A redemptive victory for a team that seemed to be nothing but inconsistent and a triumph amid tragedy round out this week's edition of Who Won the Weekend.
LGD Gaming (League of Legends, LoL Pro League)
The last time LGD Gaming made the playoffs, it was spring of 2016 and their roster had former SK Telecom T1 top laner Jang "MaRin" Gyeong-hwan and former Samsung bot laner Gu "imp" Seung-bin. They were fresh off of a stunning collapse at the 2015 League of Legends World Championship, and this playoff appearance was the beginning of a downward spiral that would see LGD in the LPL promotion series twice before franchising came to the LoL Pro League.
LGD haven't lacked for talent over the years but they've somehow failed to put together a cohesively strong team regardless of lineup. When former ROX Tigers, SKT, and Gen.G jungler Han "Peanut" Wang-ho joined the roster in spring and later former Team WE and Dominus Esports mid laner Su "Xiye" Han-wei, many people, including myself, loved this LGD lineup on paper. The problem was that LGD had a history of strong on-paper pickups that hadn't worked out in the past. Although LGD stayed towards the top of the standings this summer, placing anywhere between second and eighth, they were still inconsistent. Even with large gold and composition advantages, they would somehow find ways to give games back to opponents. There were flashes of brilliance, particularly from both Peanut and Xiye, but like LGD rosters past, the team lacked consistency and cohesion despite their obvious talent.
This past week, LGD beat both Team WE and Invictus Gaming to make it to the summer playoff semifinals. Where their matchup against WE had been predicted as a back-and-forth mess - neither team looked strong or consistent when compared to the top teams in their final week of the regular season - LGD proved that they were definitively the stronger team.
Then they annihilated iG with stronger skirmishing and teamfighting - usually an iG staple.
The iG-LGD series had everything an LPL fan loves, despite it being a 3-0 stomp. Peanut was able to play one of his signature jungle picks in Nidalee two of the three games, Xiye continued to impress after a series MVP performance against WE, and the team set up well for bot laner Ha "Kramer" Jong-hun to fire from the backline. Even much-maligned top laner Xie "Langx" Zhen-Ying looked significantly improved in both his individual prowess and flanks to support the rest of LGD.
Going forward, LGD are the team to watch in LPL playoffs -- and they proved why this weekend. -- Emily Rand
Runner Up: G2 VALORANT
Normally, this would be another G2 victory lap in the EU VALORANT scene, probably with some NA jokes thrown in... but the team's tournament victory on Sunday was amidst tragedy.
On Wednesday, during G2's group stage matchup at the Allied Esports Odyssey VALORANT tournament against FunPlus Phoenix (the org made their major tournament VALORANT debut at this event, having signed pieces of the former Party Parrots and Fabriken rosters), G2 player David "davidp" Prins had to abandon the match early due to a family emergency. Davidp would later reveal on Twitter that his father had passed away.
Amidst an outpouring of support from the VALORANT community, davidp decided to return to the team the next day to compete in the tournament, and G2 honored his request. G2 would not lose a series the rest of the way, including two victories over FPX, securing the championship. Yes, there were "G2 finally beat FPX for a championship" memes floating around, but more so respect and tributes to davidp and his late father.
"I am so proud of our team. You guys don't understand the balls the guys showed this week despite life hitting them the hardest. Champions. Again." wrote G2 CEO Carlos "ocelote" Rodriguez. Davidp also took to twitter following the win: "I hope that from where my father is, he is proud of me and sees how much I fight. Dad, I dedicate this victory to you and I also dedicate it to all the people who are going through difficult times in life, you are not alone."
G2 won their fourth VALORANT tournament in a row and showed no signs of slowing down as the top team in Europe -- and, one might say, the world. While other teams stepped up their standing, like the runners up FPX and third place Team Liquid, G2 further cemented theirs and right now it looks as though it will be a tremendous task to stop them. -- Arda Ocal