Last weekend, League of Legends fans around the world tuned in to watch the 2019 World Championship Finals. Two teams from two different regions, two different stories of success and failure, the stage was set for a great final. LPL’s Unorthodox underdogs FunPlus Phoenix was heavily criticized for going into the final. Weaker lanes, smaller champion pools, and an overall skill gap made it seem like the team would lose steam in the final. On the opposing side of the rift was G2 Esports, the greatest team the west had ever produced. G2 was looking to create a legacy. If G2 won the final, the west would be much more respected, as the European team had defeated Korean overlords SKT on their way to the final. Taking home the summoners cup would be a crowning achievement that would rewrite history. Expect that isn’t what happened. In fact, FPX 3-0’d G2 without breaking a sweat in what appeared to be the most one-sided final of all time. Today we will be breaking down five largest reasons why FPX defeated their western rivals.
It’s all in the Draft
A large reason why FPX was so successful in the series is that they had a clear-cut plan when entering the pick/ban phase. FPX focused their bans onto Jankos and Perkz, the jungler and ADC of G2 Esports. Jankos got almost entirely banned out every game, forcing the veteran jungler to play either Javan IV or Elise every game. This crippled Jankos, as he had much less of an impact on the series because of the targeted bans. With Jankos unable to feel comfortable, G2 was unable to gain early leads that could lead to a win condition. FPX is also a very unorthodox team, with star mid-laner Doinb playing Nautilus and Sion multiple times. This made it very difficult or G2 to band champions against FPX because of the teams’ great flexibility.
Tian, God of the Jungle
Tian, Tian, Tian. What an electrifying rookie. Tian stepped into FPX as a jungler new to the scene. Many people forgot about Tian when discussing the best players at worlds, but Tian forced the viewers and players alike to respect him through his hyper-aggressive playstyle. The jungler picked Lee Sin all three games and suffocated G2 with early ganks, jungle camp steals and deep ward control in G2’s jungle. Tian singlehandedly set his team up to succeed, and with the team drafting impeccably, Tian had plenty of confidence and space to do whatever he wanted to G2. Tian’s kicks were legendary, outplaying some of the most skilled players in the world on the opposing side. If it weren’t for another player on FPX, Tian would be my choice for MVP of the finals.
LWX the Unkillable
Lwx didn’t die a single time throughout the entire three-game series against G2. Let that sink in for a minute. The ADC for FPX was absolutely ridiculous, putting up massive damage in each team fight on his signature champion Kai’Sa. G2 didn’t have an answer for Lwx, and it became apparent as the late game team fights became much more once sided the more the game went on. Lwx laid down a beating on the westerners and easily takes my pick for the Finals MVP of the series.
G2’s Disappearing Act
LEC powerhouse looked near unstoppable in the tournament, cruising through their group with a 5-q record. In the quarterfinals, they handily dispatched Korean third seed DAMWON Gaming 3-1 with a monster carry performance from Jankos. In the semi-finals, G2 defeated SKT, the best Korean team currently, as well as the greatest Korean franchise of all time. The semi-final was nail-biting, but in the end, it was the Europeans that came out on top of the series. However, in the final against FPX the team looked lost and uncoordinated, with top laner Wunder constantly using Ryze’s ultimate to bail the team out of bad trades and risky situations. The laner’s didn’t show up individually, and Jankos was dismantled by Tian in the jungle. For some reason, the team skill and chemistry just wasn’t there for G2.
One of the largest reasons FPX came out on top, in my opinion, was their drive to win the summoners cup. G2 dominated their region, winning MSI and domestic titles. In voice comms, they laughed and joked around with one another. Caps was very famous for playing the game for “fun”. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, as in the end, we all play for the fun and thrill of the game. But FPX, while attending worlds as a strong team, was a roster filled with LPL rejects and Korean veterans. In fact, it was mid-laner doinb’s first attendance at worlds, even though he has been a legendary Korean player for years. FPX’s players consistently mentioned their drive to win. They didn’t just play for fun; they played for glory. After G2 defeated SKT, the team spoke of how they had a much bigger chance of winning, bragging on twitter and attempting to play pranks on FPX. However, it seemed FPX was much more focused on the game than G2, out macroing the Europeans on a god-tier level.
In short, there are a lot of ways that G2 can use this as a learning experience to grow from. If they keep their roster intact, I can see the team making another deep run at worlds next year. This is only the beginning for G2, as many believe they contain an iconic roster. As for FPX, it was great to see the respect given to them that they so rightfully deserved. Doinb can now retire on a happy note, and China will continue to remain the powerhouse of the League scene.