The LoL Pro League (LPL) continues on with week seven of the 2020 Summer Split. Victory Five continued their Cinderella season by becoming the first team to give Top Esports a loss, while FunPlus Phoenix are in trouble after another 0-2 week. We take a look at where things stand in the LPL by looking at the top storylines so far in China.
VICTORY FIVE HAND TOP ESPORTS FIRST LOSS
Top Esports entered week seven 8-0, winners of the Mid-Season Cup, and looked to be the undisputed best team in the world. Zhuo “knight” Ding has a claim to be the best mid in the world, Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo has the same at ADC, and the rest of the team isn’t bad, either. You may have heard of their jungler, Hung “Karsa” Hao-Hsuan, as one of the best players to ever come from the LMS. In a league full of stacked rosters, it’s hard to argue any team is more stacked than Top Esports.
On the other side, we had Victory Five. An incredible story to begin the Summer, Victory Five improved from a 0-16 Spring Split — one in which they won only one total game — into a 7-2 contender in the LPL. They replaced four players in their starting lineup and all of their coaching staff. It was a total rebuild, retaining only the multi-talented Li “Mole” Hao-Yan, a player so good that he could legitimately play all five roles on an LPL team. It would almost be too good to be true for a team that was the worst in LPL history only months ago to upset what looked to be an unstoppable juggernaut.
🔴V5 vs. TES Highlights
In one of the highly anticipated matchups of the week, V5 defeats top-seeded TES in an upset victory. Check out the power plays, Baron throws, and multi-kill highlights in the crazy back-and-forth match!
— LPL (@lplenglish) July 15, 2020
Victory Five pulled off the improbable and upset Top Esports 2-1 to shake up the top of the standings. It started with a dominant effort from their jungler Wei “WeiWei” Bo-Han in game one. WeiWei was everywhere and involved in every play, snowballing V5 to an early lead. His Graves went 7/0/11, participating in 18 of 19 kills for V5. Lee “Samd” Jae-hoon and Guo “ppgod” Peng also picked on Liang “yuyanjia” Jia-Yuan, resulting in him going 0/7/3 on Nautilus.
Top Esports bounced back for a similarly one-sided game two. Knight’s Cassiopeia hard-carried this one, going 10/0/3 and accounting for more than half of his team’s 16 kills. Knight was more than 5k gold ahead of Mole at the end of the game and dealt almost 40% of his team’s total damage.
Victory Five were able to pull off the upset by recovering with a game three win. Yu “Biubiu” Lei-Xin got a favorable Kayle matchup into Bai “369” Jia-Hao’s Ornn, allowing him to scale up to level 16 and get his core items. Biubiu (22.7k) and Samd (26.8k) led the match in damage dealt and sent TES to their first loss in the 17 kill to 11 win.
It was another piece of evidence that Victory Five are one of the top contenders in the LPL. At this point we can safely throw out their Spring performance completely and focus only on the Summer. In Summer, V5 have only lost two close matches to LGD Gaming and FunPlus Phoenix — while beating Top Esports. They have two more opportunities to earn quality wins against Invictus Gaming and Suning in week eight.
FUNPLUS PHOENIX ARE IN TROUBLE
The 2019 World Champions are in trouble. After losses to Vici Gaming and Top Esports dropped FunPlus Phoenix to 5-4 after week six, FPX had the benefit of playing Rogue Warriors to open week seven. Even though RW had just picked up their first win of the season over Dominus Esports in week six, they were still at the bottom of the standings and were considered one of the weakest teams in the LPL. However, that may change after week seven.
FPX 0-2 RW
— FunPlus PhoeniX (@FPX_Esports) July 17, 2020
FPX not only lost to Rogue Warriors, they got beat 2-0. RW needed only nine kills to take game one, crashing through FPX’s base without having to kill any FPX members. Kim “Khan” Dong-ha’s Renekton was not impressive, going 2/4/5 and dealing only 8k damage in the loss. Mei “ZWuJi” Hong-Hui’s Varus was named the game MVP for his game-high 29.9k damage.
After a close defeat to the hands of one of the worst teams in the league, FPX responded by getting blown out of game two. Khan’s Ornn went 0/6/4, ZWuJi and Le “Ley” Yi crushed FPX’s once dependable bot lane, and FPX lost 23 kills to 5 in only 28 minutes. Chen “Haro” Wen-Lin’s Lee Sin was named game MVP after he went 9/1/9 and jungled circles around Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang.
FPX followed that defeat up with a less surprising, but similarly disappointing 2-0 loss to Spring champions JD Gaming. JDG needed only 29 minutes in both games and was not threatened in either contest. Khan’s Gangplank played well into Zhang “Zoom” Xing-Ran’s Ornn in game one, but his Wukong was picked on in game two. Tian’s Volibear got crushed in game two by Spring MVP Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok’s 8/2/10 Graves. Lee “LokeN” Dong-wook and Zuo “LvMao” Ming-Hao were the better bot lane all series long. There really were no positives from FPX to take away from this series, either.
