We're back into the swing of things, and would you look at that -- the LPL is still dominating the League of Legends global power rankings. Are they really that good? We think so. Save for Griffin, who likes to remain perched at the top.
Record: 8-0 | League: LCK | +/-: --
After this past week, with losses from both G2 Esports in the League of Legends European Championship and Team Liquid in the League of Legends Championship Series, there are only two undefeated teams in major regions left standing: LoL Champions Korea's Griffin and the LoL Pro League's FunPlus Phoenix. Griffin continues to top our leaderboard after exacting revenge on a struggling KT Rolster in a 2018 summer finals rematch-turned-blowout, and another one-sided affair later in the week against the Afreeca Freecs. No LCK team looks to be on par with Griffin's 5v5 teamfighting, coordination, or superior understanding of when and why they're fighting. At this point, we're just waiting to see Griffin go up against the best from other regions at the Mid-Season Invitational, especially whichever team qualifies from the LPL.
2. FunPlus Phoenix
Record: 6-0 | League: LPL | +/-: +1
Thanks to another loss from Invictus Gaming and its own continuing win streak, FunPlus claimed the second spot in our power rankings this week. With victories over Team WE and an LGD Gaming team that is looking better, it remained undefeated at 6-0 in best-of-three series. FunPlus continue to show a remarkably strong early game based around mid laner Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang's roaming potential on champions like Lissandra to help control the side lanes as well as the mid lane. More important, FunPlus Phoenix seems to have a strong understanding of when to fight and when to hold the opponents and scale -- just don't put Doinb on Ardent Censer Karma mid again.
3. Topsports Gaming
Record: 4-1 | League: LPL | +/-: +1
One of the questions going into this week was whether Topsports Gaming had been buoyed by a fairly easy schedule in the first few weeks of competitive play before the Lunar New Year break. A resounding 2-0 sweep of JD Gaming, Topsports' first strong opponent since it faced iG for the season opener, silenced doubters. While it did have an easier schedule than many teams to start the split, a victory over JDG proved why Topsports are such a dangerous team. Mid laner Zhuo "Knight" Ding shut down JDG's Zeng "YaGao" Qi, keeping him from roaming to help his team as well as targeting him in teamfights. The mid-to-late game might still be a bit sloppy, but the team is improving and will always try to find answers, even if the players find themselves behind.
4. Invictus Gaming
Record: 4-2 | League: LPL | +/-: -2
There have been a few upsets in the LPL lately and the most prominent one was last week when iG not only lost to LGD, but was swept. Losing to a team like JD Gaming -- a playoff team last year that still has legitimate threats -- is less egregious than losing to a team like LGD, which has struggled to find its proper starting lineup and has been at the bottom of the LPL standings so far. Many will gloss over this loss, and iG hasn't dropped all that far in these rankings yet for a few reasons, the first being the fact that Chen "West" Long started over world championship bot laner Yu "JackeyLove" Wen-bo. Despite a few in-game hiccups last year, especially in spring, JackeyLove was the missing piece that took this iG team from a playoff contender to world champion, and while iG still should have bested LGD, playing without JackeyLove certainly makes a significant difference in what iG can do. We have our eye on iG. If the team continues this downward trend, it could be outpaced by the likes of a rising RNG or any of the hungry LPL teams toward the top.
5. Royal Never Give Up
Record: 3-1 | League: LPL | +/-: +4
Superstar AD carry Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao is back and RNG is fully rested after a two-week Lunar New Year break. The year started slow for RNG, but that's traditional for the organization, as Uzi regularly deals with hand issues or burnout before the year begins. Now that Uzi is back, RNG has progressed nicely from its early form, cleverly integrating top laner Shek "AmazingJ" Wai Ho in a meta where split pushing champions are viable. Against both Vici and EDward Gaming, RNG won with its immense teamfighting strength and added diversity with AmazingJ on the top side of the map. Everything is on track for RNG and things will only get better for the Uzi-focused team when AD carry itemization changes are patched through to the Chinese tournament realm.
