This past weekend the long-awaited playoffs stage of the League of Legends 2019 World Championship arrived. Eight teams now remained and would battle it out in the quarter-finals. With the series moving from best of 1 in the group stage to best of 5 now, a wide range of tactics could now be played by each team. With 3 European, 3 Korean and 2 Chinese teams left, which region would hold the upper hand heading into semis?
Quarter-Final #1 – Griffin vs. Invictus Gaming
Coming into the event, this matchup would have been deemed as an entertaining match but always in Invictus’ favour. However, with how groups played out, the series had the potential to be turned on its head. Invictus had essentially scrapped through in Group D in 2nd seed whereas Griffin defeated MSI champions, G2, to finish first in their group.
The outcome of this match was up in the air purely because of how groups finished. With this being said, the teams were given almost a full week to reset and prepare for the match. It was clear that Invictus had a glimpse of failure and quickly turned things around. They stormed into a commanding 2-0 lead in the series before Griffin were able to answer back. Ultimately Invictus were too strong for Griffin, taking the series 3-1.
I think it’s important to note Griffin are notorious for losing 3-0 in playoffs so winning a map and putting up more of a fight this time around is a positive outlook for the team and their fans.
Quarter-Final #2 – FunPlus Phoenix (FPX) vs. Fnatic
Now, this was a tasty match, however, you could say it didn’t quite live up to the hype. Coming into the tournament FPX were favourites to dominate their group and make a convincing playoff run. Whereas Fnatic were Europe’s 2nd seed and got locked in a group of death. FPX stumbled in groups and Fnatic pulled off a fantastic 3-0 final day defeating both SKT and RNG to advance to playoffs.
Following those victories, a lot of faith was put into the Fnatic roster. This combined with slip-ups FPX, this series had the potential to go down to the wire with a potential upset. The hype was shut down when FPX found themselves leading 2-0 pretty swiftly. Fnatic answered back with a quick but it was too little too late. FPX took the series 3-1 which sets up an all Chinese semi-final.
Quarter-Final #3 – SK Telecom T1 (SKT) vs. Splyce
Out of all the quarter-finals, this was the only one deemed to have a clear winner. With Korea’s best facing off against Europe’s 3rd seed, the odds really weren’t in Splyce’s favour. This being said, the European squad put in a strong performance, don’t let the end result fool you.
The “obvious” winner ended up being true, SKT won the series 3-1 but they didn’t have it too easy. Despite winning the first two maps, they lost the early game to Splyce. Splyce showed their full potential in the 3rd map where they picked up a win but it wasn’t enough. The glaring issue for Splyce is their mid-game performance, if they can get that fixed now with having more experience, they could be a true threat in EU next year.
Quarter-Final #4 – G2 Esports vs. DAMWON Gaming
DAMWON had an incredibly strong performance in group stages and surprised everyone when they topped the group. Keep in mind, both Invictus and Liquid were in the same group. Meanwhile, G2 started 5-0 in their group but a slip against Griffin seen them finish 5-1 and lose the tiebreaker for 1st place.
The 3-1 score-line doesn’t do this series any justice at all. It was an intense battle the entire way. Every map breached the 30-minute mark and I think it’s fair to say neither team blew the other off the map early on. I believe a lack of experience would be the reason DAMWON wasn’t able to continue their success here but have plenty of potential for future events. G2 advance to the semi-finals.
Invictus Gaming vs. FunPlus Phoenix at 11:00 BST on November 2nd
The all Chinse semi-final is here and it should be an excellent series of League of Legends. Invictus are the reigning World Champions from 2018 and FPX came into the event as the #1 seed from China, keen to take the crown from Invictus. I fully expect this series to go down to the wire with some insanely intense matches. China is guaranteed to make it’s return to the World Championship Grand Final.
G2 Esports vs. SK Telecom T1 at 11:00 BST on November 3rd
Europe’s #1 against Korea’s #1, we really couldn’t ask for a better match up if I’m honest. The winner of this series will go on to battle China’s finest in the Grand Final. The big question around this series is will Caps finally be able to get the better of Faker, or will the Korean superstar take his region to more success again.