Europe vs. China in League of Legends World Final

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Europe vs. China in League of Legends World Final

PHOTO BY ARTUBR/FLICKR

PHOTO BY ARTUBR/FLICKR

PHOTO BY ARTUBR/FLICKR

By Ethan Alonzo, COPY EDITOR

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The pursuit of victory can lead to many things. Physical prizes like money and giant trophies are just the tip of the iceberg. For professional League of Legend players, it’s more than the physical rewards, it’s the chance to be immortalized in greatness.
The League of Legends 2019 World Championship Finals has been decided between Europe’s G2 Esports (G2) and China’s Funplus Phoenix, after beating two past world champions, including the defending champs.
Professional Esports athletes already make large sums of money through sponsorships and merchandise, so while the grand prize of $1 million is impressive, it isn’t the reason these players do what they do. Instead, being able to prove they are the best team in the world and bring glory their region is what drives them.
Since its creation in 2011, the international stage for professional League of Legends has been dominated by the Korean and Chinese teams. Other than the first two Worlds tournaments, in which Fnatic from Europe won and then followed by the Taipei Assassins from Taiwan, Korea has been the region to beat.
Samsung Galaxy, formerly known as Samsung Blue and Samsung White respectively, was the last Korean team to win Worlds after racking up their second finals victory. However, while it is impressive that a team can win Worlds twice, no team has a more impressive record than SK Telecom T1.
SK Telecom T1 (SKT) has the most Worlds victories under their belt out of any team who has ever won the tournament. In 2013, SKT became the first Korean team to be world champions. Then in 2015 SKT became the first team to win Worlds for a second time and finally in 2016, SKT obtained their third Worlds championship, becoming the only team to not only win consecutively but also be three-time world champions. Sadly, SKT’s era of domination ended in bitter defeat in a brutal 0-3 loss to the aforementioned Samsung Galaxy. Their loss marked by their star player Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok with his head in his hands and tears running down his face.
At first glance, it seems like Korea, and by extension SKT, is the only region to find victory at Worlds. However, last year’s Worlds, as well as this year’s, have proven different.
Last year was the first year where a Korean team wasn’t in the finals. In a 3-0 victory over Europe’s Fnatic, China’s Invictus Gaming became the first Chinese team to become champions. This year is no different as the Worlds final match is between Europe and China once again, just with different teams.
Both G2 Esports and Funplus Phoenix ended the journeys of two past world champions, with Funplus Phoenix besting the defending champions Invictus in a 3-1 victory and G2 coming out victorious against SKT in a similar three wins to one loss. Both teams in the finals are considered the best their respective regions have to offer.
The 2019 Worlds final match will be known as a battle between god slayers. If Funplus Phoenix wins, then that cements China as the next great powerhouse. However, if G2 wins, then history will be made as the first western team to win Worlds in over eight years. Regardless of who wins, the victor will go down in history.