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In one of closest series in the League of Legends Pro League Summer Split playoffs thus far, Royal Never Give Up lived up to its namesake by outlasting Team WE in a 3-2 nail-biter of a semifinal series on Friday in Shanghai.
This series was a rematch Spring Split finals, and Team WE and RNG were no doubt going to put on a show. The teams went back and forth for the entirety of the series, with the trip to the finals coming down to one last 5-on-5 engagement around the Baron an hour into Game 5. The final fight matched the theme of this series and the determining factor behind RNG's win: mid laner Li "Xiaohu" Yuan Hao.
While RNG struggled throughout Game 5, Xiaohu's performance ultimately turned the tables. He put up a whopping 95,000 damage in the game to go along with his 7/1/4 KDA (kills/deaths/assists). Four of those kills came in the final fight of the game, an ace that gave RNG just enough time to lock up the incredible 60-minute win.
This series came down to the mid lane and teamfights. Xiaohu lit up his opposition and picked up the MVP award in each of his team's wins, but his lane counterpart in Team WE's Su "Xiye" Han-Wei also carried his own team from the mid lane and picked up the other two MVP awards in the series.
Both teams played through the mid lane to secure wins. As a result, teamfighting was the deciding factor in all five matchups. Until the decisive Game 5, each team earned two wins largely by taking control of the early game and continuing to lay it on thick with more teamfights as the game progressed. Only in that final game did RNG manage to overcome the rough early game to win on the back of an impeccable teamfight from Xiaohu.
While RNG will certainly be happy to have taken this win, fans should be a bit worried about jungler Liu "mlxg" Shi Yu, who looked lost from start to finish. If not for the incredible performance from Xiaohu, mlxg certainly would have been the goat for RNG. He'll need to shore up his play when his takes on EDward Gaming in the finals at 4 a.m. ET on Sept. 1.
The win also secured RNG's ticket to the 2017 World Championship, while Team WE still has a shot to make it in by circuit points depending on the outcome of the finals. And Team WE's playoff schedule isn't quite done yet: A third-place match against Invictus Gaming is scheduled for 4 a.m. ET on Saturday.