The Chinese League of Legends Pro League opened its doors to the 2021 season with a Suning defeat over Top Esports in a repeat of the result from their Worlds 2020 semi-final series.
Suning’s AD Carry Tang “Huanfeng” Huang-feng continued his exceptional form that garnered massive attention from Worlds by going 15/0/13 on his Kai’sa to lead his team to the opening series victory.
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Not following behind, Suning’s top laner Chen “Bin” Ze-Bin went 12/3/18 on his Aatrox and Camille. In Game 2, the 18-year-old Chinese top laner compiled 11 kills, 12 assists, and only three deaths.
Overwhelmingly besting one of his fierce domestic rivals in the position, 369, the latter of which went 0/7/5 on his Jax. Suning’s mid-laner Xiang” Angel” Tao, with his Viktor, put up 6/2/18 in the series’ two games on his part, fulfilling his role as a support for the team’s two carry players.
Game 1 of the series began on a rather slow pace as no kills were committed until the eighth minute when TOP’s Karma and Pantheon caught out Lê “SofM” Quang Duy’s Nidalee in the river trying to clear out the enemy’s vision. After taking two of Suning’s outer turrets and two drakes, the defending LPL champion’s gold lead grew to nearly 2k by the midgame. Suning would eventually recover their deficit by taking the next two fire drakes.
The chief play that altered the momentum of the game happened when Wang “Zhuo” Xu-Zhuo, with his Leona, flashed into a Suning junction and used Zenith Blade on Viktor, but he was quickly killed by Kai’Sa. Hung “Karsa” Hao-Hsuan attempted to follow up on Leona’s offensive spring by ulting in with Grand Starfall with his Pantheon, but it was too late to connect, which subsequently lead to his prompt death instead.
At 33 minutes, Huanfeng and Bin pounced through bottom lane and dove in the turret to kill Top’s Syndra and Karma. Huanfeng was close to getting killed as he overextended to get Karma, but he was saved by the rest of his teammates just after the Guardian Angel item ability expired, ending the game for good in favour of Suning.
Game 2 of the series transpired in a similar fashion as the first game, Top taking the gold lead from the outset by taking three of Suning’s turrets by the 20th minute, not to mention Karsa’s Hecarim besting SofM’s Lilia in the early game by KDA and CC farm gained. By the 26th minute of the game, Top was ahead of Suning by a 5.5k gold advantage.
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However, Suning didn’t fray to Top’s then-resent lead. Through their intricate execution of certain team fights that caught Top overextending, Suning mounted a fierce comeback from their early deficit on the heels of a Huanfeng triple kill in the 27th minute for Suning.
Suning sealed the win in a team fight that commenced when Bin dove on an unsuspecting Jax and stunned him to his impending death. Karsa quickly responded by using his Onslaught of Shadows, but it didn’t hit anyone from Suning and instead led to another Kai’sa triple kill.
Near the end of the game, Top moved to the jungle and sought to obtain a cloud drake, pushing fervently against Suning’s repelling effort. Soon afterwards, as Top moved across the bottom-right jungle, Bin caught 369 once again out of position and promptly killed him, forcing Karsa, Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo with his Samira, and Zhuo to scatter and break their cohesion simultaneously. With four Top players on lengthy death timers, Suning pushed down mid, tore down the remaining nexus turrets, and beat Top Esports for their first series win of the 2021 LPL spring split.
Much of the Top Esports lineup that tore through the LPL for much of last season has stayed the same for this year, save for the support role. Over there, the team substituted their former starter Yuyanjia for Zhuo to start the season. Zhuo was formerly a part of Team WE as an academy player for all of 2020.
Despite losing starting support SwordArt in the offseason, Suning maintained their fabled roster that went all the way to the grand finals of Worlds 2020 as the LPL’s third seed. The team promoted 17-year-old ON from substitute role to the main roster as their new starting support player.
What’s next for both teams:
In the second week of the LPL spring split, Suning will play their next series on January 14 against Royal Never Give Up.
For Top Esports, they will play on stage again one day earlier, on January 13, to face Rogue Warriors.
It was very exciting watching Suning vs Top Esports open the 2021 LPL. Both series, like the rest during the season, will be broadcasted by the LPL’s official Twitch channel.
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