FunPlus Phoenix limp to first place
FunPlus Phoenix’s road to the top spot was one fraught with tension and adversity, and it took Tian and Crisp to secure Group B’s first seed. Super-carry Doinb also chimed in with a few tricks up his sleeve, such as tank Malphite and bruiser-carry Renekton from the mid lane.
FPX’s day started well as they smashed GAM Esports with Crisp’s Nautilus roams and Doinb’s Malphite teamfight setups securing the victory. As they faced GAM’s hard-engage composition and early-game aggression, they responded with constant counter-skirmishing. Upon thwarting GAM’s reckless tower dives in the top lane (9:30 and 11:45), they allowed Lwx’s Kai’Sa and GimGoon’s Gangplank to scale, securing the game through team fights around objectives after 28 minutes of action.
However, China’s #1 seed hit a Splyce-sized wall as their team fight setups were thwarted at every turn. As they were unable to prevent Vizicsacsi’s Cho’Gath from scaling up, and Humanoid’s Akali from matching Doinb’s roams, they consistently lost skirmishes and were unable to recover.
In a do-or-die scenario, FPX faced J Team in the final game of the group (excluding tiebreakers) for a chance to play a tiebreaker with Splyce for first place. With their backs against the wall, they switched gears as Crisp and Tian wouldn’t allow them to falter. They eventually sealed the game’s outcome at the 8-minute mark as they neutralized J Team’s bot lane and jungle. By the time J Team’s nexus exploded at 23:50, FPX had a 20-3 kill lead, 54.2k gold to 33.2k lead, and killed 9 turrets to J Team’s 0.
With their qualification all but assured, FunPlus Phoenix faced Splyce for the second time in a tiebreaker. This time around, they had the better laning phase as Doinb’s Renekton and Tian’s Gragas neutralized Humanoid’s Syndra. Although Splyce slowed the game down, they were unable to prevent FPX’s stronger team fight composition (including Vayne and top lane Ryze) to scale. Eventually, the Chinese team captured Group B’s first seed after they won a team fight near Baron Nashor (38th minute).
Splyce win three in a row to secure second seed
Before Day 5, Splyce faced an uphill climb as they lost to J Team and FunPlus Phoenix, both of which stood at 2-1. The 1-2 Splyce rallied all day to cap an organization-first quarterfinal qualification and provide European fans with a cause for rejoicing.
Splyce’s carefully crafted compositions matched their players’ preferences and were executed with little difficulty. In the first game, their scaling team fight composition (Gnar, Gragas, Cassiopeia, Kai’Sa and Thresh) outdid J Team’s (Gnar, Jarvan IV, Kayle, Kai’Sa and Alistar) as it facilitated initiations and kiting. With each Splyce champion selection being a comfort pick, the team swept through J Team after 28 minutes of ramp-up.
However, their best was yet to come. It did against FPX, as Vizicsacsi’s Cho’Gath Ruptures took over when the laning phase ended. With Humanoid neutralizing Doinb’s Galio, and with Kobbe and Norskeren’s Xayah-Rakan duo wreaking havoc from the laning phase onward, Splyce cruised to a slow, one-sided victory. Their methodical objective focus (around towers and Baron Nashor) and their team fight execution spiraled into a 34:14 victory, with 20 kills to 9 and 11 turrets to 1.
Following that win, Splyce held their fates in their hands: with a victory over GAM Esports, they would play a tiebreaker for first place. Failure to do so would instead push them to a less desirable tiebreaker scenario for the second seed.
The game started poorly for the European players as their inability to shut down Zeros’s Fiora, and GAM’s successful early-game ganks in the bot lane set them behind by 4k gold and two towers (4 towers to 2) at the 23-minute mark. However, Xerxe’s Qiyana ultimates turned the tides in crucial team fights: at Baron Nashor at the 23rd minute mark to secure Baron Nashor and stall the game, at Splyce’s pathway to Baron Nashor on the 30th minute to contest an overzealous GAM pick attempt, and at the 32nd minute to secure a 4v5 victory and the game.
Although Splyce eventually wound up in second place, their 3-0 rally and impeccable execution allowed them to turn the page from a botched 1-2 start. As such, they advance to the quarterfinals as an intriguing second seed, one that matches well into passive early-game teams that draft scaling compositions.
LMS and VCS representatives exit Worlds early for the second time in a row
Fate was a cruel mistress for LMS representatives J Team, as their loss to GAM Esports in Day 4 led to their elimination. Had they won that game, they would have forced Splyce and FunPlus Phoenix into a three-way tie in Group B. Instead, they lost the final (and qualifying) game against FPX with regrets, and went home as Flash Wolves did in 2018. J Team's elimination is all the more heartbreaking as they entered Day 5 with a 2-1 record, and as their Worlds playoff qualification chances were in their hands till the end—their game against FPX.
In truth, the situation that unfolded is a repeat of 2018's Group A, where Phong Vu Buffalo indirectly eliminated Flash Wolves. Flash Wolves' chances were drastically altered after a defeat to PVB, as they played G2 Esports for that group's second seed instead of qualifying outright. In the end, the VCS and LMS representatives dropped out from the same group—a situation that has repeated itself.
As for GAM Esports, their participation at the World Championship ended in disappointment. However, Vietnam’s evolution in League of Legends was visible through their play, as they resorted to standard team fighting compositions instead of the cheese tactics that nearly took them to the 2017 World Championship quarterfinals. Although they ended 1-5 in Group B, they may go home with their heads held high, and focus on improving for the 2020 season.
It's D-Day! The League of Legends Worlds 2019 Grand Finals just ended with the win of FunPlus Phoenix. G2 Esports failed to achieve the Grand Slam, and lost 0-3 while facing the LPL champions.