Let’s be honest here. No one expected Invictus Gaming to make it this far. Every year they’ve gone to Worlds, they’ve either done mediocre or they’ve done extremely well. However, this year has been historic in more ways than one.
Invictus Gaming literally became one of the strongest Chinese teams in one week and they did it by consistent play and the use of strong fundamentals. However, their journey is much more interesting than how they made it to the finals.
Their journey was full of hardships and even near encounters with elimination but they still made it out. They made it out and are now looking at potentially grabbing the first World Championship title for the Chinese. Here is their story.
Invictus Gaming had their strongest year so far during the Summer Split Regular Season. They went 18-1 the entire split, losing only one game to their main nemesis, Royal Never Give Up. However, afterwards, they would defeat everyone in unprecedented fashion and they looked unstoppable.
This is largely thanks to the fact that Invictus Gaming possessed one of the strongest mid laners and top laners in their area. Their mid laner, Rookie, went head-to-head with Royal Never Give Up’s Xiaohu who, in 2017, was considered to be the best mid laner in the world next to Faker.
Then, they had TheShy whose mechanical outplays and mastery on champions of all ranges helped create a diversified top lane for his team. These two players were key to giving IG the season they always wanted but they had to make it count in the playoffs.
Because they were the first seed, Invictus Gaming was automatically given a bye in to the semifinals. They would wait to play JD Gaming, another upcoming team that had proven trouble for many of their matches and placed third overall throughout the regular season.
The first game was a breeze for Invictus Gaming. After Rookie managed to secure first blood off of JD Gaming’s mid laner, he took it personally to make sure that he could stomp out any opposition as fast as possible.
Through the use of several key roams and quick objective control, Invictus Gaming found themselves on the doors of JD Gaming’s Nexus within twenty six minutes with JD Gaming having only one kill to show for it while Invictus Gaming had sixteen. The entire game one was one-sided in favor of IG and if they kept it up, they were going to make this entire show a breeze. However, the second game wasn’t going to be the same way as game one, especially with JD Gaming switching up the pace.
Because the team had faced troubles with their usual composition, they quickly switched it over to a poke-heavy early game pool of champions. There was a Quinn top for JD Gaming as well as an Ashe AD Carry, both of which hadn’t been seen before. This time, the game went in favor of JD Gaming. It all started out with an outplay in the top lane. Duke, the substitute top laner for IG, was playing his favorite Aatrox pick and his jungler, Ning came up to gank but the gank went south as miscommunication quickly led to JD Gaming’s Zoom acquiring the first blood kill on his Quinn.
From there, IG only collected one kill while JD Gaming collected eleven, a direct reflection of what had happened in favor of Invictus Gaming in game one. With such a sweep on both sides, both teams were facing a one to one even levelled game. Coincidentally yet somehow right enough, both teams were level in the third game despite both teams sweeping each other in the first and second game. It was only right for the third game to be a power struggle on both sides.
Starting from the very first kill, the momentum swung in both favor of JD Gaming and Invictus Gaming. Neither team found themselves securing an actual lead over the other team in any form or fashion. JD Gaming’s AD Carry was outplaying IG’s JackeyLove while Invictus Gaming’s TheShy found a significant lead over his opponent. However, at the twentieth minute, IG finally won the team fight they needed, taking out four members of JD Gaming before heading straight for Baron Nashor. Afterwards, IG snowballed it out of control and ended up taking over the game, sending them to a 2-1 lead.
In game four, JD Gaming found themselves playing the exact same way that they had in game two. By the eighth minute, JD Gaming’s Clid had found himself four kills and one assist with zero deaths to compensate on his jungle pick, Camille. This strong early game presence from Clid led to both him and the mid laner, Yagao, controlling the rest of the game and it wasn’t long before they tied up the score 2-2. Despite all four games going to extremely close margins, the fifth game was the one which truly shocked audiences.
Game five was a lot like game three. It went head-to-head for a period of time. At first, Invictus Gaming had the lead but it was quickly transitioned over to JD Gaming as they picked off several members quite easily from IG.
However, in order to do so, they sacrificed several gold leads as well as objectives such as towers and dragons which kept Invictus in the game. This led to Invictus Gaming tying the game around the twenty minute mark. The two teams went back in forth. JD Gaming eventually began to edge a lead as they had a slide three thousand gold advantage and a few more kills than IG but a failed initiation led to an easy pick for IG and eventually a Baron Nashor that helped them close out the game.
The semifinal match between Invictus Gaming and JD Gaming was one of “who can sweep faster? JD Gaming or Invictus Gaming?” The first four games were either decided by IG or JD Gaming taking the lead and prioritizing off of it but the final game was determined by who could slug it out longer and Invictus came out victorious.
