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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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?