Coming up against fellow LPL representatives JD Gaming in the quarterfinals, regional performance would have suggested Suning as clear underdogs. But their performance against G2 Esports in the group stage saw them enter knockouts as the first-place team, matched-up against a second-place JDG who fell to DAMWON Gaming in their group.
The series was short-lived, and although JDG were able to take a single game, they were no match for a Suning who have looked on impeccable form. Suning’s bot lane have quietly secured their spot as one of the best at the tournament, while their top lane has gained international renown for his aggressive playstyle and frequent solo kills. A combination of three rookies and two imported veterans, Suning come into the semifinals with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Top Esports, however, have had a much less glorious journey to the semifinals. Entering the tournament as the LPL’s No. 1 seed, they had the expectations of a two-time world championship region resting on their shoulders. Those expectations were, for the most part, fulfilled, with the team dropping only a single game in the group stage.
But that game was dropped to none other than the LCS’s second seed FlyQuest, who showed TES up in fantastic style with an absolutely dominating victory. Although their 6-0 dreams had been crushed, they were still clear favorites in their quarterfinal against Fnatic, a series that many expected to be over before it had really even started.
But this was not the case. Despite eventually losing the series in the first reverse sweep in World Championship history, Fnatic exposed some clear weaknesses in TES’s supposedly impenetrable armor. The dream duo of JackeyLove and yuyanjia accrued a total of 18 deaths in two games, with yuyanjia setting a new world record for most deaths at 15 minutes in his opening Tahm Kench game.
The dominance Fnatic showed in their first two games proved that gods can truly bleed—but will Suning be able to deliver the killing blow?
It perhaps speaks to the international renown of the LPL’s AD carries that even in a utility marksman meta, all eyes are on the bottom lane in this matchup. JackeyLove’s World Championship title and international prestige precede him in this matchup, and not without reason. Although his DPM was overtaken this weekend by Gen.G’s Ruler (by a mere eight damage), he’s been TES’ late-game bastion. This late-game prowess, however, has often come at the expense of his laning phase, something that was made glaringly obvious against Rekkles and Hylissang’s early-game strength in their quarterfinal.