Who is River, Dignitas' Jungler who stunned 100 Thieves at LCS Lock In? - Dexerto
League of Legends

Who is River, Dignitas’ Jungler who stunned 100 Thieves at LCS Lock In?

Published: 28/Jan/2022 11:42 Updated: 28/Jan/2022 17:50

by Meg Kay

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On January 22, Dignitas stunned LCS fans with a 2-0 victory over reigning champions 100 Thieves at the 2022 Lock In tournament. And they did it with a jungler who’d arrived in NA only a few days prior. 

Like many LCS teams this Spring, Dignitas were plagued with Visa issues that barred them from bringing their full roster together in time for the start of the Lock-In. Their marquee signing in the offseason was PCS jungler and ex-Worlds attendee with PSG Talon, Kim ‘River’ Dongwoo.

Visa issues and the ongoing global health crisis meant River was unable to enter the US in time for the start of the Lock In. Instead, the org started academy jungler Lawrence ‘eXyu’ Xu.

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River arrived just in time to start for the roster in their final two games of the Lock In group stage. Both were losses, with the team looking like they hadn’t quite managed to gel in the little time they’d been able to play together.

It looked as though his arrival might have just been a little too late to save DIG’s mediocre Lock-In performance.

That is, until DIG blasted reigning champions 100 Thieves out of the water with a clean 2-0 victory, securing themselves a spot in the semifinals vs Team Liquid. In that victory, River was an instrumental piece, completely out-jungling opponent Can ‘Closer’ Celik and working seamlessly alongside support Vincent ‘Biofrost’ Wang.

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But who is River?

Joosep Martinson/Riot Games
River made it to the semifinals of the 2021 World Championship alongside his teammates on PSG Talon.

River may be an unfamiliar name to the North American audience, and that’s no surprise. His debut on Dignitas marks his first time playing in one of the four major regions.

A Korean resident, River started his career on ahQ eSports Club in the now-defunct LMS. He played there for only two months before joining Japanese team V3 Esports in the LJL. His stint on V3 was equally short-lived, and after three months he returned to the LMS, which had now merged with the SEA tour to form the newly-minted PCS region.

In the PCS, he joined PSG Talon, formerly known as Talon Esports. It was with PSG Talon that he attended his first international events, attending two World Championships and one Mid-Season Invitational in 2020 and 2021.

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PCS caster Devin ‘Piratechnics’ Younge described River as a player who ‘shone on carries and skirmish-heavy champs’ during his time in the PCS.

His career most-played are Lee Sin, Graves, and Nidalee, and he definitely looks most at home on champions with the agency to duel it out in the jungle in the early game.

Although he looked remarkably proficient on Jarvan in the series versus 100 Thieves, don’t expect him to be pulling out the Sejuani or Skarner any time soon. River is a player who favors agency above all else, and whether through champion picks or jungle pathing he’s always looking to give himself the upper hand in early fights.

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He’s worked with a few mid laners throughout his career, most recently with PCS veteran Huang ‘Maple’ Yi-Tang. During their time on PSG Talon, Maple was a mage player through and through, playing for lane control rather than solo kills. His steadfast presence freed up the map for River and support Ling ‘Kaiwing’ Kai Wing to roam the map.

DIG’s current mid laner Ersin ‘Blue’ Gören shares a lot of champion pool similarities with Maple. Azir, Syndra, and Leblanc are among their most played, and despite not being flashy players by any means they can both consistently hold their own. They also both allow River to do what he does best: go into the jungle and cause chaos.

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Adapting to Dignitas and the NA environment

Dignitas definitely didn’t start the Lock-In the way they’d hoped, barely making it out of their group with a 1-3 record.

And River’s arrival didn’t immediately fix their issues either, with the roster losing their final two games of the group stage even after River’s arrival.

Coach Ilias ‘Enatron’ Theodorou told Dexerto that “River had never practiced beforehand with the squad, but watched our scrims when we were playing with eXyu.” Due to the timezone difference with River and the rest of the team, the jungler actually hadn’t interacted with any of the other players on the DIG roster before he came to NA.

Their game against CLG was one of the team’s first games together.

Enatron attributes River’s ability to adapt so quickly to the team environment to his “hunger to play in NA with this team, and to achieve something alongside his teammates.”

He also told Dexerto that team manager Toby Kwon had been instrumental in the integration process, as a bilingual Korean/English speaker who facilitated the majority of communication between River and the Dignitas ecosystem.

The jungler transition still was not quite as seamless as DIG may have hoped. In their first two games with River the roster showed some undeniable growing pains, but the team that stepped out against 100 Thieves looked like an entirely different Dignitas.

If this team’s ceiling is high enough to beat the reigning LCS champions, then who’s to say it’s not high enough to win the LCS Lock In.