No one expected FunPlus Phoenix (FPX) to win the League of Legends 2019 World Championships. It was a new team, created only one year prior, and, competing against veterans such as the Korean superstar team SKT T1 and the European’s last hope G2, many people had written FPX off before they entered the tournament.
League of Legends is the world’s most popular online game, with more than 100 million players active every month. As such, its competitive scene is also extraordinary, drawing in thousands of in-person viewers and millions online. The game itself is divided into three “lanes” where the characters fight in attempt to destroy the opponent’s base, called the Nexus.
The competitive season started off with the spotlight on the European regular G2, who surpassed expectations. G2 won both their regional league, LEC, and also won the Mid Season Invitational. Most of the European polls were in favor of G2 winning worlds, and many people online even began saying that the semi-finals between G2 and SKT T1 would be “the real final.”
FPX, on the other hand, started off their year with a less than perfect start. They drafted a young player by the name of Tian to their roster, then added Doinb, a veteran who’s never made it out of his regional league. Even with the experience that Doinb brought to the table, FPX’s lack of international competition made many people write them off as having no chance to win worlds. They could not be more wrong.
Doinb did not play like a pro player. His playstyle was much more similar to that of League of Legends’s solo competitive ranked mode, dubbed “solo queue.” G2, though composed of all very skilled players, were not ready to face a player with such an unorthodox play style. G2 player Caps tried to match Doinb by playing similar characters but couldn’t match the Doinb’s influence. Coupled with the ingenious plays from the other roles, such as the bot and top lanes, G2 lost fight after fight.
G2 lost horribly in a 3-0 match that shocked supporters from both teams. Shoutcasters, analysts, fans, and viewers from around the world were stunned by the performance: not just by the fact that FPX had won, but also by the fact that G2 didn’t even seem to put up a fight. They were the European league’s star team and were supposed to finally end the East Asian dynasty that has reigned over League of Legends. But it seems that the time for the end of that dynasty has been delayed by yet another year.