After the upsets in last weeks quarter-finals, it is maybe no surprise that the LoL Worlds 2018 Semifinals were true to form. However, both games were still highly competitive and well worth watching.
These are the events of the past weekend.
The Meta Has Stabilized Even Further
The LoL Worlds 2018 Semifinals meta appears to be more or less of the same from last week. However, this week’s matches have confirmed that the state of the game right now depends on solo laners, and snowballing from them.
Early game playmaking is also emphasized, and Xin Zhao seems to be the jungler for this. In addition, last week’s odd top lane Viktor has become the norm. He has netted some bans, and no real counter against the champion has been shown yet.
With the Ekko from Eric “Licorice” Ritchie as a counter not shown its effectiveness yet. The best option aside from banning it appears to be to pick a tanky engage option like Ornn. Or to set it behind in the early game before it gets to scale.
Leblanc has achieved blind pick status. It has been shown that she can survive most matchups with sufficient jungle attention. Her burst damage is enough to obliterate backline carries, and Leblanc in the split push has been a viable tool to make it happen. In addition to great amounts of magic damage present to her kit, she is capable of wasting the opponents’ time.
This meta favours players’ capability to outplay their opponents both in lane, skirmishes and team fights. That is why drafts in the semifinal have favoured high mobility champions with great amounts of burst damage.
Cloud9’s preparation is turned on its head
Cloud9 defeating Afreeca Freecs was a landmark moment in the organization’s history. Being the first time a North American team beat a Korean team at Worlds in a best of five. It was also the first semi-final for an NA team in the current format.
This success is owed to Cloud9’s preparation for this tournament which has been stellar.
In their semifinal series, Cloud9 put Licorice on the Ekko as a counter to the top Fnatic’s top lane, Viktor. While Licorice could usually be trusted for his counters to certain matchups (think of his Hecarim against the Aatrox), this crucial one did not work at all. He got solo picked off again and again. Both in the 1v1 and in the side lane. The Viktor was able to outscale him, and he was so far behind that he was not capable of putting up a fight even in the 5v5.
Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen was also on Lissandra duty for the whole series, which was the opposite of what got them their deep run at 2018 Worlds. Jensen in this tournament had done better on picks that enabled him to have as much agency as he could. Putting him on Lissandra was a statement of the Cloud9 team’s mindset. In addition, their bans on champions like Akali and Irelia on the blue side are indicative of their lack of willingness, or even preparation, to play these.
C9 is a team known for their innovation and preparation, and in the semifinal, they got punished for their lack of it. As a result, they got swept 3-0.
G2’s Esports’ dream run is cut short
G2 Esports accomplished what Edward Gaming, Invictus Gaming, and Kingzone DragonX could not. They took down Royal Never Give Up and cut their Golden Road short of the crown jewel of winning Worlds 2018.
G2’s bread and butter is the 1-3-1 style: securing early game leads especially on their solo lanes is important as they wanted to play all three lanes. By doing so, they would always suffocate the opponent into trading one opportunity for another. In past matches, they relied on the stability of the bottom lane duo of Petter “Hjarnan” Freyschuss and Kim “Wadid” Bae-in. So that Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski could focus on the solo laners, who have been performing outstandingly in this series.
Everything changed in their LoL Worlds 2018 Semifinals matchup against Invictus Gaming.
Aside from the fact that they were completely outclassed by all of their counterparts, their draft priorities seem to be different. They seemed to have opted more into the scaling, team fighting oriented style of draft. By putting Martin “Wunder” Hansen on champions like the Swain, he would not be a legitimate split pushing threat. They also looked to pinch their opponent AD Carry’s champion pool. A courious decision, since the available champion pool for bottom laners is currently deep.
While the members of the G2 Esports team are usually averse to team fighting and skirmishes, they found themselves overly forcing some engages. They continuously played into their opponents’ hands, as if they had forgotten the fact that Invictus Gaming likes to pick and win fights.
Even though they lost, Top 4 is a shining accomplishment compared to their past international accolades as an organization in League of Legends.
Fnatic Shows Strength and Stability
So much for Fnatic struggling against Cloud9.
Fnatic played the way everyone expected them to at the LoL Worlds 2018 semifinals and they did it perfectly. Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen had impeccable pathing. By putting Rasmus “Caps” Winther ahead, Caps was then able to transfer his lead to a side lane. In addition, Gabriel “Bwipo” Rau’s capability to play a wide selection of champions has put him in a good position in the drafting phase. Also, he is able to absorb a lot of pressure without dying in the top lane.
Fnatic did not even need to play Paul “sOAZ” Boyer at the LoL Worlds 2018 Semifinals. There just wasn’t any need to. Bwipo was winning anyway. Martin “Rekkles” Larsson and Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov were also both rock solid in the bottom lane.
One thing that has not been talked about yet is this: Fnatic as a team is capable of blowing games wide open after winning a single fight. They have been able to expand a gold lead from 1500 to around five to seven thousand in the range of a few minutes. Their team fighting and skirmishing have been above par as well. Their drafting has also improved over the course of the tournament.
With their win against Cloud9, the question now is, can they take the fight to Invictus Gaming and bring the Summoner’s Cup back to the west for the first time in years?
Invictus Gaming Grow Leaps and Bounds
Invictus Gaming’s performance at the LoL Worlds 2018 Semifinals can only be described as a brutal domination of G2 Esports. Invictus Gaming has been known for its strong solo laners in Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok and Song “Rookie” Eui-jin. Up against people like Wunder and Luka “Perkz” Perkovic, it was almost expected that they would perform even better.
Rookie shone in outplaying ganks by both Jankos and Wadid without even using his summoner spells. His carry performance in Game 3 against G2 on the Aatrox was fearsome. Case in point, he landed a four-man knock up in a fight that they should have lost.
The bottom lane of Yu “Jackeylove” Wen-bo and Wang “Baolan” Liu-Yi also performed as expected, given that Jackeylove was targeted in the ban phase. He showed his third pick of the tournament in Lucian. One that seems to be the source of G2’s regret. Jackeylove is primarily a laning AD Carry. Giving him Lucian, paired with Baolan’s Braum, spelt a nightmare for Hjarnan and Wadid.
While Gao “Ning” Zhen-ning has been unpredictable all tournament long, targeting him in the pick and ban phase has looked impossible as well. By taking out his champions, Ning got a chance to pilot Jarvan IV, and in the presence of an AD Carry like the Sivir, Jarvan IV appears to be a good compositional answer.
Simply put, Invictus Gaming just took the fight to G2, and they just did not stop.
With the LoL Worlds 2018 Semifinals now over, we’re now left with the Grand Finals.
The matchup between Fnatic and Invictus Gaming will serve as a reunion of the two teams that came out of Group D. Coincidentally enough, both teams cleanly swept through their opponents in the LoL Worlds 2018 Semifinals. Both teams are also likely equally as hungry for the chance to take home the Summoner’s Cup and earn the title as the world’s best.
This is the time to make history. One chance to define the year’s success or failure.
What did you think of all the action that happened in this season’s LoL Worlds 2018 Semifinals? Which team do you think will end up lifting the Summoner’s Cup? Let us know in the comments below!