Weeks ago, 24 teams stood at the base of a mountain looking up. Each one had their own goals, the peaks they wanted to reach, the success they needed to have, but all of them wanted one thing more than any other — to be the only team left standing on top of the mountain. Now, two teams remain, still reaching out for the top of the mountain now so close they could almost feel it under their fingers.
G2 Esports winning has always felt like an unavoidable eventuality. That’s what happens when you get probably the five best players in your region on the same team: They’re supposed to win. But that doesn’t make what they’re doing any less significant, even as many fans seem to be forgetting that this is something that has never happened. The West has not won a World Championship that had non-western teams in it. And so G2 won’t step on that stage Sunday playing for themselves. They’ll do it playing for 10 years of teams losing and failing, for the fans who stubbornly have spent a decade, or just a moment, at their sides believing, despite all evidence, that victory is imminent.
G2 has another advantage besides the crowd: home-field advantage. They have the crowd roaring at their backs, wholeheartedly supporting each move they make. G2 winning at home would feel like a perfect end to their season: capping off a Grand Slam victory, winning both splits for your region, MSI and Worlds, on home soil carried by the best players their region has ever known.
FunPlus Phoenix doesn’t have home-field advantage, though there will likely still be a number of Chinese fans in the crowd on Sunday. But FPX hasn’t had home-field advantage ever; they were the spunky underdogs in China, not favorites. They’ve been a Chinese team on a European stage for the last month. At this point, unless the crowd reaches truly insane levels of volume, that shouldn’t surprise them.
FPX’s biggest advantage rests in its star midlaner, Doinb. One of the most creative players in the world when it comes to what champions he plays, Doinb has the potential to throw off the entire G2 gameplan without even meaning to. There is nothing that can throw off your gameplan faster than turning around and seeing a Nautilus chilling in the midlane. If any team had a chance to challenge G2’s funky, carefree style, it was a team that also has a funky, carefree style of drafting. Neither lineup is afraid to make ridiculous picks because both wholeheartedly believe that they will win with whatever they draft.
This Sunday at 7 a.m., FunPlus Phoenix and G2 esports will fight to be remembered forever. In what will likely be the best series of the year, 10 players will step onto the stage and say that the trophy is theirs. In the end, it won’t matter how far they’ve come, how many mountains they’ve climbed or how many teams they’ve defeated to be on this stage. The only thing that will matter is which team makes it through a final three won games, walks down the stage and raises their trophy for all to see.
Ashton Stansel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.