LPL Week One: Victory Five Win First Match in 2020
The LoL Pro League (LPL) is back with the 2020 Summer Split. Though it was an abbreviated week one, the opening matches did not lack excitement. Victory Five pulled off a shocker to win their first match of 2020, while Royal Never Give Up showed they can still win without Uzi. We take a look at where things stand in the LPL by looking at the top story lines so far in China.
VICTORY FIVE WIN FIRST MATCH IN 2020
Victory Five were bad in the Spring Split. So bad, in fact, that their winless season became the first in the history of the LPL. Not only that, but they also had the worst game record (1-32) and longest losing streak (23) in league history. Things weren’t just bad, they were so bad that we had to wonder if they could even win a game in the Summer, let alone a match.
Those fears are over after Victory Five opened the season with an emphatic 2-0 win over Dominus Esports. Of their 10-man roster, V5 debuted with four new starters in top laner Yu “Biubiu” Lei-Xin, jungler Wei “Weiwei” Bo-Han, ADC Lee “Samd” Jae-hoon, and support Guo “ppgod” Peng. Only mid laner Li “Mole” Hao-Yan continued on as a starter from Spring.
The new group instantly showed better synergy. They could be seen diving DMO underneath their turrets without hesitation, pulling the trigger on plays with nothing to lose. While that’s what you’d like to see out of any team, it was impressive to see that V5’s Spring failures were not weighing them down. Instead, the players embraced the opportunity to turn the organization around.
Back on his native jungle role, Weiwei brought a sense of purpose to the jungle that V5 had been lacking. He controlled the tempo of both games and finished a combined 6/1/27. Samd played the role of the main carry, debuting with a combined 14/3/18 score on two Kalista games.
It does need to be noted that Dominus Esports are expected to be one of the weakest teams in the league. They placed 14th in the Spring Split and then lost three of their top players in the break before Summer. If there was any candidate to unseat V5 as the worst team in the league, DMO was it.
Still, V5 will take any win they can get, especially in such a dominant fashion. They’ve already doubled their game win total and exceeded their match win total from Spring. There’s nothing more they could ask for one week into the season.
BETTY SHINES POST-UZI RETIREMENT
Waves of sadness swept through China and the rest of the world as Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao announced his retirement before the Summer Split. The most accomplished ADC of all-time, nobody can replace Uzi. Though he never conquered the World Championship, he built on the earlier disappointments in his career and ushered in the golden age of Chinese League of Legends by capturing the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational.
Unfortunately, Royal Never Give Up must move on from their franchise icon. Following a legend can be overwhelming, but RNG’s ADC Lu “Betty” Yu-Hung already got a split under his belt as Uzi unsuccessfully attempted to resolve his medical issues. As much as fans were hoping for the return of Uzi, Betty proved he can perform well in China and can be counted on as a starter going forward.
Betty reiterated that point with a great showing in RNG’s first match against Oh My God. With Uzi himself looking on, Betty went 8/0/4 in his first game and picked up a pentakill. Even if OMG’s Xie “icon” Tian-Yu handed it to him on a silver platter, Betty showed again how he can capitalize on his opportunities. Betty followed it up with a 3/2/12 on a second Miss Fortune game to give RNG a quick 2-0 in their first post-Uzi match.
Though most of the scrutiny will fall on Betty, he won’t be alone in helping RNG move on from Uzi. RNG have two long-time members in mid laner Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao and Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming to carry on RNG’s 2018 legacy while ushering in a new era. Xiaohu even got the unexpected start over eStar acquisition Yuan “Cryin” Cheng-Wei in the opening series.
RNG will look to continue their early momentum with matches against Vici Gaming and LNG Esports in week two.
SUNING FIRST TO 2-0
Though they missed the playoffs in the Spring Split and finished in 11th place, Suning were one of the teams that were in the mix until the very last weekend. They opted to keep their same starting lineup heading into the Summer Split, instead overhauling their support staff. That combination of moves has paid off in giving Suning the first 2-0 start to the season.
Suning opened with a 2-0 sweep of LNG Esports. LNG Esports took small leads for the first 15 minutes of both games, but Suning turned it on in the mid game to win the games 13 kills to 6 and 15 kills to 5. Young star top laner Chen “Bin” Ze-Bin went deathless in the series, combining to go 6/0/14 on Aatrox and Wukong. ADC Tang “huanfeng” Huan-Feng cleaned up the rest, going 11/2/8 on Ezreal and Aphelios.
Suning followed that up with an impressive 2-1 series win over Team WE. After the teams played to a 1-1 draw, Lê “SofM” Quang Duy put on a carry Graves performance in the decider to push Suning to the win. SofM finished 12/1/6 in Suning’s tough 24 kill to 11 win in 40 minutes.
Beating LNG won’t win you any prizes, but Suning’s win over Team WE could be very important for their playoff chances this split. Considering that seven teams — including Suning and Team WE — finished within a match of each other, even week one matches can be crucial to push for the postseason. Suning face very difficult matches against JD Gaming and Invictus Gaming in week two.
LOOKING AHEAD: LPL WEEK TWO
Wednesday, June 10th – 4 a.m. PST: Suning vs. JD Gaming
The only team to start 2-0 in week one gets a matchup against the Spring Split champions JD Gaming. JD Gaming looked shaky in their semifinals loss to FunPlus Phoenix at the Mid-Season Cup, but they return a dominant lineup headlined by Zhang “Zoom” Xing-Ran and Spring MVP Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok. As one of China’s great up-and-coming top laners, Bin’s matchup with Zoom will be the one to watch in this one.
Sunday, June 14th – 4 a.m. PST: JD Gaming vs. Top Esports
We won’t have to wait long to get a rematch of the Spring Split finals. JD Gaming got the best of that series, but Top Esports responded by winning the Mid-Season Cup. JDG will need more of the Zeng “Yagao” Qi that can slow Zhuo “knight” Ding from immediately taking over the game, while Top Esports need Hung “Karsa” Hao-Hsuan to control Kanavi. It will be great to see another matchup between the teams with Zoom and Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo fully integrated into their teams.