The Tencent League of Legends Pro League (LPL) is one of the strongest regions when it comes to competitive League of Legends and is based in China. Much like the NA LCS, this region is filled with the best players who have migrated from their region to get the chance to play with the most prestigious esports organizations in the East. As the region continues to show the world how powerful it is, let’s take a look at everything you need to know about the Chinese League of Legends from past, present, and future.
The Birth of the League of Legends Pro League
The League of Legends Pro League debuted its very first season in 2013 Spring Season, 2 years after the Chinese game company, Tencent, bought 93% of Riot Games stakes. Unlike today’s format, the LPL only had 8 teams who played 2-3 best of 1 series weekly for 10 weeks. The teams that would be persisted until today were Invictus Gaming, Star Horn Royal Club (RNG), Team WE, and Oh My God who was the first-ever champion of the league.
In 2013, the Season 3 World Championships were held in the United States, and because of their performance in the Shanghai All-Stars, the champion of the Worlds Cycle (Star Horn Royal Club) received a playoff bye. OMG also managed to make it out of groups to face RYL in the quarterfinals. RYL would dominate its way to the finals ultimately falling to the powerhouse that was SKT Telecom T1, starting the rivalry between Uzi and Faker.
The LPL in 2013-2017: The World’s 2nd Best
There was no doubt that the LPL was one of the strongest regions in the world after its debut. Unfortunately, they could only be one of the best and never secure the title for themselves. These years belonged to the mighty LCK region who was unrivaled by any other region and managed to secure the top final spots every World Championships that came. The LPL were merely the gatekeepers that separated the East from the West.
In these years, two teams in the League of Legends Pro League would battle against each other for supremacy and those were Royal Never Give Up and Edward Gaming who were China’s premiere teams. RNG and EDG would always place high in the playoffs and go into the final match but would eventually fall to the Korean powerhouses. The much beloved RNG would fail every time they met with SKT in the playoffs.
In 2015, China would at last beat Korea on the international stage during the 2015 Mid-Season Invitational when Edward Gaming defeated the dominant SKT T1 in the finals during a grueling battle scoring a 3-2 victory. This gave the region some much-needed morale for them to strengthen their team and prove that the region can be a top-level region if their resolve was great enough to overcome the odds.
After 2015, China would fight tooth and nail against the Koreans and the world finally saw that the only other region that could score the Worlds’ trophy was the LPL. This became more evident when the Chinese teams would give Korea a hard time in their tournaments where the games would go 3-2 or 3-1 but never 3-0. The other teams would soon learn that the region’s steady growth would finally be revealed.
2018: The Year of the LPL
Royal Never Give Up in 2018 almost won every tournament they participated in. From the Mid-Season Invitationals, Asian Games, and both the League of Legends Pro League Finals in Spring and Summer. They spanked every other team and even defeated Korea’s Longzhu Gaming 3-1 in the Mid-Season Invitational. The only thing left was for RNG to win the Worlds trophy, to which in the first time in history, Korea wasn’t the tournament favorite to win it all.
The World Championships finally came but because of a weird turn in the meta that shifted from the safe and steady teamfighting style that RNG was use to into a hard and fast engage meta, the team couldn’t adapt and showed a subpar performance. Ultimately, RNG would lose to G2 Esports in the Semifinals, ending the dream run from China’s most prestigious team and the dream from their star player to bring home the trophy for the first time.
RNG’s story may have ended, but another page in the book was running through the chapters like a superstar team. Korea also faltered, with their preferred playstyle suddenly falling off the meta in the middle of the tournament. China had bigger plans though with Invictus Gaming whose playstyle was exactly that – hard and fast. With no one to oppose them, Invictus Gaming conquered the tournament and gave the LPL its first-ever World Championship trophy.
Invictus Gaming along with its superstars, Rookie and TheShy became icons in the world of League of Legends. The LPL became one of the most feared and recognized regions in the world. They would continue to be among the greats in the League of Legends world. Despite being denied the world championships for so long, the region finally hit the mark and brought it all home. China would continue its dominant streak after this.
2019: Fly Phoenix Fly!
In 2019, RNG and IG would duke it out in the Spring Season as expected from the region’s Top 2 teams. However, little did they know that something ominous was brewing on the sides. As organizations from every region start creating superteams by banding together all the best players on the region, the competition was getting more heated up. FunPlus Phoenix was also a superteam that nobody knew.
In the Summer season, FPX dominated that Summer Split with a 14-1 run only falling once to RNG. At the world finals, strangely enough, the Worlds Theme song was released and was appropriately named Phoenix. Despite international viewers not seeing the strength of FPX, the team defied expectations and defeated everyone that was in their path. FPX was the second team from the LPL to bring home the Worlds Trophy for the region.
2020: Looking Into a Third Championship
If you thought the LPL was strong in 2018 and 2019, they are aiming to solidify this claim even more in the 2020 World Championships as Frontrunners Top Esports and JD Gaming continue to flex their prowess over the other teams both domestically and internationally. In the first ever Mid-Season Cup, China went up against Korea where each region sent 4 representatives each. China was able to overpower Korea and make it an Chinese showdown in the grand finals of the tournament.
