We’re down to the last four teams for this year’s League of Legends World Championship. Eight teams went home right after the Group Stage and another four packed their bags after the Quarterfinals. Of the four teams left, two teams hail from the LPL and one each from LEC and LCK. If you haven’t been up to date with League news, I’ll introduce each team to you.
First on the list: FunPlus Phoenix, the #1 LPL for the entirety of the 2019 season. After losing to JD Gaming in the first round of the playoffs in summer 2018, they added former Flash Wolves coach WarHorse, former Rogue Warriors mid laner Doinb and former Suning Gaming jungler Tian. This move allowed them to reach great heights. They finished 1st in their conference in Spring 2019, but lost in the semifinals. Then, they got their revenge in the Summer, losing only one Bo3 all the way to the Summer title, this time to Invictus Gaming. Doinb, in particular, became the leader this team needed. Many analysts also rank him highly, some even over Faker himself. FPX usually plays through Doinb’s early-mid priority to create dive opportunities in the side lanes. Expect them to force other teams to adhere to their unorthodox style, which is their recipe for success.
Their opponent in the semis: defending champions Invictus Gaming. IG almost imploded right after their title run. Granted, they still won the LPL Spring Split off the back of Rookie and TheShy. However, their inconsistency, especially for jungler Ning, allowed Team Liquid to eliminate them in the semifinals of MSI 2019. In summer, the team went through plenty of changes. Rookie took some time off to take care of family matters back in Korea and Ning got benched. IG then fielded in Leyan for Ning through the first half of Groups. Despite those problems, they are peaking at the right moment. They are looking like the IG that took out Fnatic in the finals last year. TheShy is still the best top laner in the world and Rookie is definitely up there with Faker, Doinb and Caps. Expect this team to run through FPX at full speed or die trying.
FunPlus Phoenix had a really dominant 2019 season. Their players are all world class, from top to bottom. However, they are also wildly inconsistent. They surprisingly dropped their first game at Worlds to lowly-rated J Team and another to Splyce. To be fair, this is the first Worlds appearance of every single member of the team. To be honest, that’s about the only real flaw I can point out from them. They play solid, fundamental League of Legends. On top of that, Doinb just might have the entire roster of champs in his pool just waiting for the right moment.
On the other hand, counting out IG is just plain wrong. They’ve been written off over and over and they still managed to prove the doubters wrong. Many people thought they would bomb out of Groups like Gen.G did last year. Instead, they’re probably the strongest they’ve ever been. The fact that they’re the defending champions and they’re not the clear-cut favorites must have lit a fire in each of them. TheShy only got better from last year. He destroyed both Sword and Nuguri, proving to the world that top lane still matters. Lastly, the only team to tarnish FPX’s otherwise perfect record? Invictus Gaming.
With everything I said, I’m going to predict this series as a 3-1 for Invictus Gaming
On the other side of the bracket, we have SKT T1, back to reclaim their throne atop the world of League of Legends. The former champions had it rough after they lost in the finals of Worlds 2017 to Samsung Galaxy two years ago. They even failed to qualify for Worlds last year, probably part of the reason why Korea had such a disappointing performance as a region. After that, they made a huge roster overhaul. They grabbed Khan, Clid, Teddy and Mata, forming a super-team of legitimate superstars. They managed to get to the semifinals of MSI, losing to the eventual winners. To fix their issues, they subbed in Effort in Mata’s place, in order to establish a single identity for the team to build on. Expect SKT to play smarter than everyone else left, through the brilliance of the unkillable demon king himself: Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok.
Finally, the last team representing the home crowd, G2 Esports. The EU champions have been on a steady rise since last year’s Worlds. After upsetting RNG at Worlds, G2 shocked the entire scene by signing Fnatic superstar Caps, moving their franchise superstar Perkz to the bottom lane. Many fans doubted G2’s potential but they quickly proved them wrong by winning MSI 2019. This automatically put them in the conversation of who’s going to be this year’s winner in the grand final. Led by Caps and Perkz, this team doesn’t have a set style. Instead, they play through every single player’s strengths and use their chemistry to make even the most absurd drafts work in their favor. Expect G2 to use the crowd to their advantage, as well as play their signature organized chaos style against SKT.
This is incredibly difficult to judge for me. If I’m going to look at this tournament alone, SKT should run away with this series. G2 had the lowest of lows but incredible highs as well. The games G2 played against Damwon Gaming made them look like a top LCK team. In G2’s MSI win, they won a tightly-contested Game 5 off of a Pyke top and a desperation Baron call by SKT. On top of that, Perkz’s versatility allowed them to keep a slight edge in the bot lane against Teddy and Mata. Judging by Damwon’s performances against SKT and G2’s 3-2 MSI win over SKT, I’d say this might as well be a coin flip.
To be fair, SKT already fixed those issues by starting Effort instead. Additionally, SKT played and handily won against a myriad of crazy drafts from Fnatic, as well as standard ones from RNG. SKT’s win over Splyce also removes further questions about SKT’s consistency. They just don’t have clear weaknesses as a team. Lastly, the story of this year’s Worlds has been top difference, and I’d give Khan the slight edge over Wunder in terms of carry potential.
With that said, I’m grudgingly giving this prediction: 3-2 win for G2 Esports.