Top European League of Legends team Fnatic crushed its Chinese opponent Edward Gaming (EDG) today in the game's World Championship quarterfinals match-up. This brought China's hopes of making it to the end of the 2015 Worlds tournament to a sharp and sudden close. GG, China.
Today's poor showing by EDG games complete one of the most surprising narratives that's taken shape in the 2015 World Championship so far. As I already noted in our Worlds explainer piece, China's three teams were expected to be some of the strongest, if not the strongest, at the tournament. None of them ended up being anywhere near as powerful as eSports fans thought they'd be. My short breakdown of fellow Chinese team LGD's situation summed up much of the situation:
LGD's poor showing at Worlds shocked a lot of League eSports followers because it ran against the grain of overarching trends that've been developing for years now. Korean teams ended up winning Worlds in 2013 and 2014, but by the second year Chinese teams were starting to make their way toward the top of the ladder as well. The country's sudden success was largely thanks to the fact that rich team owners poached top-level Korean players from their original teams. You can get an overview of this facet of League eSports history in this excellent profile of Faker done by the ESPN magazine. There's still one Chinese team (Edward Gaming) in the running this year. But Korea's KT Rolster and SKT1 are both considered much stronger contenders for the top position.
LGD was the first place team in China's regional League of Legends pre-Worlds tournaments, so their inauspicious debut might've come as more of a shock. Neither them or Invictus Gaming managed to even make it out of the Worlds group stage games that concluded last weekend. This placed China just a teensy bit ahead of the United States, which is historically the weakest region for League of Legends eSports and didn't have any teams make it out of groups this year.
EGD was China's last great hope to make a serious dent in Worlds. But today's games showed that they couldn't do nearly enough to hold back Fnatic's non-stop aggression. Much like the Korean powerhouse team SKT did yesterday, Fnatic cleaned house in its three matches against EGD today. They only needed to pause and take a breather because a "game-altering bug" stopped one Fnatic player's in-game champion from working properly.
Once Riot resolved the issue with the bug in Fnatic and EDG's second game and restarted it, Fnatic immediately came back swinging against their opponents with remarkable fury. They ended up pummelling EDG back to their base and closing out the game in a sparse 30 minutes. The third and final match didn't last that much longer.
Now that Fnatic has finished off EGD, they have advanced to the semifinals:
Who they will be playing against will be decided tomorrow when KT Rolster and KOO Tigers face off in their quarterfinals match. Both teams are Korean, so whoever ends up winning, we're now officially down to two major regions who are still in the fight for the 2015 World Championship.
Tomorrow KT vs. KOO games start at 9:00 am EDT. I'll be here reporting on them like I always am.
Photo via Riot Games' Flickr.