FunPlus Phoenix is the 2019 League of Legends World Champion. Despite not being favored against G2 Esports, FPX outclassed the conquerors of Europe in every way imaginable. A 3-0 victory at the Accorhotels Arena earned FunPlus PhoeniX rights to the Summoner's Cup.
G2 was favored to win in the Finals due to its convincing win over SK Telecom T1 in the Semifinals. FPX was clearly the stronger team against Invictus Gaming in its own Semifinals match, but due to the defending World Champion's weakened form, the all-China series was practically considered an afterthought to the showdown between SKT and G2.
FunPlus Phoenix not only succeded in matching G2 Esports on an individual level, but also out-drafted them and out-paced them throughout the series. Even in the few moments where G2 was able to gain an upper hand through superior skirmishing or team fighting, FPX continued its onslaught in smothering fashion. No matter how much G2 Esports attempted to flex strategically, the LPL Champion was like an infinitely expanding net, ready to catch and collapse any G2 flank.
G2's best chance came in game 1, where a last pick Pyke Mid for Rasmus "Caps" Winther highighted the opening draft phase. However, the Bloodharbor Ripper fell flat in terms of solo lane impact, and Martin "Wunder" Hansen was exposed by the FPX roam squad on Ryze. G2 mounted a valiant comeback and managed to even break the base of FPX to even things out, but when all was said and done, Wunder's 7th and final death was enough for the Chinese side to close out game 1.
Game 2 saw G2 go to its Yasuo/Gragas bot lane combo for Luka "Perkz" Perković and Mihael "Mikyx" Mehle, respectively. However, unlike previous teams who had faced the fearsome combo, FPX had no issue shutting down the snowball potential. Once again, FPX's roaming, collapsing, and general pacing around the map were superior to G2's, and the European side never managed to get any closer than a single step behind.
FunPlus Phoenix secured the fastest Baron Nashor of Worlds 2019 in less than 22 minutes, and won the game shortly after. G2 picked a safer, more well-balanced comp with good scaling in game 3, and managed to stick with FPX early on by trading blow-for-blow. However, like the game before it, FPX started pulling ahead of G2, controlling the majority of the map and securing the majority of objectives despite holding the same kill total as G2 throughout the majority of game 3.
Fly, Phoenix, Fly
G2 Esports certainly did not play at its best, but FPX deserves credit for never letting up on the pressure by constantly creating numbers advantages. The advantage of space G2 had been given by Fnatic in the summer, or even SK Telecom one week ago, was not a luxury afforded to them by FPX. Mid Laner Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang and Support Liu "Crisp" Qing-Song played exceptionally well and were seemingly everywhere at once, but one FPX member stood out among the rest.
In three games of elite Lee Sin play, Gao "Tian" Tian-Liang neutralized Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski in the Jungle through exhibition of pressure and incredible individual playmaking. Time and time again, Tian was the linchpin to FPX's enveloping collapse over whatever proactive play G2 tried to create, leading the charge to snuff out any attempt at a rekindling for the LEC champion.
“I often read comments in the communities when I was in China, and people often said that Tian plays like this player or that player," said the FPX Jungler after the series. "I think I proved myself today and showed the world what kind of player Tian is.”
FunPlus Phoenix kept the Summoner's Cup in China in dominant fashion, silencing all doubters from its shaky Group B performance and delivering on the hype from its domestic dominance in the LPL throughout the season. In becoming the 2019 World Champion, FPX has proved that of all of the teams in the best region in the world, it is China's crown jewel.
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