The finals of the 2019 League of Legends World Championship mark the pinnacle of eSports competition, with nearly 100 million people viewing last year’s event.
Months of intense clashes have whittled 24 teams down to just two: G2 Esports (G2) and FunPlus Phoenix (FPX). It is being billed as Europe vs China, with the home team of G2 hoping to become the first Western team to lift the Summoner’s Cup in eight years.
After unexpectedly beating three-time world champions SK Telekom T1 in the semi-finals last month, G2 are the slight favourites. They also appear to have the backing of the CEO of Riot Games, the game developer behind League of Legends.
At a press conference up the Eiffel Tower on Friday, French CEO Nicolo Laurent described the finals as ”the biggest event in the history of eSports”. When asked if he had a favourite, he hinted that he would be supporting the European team.
“As a CEO I’m supposed to be impartial so I’m not gonna tell you my favourite is G2,” he said. “Instead, I’m going to say I’m going to hope for a full five-game match for the best of eSports.”
If they do win, they will become the first ever team to win every single tournament in a single year and will immortalise their names in the annals of the storied online battle arena game.
Marcin ‘Jankos’ Jankowski plays as the jungler for G2 and his consistent heroics from the shrubbery have provided the solid foundation upon which the team has built its success in 2019.
Jankos, who names Chuck Norris as his role model, is an eSports veteran after five years of top-flight League of Legends competition. The 24-year-old Polish star is only the second European player to reach 1,000 career kills and will be hoping to add to his impressive tally on Sunday.
Key to FPX’s progression to the final was Kim ‘Doinb’ Tae-sang. The team has built its playing style around the 22-year-old Korean, whose self-sacrificing lane awareness and idiosyncratic champion picks have made FPX so strong this year.
At Friday’s press conference, which took place halfway up the Eiffel Tower, Doinb trash-talked his opponents in his typically confrontational style. With G2’s Perkz missing from the event due to an unspecified illness, Doinb suggested he had psyched out his adversary by singing loudly the night before through the walls of his hotel room.
My hotel room is literally next to @Doinbmid
do I knock on his door every hour on game day night and we both don’t sleep , see who wins ?
— Luka (@G2Perkz)
All my fans in China know I stay up late for streaming and and they know I dance all night long😜
— Doinb (@Doinbmid)
Not showing any of the pressure of the occasion, Doinb took the opportunity to claim that the European team were only there because of the luck of the draw. “If they’d met us in th quarter finals or semi finals, they would not be in the finals,” he said.
How to watch the live stream online
Tickets for the finals at the 20,000-capacity AccorHotels Arena in Paris sold out in 10 minutes. Those not lucky enough to get a ticket will not be short of options to follow the action.
The best-of-five series between G2 and FPX begins at 12pm GMT on Sunday, 4 November, and will be preceded by a performance from True Damage – an augmented reality hip hop group comprised of League of Legends champions.
A live stream will also be hosted on YouTube.
Predictions and odds
The performance of both teams through the worlds mean there is little to separate them in terms of betting odds, with G2 placed at 4/5 and FPX at 9/10.
Ultimately, it could come down to the individual battles played out across each lane and in the jungle. FPX may just have the edge in the top lane, while G2 are expected to have an advantage in the bottom lane.
The middle lane clash between Doinb and G2’s Rasmus ‘Caps’ Borregaard Winther is too close to call, meaning what happens in the jungle between Jankos and FPX’s Gao ‘Tian’ Tian-Liang.
Bookies have G2 as slight favourites and it might be their home advantage that clinches it for them.
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