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LPL Summer 2019 Week 9: Can JD Gaming Make Playoffs?

Mike Plant | 
Opportunities are dwindling for JD Gaming to turn their LPL season around. (Image via JD Gaming)

Opportunities are dwindling for JD Gaming to turn their LPL season around. (Image via JD Gaming)

We’ve wrapped up week nine of the LoL Pro League (LPL) 2019 Summer Season. Top Esports beat Royal Never Give Up 2-1 to earn the head-to-head advantage, while JD Gaming are in real danger of missing the playoffs after losses to Rogue Warriors and LGD Gaming. Let’s look at where things stand so far in the 2019 LPL Summer Season by looking at the top storylines so far in China.

WEEK NINE STANDINGS

Overall Match Score / Overall Game Score

  1. FunPlus Phoenix (11-1) / (23-4)
  2. Royal Never Give Up (10-2) / (21-6)
  3. Top Esports (10-2) / (21-7)
  4. Bilibili Gaming (9-4) / (19-12)
  5. Suning (8-4) / (18-10)
  6. EDward Gaming (7-5) / (16-11)
  7. Invictus Gaming (7-5) / (17-17)
  8. LNG Esports (7-7) / (17-17)
  9. Team WE (6-7) / (15-17)
  10. JD Gaming (5-8) / (14-17)
  11. Dominus Esports (5-8) / (13-19)
  12. Victory Five (5-8) / (12-19)
  13. Rogue Warriors (4-8) / (10-19)
  14. LGD Gaming (3-9) / (10-20)
  15. Oh My God (2-11) / (7-23)
  16. Vici Gaming (1-11) / (7-22)

CAN JD GAMING MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?

The schedule looked ripe for JD Gaming to make the playoffs despite their poor start. Rogue Warriors and LGD Gaming brought a combined 5-15 record into week 9, and Oh My God loomed as another pushover in week 10. Even with a loss to Royal Never Give Up in their season finale, JD Gaming would have a good shot to make the playoffs at 8-7 in the regular season.

But instead of taking care of business, JD Gaming laid an egg. A stunning 0-2 loss to Rogue Warriors led to an even more stunning 1-2 loss to LGD Gaming. Instead of cruising to eight wins, JD Gaming are now guaranteed to finish below .500 and still have to play RNG to end the season. Can they even make the playoffs now?

Looking back at the Spring Split standings, things appear bleak for JD Gaming. They were the eighth and final seed in the field at 9-6, while an 8-7 Bilibili Gaming were left on the outside looking in. Even though JD Gaming are only a game and a half behind LNG Esports, they would still also have to close the gap to Team WE or another current top-eight team to make the playoffs.

This is also assuming JD Gaming win against Oh My God and Royal Never Give Up, which is looking less and less likely as the season has progressed. Though not mathematically eliminated, JD Gaming need a near-miracle to make the playoffs after their latest cold patch.

That said, nobody expected JD Gaming to make a run from the quarterfinals all the way to the Finals against Invictus Gaming in the Spring Playoffs. Time will tell if they have another miracle in them in 2019.

TOP ESPORTS TOP RNG IN BATTLE FOR SECOND SEED

In a match that has playoff seeding implications, Top Esports beat Royal Never Give Up 2-1 to inch closer to the second seed in the LPL. RNG still hold the upper hand with the better game record (21-6 to 21-7), but Top Esports now own the head-to-head tiebreaker if they can even up the game score in the last two weeks of regular season play.

Zhuo “Knight9” Ding was his usual dominant self in the series, proving that Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao is no match for him, even when playing at his best. Knight9 controlled TOP’s game 1 win with a 4/1/6 performance on Sylas, keeping Xiaohu’s Corki from making an impact. After a great game 2 by Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao and Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming evened the series up, Knight9 secured the series win for Top Esports with an excellent Zoe performance. His bubbles were on point and he finished a strong 3/1/10 for 13 of 14 kill participation.

