BERLIN — Group B on paper was primed to be a chaotic group, and guess what? It was chaos, and then some. J Team of the now-defunct LMS upset China’s champion FunPlus Phoenix to get the group rolling on the first day, and from there the four teams didn’t look back. There were clutch moments and a whole lot of throws, but in the end it was Europe’s hometown heroes Splyce getting out of the group with FPX. While FPX and Splyce both finished 4-2, it was FPX that will head to Madrid, Spain as the top team from the group, beating the LEC representative in a tiebreaker game to bring at least a bit of status quo back to a group that never settled until the final moments.
Here are my ratings for the players in Group B (1-10; 10 = best).
Phạm “Zeros” Minh Lộc, 3: Another international tournament, another less-than-stellar performance by Vietnam’s star top laner. He entered last year as one of his region’s most talked-about players and failed to steal the show, and it was the same thing in 2019 with a few short glimpses of impressive being overtaken by over aggression and a lack of map awareness. Maybe next year will be Zeros’ year.
Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh, 4: The most famous Vietnamese player worldwide, the man nicknamed “Captain Levi” had an up-and-down 2019 tournament. For every highlight reel Lee Sin kick, there was a Nocturne ultimate flying at the opponent’s tank and leading his team to their own doom.
Trần “Kiaya” Duy Sang, 4: Probably GAM’s most impressive player overall at worlds, the 18-year-old international rookie’s Kled was the centerpiece of his team’s only win in the tournament. He wasn’t spectacular and was green in many of GAM’s games, but it’s a worlds debut that he can build from going into 2020.
Nguyễn “Zin” Tuấn Thọ, 2: Zin had three games at worlds where he didn’t record a single kill and another where he only picked one. You probably want something a little bit better from your starting AD carry.
Nguyễn “Slay” Ngọc Hùng, 3: I give Slay credit for pulling out the Volibear and attempting to win with the thunder-infused polar bear. That’s all I can really give him, though (outside of a few decent Nautilus performances).
Hsu “Rest” Shih-Chieh, 5: Rest was boom or bust at the world championship. When he was good, he was dominant. When he was bad, he was really bad, especially on one of the worst Kled games I’ve ever seen.
Chen “Hana” Chih-Hao, 2: J Team will have to wonder if they could have advanced from such an open group with a better starting jungler. Hana was the weak link for J Team at the tournament and was outmuscled by every single jungler in Group B without much resistance.
Chu “FoFo” Chun-Lan, 7: FoFo is the best player remaining in the LMS region, and if he doesn’t move to China over the offseason, he’ll continue being the ace of the newly christened Pacific league that is being formed between the LMS and Southeast regions. I do expect a lot of teams from China’s domestic league to be knocking at FoFo’s door looking for his services. He’s that good.
Chen “Lilv” Chin-Han, 5: Along with FoFo, Lilv was the best player for J Team at worlds. After toiling in the underbelly of the LMS for years, he had an above-average performance when he got his chance to perform on the international stage.
Lin “Koala” Chih-Chiang, 4: Following an 0-6 group stage with G-Rex at the last world championship, Koala will go home feeling like he improved with a 3-3 record and a better showing in 2019. If the trajectory holds, Koala’s team in 2020 will go 6-0 in the group stages.
Kim “GimGoon” Han-saem, 5: The unsung hero on FunPlus Phoenix, Gimgoon was relatively quiet throughout the group stage but came alive in a do-or-die match against J Team to roll over Rest on Renekton and book his ticket to Madrid for the quarterfinals.
Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang, 7: His supreme display of talent on Qiyana versus GAM Esports will not be forgotten anytime soon. When Tian gets ahead early and is in sync with Doinb’s roams, he becomes a freight train that is almost impossible to stop.
Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang, 6: The renowned “Super Carry Doinb” was a mixed bag in the group stages. His Ryze was fearsome, the mid Malphite victory was vintage Doinb and his Renekton carried FPX to the No. 1 seed, but there were games like his Galio in which he was nothing more than a flying paperweight dropping down to his doom. He’ll need to be better if FPX wants any hope of hoisting the Summoner’s Cup in Paris.
Lin “Lwx” Wei-Xiang, 4: I don’t think Lwx’s world debut with his shotgun approach on Kai’sa that led to an embarrassing loss will be forgotten anytime soon. On the positive end of things, Lwx did shape up as the group stage went along, and as long as his team sets him up, Lwx (for the most part) knows how to mop up the necessary kills to secure his team the win.
Liu “Crisp” Qing-Song, 8: In the words of ESPN Esports staff writer Emily Rand, “Crisp is the truth.” Doinb and Lwx received many of the pre-tournament headlines, yet it was duo of Tian and Crisp that got the Phoenix to rise from an opening game loss to making it into the quarterfinals as the No. 1 seed.
Tamás “Vizicsacsi” Kiss, 5: This was not the group of star top laners. Still, Vizicsasci, the stalwart veteran, did his job, and took the job depending on what his team needed of him. When he got fed on Cho’gath and barrelled ahead in gold, he became an unkillable monster and bested FPX. Most of the time, though, he played the role of sacrificial lamb, using his Gangplank ultimate to aid other parts of the map and assist his team whenever possible.
Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir, 7: Splyce has been one of the best early game teams in the tournament thus far, and a lot of that credit has to go to their starting jungler Xerxe. In his first world championship, the Romanian jungler is quickly making a name for himself as one of the world’s best under-20 junglers.
Marek “Humanoid” Brázda, 5: If these ratings were for only the first half of the group stage, Humanoid would have been lucky to be in the positive numbers. Alas, the rookie shook off a rough first few games on the international stage and became Splyce’s ace player when they needed him the most, fueling his team’s 3-0 turnaround. Unfortunately, he couldn’t continue his momentum in the first-place tiebreaker against FPX, reverting back to jitters that plagued him in the opening week of games.
Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup, 6: While this number doesn’t stand out as anything amazing, it could turn out to be a godsend for Splyce. Kobe has been Splyce’s win condition a lot since he first joined the organization and we haven’t seen the Dane’s best games just yet. If he can get to peak form in Madrid, Splyce has a shot of going further than the quarterfinals.
Tore “Norskeren” Hoel Eilertsen, 5: We’ll try to forget about that Leona game against J Team in the first week of group stages.