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Worlds Spotlight: FunPlus Phoenix

Even the most hardcore League of Legends esports fans find keeping track of every region, including the minor regions, a tall task. As a result, the majority of fans will be unacquainted with many of the teams and players attending the most prestigious LoL Esports event of the year. So Worlds Spotlight was created to help educate and inform the fans of the stories and narratives surrounding these players and teams. Welcome to our FunPlus Phoenix Worlds 2021 Spotlight.

FunPlus Phoenix

Worlds Spotlight: Funplus Phoenix

Top: Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon, Ping “xiaolaohu” Xiao-Hu

Jungle: Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang

Mid: Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang

Bot: Lin “Lwx” Wei-Xiang

Support: Liu “Crisp” Qing-Song, Wei “Shenyi” Zi-Jie

Head Coach: Chou “Steak” Lu-Hsi

Region: LPL 

Regular Season Placing: 1st

Playoffs Placing: 2nd

With the acquisition of Nuguri, FPX was looking to return to champions form for 2021. In the spring split, they dominated the league before their superstar rookie jungler, Zhou “Bo” Yang-Bo, got caught up in a match-fixing scandal and was removed from the starting roster. Then, they stumbled through the remainder of the split, splitting the jungle role between Tian and Yang “Beichuan” Ling, before ending the split in 5th place. However, they made a resurgence through playoffs, winning the upper bracket finals before losing the grand finals to RNG. Coming into summer, FPX did not have the massive slump they experienced in spring. Thanks to Doinb’s MVP performance and Tian starting full-time, FPX finished the regular season in 1st. Then once again, in playoffs, they cruised through until the grand finals, where they fell to EDG.

FunPlus Phoenix played in both the spring in summer finals of the LPL this year. In both finals, they were coming in as the favorites to win the title. However, FPX seemed to fall apart in both finals while the other team seemed to level up under pressure. Despite their most recent loss in the LPL finals to Edward Gaming, FPX is still dubbed as a tournament favorite for Worlds 2021.

 

Players to Watch:

The Exception or the New Norm: Doinb

In esports, or at least in League of Legends esports, age is sadly viewed very negatively, with older players viewed not as assets that can improve but that have already capped out. As a result, teams will often toss away their veteran players for new rookie toys. However, Doinb destroyed this notion of age and skill level with his MVP summer split.

In the 2021 LPL Summer Split, Doinb was not only arguably one of the best, if not the best, mid laner in the world, but he looked like the best version of himself. The Doinb of 2019 was criticized for having a limited meta champion pool or lackluster laning phase, but Doinb seems to have fixed these problems while retaining all of his unique strengths, making him almost a perfect player. He could take over games on picks like Sylas or Irelia and service his team with picks like Galio or Lulu. When his team needed him, Doinb came through to drag them from the clutches of defeat. Now, Doinb is looking to reclaim his crown at Worlds, and if Doinb can put on the same show he did in summer, his goal of winning Worlds again may be much closer than he might think.

Axe's Pikachu or Melee's Pichu: Nuguri

No one is immune to the bench, not even Faker himself. This summer split, Nuguri found himself on the bench for a period due to lackluster performances. Eventually, Nuguri found himself back on the starting roster soon enough and seemed to be back in form. However, it still feels like Nuguri has those int games from time to time. Only time will tell if this will be the case at Worlds still. However, those int games should not take away from Nuguri’s play throughout the entirety of the summer split.

While the spotlight was mainly on Doinb in summer, Nuguri himself was quietly putting up impressive numbers, hovering towards the top in damage stats while not receiving as much gold as other high-damage top laners. Nuguri is already in relatively good form, but we have seen higher highs from him before. If the Nuguri of 2020 DAMWON Gaming reappears, we could easily witness this FPX squad dismantling “Raccoon’s” former team.
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