The last match on Worlds 2022 Play-Ins day one was between fourth seeds DRX and Royal Never Give Up. In the heated LCK versus LPL rivalry, League of Legends fans were eager to see which region would draw first blood on the international stage.
RNG fell back on comfort picks, selecting Vi for jungler Yan “Wei” Yang-Wei and Jax for top laner Chen “Breathe” Chen, then surprised by putting Chen “GALA” Wei on Nilah, a champion he hasn’t played in competitive.
The LCK representatives responded by picking Tristana for veteran bot laner Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu, who would proceed to give GALA a hard time in lane. They also flexed Maokai from earlier in the draft into the jungle, which was just buffed on patch 12.17 so that they could bolster bot lane’s power with Rell.
RNG took three early kills and two dragons, but DRX stayed in the game by securing both Rift Heralds. During a mid-game team fight at the third dragon, Deft showed up big on Tristana, scoring a triple kill. When the sixth dragon spawned, however, he made a mistake that almost cost his team — which is when Kim “Zeka” Geon-woo showed up.
DRX Zeka’s Akali masterfully turns on Royal Never Give Up in intense 1v2
35 minutes into the game, DRX were one Hextech Dragon away from Soul, which is why RNG were keen on denying it. They started the dragon, posturing in a 4v4 while Breathe zoned out Zeka over the wall.
When the dragon dropped to a quarter HP, Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming’s Alistar pulled the trigger, exhausting Deft’s Tristana while keeping Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee’s Rell at bay. Hwang “Kingen” Seong-hoon’s Aatrox responded by diving RNG’s backline.
In the midst of chaos, Deft engaged in a 1v1 with Vi, before jumping in to get resets off Ming and Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao’s low HP LeBlanc, then jumped over the wall to regroup with his team. Thinking they had the upper hand, he used Blast Cone to reposition aggressively, putting him in Jax’s Leap Strike range.
Even though Stopwatch and Flash were used, Breathe’s Jax continued sticking onto Tristana, who was doomed. Kingen on Aatrox tried to peel for his AD carry, but also succumbed to death.
Left in a 1v2, Zeka created space in the jungle, played around vision, and waited for cooldowns. Breathe decided to disengage to focus on Gromp, while Wei moved towards mid lane. Realizing that he was isolated, Zeka took advantage of the opening that RNG gave him.
He had used his ultimate early on in the fight, and it was on such a low cooldown that it came up again just as he came into contact with Vi. Even though Wei canceled Akali’s R2 with the blast cone, he, unfortunately, did not bounce over the wall.
Left in a 1v1, Breathe’s Counter Strike had expired, which put him in a vulnerable spot. Playing around Twilight Shroud, Zeka weaved in auto attacks between his E and Q for the ace with mechanics that reminded fans of fellow LCK mid laner Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon, arguably the best Akali in the world.
The ace gave DRX an in at Baron, which they secured uncontested. Using Baron buff, they downed two inhibitors and won the final fight at the seventh dragon to finally close it out against RNG at the 42-minute mark.
Akali is one of Zeka’s most played champions in solo queue on the Korean ranked ladder this season. He has a 50% win rate over 56 games, maintaining a 2.92 KDA.