In a clash of champions, FunPlus Phoenix soar above JD Gaming

FunPlus Phoenix are the first Mid-Season Cup finalist

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The teams showed plenty of great LoL – and a bit of fiesta. (Image credit: Riot Games)

The 2019 Worlds champions came off a beatdown in Game 1 to assert their dominance over the JD Gaming squad.

The first semifinal of the Mid-Season cup was an all-Chinese clash as the summer split champions JD Gaming faced off against the 2019 world champions FunPlus Phoenix.

A trade of stomps

Under the rules of the tournament, the first game in the best-of-five series was a blind pick. JD Gaming came out in force, getting early kills in both side lanes and then accelerating the early game to an almost comical degree. Seo "Kanavi" Jin-hyeok was an absolute monster on Nidalee and by the 15th minute, he had led his team to a gold difference of over 7K. JDG used a Rift Herald push to get two inhibitors only 20 minutes into the game and despite FunPlus getting several kills shortly afterward, the game ended several minutes later.

JDG tried an aggressive start in Game 2, but this time it backfired horribly as they lost two in an invade of the enemy jungle just 2 minutes into the game. Less than two minutes later, a 2v2 in the mid-lane resulted in the 2019 champions getting two more kills. They continue smashing the early game. FPX was paying their opponents for game 1 with interest, taking the first inhibitor 17 minutes and a mountain soul five minutes later.

It was desperation time for JD Gaming and a great teamfight gave them a near-miraculous victory in the mid lane. For nearly 10 minutes they held on, giving their fans hope of a comeback, but FPX got a second baron and then finally ended the game in an extended push.

On a knife’s edge

The spring champions looked on point for game 3 with an early first blood in the bottom lane, but they went too far to chase kills a few minutes later only to lose three instead. FPX would take multiple fights, but JDG managed to keep the gold close and eventually won a key standoff near the baron. Even with FPX securing the cloud soul, the game remained neck and neck.

The game was balanced on a knife’s edge until a fight for the elder drake 38 minutes in ended with a 3:1 and the buff going to FunPlus. This is what they needed to finally break the game open, and with another baron they were able to finally close the game.

Despite losing the first blood, FPX would once more be the stronger team at the start of Game 4, amassing a gold and dragon lead. Soon after they secured their third drake, however, JDG won several skirmishes that let them come out ahead. The game continued being back and forth, with JDG eventually getting to soul point as well.

Ultimately, it would be FPX that secured the key buff 38 minutes in. With it and the baron, all they needed was an opportunity – and when JDG failed to kill Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang’s Lissandra in time, FPX collapsed to get two kills and pushed to end the game.

After the two teams traded one stomp game each, the series showed us both at a high level. However, once the blind pick game was over, FunPlus Phoenix would consistently find early advantages and game after game they would leverage them to victory.

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The Mid-Season Cup finals start on Sunday from 11 AM CEST. For more League of Legends coverage, don’t forget to follow us here.

Boyan Penev

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