The finals matchup of Invictus Gaming versus Royal Never Give Up was only right. Royal Never Give Up, the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational Champions as well as the only Chinese threat to SKT, versus the current Chinese powerhouse, Invictus Gaming. RNG was the only team to give IG a loss while Invictus themselves made sure that Royal Never Give Up knew there was more than one Chinese team out there looking for a title. Game one was close in the tightest of margins but it ended up going to Royal Never Give Up.
Even though IG was able to secure an early lead thanks to top laner, TheShy, they weren’t able to hold it and RNG managed to come back and use their AD Carry, Uzi, to turn the fight around at the last minute. Royal Never Give Up used this momentum to help secure game two as well. Even though the game was extremely close again, going to near forty minutes, RNG’s priority control on objectives helped them out-scale Invictus Gaming at the very end. Sure, IG’s Rookie and Duke were able to hold down the game and keep their team in the game but RNG’s Uzi and Xiaohu were too much to handle at the end, especially considering that their use of scaling champs worked perfectly with their playstyle.
RNG were looking to close it out and they had their chances in game three. They held the gold lead and kill lead several times throughout the game but a Baron Nashor from Invictus Gaming quickly turned everything around and IG saw themselves on the verge of entering the base of RNG. Thanks to the efforts of Rookie and JackeyLove in game three, Invictus Gaming slowly turned the game around and secured their first game on the board, pushing the match to a game four. Invictus Gaming saw the same thing happen in game four.
Game four saw RNG taking an early lead, largely thanks to the efforts of RNG Karsa’s Taliyah jungle. However, Rookie and TheShy came through again and put Invictus Gaming on their back. Together, they secured yet another close victory and pushed it to a game five. Invictus Gaming had the momentum in their hands and they were on the verge of reverse sweeping one of the best teams in the world. Unfortunately, RNG was familiar to this pressure and, using the power of Uzi’s mechanics, they completely turned around what seemed to be an Invictus Gaming victory.
Uzi was deathless till the thirty two minute mark. He had little to nothing to worry about but his team around him was struggling, save Xiaohu. By the thirty two minute mark, RNG’s base was wide open and one push from Invictus Gaming would’ve ended it. However, thanks to the efforts of Xiaohu’s Ryze and Uzi’s Xayah, they were able to save the game at the last minute when a team fight ended with three dead on RNG’s side and four dead on IG’s side, barely saving RNG from a 2-3 loss to Invictus.
With Invictus Gaming panicking, RNG was able to use that to their advantage and initiate a fight that made IG fall apart completely. With Invictus Gaming’s entire team down or out of it, RNG managed to push into IG’s base and secure themselves another title for the books. Even though Invictus Gaming lost, they still acquired enough points to receive a ticket to worlds and each match was as close as the one before it No match was a complete sweep. This meant that IG could have easily won it as RNG did.
Invictus Gaming was placed into a group with Fnatic, 100 Thieves, and G-Rex. Fnatic was going to be the toughest of their competition but it was predicted that Invictus Gaming would come out on top and they performed to the best of their ability to achieve these expectations.
They took down G-Rex and 100 Thieves both times that they played them but lost to Fnatic once and beat Fnatic once. With both Fnatic and Invictus Gaming tied with a 5-1 record, they were put into a tiebreaker to consider who could win the first place seed. Fnatic ended up coming out on top.
Despite this, IG was able to still make it out and they would have the strongest runs of their career. However, at first, it wouldn’t seem that way. With the team being placed against Korea’s one seed and favorite for the World Championship, a.k.a KT Rolster, IG wasn’t perceived to make it very far. Little did analysts know that Invictus Gaming was about to shock audiences everywhere.
Invictus Gaming started out extremely strong, controlling both the early and mid game. Invictus Gaming’s TheShy and Rookie proved to be extremely strong assets as they took the entire roster to work. Because of the unexpected aggressiveness of IG, KT Roslter found themselves split up and unable to coordinate their moves. Eventually, this allowed Invictus Gaming to close out the match and end on a one zero lead versus the Korean powerhouse.
Using their momentum from game one, Invictus Gaming transitioned this over to game two. KT Rolster tried to counter by going aggressive in the early game with a five-man gank into the bottom lane but this ended up resulting in a strong lead acquired for IG. They used this to snowball their advantages, grab a Baron Nashor buff, and then eventually put it towards a game ending push to put themselves up 2-0. Players such as Rookie and Ning can be thanked for their contributions towards winning the second match.
