Pyosik Reflects on DRX’s Miracle Run at Worlds 2022
Right from the jump at this year’s League of Legends World Championship, DRX were considered underdogs. As the fourth seed out of Korea’s LCK, DRX were slotted directly into the play-in stage—a traditional death sentence for any team looking to win the tournament.
Against all odds, though, the Korean team trudged through each leg of the tournament, winning Worlds after a marathon 26-game run.
DRX’s monumental Worlds victory was a first-of-its-kind milestone in that the team was the first to ever play in all three stages of the event: play-ins, groups, and knockouts. Additionally, they became the first team to make it from the Worlds play-in stage to the grand finals, let alone win.
The team’s cornerstone piece, jungler Pyosik, has been with the team since 2019 and lived through a failed Worlds run in 2020 and a last-place season in 2021 before sealing League’s greatest underdog story earlier this month. Following his team’s clinching of the Summoner’s Cup, Dot Esports spoke with Pyosik about DRX’s improbable 2022 season and how the team paved its road to greatness at this year’s World Championship.
“We always talked internally that we had a lot of potential,” Pyosik told Dot Esports earlier this week. “Until the Worlds qualifier, we weren’t really good as a team. We didn’t have a good teamfight, and we didn’t have balance as a team. But we always said if we were able to become top-level in each part of the game, we thought we may be able to win Worlds, but we never thought that we’d actually win this amazingly.”
In practically every match they played, DRX were not granted “favorite” status. From their face-off with MSI champions Royal Never Give Up in the play-in stage, their games with LEC champions Rogue in groups, to all three of their knockout stage series, DRX were playing with house money.
According to Pyosik, it wasn’t until the team reverse swept defending champions Edward Gaming in the quarterfinals that they collectively looked themselves in the mirror and realized they had a chance to win the whole thing.
“[During the group stage], we didn’t have a lot of trust in each other, and our faith had been down,” Pyosik said. “Before we faced EDG, we talked a lot and tried to go over our misunderstandings. We won crazily with EDG, and after that, our trust and everything just went up. We were able to reach the highest peak point of our team play.”
Photo by Colin Young-Wolff via Riot Games Following DRX’s reverse sweep of EDG (which was just the second reverse sweep in Worlds history), the team had two familiar foes ahead of them in the bracket with fellow LCK league-mates Gen.G and T1 waiting on the horizon. During the regular season, DRX had put up a dismal combined record of 0-16 against Gen.G and T1, their respective semifinal and final opponents at Worlds.
Despite failing to win a single game against either team during the LCK Spring and Summer Splits, DRX won the two matches that mattered most.
“Even though we always lost 2-0, we always thought that we were able to win against them,” Pyosik said. “We said that the regular split was just a vaccination for us to win at Worlds.”
Pyosik also mentioned that one of DRX’s main scrim partners in between the group stage and the knockout stage was their eventual finals opponent, T1. After playing practice sessions with T1 during both the regular season and the duration of the World Championship, it shouldn’t be all too surprising DRX were familiar enough with T1’s game to steal the Summoner’s Cup out from under them.
Photo by Colin Young-Wolff via Riot Games “We have made incredible development compared to the play-ins and the finals within a very short period of time,” Pyosik said. “Internally, we had been playing a lot of scrims with T1, so after getting first in the group stage, we played a lot of scrims with T1.”
In all five of DRX’s final series this season, the team were down by at least one game in each of them, while they faced elimination in four. This includes the two series the team played back in the LCK regional qualifier against Liiv SANDBOX and KT Rolster—both of which they faced elimination in.
Across their 26-game march to the Worlds title, DRX had plenty of time to adjust their playstyle. In a group stage interview with Dot Esports, support Beryl said that “desperation is the key” to DRX’s success. Pyosik agreed.
“We always thought our players’ abilities were way higher than the opponents,” the jungler said of DRX’s regional qualifier run. “We have a lot of trust, so even though it could have been the end, we said ‘let’s never give up and try our best to come back.’ That’s how we did it.”
Even though the record books may have suggested DRX weren’t nearly as strong as a large majority of their Worlds opponents, the records were proven wrong. Perhaps it was those domestic comeback victories that propelled the team through the international portion of the schedule.
As for DRX’s future, the defending world champions will see all five of their starters come off the books and enter free agency when the global contract expiration date hits today, Nov. 21.
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