Defending world champions FunPlus Phoenix avenged their LPL Spring semifinals defeat at the hands of JD Gaming, triumphing 3-1 in the Mid-Season cup semis to advance to the Grand Final. They’ll be facing an impressive Top Esports outfit who cleanly swept Gen.G in their semifinal matchup and show no signs of slowing down.
Spears abounded in the first game of eagerly anticipated rematch between FPX and JDG, as Korean jungler Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok took advantage of the new blind pick format to lock in his Nidalee pocket pick. Despite not playing Nocturne, the JDG import made FPX jungler Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang’s life a living nightmare and ensured the rest of his team was set up for success in the 26-minute victory.
However, that would be the only game that the LPL Spring 2020 champions would take from the 2019 World Champions.
Seemingly unwilling to yield to JDG like he had in the LPL Playoffs, mid laner Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang put his team on his back with two successive Karma games enabling his teammates to shine. Kim “Khan” Dong-ha pulled out his Hecarim to great effect, going 7/3/1 against Zhang “Zoom” Xing-Ran’s Wukong in Game 2 and picking up a Player of the Game in Game 3 on Ornn.
JDG managed to make the fourth game of the series much closer, with Lee “LokeN” Dong-wook threatening to take over the game on Ezreal. However, Doinb’s Lissandra ensured that FPX ADC Lin “Lwx” Wei-Xiang could unload tons of damage on Aphelios and end the game in 32 minutes to lock in a spot in the finals.
The main point of concern for FPX coming into the finals is that TES may run them should they claim an early lead like JDG in the first match of the series. If that happens, TES jungler Hung “Karsa” Hao-Hsuan would need no invitation to set up the rest of his team for victory, especially enabling his new ADC to mow down all enemies in sight.
That ability to fill highlight reels with mechanical outplays combined with the subsequent aura of brilliance that creates around former world champion Yu “Jackeylove” Wen-Bo often means that the prowess of his TES teammates fly under the radar for League fans unfamiliar with the LPL.
However, in their series against Gen.G, it was the TES solo laners who showed the world how deep the talent pool is in the region, sweeping all three Player of the Game awards en route to a 3-0 trouncing of Korea’s last hope at the Mid-Season Cup.
In a post-game interview with TES toplaner Bai “369” Jia-hao, he said he “didn’t expect it would be a 3-0, [he] just wanted to perform as best as [he could].” He certainly had a phenomenal series, with a combined KDA of 18/3/29 over three games.
He followed up a stellar Wukong performance in Game 1 by dominating Kim “Rascal” Kwang-hee on Jayce after successfully convincing his team during draft to let him play the notoriously feast-or-famine champion. His Gangplank in Game 3 killed any potential relevance that Rascal’s Lucian pick would have on the game, a sentiment that echoed throughout the whole series.
He wasn’t alone in putting on an absolute clinic against the LCK regular season champions. Zhuo “Knight” Ding, often regarded as the best League player to never make it to Worlds, didn’t die once in his first two games, as his Ekko and Zoe terrorised Gen.G midlaner Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong.
- Read more: Mid-Season Cup tiebreakers too much for DragonX as Gen.G, JDG escape close Group B battle
However, it was in the third game, the game where he was given his trademark Syndra, that Knight unleashed his true power onto the Rift, claiming the Player of the Game after an 11/2/5 scoreline that was central to TES closing out the clean sweep.
Unfortunately, those monstrous scorelines don’t happen without a team being unable to go toe-to-toe with their opponents. In the case of Gen.G, they were simply, masterfully outplayed by the LPL Spring finalists, only managing a collective nineteen kills across the three-game series, less than a third of the amount of deaths they accrued.
At no point during the series did Gen.G look like they would be able to take a game, and while that may be an expected outcome after seeing TES crush LCK champions T1 in the group stage, watching the last Korean team go out with a whimper will be a major disappointment to the LCK faithful.
No matter the result of tonight’s final between FunPlus Phoenix and Top Esports, any lingering doubts over which region actually reigns supreme in global League of Legends have well and truly been quashed with the LPL’s stellar performance at the Mid-Season Cup.