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How Suning went from a mediocre LPL team to a Worlds finalist

Suning has undergone huge improvements the past year, taking them to the 2020 League of Legends World Championship final despite low expectations. 

Going into Worlds 2020, very few people expected something big from Suning. Coming out of the LPL as the third seed is no easy task, but teams such as Top Esports, JD Gaming, and G2 Esports were expected to beat them on any given day. 

The young squad has proved everyone wrong, taking down world-class teams in convincing fashion. Suning quickly became a fan favorite and this year’s biggest Cinderella story. Going back just a few months, no one could have predicted that Suning will now be playing its first Worlds final. 

If Suning manages to lift the Summoner’s Cup by beating DAMWON Gaming in the final, it will likely go down as one of the biggest upsets in League of Legends history.

Betting on young LPL talent

Suning is a fairly young team, with players like bot laner Tang “huanfeng” Huan-Feng and top laner Chen “Bin” Ze-Bin at the age of 19 and 18 years old respectively. The team also has more experienced players in support Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh and jungler Lê “SofM” Quang Duy, but having such young rookies at the Worlds stage will often create a bit of skepticism around a team.   

The organization has been betting on young LPL talents this year and it has paid off greatly so far. The first move for Suning was to promote Xiang “Angel” Tao as the starting mid laner, after being subbed in and out of the team since he joined in July 2018. 

Over the past years, Angel has been acting as top laner for a few games and shared time in the mid lane with former Flash Wolves player Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang. Going into the 2020 season, it was all about Angel in the mid lane, and the young Chinese talent has grown a crazy amount in a league with top-tier mid laners. 

For the 2020 season, Suning also decided to promote top laner Bin to the main roster at an age of just 17 years old. Bin was known to have a very high mechanical level but needed some time to adjust his playstyle to the big stage where teamwork is key. In the 2020 LPL Summer Split, Bin got to play full time after Yu “Biubiu” Lei-Xin joined Victory Five on loan.    

Lastly, Suning picked up the young bot laner huanfeng, who had been playing under Invictus Gaming before given the chance in LPL. Just like Bin, huanfeng got the starting spot for himself in the summer split. 

With lots of young talent on the roster, the team was set for the summer split and it was time for Suning to prove that it was worth investing in the future.  

The roster looked exciting on paper, but it did take Suning some time to start jelling. It was clear at the beginning of the Summer Split that the young players were not used to playing under the LPL pressure and it showed through poor team fighting and coordination.   

Even though Suning picked up wins, they were not convincing and were mainly against weaker teams. Suning couldn’t crack the code against the top teams until week 5, where they took down LGD Gaming. After the win against LGD, things started to take off and Suning finally started to look like a playoffs team. 

Bin ended up showing his individual power, as he finished the split with the most solo kills among all players. Suning started to play as a team and ended up securing third place in the playoffs thanks to the bloodthirsty rookies. 

The Vietnamese star jungler SofM 

With some of the youngest rookies on the squad, Suning has been reliant on its veteran players and SofM has been the biggest key. The Vietnamese jungler came to the LPL back in 2016, when he joined Snake Esports. SofM has been going under the radar for years, without making a big result until now. 

After being picked up by Suning for the 2020 season, SofM slowly but surely started to get more recognition. He is a jungler with a very unique playstyle that can’t be found elsewhere. He is very aggressive and never afraid to pick a fight or counter jungle the opponent. This style comes with a lot of risks, but recently it has paid off in a jungle-centric meta.  

SofM wasn’t necessarily the main carry for Suning in the summer split but acted as an in-game leader together with SwordArt. The two experienced players have been important for the rookies and the team’s overall synergy. 

The jungle meta during the summer split wasn’t focused on carry champions. Instead, the meta junglers were team-oriented and needed to help the laners get ahead. This wasn’t a favored meta for SofM, but he used the time to help the younger players on the team understand the game on a deeper macro basis. 

Adapting to the 2020 Worlds meta

Despite Suning’s impressive third-place finish in the LPL, the team as a whole hadn’t convinced many fans and experts. Going into the 2020 World Championship, Suning was called one of the worst top teams of any major region. The title probably wasn’t the one Suning had hoped for, but they ended up embracing being the underdog. 

Suning has gone against all odds time and time again at Worlds 2020, through their coordinated playstyle and perfect adaptation to the meta. The Worlds meta allows carry junglers to perform and SofM is the perfect player for that. 

The same goes for the top lane, where Bin has been popping off and avoided playing the usual tanks such as Ornn and Sion. Instead, Bin has picked up some comfort champions and really made it work. He has performed well on a team fight champion such as Gangplank, but also shown that he knows how to play the split-pushing game on Jax and Camille.

Just like Bin, this Worlds has also been SofM’s time to shine, in a meta that suits his playstyle perfectly. With champions such as Graves, Nidalee, and Kindred in focus, SofM has been in his right element. His hyper-aggressive playstyle has been dominant throughout the tournament. Teams have struggled to deal with his counter jungling and ability to constantly punish the opposition for every mistake. 

SofM has finally found the perfect moment to show the world how good of a jungler he really is. From flying under the radar on Snake Esports to being the primary carry for one of the 2020 Worlds finalists and maybe even currently the best jungler in the world. 

The whole Suning squad has been great at playing around its win conditions, which has been SofM and Bin. It leaves Bin with some impressive stats at his first World Championship, sitting at by far the most kills among all top laners at 58 kills. Bin is also rocking the highest XP differential at 10 minutes and the highest damage output per minute for every top laner at the Worlds main event. 

To set up Suning for success, veteran support SwordArt has been very consistent. The former Flash Wolves support has played a lot of Bard and Leona and been the key player to set up team fights. 

The diverse playstyle and high individual skill ceiling have carried Suning to an unexpected Worlds final. The final test of the year, and also the hardest, will be DAMWON. Suning is once again entering the match as big underdogs, but with a real chance to complete one of the greatest upsets in League of Legends history. 

Suning and DAMWON will play the 2020 Worlds final on October 31. 

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Time zone: UTC (GMT 0)
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