Great start for the LPL representatives

China gets a leg up on day one of Mid-Season Cup

League of Legends

Some of the best teams in the world are clashing online from their arenas. Image credit: Riot Games

LPL’s FunPlus Phoenix and Top Esports advance as favorites T1 stumble.

The new Rift Rivals?

If you are asking yourself "Wait, what Mid-Season Cup?" you are probably not alone - the tournament only came to be less than a month ago as League of Legends developer Riot Games had to first delay and then cancel the much-awaited Mid-Season Invitational. The Mid-Season Cup will instead feature the top four teams of the Chinese and South Korean leagues.

Two groups will each feature the first and fourth seeds of one region and the second and third of the other with a single round robin format. The top two teams from each group advance to playoffs that will be featured in the upcoming Mid-Season Streamathon. Thursday brought us LCK’s T1 and DAMWON Gaming facing off against LPL’s Top Esports and FunPlus Phoenix.

Back and forth games dominate the day

The opening match of the day was also the most widely anticipated, with LCK champions T1 (the former SK Telecom T1) taking on the reigning world champions FunPlus Phoenix. T1 were on point from the early game as Park "Teddy" Jin-seong came up clutch on his Kalista. FPX got some punches in, but T1 managed to secure first the infernal soul and then the Baron, ending the game after a fight in the mid lane.

Game 2 saw LPL finalist TOP Esports take on DAMWON Gaming. While the Korean team took the first blood, Топstayed close.

Good defensive play and several key plays like that kept the LPL team in the game until a key fight resulted in a 3:1 and baron for them. With it, they were firmly in the lead and ended the game several minutes later.

The third game saw the two LCK teams face off against each other. After an even start, T1 took control of the mid-game, but DAMWON had several clutch fights to turn the game around, T1 were forced to rely on their captain Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok to splitpush his way to victory.

It took 47 minutes of play, but the favorites overreached one time too many and suffered their first defeat.

FPX took the early game in their fight against TOP, getting kills on all carries in the first 15 minutes. Complete domination in the solo lanes left the reigning world champions firmly in control in the mid-game. A fight near the Baron pit 27 minutes in ended in a clean ace for FPX who quickly ended the game.

The World Champions would then play for the first playoff spot against DAMWON, with both teams having a 1:1 record they needed a win to advance. After the opening shots, FPX’ looked to have the advantage due to their defensive advantages from itemization and mountain dragon buffs. However. DWG turned the game around after a key pick and a baron fight.

The LCK team nearly ended the game but overstayed and were punished. FPX immediately counterattacked and an all-in for the Nexus proved the winning move..

The final game between T1 and TOP Esports saw an even early game, but eventually the LCK champions won several fights and an early Baron. All looked great until they committed to a fight for the second Baron that ended disastrously. T1 found themselves boxed in and a 2:0 fight 35 minutes in saw the LPL team take the win.

An LPL Triumph

It was not an easy road for the Chinese teams, as both suffered one defeat and had to fight hard for their wins. Yet at the end of the day, consistency carried the day and FPX and TOP both earned their place.

Tomorrow LPL Champions JD Gaming and 2018 world champions Invictus Gaming take on LCK’s DragonX and Gen.G. Don’t miss it!

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