Despite their sides losing out in last season's World Championship, China's LPL was once again the international champion following RNG's MSI success in Iceland earlier this season.
Despite their sides losing out in last season’s World Championship, China’s LPL was once again the international champion following RNG’s MSI success in Iceland earlier this season. With renewed hope and four Worlds seeds up for grabs, the 16 teams heading into the Summer split were once again ready to battle it out and become the greatest team in the game’s strongest region.
Having spent some time away from the heights of their 2015 MSI title or 2015-2017 LPL championships, EDward Gaming is finally back at the top after improving on their 3rd place finish in Spring to finally regain the LPL title for the first time in four years.
EDG looked to take charge of the Summer split right out of the gates, winning the opening 7 of their 16 regular season series before slipping slightly in the latter weeks and eventually finishing second (only behind FunPlus Phoenix).
Their second-place finish earned them a spot deep in the playoffs’ upper bracket, where their first series against Team WE did not go according to plan. After starting disastrously by going down 0-2, EDG fought back to a level 2-2 scoreline before losing the fifth and final match as they were knocked down to the lower bracket.
At this stage, every series had to be won to continue and up next was another on-the-rise team in LNG. Led by ex-Griffin jungler Tarzan (a former teammate of EDG Viper), LNG proved a much simpler task for EDG as, other than a blip in game three, the latter was able to comfortably take the series 3-1 and move on to the semi-finals.
EDG then faced a rematch with WE in order to reach the grand final and looked to have held a grudge since their earlier loss. Though none of the matches were rapid stomps, EDG managed to prevent their opponents from taking even a single win and progressed to the final with a 3-0 sweep.
Coming into the final series as underdogs, EDG had nothing to lose. They played without fear for the opening two matches, perhaps taking FPX by surprise to earn a 2-0 lead with Scout’s Ryze causing noticeable havoc in game 2.
Game 3 saw a fightback from FPX, taking their first victory after 38 minutes, and their momentum seemed to build into game 4 as they stomped their way to a 9k gold lead and inhibitor takedown within 20 minutes.
However, EDward Gaming showed great resolve in fighting back, perhaps inspired by a 1v3 by Viper during their resurgence, and managed to eventually take the game themselves to claim the organisation’s 5th LPL trophy.
With FPX beating EDG to clinch the top seed in the final week, the eventual rematch between the top 2 regular season sides, this time in the grand finals, best-of-five for the LPL title, was a mouth-watering prospect.
The series started just as bloody as one would expect given the LPL’s reputation, and it was EDG that used this to their advantage best in game 1. While the constant scraps were going in both sides’ favour on occasion, it was EDG who edged out a gold lead while arguably having the greater scaling composition.
Heading into the mid/late game with a deficit was, therefore, too much for FunPlus Phoenix to be able to claw back and EDG were eventually able to take the win after a 30th-minute, baron-empowered push.
Game 2 began more cagey, taking a whopping 7 minutes for the first kill as FPX’s Nuguri was astoundingly able to kill EDG Flandre’s Lucian (a notoriously strong 1v1 champion in the early game) using Gnar.
EDward Gaming was able to bounce back, led by Scout’s Ryze rotations as the mid laner managed to play out most of the game with 100% kill involvement including a quadra kill during a 26-minute baron fight that put the game firmly in his team’s control. 5 minutes later and EDG closed out the victory to move onto match point.
FunPlus Phoenix now had to win to remain with any chance of regaining the title, however EDG was not willing to give up their momentum in the series easily. Somehow getting Ryze through the draft for a second consecutive game, Scout was once again causing problems for FPX and helped his side gain a modest 3k lead heading past the 20-minute mark.
It wasn’t until after 30 minutes that FPX began a fight back, winning a number of teamfights while a dragon steal from Lwx’s Varus arrow put his side on mountain soul point. Quickly FunPlus Phoenix was level, looking to create a lead of their own, and soon had one after another teamfight led to baron. Finally, a 38-minute scrap created the final push for FPX as they took game 3 to get their first win on the board.
The opening stages of game 4 showed signs of momentum building for FPX, carrying out smooth dives in the top lane and accruing a 7k gold lead in 17-minutes; a significant amount at that stage of the game. By 20 minutes FPX was 9k ahead and had even cracked open the mid lane inhibitor, showing no signs of slowing down and looking to smash EDward Gaming’s confidence heading into a potential game 5.
EDG held on with Jiejie perhaps saving the game with a 22-minute baron steal, and by the 30th-minute the lead was largely unchanged. That was until Viper took the game into his hands, taking charge of an elongated teamfight to single-handedly kill 3 FPX members and set the ball rolling for his side’s comeback. His strength at this stage couldn’t be ignored, even using the long-range of Aphelios to take down an unsuspecting Nuguri as he tried to clear vision at baron.
Despite Viper’s damage, FunPlus Phoenix was able to edge the next fight and FPX members were quick to teleport into the EDG base to try and swiftly take advantage. However, Scout was once again the man for EDG as he punished Tian and Crisp in a 1v2 while Viper was able to hold off the push on their base.
Subsequently, EDward Gaming grabbed a quick baron and made a push of their own as FunPlus Phoenix struggled to clear minions while having to avoid Viper’s immense damage. Eventually, EDG was able to claim the infernal dragon soul, only adding to this damage further, and a baron teamfight finally set the stage for the side to close out one final fight, storm up the mid lane and take down FPX’s nexus to claim the LPL title.
Likely the only player to receive negative stigma during a title-winning World Championship, FPX mid laner Doinb has had question marks over his head ever since Nemesis’ comments during Worlds 2019, branding him “one of the worst mids at the tournament”.
Despite FPX side faltering in recent splits since, their pickup of former Damwon top laner Nuguri this season looks to have revitalized the squad and they’re almost as strong as ever with Doinb also stepping up in the mid lane to show exactly why he was a worthy World Champion.
Of the LPL mid laners to play at least 10 matches, the Chinese-resident Korean boasts the highest KDA (6.39), second-largest gold per minute (444) and second-highest kill share (29.8), showing not only his success compared to his peers but also his importance within his own team.
Even more impressively, Doinb managed these feats with the second biggest champion pool having played 17 unique champions during the regular season; including unusual mid lane picks such as Nocturne and Kled.
EDward Gaming to win the LPL
With a league as enormous and outright stacked as the LPL, correctly backing a champion is much easier said than done. Sides such as RNG, FPX, IG & JDG (the list goes on) are usually among the favourites on paper, however new rosters from other teams are often quick to jump up the pecking order.
That has been exactly the case with EDG. Although it’s a historic organisation (with its own MSI title in 2015 and five other LPL triumphs), the team has not been amongst the pinnacle sides in China for quite some time and so their achievement in claiming an LPL trophy this split cannot be understated.