The Chinese League of Legends Pro League (LPL)’s #1 seed, TOP Esports, has qualified to the 2020 League of Legends World Championship semifinals after overcoming the League of Legends European Championship (LEC)’s second seed, Fnatic, 3-2 in a reverse sweep – the first reverse sweep in Worlds history.
TOP Esports overcame tough stage circumstances to recover from Fnatic’s strong start. In the first two games, TOP frequently and uncharacteristically second-guessed themselves when facing team fights and skirmishes, whereas Fnatic committed to them as a group.
However, with their tournament lives on the line, they played with their trademark proactivity as they did in the LPL, where they won the 2020 summer split, and secured their ticket to the semifinals off Karsa’s strong showings on Nidalee (Game 4) and Lee Sin (Games 3 and 5). Although Knight and 369 were a step behind in Games 1 and 2, their ability to follow up on Karsa’s plays and JackeyLove’s initiatives improved, allowing TOP to score the first reverse sweep in Worlds history.
Fnatic’s victories in Games 1 and 2 were lopsided for many reasons, with stage nervousness setting TOP back and the European team nullifying JackeyLove’s impact incredibly early – be it through Hylissang and Rekkles’s 2v2 play, or through Selfmade’s ganks. Although they eventually lost the series, Hylissang and Rekkles’s performances kept Fnatic in contention throughout the series, turning losses into closely fought brawls.
In addition, the LEC squad threw curveballs and wrenches into TOP’s plans. In Game 1, a quirky Singed pick for Bwipo deepened TOP’s woes as they were unable to advance during teamfights into choke points. As he secured top lane priority, and as his bot laners spiraled their lead out of control (with Rekkles scoring a 6/0/8 KDA on Senna and participating in 14 kills out of 15), TOP’s nexus ultimately fell after 33 minutes and 42 seconds.
The second game was more of the same, this time with Fnatic using Kindred’s strength against Graves, as Selfmade foiled Karsa’s gank attempts using R – Lamb’s Respite. As TOP lacked displacement tools to unseat Fnatic from that ultimate ability’s radius, and as Fnatic’s bot lane lead swelled out of control, TOP slowly but surely conceded the game after 36 minutes, with Hylissang (1/2/13 KDA on Braum) contributing to 14 kills out of a team total 17.
However, after being down 0-2, TOP bounced back with a Game 3 victory, led by Karsa’s Lee Sin (3/1/9 KDA, 75% kill participation ratio). Using Knight and 369’s priority, he contained Selfmade’s Kha’Zix, then wreaked havoc across the map and around objectives uncontested. Despite Fnatic’s strong laning-oriented draft, TOP tore through them, claiming 10 towers, 16 kills, and full Drake and Baron Nashor priority – with Fnatic’s nexus collapsing before the 30-minute mark.
Their Game 4 takeover was even swifter, with Karsa’s Nidalee (10/1/7 KDA, contributing to 17 kills out of 18) reigning supreme as TOP recovered from a bot lane disadvantage with a huge counter-skirmish in the bot lane at the 8-minute mark, one that resulted in a 3-for-1 exchange. Despite winning a team fight around the Cloud Drake at the 12-minute mark, Fnatic could only watch as TOP stalled long enough to capture Baron Nashor and win a game-deciding team fight.
The final game of the series allowed knight and Karsa to show their prowess on Sylas and Lee Sin, outmatching Selfmade’s Gragas and Nemesis’s Twisted Fate. The game was the most lopsided one of the series, with Fnatic laying claim to only a single drake as their skirmishes backfired horrendously. By the time the game ended at the 25-minute mark, TOP had secured a 10k gold lead on a composition that outscaled Fnatic’s (with Vladimir and Ezreal outscaling Gangplank and Senna, and with Sylas having a more prominent role in team fights as opposed to Twisted Fate).
TOP Esports advance to an all-LPL Worlds semifinal matchup where they face the region’s third seed, Suning. As Suning beat JD Gaming 3-1 on Friday, they set up a rematch with the team that beat them 3-0 in the LPL summer semifinals – a match where Karsa and JackeyLove outplayed their positional opponents.