What was likely the most stacked Semifinals in Worlds history delivered eight incredible games, with super clutch moments from some, and super regretful moments for others. Two of the most likely candidates for Worlds holistic MVP, Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok and Kang "TheShy" Seung-lok , both had devastatingly bad plays in crucial moments in each of their final games. Both were down 1-2 in the series in a strong position to win, but multiple teamfight mistakes in a row lost them that opportunity.
But this isn't about that, this is about celebrating some of the best players to ever install the game. In their match against IG, Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang showed up huge, first on the Rumble mid (only Doinb could do it) and then finished the rest of the series on his personal staple, Nautilus. Then the following day, Luka "Perkz" Perković was clean and clutch, being a steady presence in each game and always ensuring a late game victory condition for the European first seed.
Let's split this up into two sections, Game one on Rumble and the rest of the games on Nautilus. Doinb's Rumble game was amazing. Take a look at the pick ban, FPX are blue side and ban Kai'Sa as their third ban, making IG ban Xayah in response to keep the ADCs at a similar tier. This leaves open Qiyana, Renekton, and Gragas, three of the most highly contested picks in the current meta.
FPX lock in Qiyana for the flex, and IG answer with Gragas and Varus, trying to get the edge in the bot lane. So FPX then pick Nautilus and Renekton, and IG respond with Quinn, the crocodile hunter.
At this point in the draft, FPX have THREE picks that Doinb could play comfortably. Then, instead of picking one of those three, he blind picks a champion that hasn't been mid this entire tournament. Of course, it's possible it was a flex with Renekton, but he keeps the Rumble mid and then goes 10/1/5!
At that point, FPX have an insane draft advantage the rest of the series. IG even banned rumble in game two and three, even with the Nautilus already locked in for FPX in the first round. Doinb is not only too versatile to ban out, he's too versatile to ever even know his pick until after the comps are set right before the game.
In the rest of the games, he did end up on the Nautilus, though. And he utilized him well, somehow perfecting the Naut's ability to engage even while going the squishier AP build. He died a bit, but he took multiple IG members down with him every time. Only in their last game did Doinb have any help with the engage, with Gao "Tian" Tian-Liang finally on Gragas.
At the end of the day, FPX outplayed IG around the board. The team looks strong going into the Finals. (But strong enough? We'll see.) But the advantage they were able to get in draft with Doinb's crazy champion pool put them in a winning position constantly throughout the series.
If they had won that first game but Doinb fed on Rumble instead of carrying, IG doesn't have as much to worry about. But Doinb proved that even with three champs already available to him, he can do whatever he wants, and he will need to keep that strength if his team is to take down G2 this weekend.
Perkz had a similar effect on the draft as Doinb, but not for quite the same reason. Perkz is just too good at Xayah, and can flex mages better than any opposition. In the first game, SKT prioritized Renekton over everything so they banned Quinn, the croc's most reliable counter so far, but that gave Xayah over to Perkz for free.
After his 8 KDA, 80% kill participation on the champ, SKT needed to start respect it. So G2 forced their hand, using their third ban to take Kai'Sa off the table in both of their blue side games. Both times SKT had to answer with Xayah. But since Perkz is so proficient on mages, G2 was able to pick Syndra/Yasuo in combination with Gragas in their last game for the ultimate flex.
But besides the draft, Perkz's most important games were three and four. In Game 3, Martin "Wunder" Nordahl Hansen was struggling hard in his top lane matchup, getting solo killed under tower just minutes into the game. With him never catching up in the lane, and Kim "Clid" Tae-min being on an equally powerful jungler as Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski, mid and bot had to be strong through the early game.
But Rasmus "Caps" Borregaard Winther - who in the Quarters won mutliple games through early roams - was on a passive laner, Orianna. Without that available, it was truly up to Perkz and Mihael "Mikyx" Mehle to provide the pressure needed to get the team through the early game. And of course, Perkz stepped up when he needed to, ending the game with a 9/0/4 KDA, making his overall Xayah KDA a flat 21 for the series.
Then in the final game, the whole of G2 esports was struggling to withstand the pressure that SKT was exhibiting. After a couple late game saves from Caps (or misplays from Faker?) Perkz got a quadra kill in the final fight, giving Caps enough time to TP into the SKT base, and slowly auto-attack down the nexus.
Overall, G2 vs SKT was an extremely mental matchup, with both sides trading very effectively, each gaining their own advantages respective to their own team comps. But in the end, G2 consistently won the fights. Twice it was on the back of Perkz's unstoppable Xayah, and once from a Yasuo quadra kill.
Many are saying this Finals will easily go the way of G2, but they forget the sentiment last year as FNC looked poised and ready to beat IG until they got swept on the Finals stage. Doinb is clearly confident, and looks to be in his best form, and the rest of FPX has continuously gotten stronger throughout the course of the tournament. Kim "GimGoon" Han-saem and Lin "Lwx" Wei-Xiang looked weak in Groups, but they just matched against TheShy and Yu "JackeyLove" Wen-Bo and beat them without breaking a sweat.
G2 look incredible, but Wunder will have to step it up, and they'll need more than just "good drafts" to match up against the flexibility that is Doinb and FPX. Both teams have great creativity in game, but either could take it. It's really all about who preps and shows up on the day to take the win in the end. It's not just going to be a walk in the park for G2.
Oh, but the good news is they have CAPS_dad!