After an intense offseason, DRX and Afreeca are entering the 2021 LCK season as two dark horses. None of them are big favorites to go all the way for the title, but both have the individual power to score some big upsets. To start it off, they will have to take on each other to see who will be the most promising dark horse moving forward.
For DRX, 2020 was a solid season after reaching the 2020 World Championship. Sadly it had to let go of two star players in the offseason, leaving management to rebuild. Filling the big shoes of mid laner Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon is the young Song “SOLKA” Su-hyeong, who was previously a substitute for the team and a part of the Academy lineup. In the bot lane, Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu has been replaced by another young talent in Jeong “BAO” Hyeon-woo.
DRX will still be fielding a few players with experience such as jungler Hong “Pyosik” Chang-hyeon and top laner Hwang “Kingen” Seong-hoon, but the majority of the squad consists of fresh talent looking to make it to the biggest stage in South Korea. This leaves DRX in a state where no one really knows what to expect from the team. Fans got a tiny sneak peek of DRX at the 2020 KeSPA Cup, but the team was already knocked out in the group stage with a 1-3 record.
While DRX’s performance at the recent KeSPA Cup was disappointing, Afreeca performed even worse. The team went 0-4 in the same group and was beaten by DRX.
Afreeca has also gone through a lot of changes in the offseason, but instead of betting on young talent, Afreeca has added an experienced bot lane. To cover things down bot is former T1 and Evil Geniuses bot laner Bae “Bang” Jun-sik, who returns to South Korea after two years in the LCS. Playing alongside Bang is former Griffin support Son “Lehends” Si-woo to complete the duo that could potentially become very solid in the long term.
So far, Afreeca hasn’t shown any sort of synergy with its new lineup and that might already worry fans. The team’s performance at KeSPA Cup was nothing to write home about, leaving them with a lot to prove as the LCK season kicks off. On paper, Afreeca looks like the strongest team but DRX already has the mental edge.
The match will likely be decided on which team has managed to get the most out of preseason practice. Building up synergy fast will be key for both DRX and Afreeca if they want to rank among the top teams in the league.
Both teams look very different from their 2020 iterations, leaving a lot of question marks going into this match. With several roster changes on both sides, DRX and Afreeca are looking to match fairly evenly on paper. The bookmakers agree and put this match as one of the closest in the first week of the LCK.
Afreeca Freecs is slightly favored at 1.74, but DRX is right behind at 1.96, so this looks like a potential nailbiter. This could also be a match where one team outshines the other and proves that the offseason has already paid off.