After the summer season run, everybody was afraid of how dominant the region looked in the league. However, the world is yet to face them in actual competition. With both frontrunners having almost zero experience on the international stage, will our League of Legends Pro League Representatives hold their ground at Worlds. The only thing we know for sure right now is that they’ll certainly try their best to achieve this goal.
The LPL’s Most Iconic Players
It’s no secret that the League of Legends Pro League is home to a lot of superstar player who existed even before the time they started winning the world championships. Here they are:
1. RNG Uzi
Jian “Uzi” Zi-hao is known as the Greatest AD Carry of all time and the best player to have never won worlds. He joined Royal Club in 2012 and was promoted to a starting position in 2013 Summer. He is renowned for his incredible outplays, lane dominance, and over prowess on the rift. He is known for playing champions like Vayne and Kai’sa. He is the back-to-back 1v1 champion in the All-Stars event and it definitely shows.
Widely regarded as equal to Faker in terms of raw skill, Uzi led Royal Never Give Up to multiple Semi-final and Final finishes where they lost each time to SKT and Faker. He was also known to suffer multiple injuries such as shoulder pain where he partnered up with Nike for gaming gear to help him. Unfortunately, his body couldn’t continue with the rigorous lifestyle of a pro-player so he retired on June 3, 2020. He was also voted as China’s Most Influential Personality in a magazine (beating athletes, singers, and actors).
2. EDG Clearlove7
Clearlove was EDG’s start jungler and key player but before all this, he was with Team WE. This sparked much controversy as he was seen as a betrayer alongside EDG. However, he soon proved everybody wrong when he led EDG to the Mid-Season Invitational Championships and proved that China can beat Korea for the first time in years. He became one of the most well-respected names in Chinese League of Legends since then.
3. iG Rookie
Rookie is often regarded as the new king of the midlane after his performances in both 2018 and 2019. Alongside TheShy, he went to dominate the 2018 Wold Championships and become the first ever World Champions from the LPL. He is known as the consistent carry of Invictus Gaming and has been with them for a very long time. Until today, Rookie continues to bring glory to the League of Legends Pro League.
4. iG TheShy
TheShy is the one of the most iconic top laners of all time. His dominant performance in Worlds 2018 showed the world that even Top Laners can choose carry champions in the International Stage and still succeed. His unconventional picks such as the Kalista top lane shows his perspective in playing the lane. This is also incorporated in Invictus Gaming’s general playstyle that likes to pick fights even if the odds are against them.
5. FPX Doinb
Doinb wasn’t known for his incredible outplays or flashy performance on the rift. Instead, he was the mastermind of FPX who glued together what the team wanted to do with his unconventional picks in the mid lane such as Nautilus. He was a master of the Macro game and gave FPX a sense of direction towards how they want to play the game. Ultimately, he was named Supercarry Doinb because of his ability to keep the team together.
The LPL’s Game Identity
There’s a saying in the LPL community: “If there are less kills than minutes in the game, you are not watching the LPL”. Meaning to say that players from this region like to fight and they like to do it a lot. This is often why they are regarded as the most entertaining league to watch because you will constantly be seeing teamfights or solo fights going on in the map frequently and give very little importance to scaling.
League of Legends Pro League Tournament Format
- The LPL plays a single round-robin where each team will be facing every other team on a best of 3 every split.
- Rankings are primarily determined by your number of overall series W-L ratio but in case of a tie, the individual game W-L ratio is calculated.
- The Top 8 Teams in the standings will be qualified for the Playoffs; where the Top 2 teams will be qualified for a Semi-final bye, the Top 3 & 4 teams for a quarterfinal bye, and the Top 5, 6, 7, and 8 team will be fighting in the 1st round.
- Playoff Standings in the Spring and Summer Split correspond to specific amounts of Championship Points. The 4 teams with the highest Championship Points will qualify for the Regional Finals.
- The teams that will qualify for the World Championships are:
- The team who wins the Summer Playoffs (Seed 1)
- The team who has accumulated the most Championship Points (Seed 2)
- The team who wins the Regional Finals (Seed 3)
- The team who places second in the regional finals (Seed 4)
Where can I watch LPL Games in English?
You can watch the LPL in their YouTube broadcast called LPL English or on Twitch. The English broadcast takes a break on Thursdays and Fridays so the commentators during these days are in Chinese.
How many International Tournaments has the LPL won?
The LPL has won 2 World Champions; one in 2018 (Invictus Gaming) and another in 2019 (FunPlus Phoenix). They have also won two Mid-Season Invitationals; one in 2015 (Edward Gaming) and 2018 (Royal Never Give Up).
Who is the most iconic player in the LPL?
The most iconic player in the LPL is Jian “Uzi” Zi-hao, who was the AD Carry for Royal Never Give Up. He is often compared with Faker as the greatest players to have ever played League of Legends