SK Telecom T1 went 2-0 this week and are riding a nine-series winning streak. At 10-5 they tied with three other teams atop the LoL Champions Korea standings with two weeks left until the playoffs. The LoL Championship Series playoffs begin this weekend, with Team Liquid, our No. 10 team this week, holding the No. 1 playoff seed and first-round bye.
Despite losing to a 7-7 Team Vitality last week, G2 maintained their spot at the top of both our rankings and the LoL European Championship series. In China, Top Esports beat Royal Never Give Up in a close series to rise above RNG in our rankings and allow FunPlus Phoenix to rise to No. 2 in our rankings.
1. G2 Esports
Record:12-2 | League: LEC | +/-: --
G2 Esports' worst enemy struck again as they outplayed themselves during the draft against Team Vitality: Their fan-influenced Garen pick backfired horrendously, leading to a one-sided stomping by Team Vitality. That defeat aside, all is good in G2 land, as Fnatic found out in a 25-minute landslide victory for G2.
A prepared and focused G2 Esports will struggle to find competition within the LEC, unless Team Vitality improve further and meet them in the playoff finals, or Fnatic and Splyce significantly improve. Should they qualify for the world championship with a top-two finish in the regular season with championship points alone, G2 could transition to preparing for worlds independently from the LoL European Championship finals.
2. FunPlus Phoenix
Record: 11-1 | League: LPL | +/-: +1
Royal Never Give Up has often been ranked as the best team from the LoL Pro League, but FunPlus Phoenix have actually owned the best record in the region all split long. The kicker for FPX is that the situation was the same last split -- FPX dominated the regular season, only to fall apart in the playoffs again. It's a standard experience for teams led by quirky mid laner Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang, but 2019 seems to be the year when that changes. This week against LNG Esports, midgame vision was significantly improved and made the difference for significantly cleaner games. FPX were far from perfect, but if they can consistently combine an explosive early game with meticulous objective play, there's no doubt they will be the LPL's No. 1 team.
-- Xander Torres
3. SK Telecom T1
Record: 10-5 | League: LCK | +/-: +3
Three weeks into the LoL Champions Korea summer split, SK Telecom T1 found themselves in ninth place after losing five of their first six matches. The team was fatigued and at sea, struggling for results in a league hellbent on humbling the superteam. It got so bad for SKT that, in a fit of desperation, they benched star mid laner Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok in favor of Kim "Gori" Tae-woo.
Faker returned after one game away, and SKT hasn't lost a match since, winning nine straight while dropping only a single game.
These days, SKT seem revitalized by a successful Rift Rivals campaign plus the emergence of support Lee "Effort" Sang-ho. In replacing veteran Cho "Mata" Se-hyeong, Effort has provided much-needed balance in the bot lane. Upcoming dates with Damwon Gaming and Sandbox Gaming will ultimately decide where SKT begin their spring split title defense, a chance they weren't always guaranteed.
-- Miles Yim
4. Top Esports
Record: 10-2 | League: LPL | +/-: +1
After defeating the LPL-leading RNG last week, Top sit near the top of the power rankings, but still behind FPX. In a close match with RNG, Top continued to show what make them so strong -- their ability to pick teamfights in clutch situations. The early game wasn't exactly going Top's way each game, but the damage was limited enough that the team's mechanics always had a fighting chance. Top might have risen further up the rankings if their win was more decisive, but for now, beating RNG and inching toward a second-place finish is worth celebrating.
5. Royal Never Give Up
Record: 10-2 | League: LPL | +/-: -3
RNG have continually risen up the rankings the last few weeks, but a loss to Top sends them back down to earth. A close loss to Top isn't the end of the world -- RNG is still a good team -- but mid-to-late-game teamfights are the primary reason why they lost, and that has been a problem for them this split. Historically, teams around Jian "Uzi" Zi-hao are immaculate when it comes to five-versus-five teamfighting, but RNG's actual setups are too inconsistent to capitalize on with mechanics alone. As teams and players improve, RNG can't afford to be sloppy or overly passive around objectives. There is only so much room a team can grant to the talent-stacked, teamfight-driven teams in the LPL.
