The League of Legends 2019 World Championships (Worlds 2019) has concluded with a thrashing 3-0 victory of FunPlus Phoenix over G2 Esports. Days after it came to a close, we still couldn’t get it out of our system. We not only saw another sweep in a China vs. Europe Finals, but we also crowned new champions and saw teams rise and fall.
Here are five of our favorite stories that took place at the League of Legends 2019 World Championships.
The return of Faker and SK Telecom T1
The legendary Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok along with SK Telecom T1 returned to the Worlds stage after failing to qualify last year. This time around the team had bolstered the roster with a mix of young talents and formidable veterans.
Faker was quick to showcase his skill, yet again, on the Worlds stage. In their first game against the Chinese team, Royal Never Give Up, the three-time world champion picked Twisted Fate to match up against the Zoe of Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao.
— lolesports (@lolesports) October 13, 2019
18 minutes in the game, the Chinese squad attempted to take the Infernal Drake but was instead stolen by the SKT jungler, Kim “Clid” Tae-min. This started a massive team fight between the two teams. RNG came out on top with four kills but SKT answered with kills of their own. Faker was the only surviving member left with a sliver of health. The remaining RNG members chased Faker down but the legend dodged the abilities and landed two crucial stuns to successfully make it out.
Both teams had traded so much throughout the game that one slip up from either team was sure to be the end of the game. 42-minutes in, RNG had successfully broken through the middle inhibitor of their Korean opponents. The Chinese squad was now hoping to take down the bottom inhibitor and make it even tougher for the Koreans. Faker had other plans as he pushed the top and forced the Chinese team to make a decision, leave him and go for a base race or send someone to deal with him. RNG went with the latter, a crucial Zhonya’s activation and two teleports later, SK Telecom T1 secured the win.
Faker and SK Telecom T1 may have fallen to G2 Esports in the Semifinals, but the legend of Faker has lived on. It was definitely nice to see him back on the Worlds Stage.
Fnatic does it again
Fnatic has built a reputation for struggling in the first week of the Group Stage of the Worlds. This year, despite the impressive run in the local League of Legends European Championship, they started the Group Stage with a 1-2 record.
The team was drawn into the group of death alongside the 3-time champions, SK Telecom T1 and their Chinese rivals, Royal Never Give Up. Rounding out the group was the third seed from North America, Clutch Gaming. By the end of Week 1, Fnatic was in third at 1-2 just behind Royal Never Give Up at 2-1 and SK Telecom T1 at 3-0. Fnatic needed a perfect 3-0 in the second week in order to at least play tiebreakers.
Fnatic opened Week 2 just barely inching out a win against Clutch Gaming. It wasn’t quite how they’d hope to close it out, but they got the first of three wins. Next on their list was the rampaging SK Telecom T1. This time, the Europeans pulled out Veigar to deal with Faker’s Akali, the pick was apt and SKT had given up one too many kills. Fnatic secured the second victory.
THE GREATEST DAY IN WORLDS GROUPSTAGE HISTORY.
WE HAVE DONE IT. WE NEEDED TO 3-0. WE WENT 3-0.
— FNATIC (@FNATIC) October 19, 2019
The last team on the hit list was Royal Never Give Up. The two teams were tied at 3-2, after RNG lost to SKT. Only one more spot in the Quarterfinals from the group and this time around it was Fnatic that secured the victory. Fnatic AD Carry Martin “Rekkles” Larsson had finally overcome RNG and his adversary, the RNG ADC Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao. Prior to the match, Uzi had a 9-1 record over the European ADC.
Fnatic may have been disappointed after failing to overcome FunPlus Phoenix in the Quarterfinals, but the determination to win was on full display pulling off yet another flawless week.
G2 Esports survived the Korean onslaught
The undisputed Kings of Europe and 2019 Mid-Season Invitational champions, G2 Esports was the most impressive squad that Europe had fielded in recent times (perhaps even in history). They were one of the favorites to win the championship.
Their journey in Worlds 2019 was quite unique having faced all three Koreans teams and successfully taken down two of them.
The Europeans were drawn into Group A alongside the second Korean seed Griffin, the second North American seed Cloud9, and the third seed from the LMS (Taiwan/Hong Kong/Macau region) Hong Kong Attitude. The group went pretty much as many had expected, with the Europeans and Koreans continuing to the Quarterfinals. The two teams ended the Group Stage with a 5-1 record and forced to play a tiebreaker for seeding. G2 fell to Griffin and meant that the Europeans would face either another Korean team or FunPlus Phoenix.
The Kings of Europe ended up facing DAMWON Gaming and had SK Telecom T1 and Splyce in the other Quarterfinals in the same bracket. DAMWON Gaming took one game off G2 but in the grand scheme of things, the Europeans dominated and closed the Quarterfinals in four games.
Next on the list was the three-time champions SK Telecom T1 who had dismantled Splyce in four games. SKT looked strong coming into the tournament but once again failed to overcome the Europeans in a rematch of the 2019 MSI Semifinals.
The Europeans fell short of the expected performance at the Finals but still displayed quite a feat of strength surviving all three seeds from Korea. It can be argued that Korea isn’t as strong as it was but all three teams were no slouch throughout the tournament.
Europe, three teams strong
For the first time in World Championship history, Europe saw all its three seeds – G2 Esports, Fnatic, and Splyce – qualify past the Group Stage. The feat was done on home soil no less.
Splyce was seen as the weakest of the three teams but they had impressed in the Play-In Stage. After qualifying for the Main Event, they were drawn into Group B with Chinese team FunPlus Phoenix, the LMS team J Team, and the Vietnamese team GAM Esports. The Europeans managed to take a win against FunPlus Phoenix and force a tiebreaker. In the end, the Chinese squad held their ground and finished the group as the first seed.
Like Fnatic, Splyce fell in the Quarterfinals in four games. Their opponent was the legendary SK Telecom T1.
G2, ultimately, was swept by FunPlus Phoenix for yet another second-place finish for Europe but this time the LEC teams showed their grit and skill making it out of the Group Stage, at least.
FunPlus Phoenix dominates, China, once again, reigns supreme
We’ve come to the last story of Worlds 2019 and we couldn’t do it without mentioning the win of FunPlus Phoenix and China.
FunPlus Phoenix dominated the local League of Legends Pro League and was considered one of the teams to bring home the Summoner’s Cup, alongside G2 Esports and SK Telecom T1. Like we said, FunPlus had an interesting Group Stage and picked up the pace in the Knockout Stage. They tore through Fnatic and the defending World Champions, Invictus Gaming, in four games and swept the 2019 MSI champions in the Finals. If that doesn’t prove dominance, we’re not sure what does.
Their roster impressed throughout the tournament. Their veteran midlaner, Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang played his own style of helping out the side lanes and pulling out the Nautilus. Jungler Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang was instrumental in all three games in the Finals on his Lee Sin. AD Carry Lin “Lwx” Wei-Xiang was the first player to have a deathless performance with a 21-0-14 record. And both top laner Kim “GimGoon” Han-saem and support Liu “Crisp” Qing-Song had strong performances.
The championship was the second for China. The region may have had two different teams to win the championship but both closed out the series and the tournament with a clean 3-nil.
Korea may have been the ‘overlords’ of League of Legends but we’re in the Chinese era now, without a doubt.