In November 2018, a new Chinese League of Legends team emerged in the LPL led by legendary Star Horn Royal Club mid laner Lei “Corn” Chen.
The team, named Victory Five, had mostly unknown and untested players in the other roles, leading to poor results in their first few splits.
But after finishing three splits out of the playoff race and setting a winless record during the 2020 Spring Split, V5 look stronger than ever this summer. They delivered the first loss to an undefeated Top Esports and maintained a top-four placement in the 2020 LPL Summer Split regular season.
What changed within the organization to go from a last-place finish to a top-four placement in just a couple of months?
The OG V5 players
When the team first joined the LPL, it was led by former world-renowned mid laner Corn. He left the organization after one split alongside the top laner, jungle, and support. After a poor 13th-place Spring Split in 2019, V5 looked to reform, building around substitute jungler Tu “Ben4” Xin-Cheng and ADC Wang “y4” Nong-mo.
After their performance only slightly improved in the 2019 Summer Split, finishing 12th instead of 13th, the team went through a restructuring period once again, with previous-substitute jungler Ben4 leaving and only y4 remaining.
Y4 remained with the team even after the disastrous results of the 2020 LPL Spring Split, in which they managed to only win one game. But despite this single match victory, the team failed to win a series throughout the split.
The victorious roster
Split after split, the organization kept changing its players in most positions. Even though the roster retained two core players from the squad that had a 0-17 series record in the Spring Split, they’ve looked stronger than ever.
Y4 has been playing with mid laner Li “Mole” Hao-Yan since the 2019 Summer Split. While Mole did go through a couple of role swaps in the top lane and briefly in the jungle, he settled as the mid laner of V5.
The pair didn’t find much success in previous splits, but in the current Summer Split, they look on par with other top-tier mid and bottom laners. Better draft phases, less risky plays, and superior shot-calling from the team contributed to their impressive performances.
Prior to the 2020 Summer Split, the organization acquired three mostly-unknown players: top laner Yu “Biubiu” Lei-Xin and jungler Wei “Weiwei” Bo-Han from Suning and support Guo “ppgod” Peng from FunPlus Phoenix. All three of these players had mediocre results on their previous teams, with ppgod sitting on the bench since FPX fielded world champion Crisp for the role.
The birth of world champion ppgod
Ppgod was mostly an unknown support for the main LPL scene, having started his professional career in 2018. He joined FunPlus Phoenix and remained with the organization for almost two years before joining the V5 roster.
During his time on FPX, ppgod had decent performances, but his team had mediocre finishes across the board: ninth in the 2019 Spring Split, 11th in the following Summer Split, and seventh in the 2020 Spring Split. Most teams wouldn’t even take a look at acquiring players from the development league after such poor placements, but V5 saw something in him.
He’s been playing phenomenally since joining V5, showing impressive performances on Thresh and Bard, with whom he has an 80-percent win rate, according to data from gol.gg. He’s been leading the LPL kill participation chart out of all supports who have played more than one game in the Summer Split at 74 percent.
If you’re not convinced by his win rate, then you definitely need to see his game-winning hooks and ultimates during V5’s wins. He’s been crucial in most of their wins, boasting high presence rates across the entire map and securing vision for his team. Even though he’s only ninth in wards per minute at 1.66, that’s usually due to the higher game time in most of their wins compared to other top-tier teams who have constant 20-minute games.
2020 Summer Split performance
V5 had a great start to the split and maintained their performance throughout the entire regular season, securing a playoff spot as the fifth seed in the LPL Summer Split. They started the season with dominant wins over most LPL teams, finishing the first round robin at 6-2. They carried that momentum into the second round robbin, finishing the season with an overall 11-5 record.
This gave them a safe playoff spot. They’ll begin their playoff path in the first round against the former world champions, FPX. While the odds last split would be in favor of FPX, the recent performance of FPX leaves a lot to be desired. V5 have a clear shot at advancing to the next round to face Suning and could then finish the upper-bracket matches with the most challenging opponent, Top Esports.
Leading neutral objective control
V5 as a team have issues to fix if they want to get better, but neutral objective control isn’t one of them. According to data from Oracle’s Elixir, the team is:
- Second in dragon control (58 percent), with Top Esports in first at 60 percent.
- Second in Baron control (70 percent), with JD Gaming in first at 74 percent.
- Third at jungle control (54.1 percent), with first and second place tied at 54.2 percent
These metrics show that the team has a great presence in the jungle. All V5 players respond to invades into the enemy jungle or to counter-invades. They also have great dragon and Baron control and prioritize these objectives over kills, towers, or farm.
The average game time for V5 is the shortest in the LPL at 29.6 minutes per game. While other teams have constant 20-minute games, they also have plenty of 40 to 50-minute matches. V5 are consistent in this regard, having both wins and losses at around the same point in the mid-game.
What’s next for the V5 squad?
Before we get on the hype train and say that V5 will win Worlds, we need to consider if they can qualify for it. They’ll have a couple of opportunities, though.
V5 could accrue enough Championship Points, which will be difficult since they have zero points compared to other top teams. JD Gaming lead the chart with 60, while Top Esports are in second with 40 points.
They could win the upper bracket of the Regional Finals to participate in the Worlds main event. Without top teams that will automatically qualify either by winning the Summer Split or by points, this seems like a plausible possibility for V5.
V5 could also win the lower bracket of the Regional Finals to participate in the Worlds play-in stage. With three fewer top teams, this seems like the most possible scenario for this emerging roster.
While the odds of making their first appearance at the World Championship are against them due to poor results in the Spring Split, V5 have a chance to qualify for the tournament. With Riot Games announcing a possible “bubble system” for Worlds, all V5 fans can do now is wait to see how the squad performs in the postseason to determine whether they’ll participate in the biggest League event of the year.
V5 will start their playoff run against FPX on Thursday, Aug. 13 at 4am CT.
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