LPL Semifinal Preview – Invictus Gaming vs Top Esports
The League of Legends Pro League (LPL) is coming to a close for its 2020 Spring season. Of the starting 17 teams, there are now only four teams left to claim the crown. The semifinals will determine which two teams of the four will take that penultimate step to the top, and which two must settle for a disappointing last showing in the third-place decider.
The first finalist will be either Invictus Gaming or Top Esports. The first and fourth place respectively in the regular season. They both received bye rounds as per the playoffs format. Top Esports skipped the first round of playoffs and began their playoff run in the quarterfinals against the eighth place Team WE. While an on-paper comfortable 3-1 victory for TES, there were more than a few touch-and-go moments in that series. The top half of the map in particular was shaky for TES, with neither top laner Jia-Hao “369” Bai, nor jungler Hao-Hsuan “Karsa” Hung showcasing their expected form. Most of Top Esports’ shining moments of that quarterfinal came from the organization’s face, mid laner Ding “knight” Zhuo, and superstar signing, Wen-Bo “JackeyLove” Yu.
— TOPESPORTS (@TOP_Esports_) April 24, 2020
Top Esports’ opponent is first seed Invictus Gaming: an interesting match-up given how the two teams’ strengths are flipped. The IG bot lane of Zhi-Lin “Southwind” Su and Wang “Puff” Ding are competent enough but do not have that star ability shown by their TES counterparts to completely overtake the game if given an opportunity to do so, and Southwind in particular has shown weakness in lane against many other Supports.
To contrast, IG’s mid lane and top half are fearsome foes no matter the situation, and more than what 369 or Karsa can be expected to handle with their current form. TheShy is regarded as one of the most, if not the most, mechanically talented players in the world who can afford to play on the edge at all times because even when put behind, he always find a way to come back and make an impact.
For IG’s jungler, it is likely to be Jue “Leyan” Lu, whose more balanced style of play helps to round out the team and facilitate the star solo lanes. This would also bring the stability that keeps IG in the game until the critical team fights that often serve as Invictus’ path to victory. However, if needed, IG can still bring out Zhen-Ning “Ning” Gao in the jungle, with his hyper-aggressive coin flip style of play that raises the team’s mechanical level at the expense of becoming much more volatile.
IG’s Rookie is having a quieter season thus far, compared to his career highs. However, his skill cannot be ignored and threat undermined. It’s worth noting that historically, even when in full-on slumps of performance, Rookie has always gotten the better of Knight, to the extent that Knight has in fact never beaten Rookie in a professional match.
This semifinal has another personal stake involved beyond Knight’s personal wall that is Rookie. Top Esports’ bot laner, JackeyLove, was previously on Invictus Gaming until the end of the 2019 season. In fact, Invictus Gaming’s greatest accomplishments champions were done with TheShy, Rookie and JackeyLove in the on the roster. This match provides an opportunity for JackeyLove to show his old squad that removing him was the wrong decision.
The LPL semifinal will take place on Sunday, 26 April, at 2am PST/11am CET. The English broadcast can be watched on the LPL Twitch channel and the LPL English YouTube channel.
This article was contributed by Michael Jeong. Twitter: Michael4Jeong