The finals hype surrounding this year’s World Championship was crazier than ever. If Europe won this year’s final, they would cement themselves as an actual international threat, ousting North America as a competitor and competing on the levels of Korea and China.

If China won this year’s World Championship, they would make history by securing their first ever World Championship title and evening the ground of the Korea versus China dispute over which region was the better of the two. The final saw two interesting prospects going against each other: Fnatic, the top dog from Europe who had one of the strongest performances of this year, taking down Edward Gaming and Cloud9 along the way to reach greatness.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ring was Invictus Gaming, an underdog from China that had barely lost in the LPL finals to international powerhouse, Royal Never Give Up. No one saw Invictus Gaming getting this far. In fact, they saw IG losing first round to KT Rolster but they edged past them in a 3-2 victory followed up by a sweep on G2 Esports to reach their first ever final.

In the end, with an unlikely matchup of IG versus FNC, Invictus Gaming came out victorious with what seemed to be an easy 3-0 victory. But there was more to it than that. Invictus Gaming’s strategy and game plan was precise and immaculate. There were so many details to their plan and so many things that they had planned. Here was how they took down Fnatic.

The Three Games

Invictus Gaming beat Fnatic 3-0 in the grand finals and while it may have been a bloodbath in every single game, it doesn’t hurt to see how each game played out, especially considering the fact that IG’s plan came down to the smallest details.

Game One

Both teams had players that were the spectacle of the crowd. For Fnatic, it was the AD Carry and mid laner that the audience were watching: Caps and Rekkles, the two carries for FNC. On Invictus Gaming, it was all about their top laner and mid laner: TheShy and Rookie, two of the best in China at the moment.

The banning phase of game one showed the mentality of both Fnatic and Invictus Gaming. For Fnatic, they were looking to get rid of Rookie’s Leblanc and TheShy’s Aatrox. TheShy had used his Aatrox to good use during their sweep versus G2 Esports so it was obvious that Fnatic didn’t want that happening to them.

Meanwhile, if Rookie could get ahead—which he usually does—then a Leblanc pick would be devastating for Fnatic. On the other side, Invictus Gaming quickly banned out Viktor, a champion that FNC’s top laner, Bwipo, could abuse.

They also got rid of Rakan, a favorite from Hylissang if he ever wanted to engage into the enemy team and catch them by surprise. In the end, Rookie ended up pulling out a pocket pick Lissandra while TheShy resorted to a Sion pick. Caps picked up his Irelia, a champion that had either extremely good or extremely terrible results. Meanwhile, Rekkles chose Jhin, a safer champion to start out with.

The early game wasn’t good for Fnatic. Caps was struggling to keep up with Rookie’s Lissandra on his Irelia and IG’s Ning exerted more pressure with his Camille pick in the jungle rather than Broxah’s Lee Sin. This led to Rookie maintaining a consistent CS lead over FNC’s mid laner and eventually, Caps was caught out again at the thirteenth minute, extending IG’s lead. Eventually, this became too much for Fnatic and Invictus Gaming began calling the shots.

FNC tried to hold on by going for objectives with a Rift Herald attempt and Rekkles and Hylissang both held the line for Fnatic at crucial moments. However, the overly-ambitious Caps was the centerpiece as to why Fnatic lost game one. He got too comfortable with Rookie, one of the best players in the world right now, and he paid the price for it. He gave Invictus Gaming the entrance into the mid game and they used that to win the next few team fights in order to destroy their Nexus.

Game Two

After Ning’s success on Camille, the Fnatic roster was quick to ban her away from IG’s jungler. Meanwhile, the rest of the bans were the same. However, Caps surprised his roster yet again. Caps is known for his surprising picks and this time, Caps chose Azir as his mid laner, a champion that had been out of meta since late 2017.

It didn’t help that Rookie picked Syndra, another one of his favorites, and a natural counter to Azir. In the game, however, it wasn’t Rookie that managed to grab the fast break for them. It was Ning. Despite having his Camille banned away, he still managed to get the early game for IG.

