Towers of smoke rise from blue flames that burn everything in their path. DRX have been taking the LCK by storm, and they won’t stop until everything is theirs. Amidst incredibly talented and already accomplished players, a young star shines as the super-team’s unexpected special threat: 17 year old Ryu "Keria" Min-seok.
Despite beginning the Summer Split with one of the hardest schedules possible, South Korea’s most exciting team has only dropped a series. In the path of destruction that they left behind lie current champions T1, Spring’s runner up Gen.g and current second place DAMWON Gaming. DRX are, right now, the best team in the LCK.
The most surprising detail in this incredible run is that Keria, the rookie support that came from DRX’s trainee squad, has been developing at an unforeseen rate. Less than a year separates his time as a trainee from his current status as one of the best support players in the whole World. In this new era of League of Legends, South Korea hasn’t been the most dominating region, but the sheer amount of talent that rises from its Solo Queue and the speed at which new rookies get recruited are second to none.
This influx of young, talented players— started by Griffin and DAMWONGaming as two entire rosters— hasn’t stopped impressing, but has been lacking in a role that is associated with South Korea since Season 4: the Support. Names like Madlife, Mata, Gorilla and CoreJJ have left an everlasting impact in the game, some with impressive mechanics in a role that isn’t frequently associated with individual prowess, others with a macro excellence and general-like guidance that shaped teams. Newer players like Lehends and Effort have been showing some promise, but no one has displayed the necessary potential to reach the heights of the aforementioned legends.
Keria joined Kingzone DragonX in December of 2018 as a trainee, a couple of months after turning 16. He was already known in Korea for being a solo queue prodigy and had reached challenger when he was only 13/14. In late 2019, the organisation was renamed simply to DragonX and the rookie support was promoted to the main squad, amidst off-season moves that brought cvMax, Chovy and Doran onto the team, heading into the 2020 Spring Split. The talented roster finished their first Split in third place with the same series record as T1 and Gen.g (second and first place respectively), but the Spring Playoffs performances and especially the showings in Mid-Season Cup were disappointing.
Keria addressed these concerns multiple times in interviews, and the way he tackles them is unexpectedly mature. Mentions of introspective moments and the will to learn from mistakes portray a young player that is more mature than what’s expected for his age. His team seems to be on the same page as DRX have been tearing through their opposition in the Summer Split so far. The prime candidate for rookie of the year has been diversifying his champion pool and has proven time and again that he has what it takes to be the best Support in Korea.
One of the key moments in this evolution was DRX’s first series in Summer 2020. Despite being a regular split game, this was the team’s first win ever against T1 and the catalyst that initiated their undefeated streak. After two very close first games, T1 was feeling comfortably ahead with a very strong late game comp. It felt like history was repeating itself, until Keria decided to change it. The rookie star already known for more risky champions like Pyke, picked Bard in his first and only time playing it professionally so far. As the game was starting to slip out of DRX’s hands, Keria single-handedly punished T1’s overagression with a clutch ultimate followed by the most impressive Bard Q-Flash I’ve ever witnessed in pro-play. After changing the course of the game with this teamfight, Keria maintained control over it by constantly comboing his long range ultimate with Chovy’s Mega-Inferno-Bomb.
Madlife was known for his mechanics, especially on what are usually called “grab/hook champions” — his name is now used to describe the act of predicting an enemy’s flash with one’s skillshot. Mata was known for his influence over the entire game and for the way he shaped teams around his views. Corejj is known for his teamfight prowess and shot-calling.
Keria is the next stage of development in the Support role.
His individual mechanics and prowess with a large pool of champions is similar to what the new era of players has showed in other roles— like Chovy, Showmaker and Nuguri; he performs to a top level both in lane and in teamfights; he is confident in his abilities despite being a rookie; and, last but not least, is playing alongside Deft, one of the most experienced AD Carry players in the World and someone who directly played with Mata for years.
Keria is the perfect evolution of what came before him and has the drive and ambition to conquer the World. There hasn’t been an interview I’ve watched or read in which he doesn’t mention his desires to be the best. The maturity and willingness to improve expressed in interviews are mirrored by his performances in game and how quickly he has developed. Under the leadership of the already iconic coach CvMax and his lane partner Deft, the 17 year old rookie has the potential to be the best Support in the World and much more.
Keria is ready to prove himself in the World’s stage and help Deft finally lift the ever elusive Summoner’s Cup.
“In the long term, I want to have a career as good as Faker. It would be really hard, but I'd like to become the support with the most championships.”
If you enjoyed this piece, follow the author on Twitter at @Kaaaosh.
Images courtesy of LCK's Flickr.
For more League of Legends content, visit our League of Legends hub