The 2019 League of Legends Worlds Championship officially closed after FunPlus Phoenix’s demolition of G2 Esports at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris. After a much-hyped match between both #1 seeds of the LPL and LEC for the second year in a row, the LPL representatives defended their region’s title. In essence, they may now be considered the #1 region in the world. After this win, three of the last four international titles went to China. On the other hand, it must be heartbreaking for Europe to watch their champions falter on the final stage in back to back years. Last year, Invictus Gaming destroyed Fnatic, then one of the fastest international Bo5 series. This time, G2 Esports put up more of a fight but ultimately came up short in three games.
I’m sure you’re asking the same questions. What the hell happened to the undisputed best team to ever come from the West? After all the hype and the build-up going into the finals, most fans will consider this an utter disappointment. G2 won MSI in record-breaking fashion, stomping Team Liquid in the fastest international Bo5. They went on to win Summer playoffs in pretty much the same dominant fashion. Going into the tournament, they showed shakiness against Griffin in the Group Stage but proved their mettle against Damwon Gaming and SKT in playoffs. So, what the hell happened?
FPX came in prepared
One way to look at it is FPX read G2 like a book. From the moment the series started, the LPL champs never gave their opponents any window to come back. G2’s legendary split push and objective trading that won them the SKT series failed to faze FPX, especially Game 1. FPX ensured they protected their side lanes and challenged G2 to a front-back 5v5. Meanwhile, G2 kept trying to execute their bread and butter plays but FPX came into series ready for it. They saw the curveballs coming and they were able to make the necessary adjustments on the fly. Simply put, FPX outclassed G2, both collectively as a team as well as on an individual level. On top of that, they made so many individuals outplays similar to G2’s mechanical marvels against SKT.
One other thing to note about this series: the draft. Not only did FPX basically ignored G2’s dizzying flex picks, they stuck to their game plan and trusted in each other to execute. The analysts discussed in the pre-game show the importance of draft flexibility. It allows your team to play something different that the opponent doesn’t know how to counter. On top of that, bans on those pocket picks give you the chance to take the power picks instead and give your team an advantage. FPX’s draft focused on comfort picks rather than playing mind games the way G2 does and it absolutely worked: Tian took Lee Sin in all three games and GimGoon played safely and absorbed so much pressure.
G2 outplayed themselves
Sometimes, the best way to solve a problem is the simplest solution. G2 chose difficult to execute compositions in games 1 and 2. When it came to the third game, it was too late. FPX already gained enough momentum to seal the series after a couple of teamfights. FPX managed to build a huge lead from just a blown Ezreal flash at the start of the game. From that one summoner trade, they snowballed their advantage by challenging G2 to trade cross-map plays. FPX denied so much gold and experience from G2’s duo but Jankos couldn’t create the same scenario in the other lanes. By the time they were confident enough to fight, they already lost too many objectives to FPX and the margin for error was basically non-existent at that point.
With that said, I credit G2 for not ever giving up, even in the super-stomp of Game 2. They refused to turtle inside their base and hope someone makes a misstep, for good reason. FPX made little to no errors in the entire series and as clean as they played, G2 still packed quite a few punches of their own. In Game 1, after falling quite far behind, G2 tried to make the same plays that won them the SKT series. However, FPX aren’t as indecisive as SKT was. They constantly called on G2’s bluffs and they forced G2 to give up crucial objectives. They then used those objectives to slowly take control of the map, making sure not to take unnecessary risks. After all, they won pretty much every fight and that confidence gave them a safety net instead of tunnel visioning to a quick win.
FPX challenged G2 to skill-check fights and they won every time
Aside from their split push, FPX’s excellent vision control denied G2 their game-saving picks after lost teamfights. Multiple times in the SKT series, G2 lost a crucial fight with Baron or Elder up. They appear out of nowhere and suddenly turn the tables on SKT. SKT almost always had the advantage but G2 still managed to make winning plays because SKT never saw them coming. However, FPX plays similar to G2, not SKT. In a way, FPX knows how G2’s mind works and they played extremely well around the map’s blind spots. Credit to Crisp and Tian, their tandem choked G2 out of options, especially in Game 2. With LWX so far ahead of everyone else in the game, they prevented any picks on him that would swing the game back to G2’s favor.
There was a moment in Game 1 where I swear I held my breath for so long, I ended up pausing the stream to recover. After G2 lost a fight, only Wunder’s Ryze and Caps’s Pyke remained alive for G2 against four from FPX. It screamed 2v4 outplay but FPX continued to defy expectations and turned on the duo perfectly. In numerous times in the series, FPX challenged G2’s players to outplay them in a teamfight and they just kept winning every time. G2 won the SKT series mostly from behind because they kept outplaying SKT individually. However, G2 failed to make the same moves against FPX.
Back to back 3-0 Worlds finals for LPL
Not to be lost in the celebration though: the LPL might just be the new #1 region. They’ve won MSI and Worlds in 2018 and then Worlds 2019. Fun fact: all three of those wins came courtesy of different orgs: RNG, IG and FPX, respectively. So it’s not just one strong team from China, it’s the region as a whole. It’s up to the rest of the world to catch up to them this time. Korea made a resurgence after last year’s disappointing showing, despite not being on par with their former dominance. Europe can now be the new #2, albeit debatable still. Despite being on the LPL’s heels for the past two years, we’re yet to see a team besides Fnatic and G2 to make a sizeable mark from the region. With that said, the 2020 season should be more exciting than ever!
All in all, FPX showed up and performed a heck of a lot better than G2 from start to finish, hands down. It’s disappointing to see another 3-0 in the finals but it’s on the losing teams to make it more competitive. Well, in all honesty, it’s actually pretty closer than you might think, despite the 3-0. However, a win is a win. At the end of the day, we all have to give credit to where credit is due. League of Legends is a game that is won by teams that make the best pre-game preparations and then show up to execute. This time, FunPlus Phoenix showed everyone that they’re the best team in the world. They truly deserve this win. GG.
The end of Worlds 2019 signals the end of the 2019 Season. The last hurrah of the year, the 2019 All-Star Event will be held on Dec. 5th until the 7th. Stay tuned for more League of Legends content in the upcoming All-Star Event and the offseason changes.