We’re down to the final two teams at the 2019 League of Legends World Championship. In the semifinals, we saw defending champions Invictus Gaming fall to LPL champions FunPlus Phoenix in a blood-drenched match. On the other hand, Europe and Korea duked it out in a highly-anticipated rematch of the semis of MSI 2019. G2 Esports ended up sending SK Telecom T1 home, solidifying their claim for the elusive League of Legends Grand Slam.
Many analysts stated that this Worlds had the strongest semis matchups ever and I believe they’re right. FPX, G2 and SKT were unanimously ranked the top three teams going to Worlds. Meanwhile, IG are of course the defending champions. Both matches definitely delivered, with contrasting styles for all four teams clashing to create beautiful highlight reels. However, at the end of the day, there has to be winners and losers. Unfortunately for IG and SKT, their opposition simply played better than them.
Fortunately for us though, we are bound to witness probably the most explosive Finals we’ve ever seen at the Worlds stage. This will also be the 2nd LPL vs LEC finals matchup in a row. For those of you who haven’t been up to date with Worlds 2019, here are the four most interesting bits for the upcoming title match:
1. The meta is no longer meta
After years of seeing Korean teams play textbook League of Legends, it was definitely refreshing to watch teams break the mold AND win at the same time. G2 pioneered amazingly flexible drafts in Europe but FPX’s Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang has been doing it for years. Doinb became famous for picking Maokai mid and actually managed to make it work. In the semifinal against Invictus Gaming, he picked Nautilus mid thrice, winning 2 out of 3 games. Additionally, he plays champions with completely different builds than most. For instance, he played Rumble mid in the first game against IG with the Predator rune to aid in his roaming style instead of the usual Comet. Doinb plays whatever he thinks is best for the team’s current situation, regardless if nobody else agrees with him. His teammates trust him completely, which makes the insanity of it work most of the time.
G2 aren’t new to this concept either. After Perkz roleswapped to mid for G2 to acquire Caps, they have two legitimately world-class midlaners in their lineup. Additionally, Wunder and Mikyx proved they have almost unlimited champion pools for the team to flex picks around. G2 beat SKT at MSI 2019 with a mage bot and a Pyke top, which at the time seemed disrespectful but actually pretty OP. Riot even ended up nerfing Pyke top after MSI.
Both teams possess the ability to push the game to its limits and they will undoubtedly do so on their quest for the Summoner’s Cup.
2. Scaling versus early game
Competitive League of Legends has evolved into a fast-paced, skirmish-heavy game. Even in solo queue, games are ending faster than ever, which means early game doesn’t last that long. Even though the introduction of turret plating prolonged the laning phase, the amount of gold available to players increased a lot. This meant early game champions need to snowball a lot harder or they will get oustcaled sooner. Conversely, if a scaling champion gets shut down early, they might not have enough opportunities to get back in the game.
With that said, both semifinal series showed us how important it is to have viable options at all stages of the game. For instance, teams with hard-scaling solo laners draft bot lane duos with lane priority. If you draft three losing lanes, your jungler is at risk of losing pressure. In this meta, the first 20 minutes of the game rely on the jungler’s pathing. If those pathing options are cut off, the game slowly becomes a death trap. I’ve seen junglers being constantly invaded without much help from his teammates, because doing so meant those laners will lose minion waves and fall further behind. Then, there’ll be nothing to stop the bleeding, both gold-wise and vision-wise.
Fortunately, both teams showed great drafts in both their semis and quarterfinal series. Both mid laners prioritize roaming over complete lane dominance and that might just be the tipping point this series. Expect Caps and Doinb to wreak havoc in the side lanes and try to one-up the other.
3. To fight or not to fight
One great thing to note about the two semifinal series is how often, or how rare, the opposing teams fought. The LPL matchup went as expected, bloody and action-packed. The other series was more cerebral, in a sense that the team currently behind their power curve staved off their opponents. FPX masterfully outplayed IG in teamfights, showing great coordination, trust and decisiveness in their calls. They play well around Doinb’s engages and are extremely capable of making mechanical outplays.
On the other hand, G2 read SKT like a book. SKT played well to their standards. However, G2 knew that trying to put SKT out of their element is a losing proposition. Instead, G2 opted to take whatever play is available to them. They never forced any bad fight nor tried to contest an objective they’re not in position for anyway. This way, they cut their losses and set themselves up for counterplays. Despite SKT taking six barons in the series against G2’s one, they still lost the series 3-1.
In this regard, I’d give G2 the advantage over FPX. They are certainly untiltable, capable of turning losing games into wins. They possessed a major gold lead in the SKT series a whopping 2.3% only. In contrast, SKT owned a major gold lead for 17.8%. How do you win a game, much less a series, without a lead? Ask G2 Esports.
4. Better jungler wins
This series will be decided by which jungler outsmarts the other. FPX’s jungler Tian is touted as arguably the world’s best jungler. He’s the best performing jungler in the tournament, bar… his opponent in the finals: G2 Jankos. No other junglers came close to either of these two the entire tournament. It’s only fitting we give them the credit they’re due.
Junglers dictate the early game. Pro games aren’t your typical solo queue games where your bot lane duo randomly dies before the jungler can get to his second buff. Especially in the finals, teams will tend to play more around their jungler’s pathing. Both junglers have a high first blood ratio, as well as kill participation ratio. However, their similarities end there. Jankos typically plays for Perkz and Mikyx in the side lane. After getting priority in the bot lane, they swap the duo to the top lane and use Rift Herald to take the mid lane turret. After that, they default to their 1-3-1 setups and use their excellent coordination to play around their teleports and globals.
On the other hand, Tian mostly plays around Doinb. Doinb isn’t a famous laner. He almost never smashes his mid lane opponent 1v1. Instead, he uses jungle pressure to create priority and abuses those windows to dive side lanes. His tendency to pick teamfight-oriented champs augment this style FPX plays. His Rumble and Nautilus of the IG series proved how capable he is of shutting down the other team’s star carries.
I’d give a slight edge to Tian for this one. Jankos is a phenomenal jungler, but in my opinion, Tian is ever so slightly better.
Given those four points, I’m predicting a 3-2 win for G2 Esports. Doinb might be able to play every champ in the game but so does G2, and all of their players can probably do. Moreover, G2 trades objectives insanely well. FPX’s strengths lie mostly on Doinb’s clever engages. However, if there are no fights, I’d give Wunder the advantage over GimGoon in the splitpush. Lastly, G2 plays the best mid game in the world. I have never seen a team fall behind yet make the proactive plays instead of being on the backfoot. That’s why I’m expecting to see G2 lift the trophy this weekend. If I’m wrong, I hope they make it interesting anyway.
The finals of the 2019 League of Legends World Championship will be the last few games of the 2019 season. It will be held on Nov. 10th, in Paris, France. Stay tuned for our recap of the finals, as well as a review of the entire competitive season.