The Semifinals of the 2019 League of Legends World Championship is only a few days away, and one of the most exciting aspects of this year's top four is that any potential outcome will produce arguably the greatest Worlds Final in LoL Esports history. Let's take a look at the potential post-semis scenarios and the subsequent Grand Finals matchups.
FunPlus Phoenix vs. G2 Esports
One week ago, FunPlus Phoenix's place in history as another #1 LPL seed disappointing at Worlds. However, a convincing 3-1 defeat of Fnatic in the Worlds 2019 Quarterfinals saw FPX finally reclaim its dominant LPL Summer Split form. FPX faces off against Invictus Gaming in all-LPL Semifinal, and after its performance against Fnatic, it could be argued that the #1 LPL seed has reclaimed its status as a 2019 World Champion favorite.
G2 Esports looked strong in its 3-1 defeat over DAMWON Gaming in the Quarterfinals, and it would not be out of the question for it to once again triumph over SK Telecom T1 in the Worlds Semifinals, just as it did on its way to winning the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational.
If G2 and FPX were to meet in Paris for the Finals, the matchup would have far less historical context and developed narrative when compared to the other potential matchups. However, the showdown between G2 and FPX would feature exclude South Korea for the second straight year, and would truly establish a new era of League of Legends esports.
FunPlus Phoenix vs. SK Telecom T1
SK Telecom T1's 2-3 loss against G2 Esports in the 2019 MSI Semifinals was extremely close, and one could argue that with its 3-1 defeat of Splyce in the Quarterfinals, the South Korean side could possess the upper hand in the Worlds Semifinals rematch.
If SKT was to make it to the Finals to face FPX, it would be the first World Finals between China and South Korea since Samsung Galaxy White triumphed over Star Horn Royal Club on home soil in the 2014 Worlds Finals. In addition, FPX Mid Laner Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang, currently the best Ryze in the world without question, facing off against the player synonymous with the Rogue Mage himself.
In addition to the matchup between Doinb and Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, pretenatural Chinese talent Gao "Tian" Tian-Liang and Korean dynamo Kim "Clid" Tae-min would face-off for rights to claim the title of best Jungler in the world.
Invictus Gaming vs. G2 Esports
It's worth noting that FPX isn't the only LPL representative rising from the ashes. Since subbing Gao "Ning" Zhen-Ning in the Jungle for rookie starter Lu "Leyan" Jue, the 2018 World Champion quintent has gone 6-1, winning IG's last three games in Group D before eliminating Griffin from the Quarterfinals in a 3-1 victory.
Should Invictus Gaming meet G2 Esports in the Worlds 2019 Finals, it would harken a new era of LoL Esports in the same way an FPX-G2 showdown would, but with far higher stakes for each team in context of the past year of competitive League of Legends.
Invictus Gaming won the 2018 World Championship, while G2 Esports had to settle for a top 4 finish after losing to IG in the Semifinals. Just over half a year later, G2 Esports defeated Team Liquid, who had eliminated IG in its previous match, 3-0 to win MSI 2019. A showdown between the two teams in Paris would see the gauntlet thrown down to decide which of the two teams is the best team in the World, a title both sides have been battling over for over a calendar year.
Invictus Gaming vs. SK Telecom T1
Invictus Gaming and G2 Esports would possess the best overall matchup in a team context, but a matchup between IG and SKT would give LoL Esports fans an individual matchup that it has been waiting for on the Worlds stage for seasons.
Song "Rookie" Eui-jin and Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok faced off against one another before. On KT Arrows in the early phases of his career, Rookie earned the nickname "Faker Jr." for his electric playmaking ability and an oceanic champion pool on KT Rolster Arrows in the South Korea's 2014 LCK season. Rookie and Faker have also played against one another in the recent meetings between IG and SKT at Rift Rivals 2018, MSI 2019, and Rift Rivals 2019.
However, the two best Mid Laners of all time have yet to play against each other at the peak of their respective powers in a premiere best-of-5 competition. After winning the 2018 World Championship, Rookie highlighted the significance of Faker's absence in his road to the top:
“I’m very thankful that people compare me to Faker, but I think I still have a long way to go to get close to Faker. I don’t even think that I’m a mid laner that can lane against him yet. Although I became the world champion today, I still don’t think that I’m the world’s best mid laner although fans may think otherwise. I want to tell Faker that I’m always watching his games, his solo queues. I hope he continues to perform well with awesome plays.”
Faker, ever-humble but supremely confident, affirmed in the press conference following the 2019 Worlds Quarterfinals that he deserves the title of Greatest of All-Time, and regardless of Rookie's previous Worlds title, has stated he has something to prove against the Unkillable Demon King.
Regardless of which Semifinals scenario comes to fruition, one thing is for certain: Paris, France will host the most exciting World Championship Final in LoL Esports history.
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