League of Legends esports: JD Gaming is making the impossible possible in China
By Gong Zhe
One of the charming things about League of Legends (LOL) esports is the never-ending twists.
The latest surprise came as JD Gaming (JDG) beat three stronger teams consecutively and is now aiming for champion of the Spring season on the Chinese mainland.
The club brought down the top team – FunPlus Phoenix (FPX) – with a score of 3:2 on Saturday.
It's hard to tell who will win until the last minute of the five-hour match. FPX's versatile playing style seemed to stop working as JDG chose a very cautious strategy for the semifinal. During the tiebreaker FPX went too aggressive and lost the initial lead to eventually put the whole effort in vain.
The black eight
JD Gaming was not doing well this spring. The team entered the play-off as the last of all eight teams, while FPX is at the top.
But JDG has beat Team WE, last year's champion Royle Never Give Up and FPX to enter the final.
The team is now called "the black eight" in reference to pool.
They will face the winner of Sunday's semi-final, between last year's world champion Invictus Gaming and TopSports.
Winner of the Chinese Spring season will enter an international event called Mid-season International (MSI), where champions from all 13 areas around the world compete for a million US dollars.
JDG, LOL and esports
JD Gaming was founded by Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com and joined the Chinese LOL professional league in 2017. The team has never made it to the international stages in its short history. But many of its players, like South Korean import Gu "Imp" Seung-bin, are well-recognized stars. Imp won world champion for Samsung White in 2014 and came to China afterward.
League of Legends is an online PC game created by Riot, a US studio owned by China's Internet giant Tencent. The game is one of the most-watched esports title and has a 100-million user base in China.
Globally, the esports part of the game is divided into 13 regions. The Chinese region is called "LOL Professional League" (LPL), in which 12 clubs fight for money, fame and tickets to international events like MSI.