One down, three to go. After Invictus Gaming successfully eliminated Griffin 3-1 in the first quarterfinal match-up for the day, FunPlus Phoenix scored the second semifinal seed for the LPL against Fnatic, also 3-1. There’s an ongoing debate as to who’s the second and third best region between China and Europe. Well, both LPL representatives secured their fans a seat in the finals with this series win.
To understand how we got to this LPL vs LPL semifinal, let’s take a closer look at each game of the series.
Did Fnatic not watch the first series? Did they not realize that the LPL isn’t going to fall for the Garen-Yuumi strat anymore? Well, I’m sure they had their reasons but it certainly didn’t work. FPX drafted a super early game-oriented composition with Olaf and Xayah-Rakan, with Doinb on Ryze as insurance.
That’s not the only weird thing about this game though. Both teams went for a 5v5 early on for a blue buff. Well, that didn’t work out for FPX and GimGoon paid for it. Bwipo dominated the top lane on Rengar but FPX didn’t care much. They just wanted to shut down the Garen-Yuumi in the bot lane. They continuously poured resources to the bot lane and I think it worked quite well.
Similar to Griffin earlier in the day, Fnatic simply lacked the damage needed to contest Baron. FPX won every teamfight because Fnatic can only ever threaten two of them at most and their damage is well spread out among all members except the support. After the LPL champions made a few picks in the top side jungle, they took Baron and rode the wave to a quick 26-minute victory.
FunPlus Phoenix 1 – 0 Fnatic
Thank goodness Rekkles stopped picking Garen. Honestly, I can’t wait for Riot to give that cancerous combination the Sona treatment. Anyway, we’re back to traditional marksmen for now. However, the fight for blue buff continued into this game. Seriously, what’s so important about it? This time, it was Tian who paid for that fight. Unfortunately, it was all FPX after that early mishap. It must’ve been depressing to watch this game as an EU fan, seeing your favorite team play their signature style and composition and still get slapped off every time they tried to make a play.
To be fair, Fnatic made the right calls for the most part. FPX just played better than them ever so slightly. After a quick Baron fight that ended poorly for Fnatic, FPX stormed their opponents’ base and earned another 25-minute win.
FunPlus Phoenix 2 – 0 Fnatic
Fnatic finally pulled a miracle out of their hat and won this game via a Veigar pick for Nemesis. If they lost in another stomp, this series could’ve broken the record for the fastest international Bo5 series. So… what happened?
First, they committed to the bottom half of the map, just like Griffin’s Game 3 win against Invictus Gaming. Broxah concentrated on the bot lane and Bwipo wonderfully played in lane against GimGoon. Then, Fnatic stood their ground against FPX’s plays, waiting for the right opportunity. Their success stemmed from great coordination and decisive counter plays. Through those, Fnatic won several fights off the back of Nemesis’ Veigar cage and Bwipo’s Ornn ultimate. They also managed to break open FPX’s base early on. They even tried to end it early multiple times but FPX successfully repelled them each time.
Nonetheless, a fight broke out in the mid lane while both teams tried to establish mid lane priority. GimGoon dived way too far alone and died. FPX tried to trade their top laner for Hylissang’s Alistar but he managed to land a three man knockup, allowing Fnatic to clean up and ace FPX. They finally managed to score a game at around 27 minutes.
FunPlus Phoenix 2 – 1 Fnatic
Apparently, Doinb got tired of Fnatic’s shenanigans and decided to turn his level up a few notches. Fnatic’s strategy simply boiled down to letting Bwipo die and scale while Nemesis and Rekkles carry the game. However, Bwipo picked Ornn in the last game. This time, he picked up Kayle. He certainly got abused all game long and finished with a 0/8/3 KDA. Oof! On top of that, Doinb just smashed Nemesis in lane and in teamfights. Doinb ended the game on a 9/0/7 KDA against Nemesis’ 0/5/3. How did that happen?
Well, the early game went similar to the previous ones. Bwipo got punished for trying to push past the river but that’s part of the plan. What they failed to account for was picking three losing lanes against an LPL team isn’t exactly a smart decision. FPX stepped on the gas pedal from minute 1 and they did not look back.
Fnatic’s repeated attempts to gank a Varus-Tahm Kench lane ended in disaster. After FPX took the Baron, the LPL representatives slowly choked Fnatic out of gold and vision. Finally, with an 8k gold lead, FPX destroyed Fnatic’s base and earned their spot in the semifinals against Invictus Gaming. We’re in for an explosive series against these two LPL teams. GG.
FunPlus Phoenix 3 – 1 Fnatic
Winner: FunPlus Phoenix
Tomorrow, SKT T1 will face off against Splyce while G2 Esports will bear the hopes of the EU region against rising Damwon Gaming. Stay tuned for our recaps of the Knockout Stage for Worlds 2019.