PARIS — Before FunPlus Phoenix set foot in France, jungler Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang said that he wanted to hear a few FunPlus cheers in the crowd at the League of Legends World Championship, even though their European opponent, G2 Esports, would get most of the fanfare.

The French fans stuck by their team. They erupted when G2 Esports founder Carlos “ocelote” Rodriguez Santiago took the stage before the opening ceremony. “Let’s go G2!” cheers rang out between bursts of the French national anthem.

But after three fairly quick games, Tian stood on that same stage where ocelote had been interviewed hours before and nodded, smiling as tears welled up in his eyes. The crowd chanted, “F-P-X, F-P-X!”

FunPlus had swept G2, prevented the first-ever League of Legends grand slam and won a world title in their first appearance at the international tournament.

A phoenix, for those who don’t know their ancient Greek legends or who haven’t read or watched any Harry Potter, is a mythological bird that dies and is reborn. The most common phoenix motif features a bird bursting into flames before turning into a pile of ashes and returning to life. The members of FunPlus acted this out in China’s League of Legends Pro League and again on the worlds stage this past month, from Berlin to Madrid to their Summoner’s Cup victory Sunday.

After a disappointing spring playoff series where they lost to JD Gaming, FunPlus rebounded to win the summer LPL title. After a disappointing worlds group stage performance, FunPlus won both of their quarterfinals and semifinals matches 3-1 and swept G2 Esports in the finals. They did all of this while stubbornly sticking to a specific playstyle that seemed to leave so many opportunities open for opponents to exploit. They rarely did.

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