1. SK Telecom T1
Record: 12-4 | League: LCK | +/-: +2
The LCK regular-season MVP isn't going to come from SK Telecom T1, but that might be a scary thing for the other playoff teams heading into the postseason. Whereas some teams heading into the playoffs -- looking at you, Kingzone -- rely on one or two star players to be constant keys to victory, SKT are built akin to the 2016 ROX Tigers: Any day of the week, another player could take over a series.
In a meta in which top-lane carries are the standard, there might not be a more valuable player in the league right now than SKT's Kim "Khan" Dong-ha. And even in outings in which Khan has an off day, there is the team's leader in MVP points, LCK rookie jungler Kim "Clid" Tae-mi, getting the other lanes for T1 ahead. What seemed to be a project that wouldn't bear fruit until the end of 2019 has found chemistry ahead of schedule, and even Griffin, waiting as the No. 1 seed in the spring split final, can't feel confident if they go against SKT in a best-of-five series in this current meta.
-- Tyler Erzberger
Record: 14-2 | League: LCK | +/-: +3
The rumors of Griffin's demise seem to be greatly exaggerated.
Following a week that saw our former No. 1 team in the world get embarrassed by two teams fighting not to get relegated, Griffin humbled two playoff hopefuls in Hanwha Life Esports and Damwon Gaming in back-to-back matches. Both Hanwha and Damwon thought there could be blood in the water after Griffin's recent slump, and they were met with the Griffin that looked like they were a shoo-in to be the first team in LCK history to complete a season without dropping a single series.
While Griffin have already locked in the No. 1 position and a spot in the LCK spring grand final, mid laner Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon will be looking to secure his first-ever league MVP in the final week of the regular season. He's tied with Kingzone's ace, Kim "Deft" Hyuk-kyu, and the two face off in what could be the decider of which superstar takes home the honor.
3. Invictus Gaming
Record: 10-4 | League: LPL | +/-: -2
The moment we knew it was over for Invictus Gaming in their series against Bilibili Gaming on Monday was a Game 1 Baron fight. The entirety of Invictus Gaming died in a post-Baron bloodbath, rendering the objective useless and giving more kills over to Bilibili's Lee "Kuro" Seo-haeng on Zoe. One of Invictus Gaming's greatest weaknesses, and something that every single Invictus Gaming player likely will bring up in an interview when asked, is that they are always ready for a fight, regardless of whether it's the best move on the map for them at that time. This means that against lower-tier teams that pick a lot of fights, Invictus Gaming can find themselves in a lot of trouble very quickly.
We still believe that Invictus Gaming are one of the world's best teams and are likely to do well in the upcoming playoffs. Should they attend the Mid-Season Invitational, Invictus Gaming have a good matchup against a few of the top South Korean teams due to their early aggression and willingness to take fights and skirmishes. However, they'll have to fix this tendency to throw away advantages in fights that they don't need to take to get there.
-- Emily Rand
4. FunPlus Phoenix
Record: 11-2 | League: LPL | +/-: --
Above all else, FunPlus Phoenix are committed to their mid/jungle-centric style around mid laner Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang. A cursory glance at the FunPlus series against Bilibili this past week showcases just how much Doinb continues to do for jungler Gao "Tian" Tian-Liang, who then transfers it to FunPlus Phoenix's lanes.
The question is no longer whether FunPlus Phoenix are a top-tier team in the LPL (they are) -- it's whether their playstyle will be exploited in the playoffs like it was in their series against Topsports Gaming and Royal Never Give Up earlier this year. It wouldn't be the first time that the LPL allows a team to go unchecked in the regular season only to have opponents show up with a counter in hand come playoff time. The LPL is a marathon, not a sprint. Now that FunPlus Phoenix have proved themselves in the regular season, it's time to see how far they'll be able to go in the playoffs while doubling down on their own playstyle.
5. Topsports Gaming
Record: 10-4 | League: LPL | +/-: -3
Topsports Gaming are one of the LPL teams that tumbled in the standings thanks to recent meta changes. Their latest stumbling block was another team rising at the right time to make the playoffs in EDward Gaming. In previous editions of the power rankings, we've called Topsports a "younger" or a neo-2018 Invictus Gaming: a team with strong laners with a propensity to take any skirmish or teamfight and relentless early aggression.
