The League of Legends World Championship semifinals will kick off on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 6 a.m. eastern, 3 a.m. pacific. The west's last hope, again, is Europe's G2 Esports from the LEC. They impressively swept Gen.G in the quarterfinals 3-0 off of a strong performance from mid laner Rasmus "Caps" Borregaard Winther and his Sylas pick.
They'll go up against South Korea's DAMWON Gaming of the LCK, who are coming off 3-0 win against fellow LCK team DragonX.
On Sunday the last remaining Chinese teams, Top Esports, led by one of the best mid laners in the world in Zhuo "knight" Ding, will try to topple Suning Gaming, who have already taken out another LPL team in JD Gaming.
Our roundtable of experts has all the hot takes and information below.
Who did you have in the semifinals prior to the start of the bracket stage and how are your picks looking now?
Emily Rand: I had Top Esports, JD Gaming, DAMWON Gaming, and G2 Esports all advancing, so my bracket is in pretty good shape actually. My finals of TES versus DAMWON is still intact.
Jacob Wolf: Like Emily, I had Top Esports, JD Gaming, DAMWON and G2 and other than JDG's flailing against Suning, I'm hanging in there. My finals are also Top Esports and DAMWON, who I think have shown their prowess in this event as the best two teams in the world.
Arda Ocal: My bracket is crying in a dumpster somewhere, next question.
OK, not entirely. If G2 win I'll be vindicated.
What was the largest surprise of the quarterfinals stage?
Rand: Oddly enough, I'm not going to go with the Fnatic 2-0 start against Top Esports. Going into that series I thought Fnatic had a good matchup into TES based on playstyle (specifically how they play around their junglers and additionally the skill of their respective supports). I was surprised at how much better Fnatic looked in the first two games, but not completely shocked. If anything, TES' strong pivot around a more comfortable playstyle for jungler Hung "Karsa" Hao-Hsuan and the oddly unshakable mentality of Yu "JackeyLove" Wen-bo and Liang "yuyanjia" Jia-Yuan are more surprising (maybe just yuyanjia since JackeyLove does read his own hate comments on stream for fun).
So I'm going to go with an odd answer and pick Suning's win over JD Gaming as the largest surprise. Coming off of DAMWON's equally-one-sided 3-0 stomp of DRX in the worlds quarterfinals as they did in the LCK summer finals, I expected Suning to look slightly better but JDG to ultimately win. Despite the fact that these two teams hadn't met in a while outside of scrims, JDG had the tools to easily track jungler Lê "SofM" Quang Duy, support Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Chieh and keep Suning from pushing forward as they are often wont to do. Yet Suning's 3-1 victory showcased JDG's vulnerabilities in a more glaring light while also proving just how well-suited to the current meta this Suning team is.
Wolf: Ya know, I'll tip my hat to Suning, but I do want to give some love to Fnatic. I don't think anyone would argue Fnatic couldn't compete but I did think they were going to get railed by Top and I thought top laner Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau, mid laner Tim "Nemesis" Lipovšek and support Zdravets "Hylissang" Iliev Galabov were going to be incredibly outclassed by their LPL counterparts. In reality, Bwipo and Hylissang in particular really showed up and Nemesis held his own against Zhuo "Knight" Ding, the best mid laner in the world. I thought the Fnatic-Top series was really entertaining and it made for a good quarterfinal.
Ocal: Suning with the upset was definitely the most surprising result, but in a way Fnatic taking TES to the brink was more surprising overall, and would have been a huge upset if they were able to hold on. G2 defeating Gen.G might have been surprising because of the sweep, not necessarily the series result, and DAMWON disposing of DRX in three was a carbon copy of their LCK finals result, so that leaves Suning as the surprise of the quarterfinal stage.
Who has impressed you the most of the remaining players compared to your initial expectations?
Wolf: Suning mid laner Xiang "Angel" Tao. I think when we talk LPL mid laners, Angel is often forgotten. But he had a really good series against JD Gaming on picks like Galio and Zoe. People will definitely point to his AD carry in Tang "huanfeng" Huan-Feng, but we all expected huanfeng to be a Top 5 AD carry at this event and he has been. Angel was a lot more under the radar but has shown up in the clutch.
Rand: Angel is a really good pick considering how well he's performed compared to expectations. I'm going to go with another Suning player: top laner Chen "Bin" Ze-Bin. I knew Bin was a potential monster top laner, but I had my doubts going into this world championship of how well he'd perform. He's often overaggressive in lane, doesn't necessarily maintain a good wave state compared to where his team is at, and looked slightly worse on anything but Renekton as Suning made their way through playoffs and the regional qualifier. Although JDG's Zhang "Zoom" Xing-Ran was still a stronger all-rounder (regardless of worlds semis and finals results, Zoom was the best top laner at this tournament) Bin performed significantly better against him than I thought he would and has been a crucial part of Suning's rise on the worlds stage thus far.
Ocal: I would say that the player that has leveled up the most internationally is Tang "huanfeng" Huan-Feng. Jhin ult in the base with no turrets down aside, he was one of the pivotal keys to victory for Suning against JDG, and on our worlds show I voted him the top player of the quarterfinal stage. That honor is really interchangeable with Caps but "Claps" is no surprise to most, so I'm going with the young botlaner for the nod here.
What two teams will make the 2020 worlds finals and why?
Wolf: It's going to be Top and DAMWON, as I said above. Top may have looked shaky versus Fnatic, sure, but I think they'll buckle down in scrimmages this week and really take Suning as a viable threat. As for DAMWON, I don't see a world where G2 beat them, even though back-to-back finals and potential revenge for G2 versus a LPL team would be a hell of a storyline. DAMWON just looks so clean.
Rand: Any possible permutation of two teams from these semifinals is plausible. It would be considered an upset if Suning beat TES or if G2 beat DAMWON based on expectations, but these semifinals are close and there's no clear favorite in either matchup. Arguably the two that look the most comfortable based on meta alone are Suning and DAMWON, but TES showed that they're able to adapt and play a style that they're comfortable with even if they don't play around Karsa like Suning plays around Sofm. Meanwhile G2 have the strongest understanding of cross-map objective trading of any of these four teams left. I'm still going with DAMWON and TES, but I won't be surprised regardless of who makes it.
Ocal: Give me G2 and TES and G2 take it in a tough five game slugfest. I'm more concerned for G2's chances against DAMWON, a team extremely motivated to defeat G2 after last year's worlds elimination. When I interviewed DAMWON mid laner Heo "ShowMaker" Su, he talked about wanting to avenge the team's loss against G2, but waiting until further in the tournament to confront them -- well, he got his wish. That one should be a banger.
Who will be MVP?
Wolf: Assuming Top wins it all -- that's my prediction -- then Jackeylove will be MVP. He played out of his mind that Fnatic series (let's all remember that Ezreal mid lane jukes for a moment) and I hope to see him get another title under his belt.
Rand: All four of these teams are so good I kind of want to be like, "If DAMWON, then Canyon, if G2, then Caps, if TES, then JackeyLove or Knight, if Suning, then SofM or SwordArt" but I have to pick one so I'm going to go with Canyon.