Esports moves on quickly. Year after year, the sands of time erase the teams that nearly reached the top. Who remembers the likes of against All authority, Azubu Frost and Royal Club? Only Fnatic, Taipei Assassins and SK Telecom T1 remain.
The last match of the League of Legends World Championship has always been the only one that truly matters in the competitive league. We only remember the last team standing above all the rest; 2018 will be no different.
Like Martin “Rekkles” Larsson’s tattoos, a World Championship title follows a player forever. This Saturday, Fnatic and Invictus Gaming (IG) will face each other in the final test of Season 8.
Fnatic as an organization has a title already; the European team was crowned the winner of the Season 1 World Championship in 2011. But some argue that the Season 1 title barely counts, as the Chinese and Korean leagues did not even exist at the time. The 2018 iteration of Fnatic is eager to finally silence the doubters.
Invictus Gaming has less of an international history — the team has never made it past the quarterfinals before, despite being the oldest team currently in the Chinese league. Furthermore, a mainland Chinese team has never brought home the Summoner’s Cup. A victory for Invictus Gaming on Saturday would mean the world to legions of Chinese fans.
The distant past won’t matter when it comes down to the final match; both teams have been in top form for their Worlds performances this year, each ending their semifinals matchups with 3-0 sweeps. They also met three times in the group stage, with the head-to-head matchup ending 2-1 in Fnatic’s favor.
IG’s marginally less consistent play can go both ways. Its 17-year-old attack damage carry, or ADC, Yu “JackeyLove” Wen Bo, is a bit of a wild card, known for making risky plays that can make or break a game. His flash forward into KT Rolster in the quarterfinals ended the run of the tournament favorites.
There’s something to be said about IG’s constants as well; Song “Rookie” Eui-jin, the team’s midlaner of four years, is widely considered to be the best in his role at Worlds. (That title is contested by Fnatic’s Rasmus “Caps” Winther.)
IG top laner Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok has also impressed with carry performances, launching approximately 1,000 tweets with his Aatrox play against G2 Esports, Fnatic’s European compatriots.
But Fnatic’s reliability might just be what decides this final series. The team has shown its flexibility and the individual strength of its players countless times, and it is marked as the favorite to win. None of Fnatic’s players could be considered a weak link compared to the talent on IG, and every one of them has put up standout performances in this tournament.
With two teams that are far more evenly matched than ever before in the history of the World Championships, this Finals will be one to remember. But the runner-up will have begun to erode from the record by this time next year.
Prediction: Fnatic wins series, 3-2.