The Worlds Semis this year were just enthralling. Funplus Phoenix dethroned last year’s champions, Invictus Gaming with a crushing 3-1 victory, while G2, in their rematch with SKT after MSI 2019 left Faker and his squad flabbergasted. In a fashion similar to FPX, G2 crushed whatever hopes that SKT had of progressing to finals with a 3-1 win.
Both the matches certainly lived up to the hype that they’d been creating since the end of the Quarters, where FPX demonstrated their drive to go for gold, by shutting down a precarious Fnatic with stellar performances from every one of the squad, while G2 triumphed over the mighty and formidable Damwon with superior flexibility, experience and game knowledge.
In a true David-Goliath style match, SKT dominated Splyce all throughout the series, conceding only one round and sending the underdogs home after a crushing 3-1 win in the quarter finals.
Despite some drama surrounding Griffin’s journey through the tournament, most fans and analysts had predicted Griffin to progress onto the semis. However, IG defended their throne well, showing greater experience and better in game tactics. Griffin managed to take a round after losing twice in a row but the defending champs IG chose not to stretch the series any further and shut them down with a 3-1 victory
The Semifinals Recap:
G2 ESPORTS VS SK TELECOM T1 (3-1)
The G2 vs. SKT was a historic semi-final. Europe’s last team standing against Korea’s final hope.
On one side, were the Mid-Season Invitational champions and two-time League of Legends European Championship (LEC) winners: G2, pitted against the legendary Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s SK Telecom T1 on the other, who seemed to be a formidable winning force throughout the tournament.
The series saw a neck and neck competition between the two giants with both sides displaying some of the most stellar performances of the event.
There was a lot of back and forth trading going on: capturing this, conceding that. When one side would take out a Drake, the other would slay the Rift Herald. One destroys top lane turret, the other responds with a kill on bot lane and deep vision. In each of the games, the victor was determined by very tiny margin and there were plenty of intense teamfights whose outcomes would teeter on the tight rope. Ultimately, the team which could better exploit the opponent’s mistakes would win, and often during the series, it was G2.
The drafting consistently utilised textbook strategies all throughout the series, which seemed a bit off taking into consideration G2’s knack for always thinking out of the box with unconventional picks. Ryze and Renekton priorities were exchanged along with, Gragas-Yasuo, Xayah and Kai’Sa.
Every game in the series had the same pattern. Early games were evenly matched, mid games were even too, and then there would be one crucial team fight in the late game which would turn the tides in someone’s favour to decide the result.
G2 exercised great discipline overall as a team. They maintained a slow tempo and focused on the objectives initially and avoided risking unnecessary fights. SKT played in a similar fashion, with late game teamfight coordination becoming the determining factor behind the outcome of each match of the series. G2 was better in skirmishes. They found ideal set ups to catch SKT off guard.
In Game 1 G2 showed off their commendable map movement skills. SKT would controlled the early game both Kim “Clid” Tae-min’s Gragas and Kim “Khan” Dong-ha’s Renekton took significant early leads, dominating top lane and forcing G2 to make do with what they could. Rasmus “Caps” Winther’s Ryze managed side lanes.
Caps’ overconfident overextension enabled SKT to get an easy kill in bot lane and establish vision around the Baron. G2 retaliated by slaying Faker’s Neeko. With SKT began working on Baron with the pit under control. G2 however outperformed them in the fight that ensued and with that, moved on to winning the first game.
Moving into round 2 with a confidence boost G2’s draft for game two set up Caps’ Ryze and Perkz’s Ezreal up with three frontliners which could easily stack Crowd Control. SKT’s response to this was a hard and fast play-style, assigning Faker his signature LeBlanc and their bot lane duo of Teddy & Effort, Yasuo and Gragas respectively.
SKT made a defiant comeback in round 2, dominating the game two with impressive leads across all lanes. Khan’s Renekton was an undying beast, devouring any member of G2 that would dare to farm minion waves to catch up. In a desperate attempt G2 went for the Elder Dragon and SKT wasted no time to thwart G2’s attack with the ace which put them on the board for the first time in the series.
Both sides were evenly matched in game three. The teams traded blow for blow during the early game. Each time SKT scored a kill on the map, G2’s roam squad of Mikyx and Jankos would pick off members of the opposite team to even the score. A pick onto Caps’ Orianna put the game wide open for SKT and prompted them to turn right onto Baron.
