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DRX Win the 2022 World Championship: The Greatest Underdog Story in League of Legends History

Esports article at Knup Sports

America loves an underdog story. With this year’s League of Legends World Championship being held in North America for the first time since 2016, DRX may have provided the best underdog story of all time. Read more about their triumphant run to a world title here.

The script for this year’s League of Legends World Championship could not have been written better. With incredible narrative storylines being created for each of their unprecedented successes, DRX has crafted what many believe to be the greatest World Championship run in League of Legends history.

The winning roster consists of the following five starting players:

Top Lane: Hwang “Kingen” Seong-hoon
Jungle: Hong “Pyosik” Chang-hyeon
Mid Lane: Kim “Zeka” Geon-woo
Bot Lane: Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu
Support: Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee

The Regional Journey

DRX’s Worlds run is one of the most unlikely success stories of all time. Their story began one year ago in the 2021 LCK Summer Split. While only Kingen and Pyosik were present on the roster at this time, the two eventual world champions finished the split with a 2-16 record behind all 9 other LCK teams.

Seeking to rebound in the offseason, DRX acquired Zeka, Deft, and then World Champion BeryL to join the ranks of Kingen and Pyosik for the upcoming Spring Split. While they were able to improve off of their previous split performance, DRX only managed to amass an 11-7 record, netting them fourth place. Crucially, this improved performance earned them twenty Championship Points; a currency used to allocate teams in the LCK Regional Finals.

Unfortunately, DRX was unable to retain their winning record, and finished in sixth place in the Summer Split with a 9-9 record. A sixth-place finish netted them the very last spot in the LCK Championship, where they were eliminated from title contention in the opening round after a 1-3 loss to Liiv SANDBOX (LSB). Fortunately, their Championship Points from Spring earned them a second shot to qualify for the World Championship in the LCK Regional Finals.

As the lowest-ranked team in the Regional Finals, DRX were expected to lose to KT Rolster in the opening round. Starting the first underdog upset of their run, DRX narrowly defeated KT 3-2, earning them a matchup against LSB for the last LCK World Championship spot. Defying all expectations once more, DRX got their revenge against LSB and qualified for Worlds with a 3-2 victory over LSB.

The International Journey

Earning the last LCK seed at Worlds 2022 meant that DRX would have to qualify for the main event through the Play-In Stage. Because most of the teams participating in this stage are minor regions or weaker major region teams, DRX was expected to make it out. What was not expected of them, was a win over MSI Champions RNG to directly qualify for the main event without playing a best of five. Their underdog story, however, persisted. DRX went undefeated in the Play-In Stage and earned themselves a spot in Group C alongside LPL Runners-Up Top Esports (TES) and LEC Champions Rogue.

Initially, both DRX and TES were expected to make it out of the group; however, many fans thought TES would finish first. Miraculously Rogue managed to finish the first round robin with a 3-0 record, meaning that one of either DRX or TES could not mathematically make it out of the group. Once again, defying expectations, DRX won enough matches to force a tiebreaker against Rogue. Although both teams had qualified at this point, DRX won the tiebreaker and put themselves into the Knockout Stage against the defending world champions: EDG.

Once again, DRX were considered the underdogs, and were heavily expected to lose. Miraculously, however, they managed to defeat EDG 3-2, and earn themselves a spot in the semifinals against Gen.G, the LCK Champions. It was at this point that the narratives surrounding Deft’s 10-year-long career in search of a world title began to take off.

Despite this, DRX were the heavy underdogs against Gen.G. In the regular season, the five members of DRX had not managed to take a single game off of Gen.G. Because of this, DRX was heavily predicted to lose in an 0-3 fashion. Once again defying expectations, DRX defeated the LCK Champions 3-1, and booked themselves their first-ever Worlds Finals appearance. While this was already a historic run for DRX, an organization that had never made it to the semifinals, their qualification for the finals marked the first time a Play-Ins team and a fourth-seed team had ever made it to the World Finals.

An Unforgettable Finish

Now one best of five away from a world title, DRX were set to face off against T1, the LCK Runners-Up. The storylines for each team were incredibly unique, but intertwined by pure chance. Deft, the 10-year veteran ADC for DRX, had been chasing his first-ever title since he began playing in 2013. Rumors had been swirling around since the beginning of the year that Deft would be retiring at the end of the year. Faker, a member of T1 and widely regarded as the “GOAT” of League of Legends, was chasing his fourth title, a mark many people felt would cement his legacy and provoke his retirement.

The unique twist between these two veteran players is that they attended the same high school: Mapo High School in South Korea. While Deft was always inspired by Faker, he was constantly overshadowed by Faker’s accomplishments. Both players have decade-long careers and hold individual records that no other player has; however, Faker has always been the face of the game.

Face to face in the most intense rivalry match of their lives, T1 struck first blood and secured a dominant 1-0 lead in the series. At this point, the level of domination demonstrated by T1 led many viewers to predict T1 would sweep the series 3-0. DRX, however, had other plans. In a much closer bout, DRX took the second game and brought the series to 1-1. From there, both teams secured narrow wins over the other to push it to a game five scenario. In one of the most intense and exciting Worlds Final matches of all time, DRX narrowly defeated T1 and became the first ever Play-Ins and fourth seed team to win a World Championship. Alongside their title victory, DRX crafted the greatest underdog story in League of Legends history.

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