-By Edward Brady
The League of Legends World Championship has concluded the quarterfinals and the field is down to 4 teams: Top Esports and Suning from the LPL, (China), G2 Esports from the LEC, (Europe) and Damwon Gaming from the LCK (South Korea). The semifinals will begin on Saturday October 24th at 5 A.M. The quarter finals were action packed, (for the most part) upsets were had, and history was made. Let’s look back at what happened to get us to where we are now.
The first match of the quarterfinals was Damwon vs DRX, a rematch of the LCK Summer Finals a little over a month ago. The series only lasted 100 minutes over 3 games and was a complete stomp in favor of Damwon. When the quarterfinals were drawn, the common reaction was that DRX were essentially given a death sentence, seeing as Damwon topped their group with ease and DRX hadn’t shown a massive amount of improvement from the aforementioned finals. However, DRX had a chance to shock
the world if they could just pull off a miracle.
They did not. Damwon swept DRX in three of the slowest and least action-packed games of the tournament. At almost no point did it feel like DRX had any semblance of control over the game, as Damwon slowly strangled DRX of all hope and life. Damwon simply outclassed DRX in all 5 individual roles, and were the smarter team, as DRX squandered the few opportunities they had with some questionable decision making. To put it bluntly, the series was an incredibly boring and one sided 3-0 sweep.
Next up on the other side of the bracket was an all LPL showdown between 2nd seed JD Gaming and 3rd seed Suning. This series was expected to be a somewhat close one, as Suning did look better than JDG in groups and many of the players seemed to match up well. However JD Gaming were the favorites, as although Suning and JDG hadn’t played each other since week 2 of the summer split, JDG met 1st seed Top Esports in the LPL finals twice, took them to 5 games both times and even won the spring finals, in contrast, Suning played Top in the summer semifinals and were quickly swept aside. Game 1 lived up to this expectation with an action packed yet fairly one-sided game in JDG’s favor.
The rest of the series, however, was all Suning.
Led by their 19-year-old up-and-coming superstar AD Carry Huanfeng, Suning dismantled JDG over the next 3 games. He completely stole the show in game 2 putting on a deathless, 9 kill game that even saw him taking shots at JDG from inside JDG’s own base while the towers were still standing. Game 3 was essentially over from the first minute as Suning’s top laner Bin got 2 kills at level 1 and completely snowballed the game from there. In game 4, despite JDG jumping out to an early lead, Suning played it smart and Huanfeng once again took over the game, finishing off Suning’s 3-1 upset over JD Gaming.
Saturday featured an incredibly exciting and literally historic series between LPL 1st seed Top Esports, and LEC 2nd seed Fnatic. This was expected to be a complete stomp in favor of Top Esports. The LPL has won the last 2 World Championships sweeping the LEC in the finals both times. Top Esports alongside JD Gaming have been head and shoulders above every other LPL team for the entirety of this year. Top Esports placed first in their group with incredible ease, only dropping a single game to the North American 2nd seed Flyquest when the group had already been mathematically decided. In contrast, Fnatic, while by no means a bad team, has been in the shadow of fellow LEC team G2 Esports for years and had some very clear weaknesses (particularly their mid laner Nemesis) coming into the tournament. While they still got out of their group just fine and even had a chance at winning it, Almost nobody except the most dedicated of LEC fans expected Fnatic to win, at most people just wanted Fnatic to put up a fight.
So imagine everyone’s surprise when Fnatic took games one and two in incredibly convincing fashion. Fnatic won mostly through the bot lane, where Rekkles and Hylissang crushed JackeyLove and Yuyanjia in the 2v2. This was particularly surprising as JackeyLove had faced off against Fnatic before when he played for Invictus Gaming in the 2018 World Championship Finals, and IG won that match in a quick 3-0 sweep. Top Esports looked completely lost, Hylissang, who was previously criticized for being incredibly inconsistent and a liability when he’s having a bad game, almost singlehandedly won them the first 2 games, their jungler Selfmade was not only living up to expectations but surpassing them, Rekkles was having one of the best series in his nearly 8 year career (League of Legends Esports as we know it has only really existed for 10 years!) Fnatic looked unstoppable, Top Esports looked lost, one of the greatest upsets in League history was in the making.
And then it all came crashing down for Fnatic.
Top Esports, with their backs against the wall, looking down complete and utter embarrassment and dead in the eye, with a fanbase ready to rip them to shreds for their failure, turned it around. With nerves of steel, Top Esports clawed their way back into the series. Their jungler Karsa, a veteran of international competition completely took over games 3 and 4 getting an early lead that snowballed in the former and going 10/1/7 (kills/deaths/assists) saving a game that looked to be completely in Fnatic’s hands in the latter. Top laner 369 serving as an unkillable tank on Sion, Knight demolished Nemesis in the mid lane, showing the world just why he was one of the most hyped up players coming into the tournament, Yuyanjia wasn’t a complete liability, JackeyLove was making plays reminiscent of his 2018 championship run as he reminded the world why he has yet to finish lower than the semifinals in every international event he has qualified for. The series was now tied 2-2, it all came down to game 5. Never, in the 10-year history of the League of Legends World Championship had there been a reverse sweep (coming back from an 0-2 deficit to win 3-2).