To make comeback into the match, G2 consequtively won skirmish after skirmish, throwing more gold onto Perkz’ scaling Xayah. To stop G2 from running away with the lead, SKT attempted a Hail Mary Baron play which quickly followed a collapse from G2 to shut them all down and take the game away.
G2 went into game four with their usual confidence, securing for themselves the Yasuo/Gragas bot lane – a combo, they made popular in the pro scene. At this crucial stage, SKT decided to bring in their shot-calling substitute support Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong. Their hopes to win now rested on his shoulders.
The first 18 minutes of this game, made everyone think of a possibility for a game five. Even though both teams had tied the tower score, SKT lead in kills by 8-2 and had secured triple Ocean Drake before 20 minutes. One clutch teamfight around SKT’s mid lane outer turret provided G2 with all of the resources necessary to stay on their feet and setup for a comeback.
From then on, G2 focussed on taking as many fights as possible to put the pressure on SKT to make a move. After being denied the Baron, G2 executed a crucial base defence and nearly aced SKT to take down a tower and inhibitor. A critical misplay from Faker’s Qiyana gave G2 the opportunity for the teamfight win with which they finally took the semifinal victory and secured their spot in the finals in Paris.
The 3-1 score does not show how one-sided the games were. SKT seemed very strong to claim victory in two of their lost games, and if they had, it would’ve been a 3-1 in the other way around.
This wasn’t a series that depended on individual performances, but instead it was all about the teams working as units. G2 had better team coordination and communication, and played through their strongest side consistently. SKT were good, but not good enough to overpower the might of G2. The team looked disconnected during crucial moments. SKT fell short and have now been sent home by G2.
FUNPLUS PHOENIX VS INVICTUS GAMING (3-1)
FunPlus Pheonix vs IG Semifinal match was basically a domestic rivalry on an international stage. IG faced off against perhaps their strongest opponent at Worlds 2019. The LPL Summer Split champions faced off against the defending World Champions, in a bloody series where both sides were dead set on proceeding to the finals at all costs.
For FPX, defeating a formidable team of the tournament and dethroning the defending champions was a huge milestone. The team joined the LPL in 2018 and quickly rose to the top in 2019 after switching in Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang and Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang.
One of the biggest reasons that led to IG’s disappointing defeat was the failure to execute well thought out and promising plans inorder to subdue the opponent team, in every single game of the series. Despite the scaling, promising teamfights and apparent control in their hands, IG would mess up at crucial moments and allow FPX to capitalise on the opportunities to dominate the games.
IG’s hasty decisions and shaky performance baffled fans, casters and analysts alike who fell short of words to describe what had transpired.
FPX were the overall dominant side in most of the games, taking early game leads and forcing IG to play on the backfoot most of the time.
Game One started off with FPX taking the lead and dominating IG with good roams and wombo-combo team fighting.
Both sides were quite evenly matched in the early game, as JackeyLove drew First Blood on Tian when he attacked his blue buff. IG also got a favourable two-for-one team skirmish top, but FPX were soon to mount pressure. Doinb’s Predator Rumble constantly roamed top and picked off TheShy twice. Basically the map was split in two, as JackeyLove’s Varus scored a few kills bottom while Doinb’s Rumble was just as fed.
At 16 minutes, the game tore open when IG tried to pick off an FPX member, but FPX retaliated with a huge engage. Both Rumble’s and Qiyana’s ultimates annihilated the IG lineup, and FPX won the fight 4 kills – 0. FPX exercised absolute control over the game after this point and used the momentum to further increase their lead with more picks and skirmish wins. After Baron spawn, the game stalled for a while, but at 26 minutes FPX sneaked and picked off Ning. After gaining the Baron buff, FPX took to the bottom lane and forced one last team fight. Again, FPX utterly destroyed IG, killing all five members with incurring any casualties on their own side. And with that, FPX simply waltzed into IG’s base and took down the first Nexus of the series.
Game two saw a massive back and forth trade resulting in a bloodbath that put 60 deaths across the board, breaking the Worlds’ record for 2nd-highest deaths in a single game.
Once more FPX managed to secure an early lead for themselves FPX took out Ning for First Blood, then proceeded to win a team fight near the mid lane two kills-for-zero and picked off the IG bottom lane shortly afterwards. They made use of the Herald to take the First Tower bonus as well, and having bagged even more kills, FPX appeared to be all set to take an easy second win.
