JD Gaming have done it again. After taking out Team WE in the first round of playoffs, JDG took down another whale today: Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao’s Royal Never Give Up.
JDG only barely made playoffs and few expected they’d go far in the best-of-5 playoffs, but the team has proven experts wrong so far. JDG are already qualified for Rift Rivals and are one win away from making the LPL grand finals.
Even against titans like RNG, JDG didn’t lift the foot from the gas and almost took a 2-0 lead in the series, before a clutch team fight from a gold deficit by RNG tied the score. The favorites took the lead in the next game and it seemed the series would go in their favor after all, but then JDG top laner Zhang “Zoom” Xing-Ran unleashed his full potential.
With outstanding back-to-back performances in game 4 and 5 on Swain and Kayle, Zoom carried his team to victory, supported from the bot lane by a vicious Gu “Imp” Seung-bin. JDG played a by-the-book League of Legends, capitalizing every kill and turning it into a macro objective. Zoom deservedly won two MVP awards for his pop offs and was the deciding factor for JDG in teamfights.
The loss is another in a worrying string of disappointments for RNG. After winning every single title in 2018, RNG were expected to make the Worlds grand finals at least, if not win it, but were stopped in the quarterfinals by G2 Esports. Instead of dominating the Spring Split now, RNG instead finished fourth with only 60% map win rate and have now lost to the lowest ranked team in the playoffs. This is sending signals of danger to RNG fans and management alike: if Uzi is figured out already and not even his star carry potential can win RNG games, then changes need to be made. While RNG are unlikely to let their poster boy go, one thing is becoming more certain: he cannot be the only one RNG can depend on from now on.
In their next match-up, JD Gaming will face LPL’s #1 team from the regular season: FunPlus Phoenix. Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang’s core have been near perfect this season, only dropping two series total. The winner advanced to the grand finals to compete for the trophy and a spot at the MSI Main Event.