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Not Rookie. Not Uzi. Not Faker. Not Caps. But Doinb. After all the star pillars have crumbled, the last one standing is the LPL’s “Super Carry” and FunPlus Phoenix. In their first year together, FPX has kept the Summoner’s Cup in the LPL after a dominant 3-0 victory over Europe’s super team, G2.
2019 began with major teams across the world retooling with star-studded lineups, and at the forefront of that was Europe’s G2. They blasted their way through the LEC both splits and also captured the MSI title in Taipei — the accolades rightfully so made them favorites for many going into Worlds. Even going into this match against FPX, many analysts and fans predicted a G2 victory — going so far as to suggest the Semifinal against SKT was the “real” Final.
On the other hand, FPX was a team that was formed in 2018 and then struggled to a mediocre debut year. In the offseason, they added Tian, a young player born in 2000, and Doinb, a long-time LPL veteran who’d never made Worlds. FPX’s win is a shout-out to every young player hoping to stand on the Worlds stage and simultaneously a rallying cry for all the veterans who’ve toiled in domestic obscurity.
After the game, Doinb said, “I think I’ve finally proven myself. Even a mid laner like me can take the championship. Before this, a lot of people said that a mid laner that played my playstyle doesn’t deserve to win the championship, but I think I finally proved that I deserved it.”
Doinb’s style proved to be something G2, and everyone else they faced, could never contain. Game 1 was by far the tensest of the set, and it painted a promise the rest of the series would not be able to deliver. Both teams jockeyed for positioning with G2, once again, trying to split pressure across the map. Caps locked in Pyke mid to try to generate picks in the midst of the split-push chaos, but was generally ineffective at generating pressure early against Doinb’s Nautilus. Back-and-forth fights in the mid game didn’t lead to much until a crucial dragon fight resulted in three G2 deaths thanks to a massive play from FPX’s jungler Tian on his Lee Sin.
From there, G2 tried to recover with some intense split pushing that made it all the way to the G2 inhibitors. However, unlike SKT, FPX did not collapse to the pressure. They answered all of the pressure promptly and choked G2 out of options by taking inhibitors one after another. Led by LWX’s late-game Sivir, they crushed the final fight and put themselves up 1-0.
LWX would continue his dominant streak for the next two games — eventually securing a perfect series in which G2, one of the most blood-thirsty teams we’ve ever seen, was unable to kill him even once. The disparity in play from the bot lane position was juxtaposed against a Perkz whose champion pool failed him. In a year where he was able to flex anything at anytime in any role, it felt like being denied Kai’Sa and Xayah were massive blows to the G2 star. G2 was destroyed in Game 2, with FPX turning a sizeable early lead into the fastest Baron of the tournament — one that was taken almost as soon as it spawned.
G2 tried to fight back with their patented confidence, but this time they were denied. Despite their good mood — laughing on cam even as their Nexus was beaten down — they were unable to reverse the tide of the series. Just this time, they couldn’t fall back on their natural talent. They were simply outclassed by FPX as a team. The dominance of Game 2 had analysts and fans alike calling a 3-0 even before the third game began.
G2 turned to a Veigar pick to try to save their season in Game 3 — a specialty we’ve seen from their counterparts in Fnatic — but it wasn’t enough to save them. It felt like a symbolic loss for not just G2 but the entire European contingent. With Doinb on another tank mid laner in Galio, FPX was able to dominate the early game — at one point taking over ten turret plates compared to zero from G2. This advantage snowballed into another mostly uncontested Baron for FPX, and from there G2 was once again unable to find a way back into the game and with it, the set.
FPX is now your World Champion — the undisputed #1 team in the world from the biggest and best region. Two straight years an LPL team has stood on the final stage, and two straight years they have not just won but crushed the spirit of the opposition. FPX’s run to the World Championship should be heralded and celebrated — it is an extremely unexpected run from a team full of mostly-unknowns. Even in their wins, it wasn’t just individual superstars that carried them like IG of last year but a complete performance from the team as a cohesive unit.
To stand at the top after such a complete performance — a run that has seen them drop only a single set since the summer began — shows that any team can win. It shows that any star can still shine given the right environment. And it shows that even in its 10th year, League of Legends is still burgeoning with new talent. A phoenix is a symbol of rebirth, and FPX will soar as a spirit for all who wish to become something new.