6. JD Gaming
Record: 3-2 | League: LPL | +/-: --
Despite a demoralizing loss to Topsports Gaming, JD Gaming performed at about the expectations we had for the team these past few weeks: sweeping Bilibili Gaming and then getting swept by Topsports. JDG had a good game plan against Bilibili, drafting strong picks for their solo laners by playing with flex picks like the Galio support. Sung "Flawless" Yeon-jun has looked like the stronger jungler, and combined with Zhang "Zoom" Xing-Ran and YaGao, JDG has a top side that can usually contend with the best in the league. Unfortunately for JDG, its bottom lane options are limited compared to an opponent like Topsports. It's not that Ju "Bvoy" Yeong-hoon or Gu "Imp" Seung-bin played particularly poorly against Topsports, but that both Zoom and YaGao were held in check, leaving fewer options for JDG. Against teams that can stand up to JDG's solo laners, JDG will have a much more difficult time.
7. G2 Esports
Record: 9-1 | League: LEC | +/-: --
Finally. G2 Esports bled in the latest week of European League of Legends, dropping a match to the steadily rising Origen. Despite that, G2 is still unquestionably at the top of the league and remains one of the best teams in the world, as North American and Korean teams below it continue to look for their identities. In a single-game format, anything can happen, and G2's overall track record still has the edge over teams like Sandbox, JD Gaming, or SK Telecom T1. As said last week, G2 has the tendency to go a bit overboard with flexing compositions, and it was bound to be abused at some point. This week's match against Schalke 04 will be a true test for G2 and should decide whether the team stays near the top.
Record: 7-1 | League: LCK | +/-: --
"They can't keep getting away with this" was something frequently said about Sandbox Gaming's performances in the first few weeks. Although its early game was more aggressive than nearly any other team in the LCK save maybe Hanwha Life Esports, Sandbox's odd skirmish choices and objective trading left a lot to be desired. Many of its wins came from a 5-on-5 teamfight victory after botching their mid game, even with a better early start. However, Sandbox has grown on us -- especially with the lack of strong early gameplay from the majority of LCK teams -- and more important, the team is growing and improving itself. Sandbox makes fewer of these mistakes and has shored up its mid game to the point where the players are not just getting away with it, they've become a solid team.
It's impossible to say how the Sandbox magic will last, but for now, we're enjoying this frantic ride.
Record: 4-2 | League: LPL | +/-: -4
Prior to the LPL season's start, Rogue Warriors bot laner Mei "ZWuJi" Hong-Hui was highlighted as his team's rising star. Rogue Warriors weren't a good team, but if they were to win, it would be on the back of ZWuJi. That's exactly what happened when Rogue Warriors upset top team Suning on Tuesday. When we last saw Suning before the break, it had just come out of a respectable 1-2 loss to the undefeated FunPlus Phoenix. Starting mid laner Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang was out for the first two games and looking thoroughly ill in a Game 3 loss. The 0-2 loss to Rogue Warriors is a lot more concerning. Rogue Warriors have strong individual talent but were fairly confused around objectives and when to fight. In Game 2, Suning were up four turrets to zero and three dragons to one, but threw the game away at Baron giving ZWuJi a pentakill on Ezreal. This was a split-second decision where the team was low, Rogue Warriors had their major damage-dealers up in Ezreal and Syndra, and Suning seemed split on how they wanted to hold Rogue Warriors off. These are the kind of calls that will keep Suning away from an LPL title, regardless of how quickly the team has managed to come together.
10. SK Telecom T1
Record: 6-2 | League: LCK | +/-: +2
If you didn't think that SK Telecom T1 would use every opportunity to take advantage of any extra vision provided by Frostfang, well, you don't know SKT. SKT's match against Kingzone DragonX this past week was a sight to behold for many reasons, proving just how far some South Korean teams will go for added vision control, while also showing how a team can adapt quickly in a best-of-three setting. After a Game 1 loss, SKT adapted well with Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok denying advantages and opportunities from Heo "PawN" Won-seok while the team put top laner Kim "Khan" Dong-ha in a prime position to carry. We're still not sold on SKT's passivity early, but this particular series showed off the team's intelligence through adaptation.