After 10 weeks of intense action, only five teams remain to fight through the gauntlet of the LCK playoffs. Starting things off in the wildcard round will be the two rookie teams of DAMWON Gaming and SANDBOX Gaming. Only one team can move one, who will it be?
DAMWON Gaming: Constant Improvements
DAMWON Gaming came into the season as one of the favorites to win the Spring Split. However, as the season progressed, DAMWON was all over the place in the standings. Despite a lower placement than what most fans would have expected, the team is still a huge threat.
With players like mid laner Heo “ShowMaker” Su and jungler Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu constantly improving their play, the team’s mediocre standings shouldn’t be an indicator of what to expect from the team. In the long run, the team as a whole will be a better, well-rounded team, which becomes a huge advantage in a BO5 playoff scenario where one-dimensional teams will often be outclassed.
On top of the players who have constantly improved throughout the season, the stars of the team have continued to impress. ADC Sin “Nuclear” Jeong-hyeon has continued to be one of the better ADCs in LCK, despite all the talent in the league. Along with that, top laners Lee “Flame” Ho-jong and Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon have continued to be a surprisingly effective duo to swap between throughout a series. As both players continue to play at a high level, it provides the team with another threat.
Despite being the 5th seed coming into the playoffs, DAMWON will be a huge threat to face going forward. However, now it will all depend on how far their improvements can take them through the gauntlet.
SANDBOX Gaming: Ruthless Aggression
On the other side of the rift is SANDBOX Gaming, a team that came into the season with no expectations. Most wrote them off as a low tier team that could likely return to Challengers in one season. Despite the lack of faith in the team, SANDBOX were able to prove everyone wrong as they went on an impressive undefeated streak, until they faced Griffin.
However, despite their great performance this split, the team still has some issues. While the team is fairly aggressive early game thanks to the play of jungler Kim “OnFleek” Jang-gyeom, the team still has issues as the game reaches its later stages. More often than not, SANDBOX has issues closing out games and often looks lost in general. This has resulted in situations where SANDBOX has simply won off the amazing play of ADC Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun. As a result, if their aggressive play early on doesn’t work out, the team will often lose.
Due to their weakness in the later stages of the game, SANDBOX does appear to be the weakest team in the playoffs, despite their seeding. While their play in the early game is often on point and makes up for their weaker mid to late game, it may not be enough in the playoffs. Unless they can make huge improvements, it’s questionable as to how far they’ll be able to make it.
While the two teams have had some close series during the regular season, SANDBOX did end up sweeping their series with a pair of 2-1 victories. However, DAMWON has looked great going into playoffs while SANDBOX has looked shaky.
In the end, this series will likely depend on the play of the junglers. If Canyon is able to shut down OnFleek in the early stages of the game, DAMWON will have an easy series on their hands. On top of that, SANDBOX’s Park “Summit” Woo-tae will likely have a hard time shutting down either Flame or Nuguri without the help of OnFleek.
In the end, this will likely be a close series. DAMWON will take the series by a score of 2-1.
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