Until Saturday, October 17, 2020 that is. Top Esports had the momentum on their side, Fnatic was running out of steam and it showed. It started with Karsa and Knight making a pick onto Nemesis about 3 minutes in and it never slowed down from there. Top lane was the only lane that went relatively even, Top Esports had Fnatic beat everywhere else. Karsa out jungled Selfmade for the third game in a row, Knight was deathless while Nemesis had his worst game of the series going 0/4/1, even the Bot lane, a lane in which Fnatic crushed in their wins, and still won lane or at least went even in their losses was outmatched by Top Esports, with JackeyLove performing as advertised and Yuyanjia getting his confidence and playmaking ability back as he helped lead Top Esports to a decisive 25 minute victory, bringing an end to an incredible series. Top Esports completed the first reverse sweep in World Championship history, taking the series 3-2 over Fnatic.
The last quarterfinal was a matchup between LCK 3rd seed Gen G, and LEC 1st seed G2 Esports. Heading into the match, analysts were split on which team would take the series. Gen G topped their group and the LCK had seemed to be a lot stronger this year while the LEC had seemingly regressed (4th seed Mad Lions didn’t even make it out of Play-ins becoming the first team to drop a best-of-5 to a team from a wildcard region. 3rd seed Rogue went 1-5 and finished last in their group, even below PSG Talon, a team from the much weaker PCS and who had literally only had their full roster for 14 days due to visa issues.). Gen G even beat Fnatic to top group C. On the other hand, G2 was the runner up of the 2019 World Championship and did not make any changes to their roster. This roster in particular has earned a reputation as the LCK’s kryptonite, winning every single best-of-5 they played against the LCK last year. The match was expected to be a close contest that could go either way.
Instead what we got was an extremely one-sided series that showcased just why G2 Esports are known as the LCK killers. G2 had complete control over all 3 games. Gen G’s AD carry Ruler was the only one who could match his G2 counterpart. Everyone else was horribly outmatched. Gen G had no answers for G2’s superior mechanics and map play and honestly brought nothing new or exciting to the table that G2 hadn’t seen and beaten before. Mid laner Caps put on a show, dominating his opponent BDD in lane, and transitioning his early leads into crushing advantages. He had one of the highest KDA’s of any player at worlds ever. Every other play he made left fans wondering if he’s even playing the same game as everyone else. He was a walking highlight reel and showcased exactly why many consider him to be the greatest western League of Legends player of all time (ironically the only other real contender for that title is his teammate Perkz). G2 made short work of Gen G taking the series in a quick 3-0 sweep.
As for the Semifinals, they begin Saturday October 24th at 5 A.M. The first best-of-5 will be between Damwon Gaming and G2 Esports. This is quite possibly one of the most hyped up matches in League of Legends history. Damwon met G2 in the quarterfinals of worlds last year after topping their group. They lost 3-1 and appear to have taken the loss very personally. In almost every interview leading up to and during worlds, when asked what team they want to play most, they always answered that they want to face G2 and avenge their previous defeat. On the other hand, G2 appear to be playing into the trash talk quite nicely. Ad carry Perkz when asked about Damwon and the grudge that they seemingly hold against G2 responded, " I saw some interview with ShowMaker where he was talking a bit about how much he wants to beat G2 and how he wishes that we won against Gen.G so he doesn't care if there is one LCK team in the finals for sure he wants to beat us really badly. But I feel sorry for LCK that they will not have one LCK team in the finals."
On Sunday October 25th at 5 A.M, its an all LPL semi between Top Esports and Suning. This matchup has some questions surrounding it. Did the close call with Fnatic shake Top’s mental or did it make them stronger? Will the rookies of Suning continue to shine under pressure? Either way, the LPL is guaranteed a team in the finals, and the matchup has the potential to be quite exciting. The two individual matchups to look out for is Karsa (the man who dragged Top back from the brink) vs SOFM (one of the most hyped up junglers of the tournament and appears to be preforming as advertised) and JackeyLove (World champion, never placed lower than semifinals) vs Huanfeng (Up and coming superstar, the most well-known member of Suning).
Final thing of note is that the Semifinals this year are literally identical in terms of set up to the semifinals of last year. On one side of the bracket you have the LPL 1st seed vs the LPL 3rd seed (Funplus Phoenix vs Invictus Gaming last year, Top Esports vs Suning this year) on the other side is the LEC 1st seed vs the LCK 1st seed (G2 vs SKT last year, G2 vs Damwon this year). In case your curious, the LPL 1st seed and the LEC representative met in the finals and the LPL won in a quick 3-0 sweep. Top Esports certainly won’t complain if history repeats itself. We as viewers can only hope that the semifinals are evenly matched and exciting spectacles. the stage is set and there are only 4 teams left, all that’s left to do is answer the one question on everyone’s mind.
Who will be playing in the League of Legends World Championship final?