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Damwon Gaming Ends Chinese Dominance of League of Legends Worlds in Shanghai

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After two consecutive victories for Chinese teams in one of the world’s biggest esports tournaments in the last two years, Damwon Gaming has ensured that the League of Legends Summoner’s Cup returns to South Korea after defeating China’s Suning Gaming 3-1 in the 2020 final in Shanghai.

Hosted in a football stadium in the eastern Chinese city, the finals offered Suning Gaming a chance to make it three championships from three for home teams after victories from Invictus Gaming and FunPlus Phoenix in 2018 and 2019 respectively. But in the end they didn’t have enough to stop Damwon from winning their first LoL Worlds title.

The showdown occurred against a backdrop of both countries observing the anniversary of the Korean War, something that in China has been marked by propaganda films and controversy, with even BTS accidentally inciting a flare-up in relations.

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Twenty-two teams competed in Shanghai at the 10th installment of the tournament, which attracted a cumulative viewership of more than 100 million. Riot Games allotted 6,312 in-person spectator seats for the finals, which were snatched up immediately in a lottery with a winning rate of just 2 in 1,000. Shanghai has seen large-scale in-person events return in recent months as life in the city effectively gets back to normal following stringent Covid-19 control measures.

After hosting the finals of the LoL Worlds each year since 2017, China will once again host the tournament next year if all goes to plan. The marquee esports event will tour several Chinese cities in 2021, before heading back to the US in 2022.

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Yet it seems a question of when not if the tournament will return after that to the world’s most valuable esports market. As the spectacular opening ceremony (featuring Lexie Liu and K/DA) put it: “China may not be the birthplace of esports, but some say the country has become its home.”

Jocelyn Yang
    Jocelyn Yang is a student journalist at Emerson College and serves as an editorial intern at RADII. Her primary field of interest is writing about Chinese and American cultures. Follows her on Twitter @_jocelynyang_.