For the first time since 2012, a Korean team failed to win the League of Legends World Championship, with China’s Invictus Gaming coming away with the title.
IG entered as the second seeds from the LPL, being placed in what appeared to be the best group possible in Group D, with only one major threat in Fnatic. The other two teams were 100 Thieves and G-Rex.
IG were even able to exceed expectations early on, with a clean 3-0 opening round-robin which included a dominant victory over Fnatic. However, IG would falter in the second round-robin, falling to Fnatic twice, including in the tie-breaker to decide who would finish top of the group.
kt Rolster stunned
This appeared to be where IG’s fortunes would dry up. As second seeds fromt he group, they were placed on the same side of the bracket as the two favourites entering the event – kt Rolster and RNG.
However, IG prevailed over kt Rolster, nearly throwing away a 2-0 series lead before wrapping it up in the fifth and final game, with a shocking twist awaiting them as G2 Esports upset RNG.
This led to IG playing a team with a similar strategy in terms of dominant solo-laners. Yet IG completely outclassed G2 in one of the most one-sided series of the entire event, winning 3-0 to set up a rematch with fellow Group D squad Fnatic in the Grand Final.
Once again, IG proved to be far and away the best team, appearing to improve alongside the ever-evolving meta game. IG found yet another clean sweep, with this 3-0 giving them the trophy and their place in LoL history.
Solo-laners step up
The first key to IG’s success was the play of their solo-laners, with Rookie and TheShy emerging as perhaps the best two players mechanically at the entire event. Their level of play was astronomical, no matter the stage or opponent, as they routinely found advantage after advantage.
Secondly, the meta shifting towards power picks in both the solo lanes was yet another boon for the LPL squad. With Rookie or TheShy set up to get counterpick, the likes of Jayce emerging into a priority pick completely warped how the game was approached, furthering IG’s chances.
They also were able to play more similar to their form in the Spring Split, focusing more on individual outplays and skill within the laning phase more than anything else.
Ning exceptional in final
In the final specifically, Jungler Ning stepped up in a massive way, earning the MVP trophy. Ning was labelled for much of Worlds one of the weak links of IG, given what appeared to be a weak champion pool and, at times, shaky performances.
However, he dominated Broxah, previously the best-performing Jungler, controlling the game and assisting Rookie and TheShy.
Yet perhaps undersold in the success of his team-mates was the consistency shown by JackeyLove, a player who previously struggled on the big stage.
However, IG put their faith in him early and often, putting two facilitator champions in the solo lanes for the opening match in Sion and Lissandra and allowing JackeyLove to focus on damage.
JackeyLove is emerging as a full-fledged star with a chance to grow, should this roster remain intact.
Will dominance continue?
The question for not only IG but the LPL as a whole now is whether or not they can duplicate this effort after dominating every international event in 2018.
Roster moves will obviously have a large impact, but the LPL have officially made their claim in as the best region in the world.