review
LPL Summer 2020 Review

The home of the last two World champions, China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL) has drawn to a close for the 2020 Summer Split. In doing so, a regional champion, and World Championship favourite, has been crowned.

Lee "Couple Sodi Pops" Jones
Freelance Esports Writer
31st Aug, 2020·☕️ 7 min read
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The home of the last two World champions, China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL) has drawn to a close for the 2020 Summer Split. In doing so, a regional champion, and World Championship favourite, has been crowned.

Tournament Winner: Top Esports

Putting in dominant displays throughout the split, Top Esports have become the LPL champions for the first time in their history and will enter the World Championship as China’s first seed. They held the top spot from weeks 2 to 7 (before regaining it in week 10) of the regular season to go into the playoffs as the highest seed, with mid laner knight earning split MVP as he and ADC JackeyLove also earned a spot in the All Pro Team.

top2

First seed granted TOP a place in the semi-finals of playoffs where they would face Suning for a chance in the final. A swift 3-0 victory put them a single best-of-five series away from the championship.

Up against them was Spring winners JD Gaming, whose roster remained unchanged from their victory earlier in the year. JD themself had finished the regular season with an equal 13-3 record with Top, only missing out on first place due to an inferior head-to-head record, and booked their place in the final with a 3-1 win over LGD Gaming.

top3

The final lived up to expectations and then some, as a back and forth series saw Top twice take the lead and JD twice level out the scores from 1-0 to 1-1 and 2-1 to 2-2.

This led to a final match to decide who was the best team in the game’s largest league, and it was ultimately Top Esports who proved their worth as champions coming from a gold deficit to take the match after a number of key teamfights and objective secures.

Featured Match: Top Esports 3-2 JD Gaming (Playoff Final)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLhuatooHUc

Even for a region known for its aggressive playstyle, the LPL’s final kicked off with far more excitement than anyone would’ve anticipated as a level one teamfight saw 7 early kills and 3 for JDG’s LokeN alone. During the remainder of the game, however, LokeN only managed one further kill as his team were well-beaten following an impressive 10/3/9 display from Karsa’s Nidalee.

Game two proved to be a much closer affair as a tight back and forth saw the match pass the 30 minutes mark with no gold differential. A baron take by Top eventually saw them crack the base of JD, however the latter was able to turn things around and earn the victory in a fight that earned them both elder dragon and baron buffs.

After losing the second game of the series, split MVP knight simply would not accept another defeat and put Top Esports on his back for game three. His mid lane Lucian pick secured 1/3 of all kills as he finished the match with an 11/2/1 score.

Spring champions JD Gaming were now one further loss away from failing to retain the LPL title and could only do so by winning the remaining two in a row. Game 4 was the first step, and an unusually nervy match for the Chinese league took 15 minutes before the first kill was even secured. JD top laner Zoom made great use of a Malphite pick who was all but unkillable as he picked up a Sunfire Cape, Frozen Hearth and Bramble Vest against an AD-heavy Top team consisting of Wukong, Lucian and Ashe.

ashe

Zoom virtually became a boss battle for Top, and this was perhaps best displayed in him getting ‘caught’ by Karsa and 369 in the bottom lane at 24 minutes only to 1v2 the pair until his bot laner LokeN showed up to grab the kills. Unsurprisingly, JDG was able to close out the game and level up the series 2-2, meaning that the LPL title (and preferred Worlds seeding) was to be decided by one final match.

Game 5 kicked off with a couple of picks for JD before a rift herald teamfight saw them secure five kills in the first 10 minutes. The next teamfight came around 7 minutes later around a fight for a cloud drake, where Top secured their third drake to at least keep alive their hopes for a dragon soul. 4 minutes later and the soul was secured, albeit a relatively weak cloud soul, however JDG kept their hold on the game as they killed Top’s JackeyLove to continue their gold lead.

The all-important elder dragon spawned on the 28-minute mark and this gave Top a clear avenue back into the game. A brilliant knight Syndra stun onto Kanavi and LvMao meant that the dragon (and subsequent baron) were Top’s for the taking, and meant that JDG were confined to their base for fear of losing a game-ending teamfight. The Spring champions were able to hold on, seeing the baron and elder buffs ware off, before a second elder dragon was enough for Top Esports to eventually force a winning fight, take the series and earn the LPL crown for the first time in their history.

Featured Player: knight (Top Esports)

knight

Earning the joint highest number of Man of the Match performances, Top Esports’ mid laner knight was the worthy winner of the Summer Split MVP.

He led the league in KDA (7.31) while boasting the least number of deaths per game (1.63) of any player, showing the consistency needed to thrive in a league format.

In the mid lane pool he also had the most average assists (7.75), displaying his value to the team outside of simply picking up kills for himself and did so with the second-largest champion pool (behind only LGD’s xiye).

It was ultimately his stellar Syndra stun in game 5 of the final which secured an elder dragon and firmly placed Top in the driver’s seat, and that ability to pull out clutch plays during critical moments could be huge for the side as they now look ahead to Worlds.

Best Bet

FunPlus Phoenix to not qualify for Worlds

lpl crowd

2019 World Champions FunPlus Phoenix were hotly tipped to make a push for this split’s LPL title after a third-place finish in Spring. However, this split has been less than smooth for the LPL Summer 2019 winners as they only managed an eighth-place regular season finish, while also struggling to choose a starting top laner between Khan and GimGoon.

Eighth was just enough to see them into playoffs, however they fell at the first hurdle in a 3-1 loss to Victory Five and instead move to the Regional Finals to earn Worlds qualification.

Up against them was 2018 Worlds winners Invictus Gaming, who themselves have had a bumpy split but always pose a threat with the likes of TheShy and Rookie able to pop off any moment.

FPX ultimately faltered to their fellow World champions in a thrilling five-game series, whereby TheShy played both hero and villain having had one of the worst games of his career in a 1/10 Kennen performance followed by successive victories in which his Ornn was pivotal.

This cemented FPX’s position and meant that they were no longer in the runnings to defend their title, something that would’ve come as a shock earlier in the season when they were second-favourites (@2.16) to win the LPL altogether.

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