It might still be early January, but fans of professional League of Legends got their first taste of the best teams of the world with LPL’s opening weekend. The world finalists Suning clawed their way back in a nailbiter against Top Esports, but it was IG who stole the show with a dominant sweep against JDG.
After the spectacle that is Worlds, fans of the best LoL teams in the world had to wait for a while to see their favorites in action. With the exception of the All-Star event, Korea’s KeSPA Cup and the Demacia Cup in China, the major regions took a break to prepare for the upcoming spring split. Finally, the break ended and, as is customary, China’s LPL (League of Legends Professional League) started first, offering us four high-quality games this weekend.
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Day 1: Suning are not backing down
Top Esports 0-2 Suning Gaming
The LPL season began with a showdown between 2020 Summer champions and Demacia Cup winners Top Esports and Worlds finalist Suning Gaming. Top started game one strong, but Suning caught up in the mid-game, slowed the game down and eventually pounced to take the first game. TES got an even better start in game two, where Hung "Karsa" Hao-Hsuan got his team a huge advantage top with a double kill and a Rift Herald. Suning won a desperate teamfight in their jungle 26 minutes in, acing their opponents and getting some much-needed gold to their carries. In the following skirmishes, the Worlds finalists executed better, but the game remained close until a chaotic fight in the Suning jungle 35 minutes in. Suning took four kills and ended the game to sweep the series. Could the loss of Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Chieh affect TES more than we thought?
Oh My God 1-2 EDward Gaming
The day continued with a match between two once-great teams that had falled upon hard times in 2020. OMG took the first kill of the series with a well-executed Twisted Fate roam, but it was their opponents that kept up the pressure throughout the game. While the gold initially remained close, EDG was getting dragons and eventually secured a cloud soul and a Baron. With them, they took over the map and ended the game. OMG was not out of it, however, and showed they can play with pressure in game two. They had impressive early roams that let them surge ahead and keep stacking dragons. EDG had to fight to prevent their opponents from taking an ocean soul - and eventually failed. OMG took the big buff, got the Baron and eventually equalized the series. It came to a game 3 and after 30 suitably close minutes, EDward Gaming won the clutch fight, getting an ace and the Baron. Now with a significant advantage, they closed the game after 35 minutes of play to start the season with a 2-1 win.
Day 2: Don’t sleep on IG
Team WE 2-0 Rogue Warriors
The Sunday games started with a match between Rogue Warriors and World Elite. In the first game, RW drafted a pick comp and started aggressively, but they were unable to secure and early lead and fell progressively behind. WE got a key kill on the enemy AD Carry 26 minutes in that secured them the Baron. With it, they were unstoppable, ending the game after a 4:0 fight four minutes later. RW started game 2 much better, getting four kills on Huang "kelin" Bo-Lin’s Aphelios in the first 10 minutes. Their opponents kept the gold relatively close, but the Warriors were still in the driver’s seat until disastrous Baron fight that saw them get aced and lose the objective. WE once more took over the game and ended the series with a 2-0 win.
JD Gaming 0-2 Invictus Gaming
The second big game of the weekend featured 2018 World Champions Invictus Gaming against JDG, a team that won the 2020 Spring split and made finals in the summer. IG started game 1 in the best way possible, getting an incredible 3/0/3 record on their star mid laner Song "Rookie" Eui-jin. JDG fell ever further behind and eventually lost the game after getting aced 27 minutes in. The second game started better for the summer finalists who got the first blood, but IG replied with crushing pressure in the top lane that neutralized the counterpick their opponents. JD’s composition ended up suffering from a lack of reliable engage and an ace gave IG an early baron and full map control. Their opponents tried a last ditch attack 24minutes in only for IG to take four kills and the game shortly afterwards. This series was not just a win: Invictus Gaming made a statement that they should still be treated as a top team in 2021.
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