FunPlus Phoenix had a great start to the season after Nuguri’s arrival. The team played for the top spot for a long time, but after Tian’s health problems, it struggled to find its new jungler. FPX played with two different junglers during that time and now Tian is back on the Rift for the trophy. FPX got closer to the final round by dominating Rare Atom today.
Nuguri picked Irelia and needed early attention from Tian due to his champion selection. Tian read the draft perfectly and helped Nuguri with an early dive to get the first blood gold. Tian kept his attention on the upper side of the Rift. As a result, Cube fell behind and was literally useless.
Leyan and FoFo kept Rare Atom in the game with their individual performances; however, Tian determined the winner with his textbook Udyr gameplay. Even though he missed a couple of games in the regular season, it is obvious that Tian is eager to win again. FunPlus Phoenix won every team fight after the 20th minute and closed down the game in 28 minutes.
FunPlus Phoenix decided to use the same gameplan and picked Akali for Nuguri. The Korean superstar carried all the weight on his shoulders in these two games. This time, Tian tricked Leyan and ganked the bot side instead of Nuguri. Lwx secured the first blood, but iBoy was still ahead in minions.
Hang had a terrible early game; he died three times during the laning phase and all the kills were donated to Lex. The bottom side of the Rift was fully controlled by the side of FunPlus Phoenix as well as team fights. Nuguri’s perfect Akali plays helped the team a lot. The gold gap increased minute by minute, and Rare Atom had no way to stop it. FPX demolished the Nexus in 35 minutes and advanced to match point.
The start of the third game was different from the previous two. Cube pressured Nuguri’s Aatrox and gifted the first blood to Leyan. Leyan made the first gank for the first time in the series. He also played alongside his top laner, Cube, to get Nuguri behind, which actually worked pretty well. Rare Atom secured every objective and took control of the game thanks to Leyan’s Nocturne. RA kept its faith alive with a 32-minute win over FPX in the third game.
Nuguri picked Malphite in the last game. We are not used to seeing him play this kind of champion, to be honest. Nuguri was Leyan’s target once again with a vulnerable Malphite in his hands. Leyan got the first blood; however, Nuguri did his job and stayed focus with key Malphite ults. Teams avoided team fights and tried to scale. Rare Atom got the Baron which led to a gold gap build. Rare Atom’s biggest mistake was definitely not respecting the Malphite-Rell combo. Nuguri and Crisp used the combo excellently to win all the team fights. FunPlus Phoenix won the game in 34 minutes and proceeded to the next round.
FunPlus Phoenix showed that it can prioritize every player on its roster. Even if Nuguri plays a carry champion or a tank, his teammates will be there to back him up. We also need to congratulate Rare Atom for an amazing split. This team was expected to be out of the playoff race, but FoFo and his friends managed to keep the spirit alive.