After a day off from the games, the Group Stage of Worlds 2019 resumed for the 5th day. The first group on the chopping block was Group B, headlined by the LPL’s #1 seed FunPlus Phoenix. Dubbed the “Group of Life”, the LMS #1 seed, J Team, shook things up quickly taking down FPX in the first day. However, things evened out as the games went on. FPX and J Team ended the first half with a 2-1 record. The two remaining teams in the group, LEC #3 seed Splyce and VCS #1 seed GAM Esports both went 1-2.
To find out what transpired for Group B, let’s dive into each of the six matches of the day.
1. GAM Esports vs FunPlus Phoenix (Winner: FunPlus Phoenix)
Prior to the start of the second half, GAM needed to win as many games as they could to avoid elimination. In reality, that was easier said than done. Before the start of the tournament, they were the wildcard of this group. In simple terms, they were the most unpredictable team of the group. However, their playstyle did not work out well for them in the first half of the Group Stage. This game was no different.
GAM put all their eggs in the early game basket, and for good reason. They’ve historically been an explosive early game team, prioritizing early game skirmishes and dives to make up for their lack of macro play. However, against a controlled LPL team, that did not work at all. In true Doinb fashion, FPX drafted a Malphite mid and it turned out to be brilliant. Since GAM depended on early kills to pull ahead, all FPX needed to do was build tank items until GimGoon’s Gangplank and Lwx’s Kai’sa can scale.
Malphite made it extremely easy to team fight and make picks. Once GAM fell 3k gold behind, FPX forced a Baron play, a lose-lose play for GAM. At Baron, Doinb got caught out of position but he simply tanked all of GAM’s damage. It was depressing to watch honestly, except if you’re an LPL fan.
2. J Team vs Splyce (Winner: FunPlus Phoenix)
J Team came into the tournament without any expectations. After all, the LMS region’s performances for the past years left much to be desired. Meanwhile, the LEC came into the tournament with plenty of hope, especially after G2’s MSI win and the subsequent split’s close competition between EU teams. With that said, Splyce showed shakiness in the first half while J Team performed well enough to put them in contention for first seed.
From the draft, it was apparent that Splyce just wanted to stick to their comfort zone: team fighting. Similarly, J Team built a comp around FoFo’s late-game scaling Kayle. Like most games at Worlds, it all boiled down to execution. Splyce’s jungler Xerxe out-rotated J Team’s jungler Hana from start to finish. Also, Splyce always pushed their buttons at just the right moment. Every team fight went in favor of Splyce. Slowly but surely, Splyce inched ever closer to J Team’s base. At the 28th minute mark, Splyce aced their opponents in their own base and climbed to a 2-2 record.
3. GAM Esports vs J Team (Winner: J Team)
GAM lost this do or die game, simply because J Team played better League of Legends. The top lane difference proved to be too much to overcome for GAM, as the game became a virtual 4v5 after their Zeros’ Akali fell behind. They also couldn’t answer J Team’s map plays and were constantly behind of the curve when it came to macro movements. It seemed like they came into the tournament with nothing but pocket picks and the hope that they can out-team fight their opponents each game.
It wasn’t all on GAM, to be fair. J Team played exceptionally well. Every time GAM made a play, they made sure to answer right back. Moreover, they constantly punished GAM for being reactive all game long. With that said, GAM did make a few good calls this game. A pick on FoFo in the top lane allowed them to threaten Baron. However, nothing came out of that but their doom. FoFo respawned and teleported in time to turn the tables on the VCS representatives. They then ended the game with the resulting Baron buff.
With this loss, GAM are eliminated from Worlds 2019
4. Splyce vs FunPlus Phoenix (Winner: Splyce)
After last game’s conclusion, the next two games became even more important than they already were. If Splyce wins this game, they will tie FPX at 3-2, as well as J Team. That meant a three-way tie with two games left: Splyce vs GAM and FPX vs J Team. The implications of these last three games are simply massive.
Given those conditions, Splyce made sure they were in the driver’s seat. They pushed ahead to a huge early game gold lead and they never looked back. Every time FPX pulled the trigger, Splyce punched back harder. With Baron buff, Splyce took two inhibitors at 30 minutes and put themselves in a comfortable position. However, they decided to play slow. Two minutes later, a fight started at FPX’s third and final inhibitor. They initially won the fight, but Kobbe’s Xayah pumped out enough damage to allow Vizicsacsi’s Cho’Gath and Humanoid’s Akali to take on the rest of FPX’s limping members. When the rest of Splyce respawned, they successfully overcame the LPL representatives’ last stand.
