LPL Semifinal Preview – FunPlus Phoenix vs JD Gaming
With the conclusion of the match between Invictus Gaming and Top Esports, the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) 2020 Spring split now has its first finalist. Top Esports finally overcomes Invictus Gaming and Wen-Bo “JackeyLove” Yu exacts his revenge against his former teammates. Now TES awaits their last opponent, to be determined by the semifinal on the other side of the bracket. Will Top Esports have to face another World Champion with the flight of FunPlus Phoenix, or will they meet another newcomer to the LPL throne in JD Gaming.
Equal by all metrics
FunPlux Phoenix have a lot of hopes riding on their wings. The current World Champions and defending LPL champions, FPX have had a rockier year than they’d have hoped coming off their 2019 triumphs. The organization finished as first in the regular season of both 2019 Spring and 2019 Summer, so a third place standing at the end of the 2020 Spring regular season is an underwhelming start for a squad with such high aspirations. Still, an overall match record of 12-4 (game record of 27-13) is nothing to sneeze at, and the team has largely stabilized with the reintegration of top laner Han-saem “GimGoon” Kim after a rocky start with Dong-ha “Khan” Kim.
Mid laner Tae-sang “Doinb” Kim and jungler Tian-Liang “Tian” Gao remain a terrifying duo around the mid lane with potent shoving, roaming and diving that has become the cornerstone of modern League of Legends. Doinb in particular remains a steadfast presence with his “dark technology” that utilizes his game knowledge to exploit every micro-advantage in any match-up, a consistency that awarded him as one of the joint MVPs of the LPL 2020 Spring season.
FPX 2-0 LNG
— FunPlus PhoeniX (@FPX_Esports) April 7, 2020
Bot laner Wei-Xiang “Lwx” Lin is also adept at holding his own in the lane to unlock the potential of his star Support Qing-Song “Crisp” Liu to similarly roam and exert strong map pressure and vision control. This methodical, map-wide style that is built around the team’s strong coordination and objective control will continue to form the backbone of FPX heading into this semifinal.
JD Gaming is thus well-suited to undermine FPX. The second seed sports an identical 12-4 match record but a superior 26-10 map record. They depart from LPL traditions with their star players being in the normally supportive positions of Jungler and Support. Jin-hyeok “Kanavi” Seo has emerged from his controversy-ridden time with Griffin in 2019 with much aplomb. His return to and official joining of JD Gaming in the LPL has seen him soar to new heights with impressive performances that saw him as the other LPL 2020 Spring MVP, matching Doinb with 13 “Man of the Match” awards. Alongside him, Ming-Hao “LvMao” Zuo stands out as one of the most talented Supports in the entire Chinese region, and upon whom much of the early-game success rests.
— JD Gaming (@JDGaming) April 22, 2020
The crucial match-up, however, is in the top lane. Xing-Ran “Zoom” Zhang has good claim to the title of “Best Top Laner in the LPL” and by extension the best top laner in the world. The long-time JDG top laner is demonstrating new peaks in his career with an outstanding split that should be an interesting head-to-head against either FPX top laner. Khan is more likely to outplay Zoom on skill match-ups, but his variable performance and resource-heavy playstyle could prove disruptive to FPX’s larger strategy. GimGoon is stable and can lose lane gracefully, but his smaller champion pool and inability to match Zoom in mechanical ability could become a problem in the mid-game if the JDG top laner becomes too powerful for anyone on FPX to contend against.
It will be an intense series that is likely to become a highlight of the 2020 Spring season. The match will take place on Monday, 27 April, at 2am PST/11am CET. The English stream can be viewed on the LPL Twitch channel or the LPL English YouTube channel.
This article was contributed by Michael Jeong. Twitter: Michael4Jeong