Forward of his Grand Finals matchup in opposition to T1 Faker at Worlds 2022, Dexerto caught up with DRX Zeka. He mirrored on his historic Worlds 2022 run, his private journey to worldwide stardom, and guaranteed DRX followers that they’re going to win Worlds.
DRX has already had the very best underdog story in League of Legends historical past, they usually haven’t even performed their Grand Finals match in opposition to T1 but. The truth that they’ve made it to the very finish from Play-Ins speaks volumes for his or her resilience and adaptableness.
On the heart of this success has been Kim ‘Zeka’ Geon-woo, a 19-year-old mid laner that has gone from relative obscurity to one of many world’s finest gamers in file time.
Whereas his teammates have additionally performed exceptionally effectively and overperformed compared to the common season, Zeka has been the star of the present. Now, days earlier than his historic matchup in opposition to T1 Faker, Dexerto spoke to Zeka about his mindset going into the ultimate match of Worlds 2022.
DRX are underdogs for a cause
Going into Play-Ins, DRX was closely underestimated. Although, judging by their common season, it’s straightforward to see why. This workforce’s meteoric rise has been all of the extra shocking due to the place they began.
DRX’s final week of the common season was tough, and noticed them dropping to each KT Rolster and an ailing Hanwha Life Esports roster that didn’t even make it to Playoffs. They barely slid into Playoffs qualification at sixth place, and had been instantly eradicated by Liiv SANDBOX.
After that, DRX needed to play by way of the regional qualifiers and barely gained back-to-back better of 5 units in opposition to KT Rolster and Liiv SANDBOX. With the ability to win in opposition to groups they very not too long ago misplaced to was spectacular, however DRX’s 3-2 victories weren’t precisely convincing. One mistake in any of these video games might have saved this workforce from making it to Worlds 2022 within the first place.
Zeka defined that this turnaround was essentially the most essential interval, in changing DRX from a mid-tier workforce within the common season, to the place they’re now: world finalists.
“I believe it was the expertise in LCK regional qualifiers. Again within the common season, we had been defeated by the workforce on the backside and fell out of the playoffs spherical 1. Nevertheless, as we went by way of the regional qualifier, we got here to belief one another and gained confidence even in unfavorable conditions.”
This confidence would mark the start of a brand new period for DRX, one the place they had been in a position to acquire momentum over the course of Worlds 2022. And, although some gamers on this workforce had no worldwide expertise when Worlds began, that’s actually modified by now.
“Among the workforce members, together with me, didn’t have a lot expertise in worldwide matches earlier than. It was an excellent assist to begin in Play-Ins by way of expertise.” Regardless of spending over a month in international international locations, enjoying for his or her event lives again and again, Zeka is feeling “absolutely refreshed after DRX made it to the Finals.”
From the skin wanting in, DRX’s run at Worlds 2022 could seem exhausting. For Zeka, that have has been a boon. This workforce’s belief in one another has saved them going, and there’s one participant particularly on DRX whose vibrant character reveals any time they’re on stage.
Dexerto talked with Hong ‘Pyosik’ Chang-hyeon, a participant that has been with DRX even by way of their final place end in Summer time 2021, throughout the Group Stage. He’s had an unbelievable rise of his personal, and got here throughout as such a real and likeable individual each in-game and out. Zeka’s sentiment mirrored that constructive impression.
“What I felt whereas I used to be with him for a yr is that he has an excellent power and may give it to the folks round him. And when he obtained suggestions from the workforce sport, he took it positively and created environment. Due to his character, everybody likes him very a lot.”
Kim ‘Deft’ Hyuk-kyu and Cho ‘BeryL’ Geon-hee additionally had potential to be the very best bot lane within the LCK, potential they’ve lived as much as throughout Worlds 2022. And we will’t overlook about Hwang ‘Kingen’ Seong-hoon, a participant that has gone from a so-so prime laner to a dependable, solo lane rock that comes by way of in teamfights when it issues most.
However none of this may have been doable if all 5 of those gamers weren’t enjoying as a assured, cohesive workforce. When speaking with Zeka about DRX’s development in addition to his personal, that was the phrase that got here up most: confidence.
DRX Zeka doesn’t play like an LCK mid laner
What many could not know is that Zeka’s profession wasn’t made within the LCK. After a brief stint on KT Rolster’s Challengers League roster, Zeka left Korea to play within the LPL. He obtained picked up by Vici Gaming (the workforce that might go on to be Uncommon Atom) for a yr, adopted by becoming a member of Bilibili Gaming by way of 2021. After being unable to interrupt into the LPL’s higher echelon, Zeka returned to the LCK in 2022.
In actual fact, Zeka seen his time within the LPL as one of many largest elements in his success at Worlds 2022.
“Plainly the time I spent in LPL shines in Worlds relatively than LCK. Right here in Worlds, once I met LPL mid laners, it was very useful to know their traits and have the expertise of enjoying in opposition to them.”
It’s honest to say that the LPL rubbed off on him a bit, and he’s been in a position to understand his full potential by way of enjoying aggressive mid laners that need to take fights and skirmish each time they will.
He’s performed Azir right here and there, however the bulk of his time on the LCK Regional Finals and Worlds 2022 has been spent on melee mid laners like Akali and Sylas. Zeka performs characters that need to combat, and he does it with out getting zoned off of farm like different mid laners.
“In fact, it’s the form of state of affairs that ranged champions must win in opposition to melee. In my case, I concentrate on farming within the early lane section. It’s exhausting for the opposing laners to not panic as a result of they need to have the lead however they will’t. Then they make errors, and I simply use them.”
However is there a method for Faker to interrupt his sizzling streak? Will Zeka be capable to stress Faker the identical method he’s been in a position to stress different opponents he’s confronted?
“If the play I’ve been doing up to now didn’t work, I wouldn’t be right here in Worlds. If I do what I do, I can beat whoever the opponents are.”
Zeka has managed to mix the affected person, LCK model of farming with the skirmishing and aggressive play of LPL mid laners. He’s channeled what makes each areas sturdy right into a playstyle all his personal that has felled each mid laner that stands in his method.
Between Deft’s doable retirement after Worlds this yr and the chances being stacked in opposition to them from the beginning, DRX’s journey to the highest has been an emotional one for gamers and followers.
These gamers have had a tough time retaining their emotions in, with everybody on the workforce elated with their run up to now and excited for what’s subsequent. Zeka had a message he needed to provide DRX followers earlier than their ultimate showdown with T1.
“I do know each new and previous followers had been touched by the story that DRX has written in Worlds. What I’d prefer to say to them is, it’s too early to cry. We will proceed our gratifying problem and win the Finals. Ultimately, the story will end with a cheerful ending.”