It’s Europe versus China, round two. For the second year in a row, we’ve got an LEC team going up against an LPL team in the League of Legends World Championship final, as G2 Esports takes on FunPlus Phoenix. Will Europe come out on top this time?
It’s been an interesting road to the final for both teams. For G2, they’ve been one of the favourites for Worlds since winning the Mid-Season Invitational this year. They came into the tournament riding that win, including the two LEC trophies they’ve picked up in 2019, and got off to a great start. However, two losses to LCK side Griffin on the final day of Groups reined in some of the hype. Thankfully for G2 fans, they came roaring back into the playoffs, picking up 3-1 victories over DAMWON Gaming and the mighty SK Telecom T1 on their way to the final.
For FunPlus Phoenix, there was even more panic in the Group Stage, despite being another of the tournament favourites at the start of Worlds. They fell in their very first game to underdogs J Team, and then again to Europe’s third seed Splyce. It took a tiebreaker for them to qualify as first seed from the group, but since then, they’ve picked up some serious momentum, beating Fnatic 3-1 in the quarterfinals, and Chinese rivals and reigning World Champions Invictus Gaming in the semifinals.
Now, the G2 and FPX sides will meet to decide who will sit on top of the global League of Legends throne for 2019.
G2 have made a name for themselves as the kings of trash talking, and right after the semifinal win over SKT, they got right back to it.
“I can say for sure today was the real final,” says Martin “Wunder” Nordahl Hansen. “They [FPX] will get the biggest reality check next week. They think we are bad, but our wrath will be swift.”
On the other hand, Rasmus “Caps” Winther is being reasonably respectful of G2’s opponents. G2 will be going in as favourites, but he knows they can’t let their guard down against FPX, especially since they have similar personalities and play styles. FPX’s midlaner seems to always have a cheeky grin on his face, just like Caps, and both teams seem to really enjoy being on stage.
“I predicted FPX would win [their semifinal], I don’t necessarily want to face them,” says Caps. “It’s going to be fun playing against them. Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang is a very innovative player, he likes to play weird champions, and so do I… Looking at the semifinals, Song “Rookie” Eui-jin is a really strong midlaner, same for Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. Me and Doinb are more crazy. Not as solid, but think more outside the box. Doing crazy things to bring us back in the game or get a lead. I don’t think I’ve played against a team like FPX, that will play the crazy stuff we will.”
The semifinal between FPX and Invictus was constant action, and if things get too chaotic then perhaps it will play into the hands of the Chinese team. However, Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski is not worried.
“We as a team tend not to panic,” he says. G2’s games against SKT were very even, and they were even behind on gold on multiple occasions. “We try to look for opportunities to come back into the game and play to our composition’s strengths.”
“There’s a lot of players on my level and stronger. I just have to prove myself. Winning Worlds would be a start to that. It’s a marathon; you want to keep at the highest level.”
Caps and Perkz are regarded as two of the best players in the world, and many will be looking to them to carry the final for G2. Caps was here last year when he was on Fnatic, proving he should be up there as one of the greats. For him, it’s not just about the trophy this year, it’s about the long term.
“A lot of midlaners are really strong,” he says, having just beaten Faker, considered the best player of all time. “Mid lane is the strongest role, so there’s a lot of strong players. There’s a lot of players on my level and stronger. I just have to prove myself. Winning Worlds would be a start to that. It’s a marathon; you want to keep at the highest level.”
As for Perkz, we’re nearly a full year into his role swap. Previously G2’s midlaner, he moved to the bottom lane after Caps’ arrival. Going into the Worlds final in what is essentially his first season as an ADC, Perkz has also proved that he’s in the conversation for the world's greatest player.
”After one year of playing AD, I’m being compared to probably the best AD who’s ever played the game. It feels good,” he says. “I think I’m a better midlaner than botlaner, but i think that a lot of my skills from playing mid are really beneficial in the bottom. Playing AD Carry is really different. You are just much worse as a role. You don’t have any influence, but if you know how to pressure the game and you’re ahead, you can be oppressive.”
Most consider G2 to have the superior bot lane versus FPX, so Perkz will be looking to enforce a lot of pressure. In particular, if he is allowed to play Xayah, a champion he seems to have mastery over that’s well above any other player in the tournament, it’ll be a similar story all over the map.
G2 have the individual players to take over Summoner’s Rift and bring the World Championship trophy home to Europe. Now, they just need to hold their nerve for the biggest match of their lives, and execute when it matters most.