Record: 10-5 | League: LCK | +/-: +3
Gen.G move up three spots this week thanks to a 2-1 win over Jin Air Green Wings and the downward movement of other highly ranked teams. Mid laner Song "Fly" Yong-jun further diversified his already vibrant champion pool with an Ekko to seal the match win over Jin Air, perhaps drawing inspiration from Team Vitality mid laner Daniele "Jiizuke" di Mauro's experimentation in the LEC. Fly's versatility was needed while the rest of Gen.G -- particularly top laner Lee "CuVee" Seong-jin -- have struggled when denied their comfort picks. That substitute top laner Kim "Roach" Kang-hui was needed to help defeat an opponent like Jin Air is not an encouraging sign going forward.
Still, Gen.G face Griffin, Afreeca Freecs and Damwon Gaming in the coming weeks, all teams they've already beaten this split. Given their historic tendency to surge as summer transitions to fall, expect Gen.G to remain a factor come playoffs.
Record: 10-4 | League: LEC | +/-: +3
Fnatic's defeat to an enraged G2 Esports revealed lapses in their draft and the predictability of their early-game movement, but it did not reveal weakness. Despite tallying disadvantages in the early game, Fnatic bared their fangs and nearly flipped the game upside down; had they tracked G2's teleport timers, they could have contended for longer.
Their sense of initiative made the difference against Schalke 04, helping them return to contention for second place in the LEC. Whether they can persist is unknown: their Week 8 schedule is treacherous as they face the surging Excel Esports and Team Vitality. Although their playoffs are assured, their results in those two games will impact the playoff chase for the last two spots.
Record: 10-4 | League: LEC | +/-: -1
Splyce's lapses in focus were to blame for their fall against the inspiring Excel Esports, who are rounding into shape as the summer split wanes. Indeed, Marek "Humanoid" Brazda's Sylas gameplay needed tweaking, especially following the champion's changes in Patch 9.14. In addition, Splyce's teamfight decisions were lackluster across the board.
Splyce's downturn didn't last as they corrected course with a commanding victory over Rogue, showcasing excellent macro, good objective setups and solid teamfighting skills. They could have played a cleaner game, and they must, as an Origen team in danger of missing the playoffs and a playoff hopeful SK Gaming loom on the horizon.
9. Damwon Gaming
Record: 10-5 | League: LCK | +/-: -5
Damwon Gaming lasted one week atop the LCK before crashing down to earth. A pair of 0-2 defeats at the hands of Afreeca Freecs and -- we're not kidding -- Hanwha Life Esports showed the limits DWG's solo lane carry potential in the absence of reliable macro. Top laner Jang "Nuguri" Ha-gwon, who had been crucial to Damwon's recent rise, saw his form desert him in three losses before Lee "Flame" Ho-jong replaced him for the fourth. Though Nuguri and mid laner Heo "ShowMaker" Su were clearly off the boil, jungler Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu must share the blame with inconsistency that did his lanes no favors. It's time to let jungle Karthus go, especially if your team can't trade well enough to make the pick effective.
Damwon get a chance to mentally reset next week against punching-bag KT Rolster before two marquee contests with SKT and Gen.G. The KT series is very winnable, but after the Hanwha Life debacle, Damwon can't afford to take any opponent lightly.
10. Team Liquid
Record: 14-4 | League: LCS | +/-: +1
G2 Esports weren't the only Western team having some fun on stage last weekend. Awarded the top seed in the LoL Championship Series playoffs once 100 Thieves upset Counter Logic Gaming, Team Liquid turned their meaningless Sunday match with Team SoloMid into a game of Teamfight Tactics. Top laner Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong was the difference on a 3-0-8 Volibear that filled out TL's four-Glacial composition and bullied Sergen "Broken Blade" Çelik across Summoner's Rift. Despite mid laner Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg's attempted Zed carry, TSM's single Ninja lineup stood no chance in the face of Glacial crowd-control.
TL will play the semifinal opponent they choose in two weeks, having already booked their ticket to the LCS finals in Detroit. The bye gives TL ample time to tinker with their drafts. A recommendation: run Kindred over Nunu in the jungle; that plus-25% chance for double attack speed does wonders for Ashe's Ranger damage.