Though he has been slumping for the majority of the Summer Season, Bai “369” Jia-Hao had his best performance in weeks against Xie “Langx” Zhen-Ying. Getting the counter picks in games 1 and 3, 369 was able to use scaling carries to have a larger impact on the game than Langx. 369’s Gangplank in game 1 offered a global ultimate, while being able to answer the split push threat from Langx’s Aatrox. Then his Jax in game 3 was able to shut down Langx’s Renekton as a strong lane counter, though Langx was also ignored as RNG tried a protect-the-Uzi composition with their backs against the wall.

Speaking of that, it’s interesting to see new coach Chou “Steak” Lu-Hsi opt into that strategy during the regular season. Maybe he was just seeing how it would play out against a good team, but it is worrying that RNG could fall back into old habits when they are tested. It didn’t work against G2 Esports in the 2018 World Championship, and it’s unlikely to get them where they want to go in 2019.

RNG have tough games against Invictus Gaming, Bilibili Gaming, and JD Gaming to end the season. Top Esports will face EDward Gaming and Oh My God before a season-finale showdown with current top seed FunPlus Phoenix.

BILIBILI GAMING LOCK UP PLAYOFF BERTH

Bilibili Gaming became the fourth LPL team to secure a playoff berth after wins over Invictus Gaming and Rogue Warriors in week 9. At 9-4, Bilibili Gaming has already surpassed their win total of 8 during the Spring Season. Their 8-7 record saw them fall a game short of earning a playoff bid.

Bilibili Gaming kept their roster mostly intact, replacing only their support Peng “Mni” Fang with Li “XinMo” Qian-Xi for the Summer Season. XinMo has been an excellent addition from the LDL, performing well on the tankier supports like Tahm Kench and Braum. His 4.17 KDA ranks sixth in the LPL among supports who have played at least 20 games.

You wouldn’t consider any of their players at the top of their role in the LPL, but they are all solid across the board. Lee “Kuro” Seo-haeng and Kang “ADD” Geon-mo can hold their own in lane, Xie “Jinjiao” Jin-Shan has shown good synergy with XinMo, and Zeng “Meteor” Guo-Hao is the one to set the tempo.

The question for Bilibili Gaming will be how well they can play in the games that matter most after they faded at the end of the Spring Season. Playoffs are secured, but the team will have bigger aspirations than flaming out early. They play LGD Gaming and Royal Never Give Up to end the season as they try to secure top-four and a playoff bye in the playoffs.

LOOKING AHEAD: WEEK 10

Saturday, August 10: Royal Never Give Up versus Invictus Gaming

Both teams are coming off losses and have question marks surrounding them as they head toward the stretch run. Invictus Gaming are an even 17-17 in game record this season and — outside of their win over FunPlus Phoenix — haven’t shown many glimpses that they are close to recapturing their elite form. Royal Never Give Up must prove they can beat without resorting to a protect-the-Uzi comp in a meta that doesn’t favor it.

Sunday, August 11: Suning versus FunPlus Phoenix

Suning are a win away from cementing their spot in the playoff field at 9-4, while FunPlus Phoenix can inch their way closer to a double bye in the playoffs with a win. The swap from Yu “Biubiu” Lei-Xin to Xiang “Angel” Tao has paid off for Suning, but Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang is a handful for whichever solo laner Suning chooses to send against him.

Wednesday, August 14: Royal Never Give Up versus Bilibili Gaming

Two playoff teams fight for positioning as the regular season winds down. RNG have the more gifted side mechanically, but Bilibili Gaming have shown the better team fighting and map play. This will be an interesting clash in styles that should give more insight into the true challengers for the LPL Summer crown.

Mike Plant
Michael Plant has been playing League of Legends since 2010 and analyzing it nearly as long. More recently, he's been interested in the developing PUBG and Fortnite scenes. When he's not playing or watching video games, he's more than likely following one of his Houston sports teams.
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