Picking up an early two kills on FNC’s Bwipo through his Gragas, he was able to help transition this into a strong start for Invictus Gaming. It didn’t stop there. By the fifteenth minute, FNC’s Bwipo had already died five times compared to TheShy’s one.

In the mid lane, FNC’s Caps yet again failed to match the CS of Rookie and the same went for the bot lane. Fnatic tried to hold on and they did at points, winning a few skirmishes here and there but they couldn’t show anything for it.

In the end, Invictus Gaming outclassed them in almost every manner and because of this, they were able to stomp them out of game two again, largely thanks to the pressure of Ning and FNC’s inability to prioritize.

Game Three

Bans were about the same this time around with Fnatic banning out the same champions and Invictus Gaming did about the same. However, this time, Fnatic’s Rekkles managed to get his hands on one of his favorites, Xayah, and Broxah pulled out a surprising Jax jungle pick.

On Invictus Gaming’s side, TheShy managed to get his signature Aatrox and JackeyLove received his Kai’sa yet again. With both sides holding some of their best picks of the game, game three was definitely going to be interesting.

Game three started off rough for Fnatic again. Even though they looked like they were going even, IG’s JackeyLove had already picked up two kills on his Kai’sa and TheShy was producing results on his Aatrox. FNC didn’t have all hope lost just yet though. Rekkles was still giving out results.

In the team fights, however, TheShy’s Aatrox proved too much to handle. He single-handedly helped them win several skirmishes in the early game and by the fifteenth minute, Invictus Gaming was up 12 to 6 in kills. The kills kept stacking and by the twentieth minute, IG was up 17 to 7 in kills.

It looked like Invictus Gaming was going to close this one out fast and they did indeed. Despite Broxah stealing a Baron Nashor out from under IG and a won team fight right afterwards in Fnatic’s favor, IG still managed to push in the waves and eventually take out the base, crowning them the 2018 World Championship.

What Happened? How Did They Do It?

The question is how. How did Invictus Gaming easily disassemble Europe’s best team? They did it with ease and it looked like Fnatic never had a chance to begin with. Mind you, Fnatic had beaten Invictus Gaming twice in the Groups Stage and yet, they were little to nothing for IG in the finals.

Better Safe Than Sorry

How did they do it? The answer is simple. Invictus Gaming played the safe but smart game while Fnatic went for the big plays. In the end, the safer players won out and Fnatic lost too much on too big of risks. We saw this through Bwipo, Caps, and Hylissang. They went for too much and they lost it.

In game one, Caps pulled out his Irelia pick and tried to go all out on China’s best mid laner but Rookie handled it with ease and used his jungler to help catch out Caps. This led to Caps becoming utterly useless throughout the mid game and helped them close out the game easily for game one. In game two, Bwipo thought he could take on TheShy while underestimating Ning’s jungle potential with Gragas. As usual, Ning prioritized on this and took down Bwipo over and over again till he finally learned his lesson.

Finally, Hylissang’s decision to engage on IG’s bot lane duo of JackeyLove and Baolan led to them getting an early to kills and Hylissang ended that game with nine deaths under his belt. It’s obvious that he played a large part in Fnatic’s loss.

They were caught out too many times and went for the big plays when they simply didn’t have the resources to make those plays. Sure, it might’ve worked against a more hot-headed team like Edward Gaming or G2 Esports but Invictus Gaming focused on fundamentals and it’s impossible to take down a team like Invictus Gaming if you try to make big plays all the time.

The Power of Rookie

In each game, Invictus Gaming’s mid laner outperformed himself. In game one, his Lissandra helped provide the catches and crowd-control IG needed to win the mid game effectively and he knew how to make Caps useless.

In game two, his Syndra forced Rekkles into the shadows and made him fear her every time he got too close for comfort. In game three, he took down Caps with style yet again and used his Galio as a means to pull off game-changing taunts and huge area-of-effect damage.

