Following the announcement of veteran ADC Uzi’s retirement, China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL) now starts life without it’s biggest star.
Following the announcement of veteran ADC Uzi’s retirement, China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL) now starts life without it’s biggest star. A new era beginning, the start of the Summer split highlights a chance for teams to push for a strong second half of the season; one that has much larger implications for World Championship qualification.
Though it can fly under the radar to many Western fans, the Chinese league is, in fact, the biggest in the World, with both the highest viewership and largest financial eco-system of any region.
As a result, the LPL boasts the largest amount of teams of any Riot league, with some of these having their own ‘home venues’ where teams travel to play around the country as seen commonly in traditional sports.
|LGD Gaming||LGD Allied Esports Stadium|
|Oh My God||DOUBLE-G Stadium|
|Royal Never Give Up||Huaxi Live RNG Esports Center|
|JD Gaming||Legion JDG Esports Center|
|LGN Esports||Snake Esports Center|
|Team WE||Guangdian Grand Theatre|
|Other Teams||Hongqiao World IE Hub|
Teams play each other once during the regular season in a single round-robin, where each matchup is determined by a best-of-three series. Competition kicks off on Friday 6th June and comes to a close on Sunday 9th August. Once the regular season is complete, the top 8 sides will advance to the playoffs.
The playoffs consist of a four-round knockout tournament. Round 1 sees 5th seed vs 8th seed and 6th vs 7th. The winners of these series go on to face the 3rd and 4th seeds in round 2, and the round 2 winners move on to the 1st and 2nd seeds in round 3 (semi-final). The semi-final series winners then book their spot in the grand final where the LPL champions are crowned and World Championship qualification is secured.
All playoffs matches are determined through best-of-five series.
Given the size and wealth of the region and its teams, China’s LPL is unsurprisingly filled with stacked rosters made up mostly of home-grown players as well as a number of Korean and Taiwanese imports across the league.
Spring champions JD Gaming will be expected frontrunners to take the title once again, having made no changes to their roster that was spearheaded by split MVP, Korean jungler Kanavi.
They were, however, bested by 2019 Worlds winners FunPlus Phoenix in the recent Mid-Season Cup, who themselves were beaten in the grand final by Top Esports. Both FPX and TOP will be vying for 1st place this split having both been defeated by JDG in the playoff knockouts last time around.
Joining them as potential threats are 2019 World Champions Invictus Gaming, whose lineup still holds 3/5 of the players from their historic lineup, and they will be looking at TheShy and Rookie in particular to be the solo lane threats that they are so renowned for.
Outsiders for the title include old guards EDward Gaming and Royal Never Give Up. EDG have somewhat faltered in recent years as the five-time LPL winners have failed to clinch the title since the Summer of 2017. They will now be looking to get back to the international heights that saw them lift the MSI trophy in 2015.
RNG sadly have to face the reality of moving on without Uzi. Despite having not played in the Spring split, the Chinese ADC was known to take time off during the season (due to health concerns) only to return to full form in the Summer. Having now officially retired due to his ongoing issues, his former side can no longer rest their expectations on his comeback and will look to another experience ADC in Betty to move forward as their undisputed starting carry this Summer.
Choosing an eventual champion is perhaps more difficult in the LPL than any other league. A region of this size includes a multitude of stacked teams and half a dozen sides (at least) will be aiming for the top spot.
Despite losing the Mid-Season Cup final to TOP, I could easily see FPX making a comeback in the Summer, where they’ll be as motivated as ever to ensure Worlds qualification in order to have a chance at retaining the World Championship crown.
Their only roster change since their Worlds win saw top-laner Khan join from SKT, and his Spring form had unfortunately not met expectations as fellow Korean top-laner GimGoon was given the spot more often than not. However, Khan’s 100% appearance record in the recent MSC may indicate that the side are now comfortable with his performances as the starting top-laner and could see him aid FunPlus in their charge towards a Summer split victory.