But the IG fought back. They swooped in from behind to take on the Baron.This forced FPX to engage them in a fight. TheShy took out LWX’s Kai’Sa which was followed by IG massacring the rest of FPX. The fight ended with IG taking the lead with five-for-one in terms of kills with the Baron buff secured. Soon enough, they destroyed the middle Inhibitor, but this caused the game spiral down into chaos. For nearly twenty minutes there was ceaseless brawling over objectives and vision alike. Both teams found find victories, fight after fight, and with that, the game constantly went back and forth without going too much in either team’s favour.
The final showdown happened at 41 minutes, as Doinb advanced too far forward and was caught out. IG used their Tahm Kench ultimate to thwart his escape and they killed the main engage for FPX before he could do his job. It apparent that all hope was lost for FPX in the fight, so with FPX Super minions rampaging into IG’s base, LWX decided to Teleport in and try to end the game. TheShy followed suit and narrowly managed to reach in time, and as late-game Vladimir, he obliterated the Kai’Sa while IG swept in and destroyed FPX’s Nexus. And with that IG outplayed FPX in the late game to bring it to 1-1.
FPX yet again dominated IG in game three. IG ceded Qiyana over to FPX during the drafts. Little did they know at that time that it would end up costing them dearly. IG enjoyed an early game lead with a 4-3 team fight victory at the Rift Herald, however,FPX out rotated them and had better team fight coordination in the mid-game. GimGoon’s Gangplank, who was dominated early game by TheShy, took down two towers by himself, one of which netted him the First Tower bonus.
They raised game tempo quickly, trading up in towers and kills whenever IG went for a play. At 19 minutes, both sides contested for the Ocean Drake, but FPX easily overpowered the competition. Here, FPX killed three of the IG squad and took the drake. Two minutes later, IG tried again to contest FPX at the Baron. IG lost three more members and the Baron buff to FPX as a result of this misadventure. Emboldened, FPX fearlessly pushed mid, where engaged IG to grab four more kills and an Inhibitor. Facing a worn out and crippled IG squad, FPX swept through IG’s base, decimated their Nexus therby bringin the defending World Champions to match point.
And with another crushing defeat at the hands of FPX in game four, the defending World Champions were dethroned and out of the tournament. FPX proved themselves to be the best Chinese team in the world and claimed their rightful spot in the Finals. This match was never clearly one sided, but FPX’s superior team fighting skills, coordination along with IG’s horrible mistakes and failed executions led to FPX’s deserved victory in the Semifinals. Ning practically gifted FPX First Blood by invading their red buff at level one, which led to TheShy losing his Flash too. This allowed GimGoon to solo kill him in lane a couple of minutes later. The rest of the early game was dominated by FPX as well, as they won team two team fights to accumulate a wealth of kills.
All seemed lost for IG, but then suddenly they found a winning fight in the mid lane where TheShy got a Quadra-Kill and his team went up five-for-two in kills. With this, IG secured the first Baron. However Unfortunately for them, FPX routed them with a two-for-zero mid lane team fight. They also picked off Baolan to stall the buff out until its end. Despite these set-backs, there was still hope for IG taking the win until 28 minutes. Here, TheShy and JackeyLove made the game-losing error, walking into a dark FPX jungle and handing over their lives for free. FPX took the Baron afterward too.
Now, FPX had beefed up as they pushed forward. IG tried to take them head on in the bottom lane, but FPX turned it around and won the fight four-for-two. The bottom Inhibitor was knocked down, but FPX couldn’t quite end it yet. Fortunately for them, IG tried to push mid to retake FPX’s middle Inhibitor. Though TheShy was carrying many of these fights, he made yet another positioning mistake and was caught out on Kayle without ulting. FPX swept through IG from here, then easily pushed mid and demolished IG’s Nexus.
Despite some seriously questionable choices made in game four, IG put up quite a fight throughout the series. FPX however proved to be the better team yet again ending their Worlds 2019 journey just one step before the finals.
With their stellar performances in the Semis, both G2 and FPX have proven their mettle and the indomitable will to take on whatever their adversaries could throw at them. They outperformed and dominated the opposition all throughout their respective series and triumphed in the end. At the very least now, either of the teams is just three more victories away from completing the golden road and earning the title of World Champions.