Perhaps the most explosive LPL vs LPL matchup had just concluded at Worlds 2019. The defending champions Invictus Gaming failed to step up when it mattered most, dropping to FunPlus Phoenix in the first semifinal of the tournament.
It was a pretty close affair in every game. However, we all know that League of Legends is a game of inches and in this series, FPX undauntedly took every inch forward to their victory. The game did not run out of excitement, outplays and big brain moments from the first game until the last. In order to understand how FPX eliminated their fellow Chinese team, let’s break down each game one by one.
Here are the full details of the match.
The first thing that pops out of this game is the Qiyana pick. Normally, red side teams that don’t ban Qiyana opt for Syndra and/or Renekton, which IG did. However, this allowed FPX to draft Rumble in the mid lane for Doinb, which fits his hard-shove-into-roam style perfectly. Second, IG took a page from SKT’s draft playbook and picked Quinn to counter the Renekton. While TheShy tried his damn best to make it work, it just didn’t fit with the rest of the team. Third, this was indeed an LPL match. At just 13 minutes, both teams combined for a total of 10 kills across the map. Both teams simply grabbed every opportunity presented to them and they just kept pulling the trigger.
Invictus Gaming started the game quite well. They managed to earn a 1.5k gold lead in the early game. However, Doinb earned three kills for himself as well, putting him in a great position going into the mid game teamfights on the Rumble. This proved to be a huge problem for IG, as they lost the next two team fights, primarily because of Doinb’s excellent Rumble ultimates. Once FPX took the lead, their superior teamwork and vision control choked the life out of IG, objective by objective. Additionally, Tian overcame a shaky 0/3/1 early game. His Qiyana ultimates, combined with Doinb’s Rumble Equalizers, took down the IG members before they could respond. With the momentum and the Baron, they quickly jumped on IG’s scattered base defense and ran away with a quick 1-0.
FunPlus Phoenix 1 – 0 Invictus Gaming
Invictus Gaming made great adjustments in the draft from Game 1. They banned the Qiyana this time around and gambled on a Varus-Tahm Kench bot lane against the Xayah-Nautilus. Or not. In true Doinb fashion, FPX flexed the Nautilus into the mid lane, the trickery revealed after they locked in Blitzcrank. Then, FPX put GimGoon on Mordekaiser to answer TheShy’s legendary Vladimir. This proved to be a great answer later on in the teamfights.
With the amount of engage tools available to FPX, they simply ran over IG in the early game skirmishes. At 11 minutes, the score line was 0-6 in favor of FPX, with a 3k gold lead to boot. However, IG didn’t seem to be fazed by their deficit. They used their superior individual mechanical abilities to crawl back into the game. Despite being 5k gold down, IG managed to win a Baron fight that allowed them to gain control of the game. However, they overstepped when tried to end the game. FPX managed to keep the rest of the game close, thanks to Mordekaiser ult taking TheShy’s Vladimir out of teamfights. Sadly for FPX, their valiant stand ultimately faltered when Doinb got caught in the mid lane. FunPlus lost the ensuing fight and IG tied the series at 1 game apiece.
FunPlus Phoenix 1 – 1 Invictus Gaming
For some bizarre reason, IG left Qiyana up again this game. Also, Doinb stuck to his AP Nautilus mid this game despite the loss, and for good reason. FPX work best when Doinb initiates the fights. For IG, they put TheShy on Lucian as a hard counter to Gangplank. However, even though TheShy made the most out of the winning matchup, IG found it difficult to translate his lead onto the rest of the map. Moreover, IG’s composition relied on their laners to get ahead and get to their power spikes first. FPX would have none of that, of course. With Doinb leading the charge and GimGoon ulting from the sidelane, FPX won a crucial fight in the river.
Tian, in particular, played extremely well in this game. His Qiyana almost single-handedly carried FPX to the win. In all major engagements in this game, Tian’s ultimate took out multiple members of IG. Of course, Doinb did his thing, wreaking havoc in the fights and creating space for his teammates to shine. Once FPX got the baron, it was all over for IG. Their base defense stood like a stack of cards and FPX blew them out en route to match point.
FunPlus Phoenix 2 – 1 Invictus Gaming
FPX certainly deserves credit for punishing IG’s stubbornness regarding their draft. IG is one big mess of godlike players, while FPX are like a marching band with Doinb in front. Since IG acknowledge that they’ll never match other teams’ coordination, they focus on laning and individual outplays, hoping at least one or two will pop off and carry the game. FPX simply shut this strategy down by drafting engage-heavy compositions and forcing fights as early as possible. IG refused to adapt and stuck to their style, prioritizing lane matchups that will give them enough punching power early but allow TheShy to carry them later in the game. To be fair, this thinking won them Worlds 2018. However, teams like FPX who are capable of going toe-to-toe with them in lane aren’t going to fall for this trick. The defending champions slowly crumbled under the pressure of being down 2-1.
Fortunately for IG, they’re so mechanically gifted that despite being down in gold and experience, they still managed to make counterattacks. They won two teamfights near Baron back to back, allowing them to take the lead in the game. In the rare moments that IG are in sync, they are certainly a thing of beauty. TheShy, whose heroics in the LPL gauntlet brought them here in the first place, played out of his mind for a few minutes. However, in the most crucial moment of the game, TheShy got caught and blown up along with the rest of his team. At the 34-minute mark, FPX won a teamfight off of Doinb’s engage and marched straight into IG’s base and into the grand finals of Worlds 2019.
Winner: FunPlus Phoenix
MVP of the match: Tian
I still think Doinb was their best player overall, but Tian’s influence radiated all throughout the series more so than Doinb. The jungle difference between him and Ning gave FPX a solid foundation to build on every game. Even in the sole game they lost, Tian’s play made sure it was never a blowout. Both Clid and Jankos will surely have their hands full with him in the finals.
Today, SKT T1 and G2 Esports will battle for the last slot in the grand final. Stay tuned for our recap for all Worlds 2019 matches.