He played each game as if he was playing chess against an opponent and he made every move flawlessly. The entire Fnatic roster didn’t know what to do with him and this made him even more effective as a player.

Caps Disappointed and Rekkles Did Nothing

It’s sad to say but two of Europe’s best players did mostly disappointing in the finals. Caps went too ham in every team fight and cost them game one and part of game three while Rekkles was forced to sit back as IG focused down two of his favorite picks, Sivir and Tristana, in game one and two.

In my opinion, most of the fault goes towards Caps. He did mostly nothing in all three games. In game one, he died too many times to count and in game three, he was a small influence throughout the game. In game two, he played alright but because he decided to choose Azir as his pick, his influence was also little to none.

Meanwhile, even though IG specifically targeted Rekkles because of his threat to international teams, he was still able to produce something for Fnatic. Whenever Fnatic was down, he helped them win skirmishes. He also kept Invictus Gaming’s bot lane duo on their feet and didn’t allow them to go for much. Instead, he forced them down and made them play the long game and perhaps, if Caps didn’t feed in game one and three, things would be different right now. Maybe Fnatic’s Rekkles could’ve carried FNC to a title. We’ll never know.

IG’s Long Game

Invictus Gaming isn’t like other Chinese teams like Edward Gaming and Royal Never Give Up. Instead of going for huge plays and setting up skirmishes, Invictus Gaming looks to weaken their opponents and they do this through constant ganking. As you could see through this year’s finals, Ning’s ability to constantly gank one lane left that one lane useless for Fnatic. In game one, it was Caps. In game two, it was Bwipo and in game three, it was Hylissang and Caps.

They weaken that lane and play for the long game, being careful not to give too much up in a fight. This mentality crippled Fnatic and made it impossible to do what they wanted. Fnatic wanted to set up fight but with such a crippled lane, that would be impossible since each fight would essentially be a four versus five if they brought all their members.

They did this versus KT Rolster and they also did this versus G2 Esports. However, it was most apparent during the finals whenever Caps kept trying to go in on Rookie but failed every time due to the difference in experience and gold as well as the pressure by IG’s Ning. Their ability to play the long game has forced the other team’s to slow down on the pace and this can be trouble, especially when most teams like to play fast and play big. IG played slow but they played smart and in the end, it paid off.

What’s Next For Invictus Gaming? Can They Do it Again?

There are so many questions regarding whether or not Invictus Gaming can do it again. After all, the competition gets stiffer every year. In my opinion, Invictus Gaming can definitely do it again. They were able to oust the best team in Korea as well as other international threats like G2 Esports, 100 Thieves, and Fnatic.

However, there’s a whole year for the next World Championship and another super team could arise by then. That being said, Invictus Gaming is going to have to keep training and keep building up their arsenal if they want a shot at next year’s throne. It’s definitely possible but they’re going to have to put in the work. They revolutionized this year by winning via a game plan that normally wouldn’t work but in order to succeed again, they’re going to have to do it better again next year.

The finals this year was a classic battle of east versus west. It was a battle over which of the major regions was better and this year, the east came out on top. China ousted Europe to finally win their first ever World Championship and it was through large amount of hard work too.

Rookie’s ability to solo-carry the early to mid game as well as the jungle pressure from Ning provided a good opening for Invictus Gaming to do what they want. In team fights, they could depend on TheShy to show up and do his thing while JackeyLove broke down the front line with his pocket picks.

As for Fnatic, they weren’t able to keep up. Caps failed to represent his usual playstyle and Fnatic’s Rekkles was pinned down by IG from the very start. The rest of the team showed disappointing performances and little can be said for what’s to come.

However, it’s obvious that next year could be different. Next year, IG might not even make the World Championship cut. The same goes for Fnatic. Everything could change a year from now and maybe a new World Champion could be crowned at the Season 9 World Championship. Who knows?

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