The 2020 League of Legends Pro League Summer Playoffs will culminate in a finals matchup between Top Esports and JD Gaming. When both teams met in the finals of the 2020 LPL Spring Playoffs earlier this year, it was JD Gaming who took the 3-2 victory and China’s crown. Both teams head into the Summer Finals having already qualified for the 2020 World Championship on circuit points, but the first seed and title of champion are still high stakes in the best region in the world.
With both former world champions in FunPlus PhoeniX and Invictus Gaming eliminated from the post-season, a new era of LPL elite has begun. JD Gaming will look to defend its title against the enormous talent of Top Esports in a bid to head into Worlds 2020 as the #1 Chinese team and the favorite.
Before the match kicks off on Thursday, August 27 at 2:00am PT on the LPL English YouTube channel, let’s take a closer look at the TES vs JDG matchup and see who is most likely to come out on top in the LPL Summer Finals.
The TES trident
TOP Esports’ is an incredibly aggressive team whose greatest strength lies in the individual talent of its laners. Bai "369" Jiahao has been the best top laner in the LPL this season, and Support Liang "yuyanjia" Jia-Yuan has done an excellent job alongside veteran jungler Hung "Karsa" Hao-Hsuan in enabling 369, mid laner Zhuo “knight” Ding and AD carry Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-bo.
Karsa has attended every World Championship since 2015, and while spending most of his career as a carry jungler, he often sacrifices his own individual opportunities to put his laners ahead. In the semifinals against Suning, Karsa showed he still could carry a game on Graves, but more often than not, he has spent the 2020 season playing to enable the TES laners to the best of his ability.
While fans are no doubt excited to see JackeyLove at his third consecutive Worlds, it is TES’ mid laner whose appearance at Worlds is most highly anticipated. Since his debut in 2018, knight has been touted as the best mid laner in the LPL, but has failed to qualify for a World Championship until now.
In previous years, Invictus Gaming's Song “Rookie” Eu-jin and FunPlus PhoeniX’s Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang, established themselves as the best mids in the world their respective teams were at the peak of their respective powers. But this season, knight’s statistics have dwarfed the both, in multiple categories.
His 211 kills are the most of any mid laner in the LPL by 59, and his 63 deaths are the least of any mid laner who played the entirety of the 2020 LPL Summer Split. In addition to his league-best 7.2 KDA, Knight is in the top 5 for every laning stat amongst mid laners, and is superior to Doinb in every statistical category outside of assists and kp. Amongst all mid laners in the LPL, only Rookie has a higher DPM than knight’s 576 amongst at 610.
Statistical placement amongst all mid laners in 2020 LPL Summer Playoffs:
Gold Differential @ 10
|Damage Per Minute|
Statistics eliminate context such as Top Esports’ 1st place finish and clear team superiority to IG or FPX this summer, but the majority of the figures confirm that Knight is more often than not without peer. During the semifinals match last week between Top Esports and Suning, color caster Jordan “Lyric” Corby’s matter-of-fact tone carried as much weight as the words themselves:
“Knight is the best player in the LPL. We’ve known that for a few years.”
The JDG Battery
If Top Esports biggest strength is its laners, then that may be the reason it lost to JD Gaming in the Spring Finals. JDG jungler Seo "Kanavi" Jin-hyeok was the 2020 LPL Spring Split MVP, and regardless of the seeding, Zuo "LvMao" Ming-Hao will head into Worlds 2020 as the best support on the planet.
This isn’t to discredit Karsa and yuyanjia, who do an excellent job of facilitating the TES laners, but JDG’s style is the inverse in which its true carries are its jungler/support duo.
Zhang “Zoom” Xing-Ran is right alongside 369 as one of the best top laners in the LPL, and while mid laner Zeng “Yagao” Qi isn’t an individual powerhouse like knight or Rookie, he does an excellent job at enabling Kanavi in a more team-focused role. The super playmaking of LvMao, especially on his signature Bard, has elevated AD carry Lee “LokeN” Dong-wook’s laning presence multifold.
Kanavi and LvMao aren’t just individually stronger than Karsa and yuyanji in their respective roles, - their synergy as a jungle-support battery is arguably the best on the planet. It will be up to Kanavi and LvMao to lead the charge against Top Esports as the durable laners of Zoom, Yagao, and LokeN withstand the onslaught of the TES laning trident.
The Razor's Edge
TES and JDG’s differences in team strengths will make for an interesting series, and while the match should go all five games just like in the Spring Finals, the result will not be the same. Top Esports strengths’ are more favored in the current meta given the overwhelming talent of its laners, and most meta jungle champions are as much in Karsa's wheelhouse as Kanavi. In addition, some of LvMao's playmaking supports have been toned down, and his signature Bard was nerfed recently.
In addition to specifics on the rift, a multitude of other factors contribute to what should be an advantage over JD Gaming for TOP Esports in this match. TES looked more dominant in its sweep of Suning than JD Gaming’s 3-1 win over LGD in both teams’ semifinals matches, and even when putting records aside, TOP Esports’ individual players showed the moxy to continue to pull off clutch plays in crucial moments of its three victories to turn the tides in TES’ favor.
It's also worth mentioning that JackeyLove will have played at least a full split’s worth of games with the squad before the finals, which was not the case in spring since he did not join the team until after the start of the 2020 LPL Spring Split.
Both teams already being qualified for Worlds 2020 should also serve as an advantage to Top Esports. Previously, whether it be attempting to qualify for the World Championship, or the finals of the 2020 LPL Spring Playoffs, Top Esports continuously fell short in the most significant match of the organization’s history at these points.
The LPL throne will still be important to JDG and TES, but with both teams already locked in for Worlds looming ahead, look for Top Esports to loosen up and edge out JD Gaming 3-2 in its first LPL championship.
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