[Worlds 2019] Finals Preview: FunPlus Phoenix vs. G2 Esports

On Sunday, November 10th at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France, the 2019 League of Legends World Championship will conclude with the Grand Finals match between FunPlus Phoenix and G2 Esports. At 1:00pm local time, FPX will fight to keep the World Championship trophy in China and deny G2 the first grand slam in LoL Esports history.

The Teams

FunPlus Phoenix:
Top Lane — Kim "GimGoon" Han-saem
Jungle  — Gao "Tian" Tian-Liang
Mid Lane — Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang 
Bot Lane —  Lin "Lwx" Wei-Xiang
Support —  Liu "Crisp" Qing-Song

Substitute [Jungle] —  Chang "Xinyi" Ping
Coach —  Chen "WarHorse" Ju-Chih

G2 Esports:
Top Lane ⁠— Martin "Wunder" Hansen
Jungle — Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski
Mid Lane — Rasmus "Caps" Winther
Bot Lane — Luka "Perkz" Perković
Support — Mihael "Mikyx" Mehle

Substitute [Support] — Hampus Mikael "promisq" Abrahamsson
Coach — Fabian "GrabbZ" Lohmann


▲  photo by Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games

Destination: Paris

After FunPlus Phoenix's lackluster performance in Group B, it was easy to imagine a reality where a surging Invictus Gaming would triumph over FPX and reach the Final to defend its World Championship. Hoever, FPX reminded everyone of its #1 LPL seed status, and stopped IG in its tracks in a convincing 3-1 victory. FPX's Finals bid is the second consecutive appearance for the LPL, and the fourth overall in China's history. 

▲  photo by Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games

G2 Esports faced a tall task in the Semifinals against SK Telecom T1, but just like the 2019 Mid-Season Invitiational Semifinals, the LEC champion triumphed in the end. SKT only managed to take a single game off of G2, the latter of whom looked far superior to the South Korean side in draft strategy, individual play, and teamplay. G2 is one series away from the first grand slam in LoL Esports history.

Matchup to Watch: Support

At first glance, the tempo of Tian vs. Jankos in the Jungle or the overall map impact of Caps vs. Doinb in the Mid Lane. However, the most pivotal matchup will be in the Bot Lane between the best two Supports at Worlds 2019. 

▲ Image Source: Riot Games

In FPX's pre-Finals press conference, Crisp was asked what he thought of Mikyx. "I think he's a very good Support player," Crisp said. "Maybe he didn't play the first few games quite well, but if he can adapt I feel like he's very competitive, and he would put a lot of pressure on me."

Mikyx and Crisp have put on a clinic throughout the entirety of the tournament, performing extremely consistently on playmakers and tanks alike throughout the World Championship. 
Mikyx stated last week that Crisp is the best support in the World, but clearly, a mutual respect has formed between both players. 

As is the situation with FPX's Xinyi, it is unlikely that we see promisq sub in for a game in the Finals. G2's 6th man has yet to play a game at Worlds 2019, and while fans would love to see promisq get a start, Grabbz confirmed in G2's pre-Finals press conference that the possibility would be extremely unlikely due to the level of play FPX has exhibited as Worlds has gone on. 

"We respect FPX a lot and I don't think we have the freedom of having fun and bringing in the sub, if we don't have to do it for a gameplay decision," Grabbz explained. "I think the chances are low, I'm sorry."

It's worth mentioning that Perkz was not present at the press conference due to feeling under the weather, but Grabbz seemed pretty sure that Perkz would be at 100% come Sunday. Mikyx's consistency in the Support position has been extremely valuable for G2, and in the unfortunate scenario that Perkz would come into the Finals not at full strength, keeping Mikyx in for the entire series would be vital for G2 to remain competitive. 

Perkz has been the best performing member of G2 throughout Worlds, and the matchup between the team captain and young talent Lwx will indeed prove pivotal for both teams. However, the Support matchup is specifically what will set the tone in the Bot Lane, and the first duo to get the upper hand and set up a dive for its roam-heavy top side will be the team who reigns supreme in Paris. 

▲  photo by Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games

A New Era

Regardless of result, the 2019 World Finals has already confirmed that LoL Esports has entered a new era. FPX shook off a less than stellar Group Stage performance and came alive in the Knockout Stage, hammering home that IG's 2018 run was no fluke and that the LPL was capable of producing many a competitive team. 

G2 Esports has transcended the previous limitations exhibited by European teams, and have shown that it can play both a brawl-heavy, skirmish-centric style as well as a controlled, suffocating macro game. It survived the greatest Group Stage performance in history of Griffin in Group A, before sending the other two Korean worlds representatives home themselves. G2 had arguably the hardest road to the Finals, but dispatched of both DAMWON Gaming and SKT 3-1. 

LoL Esports is no longer about the best region, it is about the best team, and with that shift in competition, a tonal shift has also come. NA and South Korea are certainly licking their respective wounds, but the regional rivalries and the 'West vs. East' narrative have long been outdated due to the changes in identity for each of the four major regions in the past few years. 

▲ photo by Michael Konkol for Riot Games

To truly harken this new era of League of Legends, a new World Champion unlike anyone has seen before must rise above all other challengers to lift the Summoner's Cup. G2 Esports is an all-European roster with a Captain who may go down as the most successful role swap in LoL Esports history. G2 Esports has won the 2019 LEC Spring Playoffs, MSI 2019, and the 2019 LEC Summer Playoffs. It had to go through all three South Korean teams to reach the Finals.

G2 Esports can match FPX's early pressure, and Caps' roaming from the Mid Lane has been second only to Doinb at the 2019 World Championship. Still, the G2 squad has more international experience, more styles of play, and despite Doinb's champion ocean, more flexibility in the draft phase. G2 Esports will not be denied history, and will defeat FunPlus Phoenix 3-1 to secure the title of 2019 World Champion.

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