The LPL’s FunPlus Phoenix dismantled Invictus Gaming in the Worlds 2019 semifinals this morning, usurping the former League of Legends world champions and eliminating them from the tournament. Mid laner Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang now stands tall, eagerly awaiting his next opponent. But who will join him on stage in the finals?
On one hand, there’s SK Telecom T1’s Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, the Unkillable Demon King, the final boss, the best of the best: the greatest League player of all time.
In a career spanning six years, Faker has remained in the upper echelon of competitive play, winning eight domestic titles and blitzing through three world championships. He’s the original playmaker, the most famous player in the game’s history, and one of the biggest names in all esports.
On the other, there’s Rasmus “Caps” Winther—G2 Esports’ 19-year-old mid laner from Denmark.
At last year’s Worlds he was the underdog, but against all the odds, he made it to the finals. He may have lost, crumbling to IG at the last hurdle. But this time it’s different. He’s back, and he’s looking better than ever.
If anyone can take on Faker in the head-to-head matchup—it’s Caps.
All eyes were on Luka “Perkz” Perković in the quarterfinals between G2 and Damwon Gaming. The “MVP” of the series dominated Sin “Nuclear” Jeong-hyeon in the bot lane, racking up a substantial kill-death ratio. But while Perkz was flashing forwards and picking up the kills, Caps was silently pulling the strings and leading the team to the win.
He completely shut down Heo “ShowMaker” Soo and helped facilitate his team with constant pressure in the side lanes. After consistently winning the mid lane matchup and forcing ShowMaker behind his tower, Caps was free to roam across the map, snowballing both the top and the bot side.
In the end, Caps’ performance on Syndra, Ryze, and Yasuo orchestrated the 3-1 victory, allowing the team to convincingly advance to the next stage of the competition. There waits SKT: Faker’s team.
After an impressive group stage in Berlin, Germany—where they dropped just one game to Fnatic—SKT have positioned themselves as the favorites of the tournament. The team has played to their strengths, forcing early game pressure and drafting lane-dominant counter picks—to great success.
Kim “Khan” Dong-ha and Kim “Clid” Tae-min have been exceptional, running rampant across the map and manhandling Splyce in the quarterfinals but superstar mid-laner Faker has left much to be desired.
Matching up against rookie Marek “Humanoid” Brázda, Faker looked uncharacteristically out of his depth; stumbling in the laning phase and failing to make an impact. Even on his comfort pick, Azir, and Ryze, he was reluctant to make plays.
Humanoid took the lead on multiple occasions, resulting in Faker overstaying his welcome, needlessly sacrificing his lane, and getting caught in the river in Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan-esque fashion.
Faker’s famed composure, his consistency, and his playmaking prowess were nowhere to be seen in the best-of-five series. He played scared, opting for a low-risk low-reward playstyle, and finding little luck.
Splyce’s self-inflicted wounds in the top and support positions were enough for SKT to easily clean up, taking the brisk 3-1 victory. But Faker’s poor performance doesn’t bode well for the team.
If Faker lets his guard down in the semifinals and allows Caps to fully exert map pressure, it could be game, set, and match for G2.
Unlike Humanoid, Caps isn’t afraid to make the first move. He’s not intimidated by Faker, and his capacity to duel, roam, and tower dive with his team gives him the advantage in the matchup.
The last time the two met was at MSI in May. SKT narrowly lost the series 3-2, falling one game short of the finals. Caps crushed Faker, exposing his weaknesses, and prematurely kicking him out of the tournament. And he has the chance to do it again this weekend.
But Faker is the face of SKT. He’s the leader, the shot caller, and the mouthpiece for the team. Even if he fails to showcase his mechanical skills, he can still steer the team to the win. He has a winning mentality and if that means sacrificing resources, falling behind in CS, and giving up his lane, he’ll do it.
Whatever the outcome, the winner will pave their way in League of Legends history.