Chinese League of Legends (LoL) powerhouse JD Gaming (JDG) have become the 2022 LoL Pro League (LPL) Summer Champions after they outlasted Top Esports (TES) 3-2 in the LPL Grand Finals on Thursday (1 September).
This is the first time that JDG have taken LPL's first seed for the LoL World Championship.
Both teams have shown dominance throughout the entire season, with both TES and JDG ranking first and second, respectively, in the regular season after they both finished with 14-2 records.
JDG kept the momentum in the Summer Playoffs, sweeping LNG Esports, 3-0, in the upper bracket semfinals before defeating TES, 3-2, in their first meeting in the upper bracket finals.
Meanwhile, TES defeated reigning Worlds 2021 champions Edward Gaming (EDG) in their own upper bracket semifinals match and secured a slot at Worlds after being the team with the most championship points throughout the year.
However, they dropped to the lower bracket finals, where they eliminated EDG in a rematch that ended in a 3-0 sweep to earn a rematch with JDG for the championship.
JDG and TES have been known to stretch their battles to a full five games in any best-of-five series. In the Summer of 2020, TES prevailed over JDG and took the LPL Summer Crown. However, JDG took revenge two years later to become the 2022 Summer Champions and LPL's first seed into Worlds.
How the grand finals showdown went down:
In the first game, TES started strong, taking three kills in the first ten minutes. However, both teams kept even scores, with JDG taking the first turret and TES taking another kill.
TES continued to take control of the map with vision, taking out the Rift Herald, Dragon, and JDG's mid turret and keeping a slight lead.
As TES opened up the mid and bottom lanes, JDG tried to open up their opponents' top lane.
However, JDG took the lead in the late game, as they were able to pick off TES carry Yu "JackeyLove" Wen-Bo. JDG's Lissandra-Zeri-Lulu combination then started to dominate in the teamfights.
And with follow-through from Wukong and late-game Kennen, JDG turned the tables, taking more kills and securing the Dragon. After 31 minutes, JDG destroyed the TES Nexus and won the first game of the finals with a 19-10 kill lead.
In game two, TES prioritised a Sivir-Leona bot lane comp, while JDG continued to pick Zeri and Lulu. TES once again put pressure across all lanes in the early game, taking three kills and a top lane turret.
Having gained an early game lead, TES continued to lay siege to JDG's players and turrets.
TES' tanky composition made it difficult for JDG's high damage comp to fight back. Despite this, JDG kept trying to find flank opportunities in the late game to even out the score. Both teams continued to dance for objectives, with JDG's Wang "Hope" Jie on Zeri picking the right targets.
However, in a fight for the Baron, TES peeled through their opponents despite JDG having the Elder Drake buff. And after a 48-minute slugfest, TES tied up the series at 1-1 with an 18-12 kill lead.
Both teams kept an equal footing in the pivotal game three until the mid-game, trading objectives across the map. However, JDG found a way to outplay TES, acing them in the river.
JDG pushed their advantage from here. And after a 31-minute encounter, JDG destroyed the TES Nexus and took a 2-1 series lead with a 21-14 kill score.
With their backs against the wall in game four, TES drafted for an unlikely pair (lore-wise) of Zeri and Renata Glasc in the bot lane. The team took control of the early game, destroying one turret in the top lane and two others in the mid lane.
JDG then tried to get a few pickoffs across the map. However, TES kept their cool and strategically set up objectives one after the other.
TES slowly pushed their way through the JDG base. And after acing JDG in the river, TES marched down their opponents' base and forced the finals to a deciding game five after 37 minutes of action and with a 14-5 kill lead.
In the finals decider, JDG brought out the Void Empress in the jungle, along with other monstrous meta picks like Aatrox, Azir, and Sivir, while TES tried to answer with Trundle, Viktor, and Zeri.
JDG prioritised getting Bel'Veth online as early as possible, with Seo "Kanavi" Jin-hyeok taking first blood. Knowing the threat of the Void Empress, TES tried to shut Kanavi down, taking two kills against JDG.
TES continued to build up their lead in the mid-game, but with much difficulty, since JDG kept finding ways to keep up.
JDG found a way back into the game after outmanoeuvring TES in the fight at the Dragon pit, with Zeng "Yagao" Qi's Sivir taking out JackeyLove's Zeri and Kanavi shredding through the rest of TES with Bel'veth.
TES managed to take the lead back. But with Azir, Sivir and Bel'veth strong in the late game, JDG found other ways to flip the gold lead again and pushed mid, ignoring TES in the process.
After a deadly mistake by JackeyLove, JDG punished the rest of TES and closed off the fifth game in 35 minutes with an 11-9 kill lead to win the LPL Summer Championship Title and a US$292,100 cash prize. Yagao was notably named the Finals MVP.
— LPL (@lplenglish) September 1, 2022
Meanwhile, TES settled for second place and took home US$146,050 in consolation.
Both JDG and TES have qualified as the first and second seeds of the LPL for Worlds 2022. They, along with two more teams, will face 22 other teams from 11 regions in an attempt to defend the Summoner's Cup for the LPL.
The LPL will continue with the Regional Qualifiers in order to lock in their third and fourth seeds for Worlds from 2 to 4 September.
Reigning Mid-Season Invitational Champions Royal Never Give Up will face off against reigning 2021 LoL World Champions EDG in the upper bracket for the third seed in a best-of-five series. The loser of the match will drop to the lower bracket and play against the winner of the lower bracket teams, V5 vs LNG Esports. Whoever wins the lower bracket second round will be LPL's fourth seed.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.