has had a highly unexpected run at Worlds. Although it finished 11th out of 17 in the LPL Spring Split, Suning turned it around in the Summer Split to become the LPL’s third seed team.

Even so, most analysts had them falling to JD Gaming in the quarterfinals, and again to Top Esports in the semifinals. Yet Suning has soundly beat all those odds.

Coming off of its upset matches in the Knockout Stage, Suning captured the hearts of many international fans with its underdog story, unusual picks (including the famous “River Shen” in the jungle) and adorable lion cub mascot.

The “cute lions,” as some fans call Suning, will have to show up the doubters one more time this weekend to take the series from DAMWON Gaming.

DAMWON, from League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK), has been a tournament favorite since day one. Coming off a 16-2 LCK Summer Split and tying with SK Telecom T1’s 2017 Spring Split record for the most dominant in LCK history, the first-seed Korean team seemed like the ones to beat, and they have not disappointed.

In the deciding game of their 3-1 semifinals series, DAMWON beat the European G2 Esports in 19 minutes and 3 seconds — the fastest match time in Worlds history. As the first Korean team to make the World Championship Finals since 2017, DAMWON has a lot of pressure riding on its shoulders, and Suning will be hard-pressed to put a stop to its streak of domination.

Worlds has ended in a 3-0 finals match for the past three years, and many fans are predicting yet another sweep. But Suning has never been the favorite versus anyone, and this clash is still one to watch.

“In the quarterfinals, everyone thought JD Gaming would beat us. In the semifinals, everyone thought Top Esports would beat us,” said Suning support Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh in an interview with InvenGlobal. “It’s the same here in finals, so hopefully we can show people the power of Suning.”

Just like K/DA, the little lions have proved over and over again that they’re full of surprises.

Fans can watch Suning and DAMWON face off this Saturday at 3 a.m. PDT, on the Riot Games Twitch channel and the LoL Esports website.

Julia Shen covers esports. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @yinglol.