After weeks of intense competition, where 24 hopeful teams have become just 2, only 1 side will leave satisfied after this Sunday’s final in Paris.
After weeks of intense competition, where 24 hopeful teams have become just 2, only 1 side will leave satisfied after this Sunday’s final in Paris. China’s FunPlus Phoenix and Europe’s G2 Esports only have a single best-of-5 series standing in the way of becoming World champion for the first time.
In front of a sold-out AccorHotels Arena in Paris, G2 Esports will come into the final with a clear home advantage and will hope to capitalize on bringing 20,000 encouraging fans.
A unique semi-final win over SK Telecom saw them take down the three-time Worlds winners in a 3-1 series where G2 unusually only managed to take one baron compared to SKT’s 6. Furthermore, G2 only managed a major lead (more than 51.5% of the overall match gold share) during 2.3% of the four-game series, highlighting their extraordinary ability to win games from behind while also bringing upon questions as to whether their frequent gold deficits should be a cause of concern. Either way, such a statistic means that FPX cannot afford to become complacent at any stage of the final if they do accrue leads or they will risk having it all fall apart in the blink of an eye.
Other than Fnatic in 2011 (in a tournament nowhere close to the stature of modern World Championships), Europe has long waited for a World champion and G2 now have a very realistic chance of feeding that hunger. Having won both LEC splits as well as the Mid-Season Invitational in 2019, the former Worlds semi-finalists can become the first team to complete a clean sweep season by winning both domestic splits, MSI and Worlds this year.
Their roster has captured the imagination of European fans since its creation during the last off-season and the organisation is one step away from winning the ultimate prize for their ambition.
On the opposite side of the Rift, FunPlus Phoenix also look to become their region’s second World champion, and despite not having the pressure of impressing a home crowd, they are arguably under more pressure to secure the trophy for their region.
Having seen their first World Champion in Invictus Gaming only last year, Chinese fans will be hopeful that FPX can continue the LPL legacy by becoming the second team in a row from the region to win the trophy. Failing to do so will mean that China’s reign as the top region has only lasted a single year, and will ultimately mean a failed season for the players whose only goal is to become a World champion.
Having been considered a tournament favourite (as is expected when entering Worlds as China’s first seed), FunPlus are yet to be fiercely tested by any team so far in the tournament, after receiving a favourable group stage draw, dismantling Fnatic in the quarter-finals and facing a discombobulated Invictus Gaming in the semis.
In every important competitive tournament, whether it be the League of Legends World Championship or the FIFA World Cup, there is a sentiment that always rings true; if you want to become the champion then you will have to beat the best. These two have truly played the best League of Legends at this tournament and have hardly been challenged along the way, with neither side dropping more than a single game in any best-of-5 series. Whichever team comes out on top will have done so by undoubtedly beating the second strongest side.
Both coming into the final as unpredictable players, Doinb and Caps have shown their willingness to bring out unusual picks time and time again and are two of the hardest players to draft against. Whether it be Nautilus or Vayne in the mid-lane, the pair are prone to breaking the meta in order to unleash a champion (or even a role) that their opponent doesn’t see coming. The lack of a brand new mid-lane pick during their faceoff (ready to ruin solo queue for weeks) would be perhaps more surprising than seeing regular, safe, Orianna, Syndra lanes.
For Doinb, this is his first appearance in the World Championship final and it has come in his first Worlds qualification. Having played in China for a number of years, the Korean has been on the cusp of greatness but had never managed to secure an LPL title until this Summer, and he now has the chance to follow that up by becoming a World champion.
As for Caps, he will be playing on the greatest stage for the second year in a row, and will look to gain revenge over the LPL after losing to IG in a devastating 3-0 defeat with Fnatic last year. The Dane has been in peak form so far in the tournament and has largely squashed the Claps/Craps meme by putting in consistently stellar performances.
Stylistically, both mid-laners offer a similar role to their teams, spending a large portion of the early game outside of their lane in order to roam and create opportunities around the map. In lane, however, Caps’ risky tendencies have the greater chance at scoring solo kills and snowballing any leads while also leaving him vulnerable to early ganks from Tian.
I’m expecting a close series between the European and Chinese first seeds, one where both teams will be challenged much more than they have been so far this tournament. The manner in which G2 took down SKT in the semi-finals makes it hard enough to predict the winner of specific matches as they are being played, let alone hazarding a guess at a series outcome before it has even started. Nevertheless, I’m backing G2 to bring Worlds glory back to Europe and secure the first-ever clean sweep season.
Though FPX would also be worthy winners if they are to lift the Summoner’s Cup on Sunday, G2 may prove a step too far as a fearless team that refuses to give in even when behind. Although going down in gold frequently cannot be what coach GrabbZ is encouraging, the ability to fight back from such deficits and even appear stronger than opponents when behind cannot be overlooked.
Neither side has any particular weaknesses, especially in terms of lane talent, and so seeing where either team is able to earn an advantage will be key. If FPX can (somehow) shut down the likes of Caps and Perkz then they will stand a great chance at claiming victory, as will G2 if they (somehow) shut down the likes of GimGoon and Doinb.
Both teams very likely have picks/comps up their sleeves that they have yet to show this tournament and I can’t wait to see what comes out on the day. As someone who will be attending the event live, I’m hoping for (and very much expecting) a five-game series with relentless attack from each side.
Having to choose a winner, I’m giving the edge to G2 largely down to the experience and fearlessness of their players. This team is fresh off of the back of a perfect season so far and they are playing with a level of confidence, and borderline arrogance, that has never been seen before at such a high level. G2 trash talk more than any team has before them, but they have the performances to back it up.
Nothing seems to intimidate this team, and against an organisation that has never been to Worlds before this year, it just might be the key in unlocking which of the two finalists will hoist the Summoner’s Cup at the conclusion of the series.