With IG up 2-0, the pressures were high for KT Rolster to perform and perform they did. In game three, Invictus Gaming was centimeters away from winning the match. Literally. Both teams went head-to-head and nearing the end of the game, both bases were open. KT Rolster’s base was open thanks to TheShy who had a field day in top lane with his Fiora pick and Invictus Gaming’s base thanks to a coordinated push by KT Rolster. At one point, both Nexuses were being attacked.
IG’s top laner, TheShy, was one hit away from winning the entire series 3-0 whenever KT Rolster barely destroyed IG’s Nexus to send it to a game four. With such a close game three, KT Rolster wasn’t looking to play an aggressive game four. They already knew Invictus Gaming was disappointed with their game three performance. All KT had to do was play solidly and that’s what they did. Using wave manipulation and the gradual accumulation of different objectives, KT Rolster won game four. They didn’t win it through huge fights and picks. They won it through pushing out waves and pressuring off the players and forced the game to game five.
In game five, Invictus Gaming and KT Rolster seemed to go even in the early game but Invictus Gaming eventually came out on top. The reason being behind this is that KT Roslter still had the safe mentality built in while IG had nothing to lose. Because of this, Invictus Gaming went for the risky plays and reaped the rewards. This gave them the lead that eventually led to them winning the key team fight that helped them upset the fan favorites for this year’s World Championship.
Chinese teams have had a history of destroying Western teams but G2 Esports is one of those exceptions. G2 Esports has made a history of upsetting different powerhouses from Korea and China and they were fresh off a five-set victory versus Royal Never Give Up. Invictus Gaming didn’t let this get to their heads. The reason most teams lost to G2 Esports was because they underestimated the scrappy playstyle they brought. Invictus Gaming didn’t underestimate them. They played the fundamentals and won through this.
In game one, IG focused down on G2 Esports’s Perkz. They knew how strong he could be if he was given the opportunity so they took the opportunity away by continuously pushing him out of lane and pressuring him away from his team. This gave their AD Carry, JackeyLove, and mid laner, Rookie, the ability to move where they wanted and eventually gave them a clean victory for a 1-0 start. Game two was the exact same for G2 Esports Perkz and his experiences. Perkz was trying to carry G2 Esports with uncanny picks and playstyles but the duo of IG’s Rookie and TheShy proved too much for G2 Esports. Together, in game two, Rookie and TheShy combined for fourteen of the eighteen kills picked up in game two.
They won it with dominating fashion and were only one game away from closing out the semifinals and advancing towards the finals. This time, they weren’t going to make the same mistake as they did with KT Rolster. Even though Invictus Gaming was down in the early game and suffered a slight kill and gold disadvantage, IG still came out strong and made sure to focus on what they were strong at. Because of this, G2 Esports found it hard to hold on to the lead they had acquired.
IG used this to win the next few team fights. Rookie yet again showed up when his team needed him to and TheShy performed extremely well on his Aatrox. With these two players outperforming their past performance every single time, they managed to sweep out G2 Esports and put themselves in the finals.
However, their finals match is going to be their toughest opponent yet. They’re going to play Fnatic, a team that they’ve had a past with. They played against Fnatic in Groups Stage and right now, Fnatic has two wins over them but that doesn’t mean IG is out of the picture. They still have a shot at this year’s title
Invictus Gaming definitely has a shot at winning this year’s World Championship. Eastern teams from Korea and China have had a notorious reputation for winning major tournaments because they’re very good at what they do.
Fnatic may be outmatched in four of the five lanes played this year and this can be detrimental to their shot at winning Worlds but it applies the other way around, especially considering the fact that Fnatic has Broxah and Caps in the jungle. However, the fact is Chinese and Korean teams have made it tradition to perform extremely well at international tournaments and Invictus Gaming is going to look to keep that tradition alive. They’re not going to let Fnatic win anything without a full-out fight which is why, if you want to bet on Invictus Gaming, you should bet wholeheartedly.
They’ve given their all to this point and players like Rookie and TheShy have been having some of the best performances of their career. They have the momentum of a 3-2 victory over Korea’s best team as well as sweep over G2 Esports behind them and if we know anything about IG, it’s that they don’t give anything up easy so you can expect them to give their all.
Invictus Gaming’s road to the finals was a hard one. They experienced failure and defeat at many points along the way. They lost a close final to their main opponents, Royal Never Give Up and were knocked down to the second seed by Fnatic in the Groups Stage.
Despite this, they still managed to make sure that they would take on whoever they could and they found results in their mentality. First, they managed to take down KT Rolster in a tight five sets and then proceeded to sweep G2 Esports right after.
Now, they’re in the finals and they have a shot at making history. They have a shot at becoming the first Chinese team to ever win a World Championship. It’s going to be hard to claim this title, especially against such a good team like Fnatic, but they can make it happen. Could this be China’s year? It certainly can be.