This win guaranteed Splyce a Quarterfinals appearance in the Knockout Stage.
5. Splyce vs GAM Esports (Winner: Splyce)
GAM Esports were eliminated earlier after their loss to J Team, but winning this game should give the VCS region some sort of positive vibe. After all, it’s their first time back at Worlds after Levi left the roster for greener pastures abroad. On the other hand, Splyce winning this game guarantees them at least a tiebreaker for first. In short, this game isn’t a token send-off for GAM. This game still means a lot to both teams.
From the moment the game started, GAM played like the hungry wolves that they are. Meanwhile, Splyce played the exact same way they’ve played all throughout the tournament: get Kobbe ahead. The fact that Vizicsacsi willingly burns teleports to trade for the bot laners signifies that Splyce know who they are and what makes them “Splyce”. GAM also knew that Splyce will always leave top lane for dead, so they simply went there each time. Every time Vizicsacsi burns his teleport and/or ultimate, Levi then rotates to the bot lane. That strategy proved to be successful, at least early on.
GAM played well until a disaster occurred, courtesy of Splyce’s decisiveness. At 24 minutes, Levi and Zin started to take Baron. Their teammates were all out of position for this play. Moreover, they failed to clear the Baron pit of vision as well. Splyce immediately recognized this disrespectful attempt to snowball the game against them. Splyce executed perfectly in the ensuing fight, which netted them 4 kills plus the Baron buff. From then on, everything GAM did right in the early game was basically thrown out the windows. After a series of fights that all went against their favor, Splyce’s Humanoid marched into their base and secured their 4th win of the Group Stage.
6. FunPlus Phoenix vs J Team (Winner: FPX)
Group B’s final day definitely delivered as far as fans are concerned. Splyce secured a tiebreaker for first seed with their win against GAM in the previous game. For both FPX and J Team, whoever loses this game goes home. Whoever wins plays a tiebreaker against Splyce for the first seed. That’s a lot of pressure for both teams, as they’re both #1 seeds of their region. For J Team, their week 1 success would all be for naught. For FPX, they’ll be going home as LGD 2.0.
With their entire season on the line, FPX struck first and they struck hard. Since both teams loved skirmishes to get leads, the game’s fate depended on who played the early game better. FunPlus Phoenix repeatedly targeted J Team’s bot lane and they left GimGoon and Doinb to their own devices. It was a brilliant idea, as both FPX’s solo laners were able to hold their ground against their counterparts. On the other hand, J Team tried to defend their bot lane but Hana could not match the level of play Tian was playing. FPX simply played better, both individually and collectively.
FunPlus Phoenix ran away with the game after winning so many fights. At 20 minutes, they were already ahead by 12k gold. J Team tried their best to save their season but in the end, the better team took home the win. FPX will play a tiebreaker with Splyce for first seed out of Group B after this game.
Tiebreaker: FunPlus Phoenix vs Splyce
FPX surely learned their lesson from their previous encounter with Splyce. They banned the Xayah away from Kobbe, as well as drafting a lane-oriented champion for Doinb. That way, he has the agency to help out his teammates even before the major team fights break out.
Both teams traded back and forth in the early game. Xerxe, for some reason, decided to camp his top laner this time. This gave Splyce a comfortable advantage there against GimGoon’s ticking time bomb of a Ryze. On the flip side, Tian made sure he punished Splyce’s bot lane accordingly. Humanoid tried to stop the bleeding but he ended up falling behind himself. Doinb, in particular, played wonderfully in the early to mid game, never allowing Humanoid and Xerxe to rotate around the map.
At the first Baron fight, FPX managed to build a 3.5k gold advantage. On top of that, they had complete control of the map with pushing side lanes. They managed to take it and used that buff to take more objectives around the map. At the 37 minute mark, FPX took Elder dragon and started the Baron shortly after. Splyce felt the need to contest but Vizicsacsi didn’t arrive in time. By the time he did, he was the only Splyce member left alive. FPX took the opportunity to end the game and take the 1st seed out of Group B into the Knockout Stage. GG.
Congratulations to FunPlus Phoenix and Splyce for qualifying to the Knockout Stage of Worlds 2019. Group A will be playing next. Stay tuned for our daily Worlds 2019 recaps.