With that in mind, it has to be getting harder and harder for FPX to stop from making a change in top lane. Khan has been and remains a stronger individual top laner than Kim “GimGoon” Han-saem, but FPX doesn’t look like the same team with Khan in the starting lineup. FPX regained their mojo in the Spring Split after GimGoon replaced Khan in the lineup, though Khan returned and played well in the third-place game and at the Mid-Season Cup.
Still, you have to consider that FPX are 23-11 with GimGoon in 2020, compared to 29-26 with Khan. GimGoon is the ultimate sacrificial top laner, a modern day Dyrus who will take hit after hit in lane but still end up being useful to the team later. Khan offers the potential for more, but FPX have not been able to consistently integrate him into their team. FPX have been at their best when they have a strong 2v2 mid with Kim “Doinb” Tae-Sang and Tian, while giving their bot lane a playable lane matchup.
FPX will have to decide quickly if they want to make a change. There are only three weeks left in the regular season and FPX are currently out of the playoff picture at 5-6. They are only a half game out of eighth place, but there are so many teams fighting for the final few spots. FPX will face Oh My God and EDward Gaming in week eight.
ROGUE WARRIORS SHOW LIFE
After week six, we wrote about how the Rogue Warriors’ first win could be crucial for their confidence. It weighs heavily on teams and their players when they have nothing to show for their hard work, especially as the losses mount. Even though they beat Dominus Esports, and even though it took three games, the victory still mattered. Sure, they had no chance to make the playoffs, but it could definitely aid the development process, right?
— Rogue Warriors (@EsportRw) July 17, 2020
But after Rogue Warriors picked up a pair of dominant wins in week seven, maybe it’s too early to write off the Rogue Warriors in 2020. Their dominant 2-0 effort over FunPlus Phoenix, no matter how much FPX are struggling, has to mean something. RW have also definitely found a preferred starting lineup, continuing with the same starting five that picked up the first series win over Dominus Esports.
Rogue Warriors preceded that shocking sweep of FunPlus Phoenix with a shocking sweep of LGD Gaming. Haro’s Graves (5/0/8) and Wang “Wuming” Xin’s Galio (9/0/6) dominated game one, giving RW a 19 kill to 7 win in 39 minutes. They both ran back the same champions in game two, playing similarly well. Haro went 4/1/5 on Graves, while Wuming went 5/1/6 on Galio to earn back-to-back game MVPs, his first two on the season. Ley chipped in with a 0/0/11 effort on Braum to complete the sweep and perfect week.
The biggest change for Rogue Warriors has been finally getting their mid and jungle duo synergy down. Wuming and Haro played together to end the Spring Season, but they had yet to start together in Summer until the DMO series. Now, the pair just played respected veterans Han “Peanut” Wang-ho and Su “xiye” Han-Wei and made them look silly.
Rogue Warriors are still only 3-8 on the season, but they are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. They have five games left on the season, so the best they could get to is 8-8. Both 8-8 teams in Spring, Royal Never Give Up and Team WE, made the playoffs. The league is similarly top heavy in Summer, so 8-8 would probably do it for RW. They just have to get there. They have a match against the 3-8 eStar in week eight.
Top Esports remain in first after their loss to Victory Five, but they are getting closed down by JD Gaming. Suning and Team WE are making strong charges to finish in the top four, while Vici Gaming have slid down after losses to JD Gaming and Top Esports.
Dominus Esports are now alone in last place after Rogue Warriors picked up two more victories. Two expected contenders — FunPlus Phoenix and Royal Never Give Up — are a half game out of the playoff picture at 5-6.
LOOKING AHEAD: LPL WEEK EIGHT
Friday, July 24th – 2 a.m. PST: Victory Five vs. Suning
Nobody had this game circled on the calendar to start the Summer Split, but these are two of the better teams in the LPL. Biubiu, Weiwei, and Samd all came from the Suning organization, so this will be an important matchup for them. Tang “huanfeng” Huan-Feng is one of the better ADCs in the LPL, but he’ll have a tough time against Samd and ppgod. The winner of this matchup could move into the top four and in position for a bye in the playoffs.
Sunday, July 26th – 4 a.m. PST: Invictus Gaming vs. Top Esports
Top Esports rebounded from their loss to Victory Five with a win over Vici Gaming, but we’ll get to see what happens when they play one of the top teams in Invictus Gaming. It feels like iG have struggled in Summer, but they are once again near the top of the standings. Gao “Ning” Zhen-Ning has played better since Lu “Leyan” Jue was shipped off to Vici Gaming, though Song “Rookie” Eui-jin has still been picking up the slack for Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok. JackeyLove gets another revenge game against his former organization.