The meta shift favors Topsports in that the team has a strong top side of the map with top laner Bai "369" Jia-Hao, jungler Xiong "Xx" Yu-Long and, of course, a prodigious mid laner in Zhuo "Knight" Ding. But the recent patch also has slowed the game a bit, revealing Topsports Gaming's struggles in the late game.
If Topsports are not able to garner significant early advantages and close games out early with laning leads or the duo of Xx and Knight controlling the center of the map, the team lacks the experience to close out some of these games that other teams might have. It's far from over for this squad, and improvement likely will come with more experience as a team, but if you're wondering why they've dropped a bit in the standings, look no further than their mid-to-late game.
6. Kingzone DragonX
Record: 12-5 | League: LCK | +/-: +3
After losing Game 1 to the Afreeca Freecs, Kingzone DragonX were mad. They quickly took over the entire bottom side of the map in Game 2, defaulting to their preferred playstyle in feeding bot laner Kim "Deft" Hyuk-kyu and allowing him to take over. This strategy was repeated in Game 3 with similar success, despite a few communication hiccups.
Kingzone are the third-best team in South Korea, standings aside, and the fact that games are generally going later is only to their advantage with strong teamfighters such as Deft on their roster. Sticking with picks such as Ryze or Lissandra for mid laner Heo "PawN" Won-seok allows the veteran PawN to control teamfights or easily leave lane to roam, which gives the bot lane further advantages or forces opponents to chase PawN around the map. It's difficult to see Kingzone upsetting SK Telecom T1 or Griffin in the playoff gauntlet, but they've certainly exceeded our expectations with strong knowledge of how they can play around their talent.
7. JD Gaming
Record: 9-5 | League: LPL | +/-: -1
JD Gaming are another team affected by the patch shift that seems like it should thrive in the current meta. Like Topsports, JD Gaming have a strong top side of the map with their two solo laners in Zhang "Zoom" Xing-Ran and Zeng "YaGao" Qi. JD Gaming also sometimes have trouble in mid-to-late-game five-on-five teamfights, as evidenced by how LGD Gaming's Ha "Kramer" Jong-hun was able to take over Game 2 of their series on Kog'Maw despite JD Gaming having a split-push advantage with Zoom's Yorick. Come Game 3, LGD were able to take full control with another teamfighting composition, this time around Kramer's Kai'sa and LGD jungler Xiang "Condi" Ren-Jie's Kindred.
For now, JD Gaming find themselves below the top LPL teams and also can easily be bested by experience and coordination around late-game teamfighting.
8. Royal Never Give Up
Record: 9-5 | League: LPL | +/-: -1
When you look at RNG's recent record, it's easy to zone in on a 2-0 loss to SinoDragon Gaming, but after a solid series win against JD Gaming and riveting 2-1 loss to Invictus Gaming, they are still very much in the top 10. SinoDragon have consistently pressured top LPL teams while fighting for a playoff spot and appropriately challenged RNG's late-game teamfighting approach with early aggressive play from Wang "Xiaopeng" Peng and Huang "Twila" Ting-Wei. Still, the series was closer than the 2-0 score indicates, and RNG are still very much in play for the LPL title as the split comes to a close.
-- Xander Torres
9. Team WE
Record: 8-5 | League: LPL | +/-: +6
Don't look now, Team WE fans, but your team is 7-2 since the OMG series and a likely playoff dark horse. Mid laner Su "xiye" Han-Wei and bot laner Jin "Mystic" Seong-jun are still performing well, but the player who has brought this entire WE team together is Jiang "beishang" Zhi-Peng. The jungler has come up with a few unique early paths and routes to keep his opponents down, and those adjustments have led to a turn in the team's fortunes.
Team WE still have a lot of problem areas and lack consistency within single series, especially when it comes to mid-to-late-game decision-making: Vici Gaming's smart call to simply end the game while Team WE were taking Baron in Team WE's Game 1 loss to Vici stands out. Like a lot of other LPL teams right now, Team WE are still figuring things out, but it's good to see them back and rising through the standings just in time to give a few of the top teams trouble before the playoffs begin.
Record: 11-7 | League: LEC | +/-: --
Fnatic did not play last week. They maintain position at No. 10.