China's Invictus Gaming secured its spot in the League of Legends 2018 World Championship finals with a commanding 3-0 victory over Europe's G2 Esports on Saturday in South Korea.
The first semifinal matchup was a clash of giant-slayers, as each team narrowly won out over one of two tournament favorites in their respective quarterfinal series. As such, it was anyone's guess who was going to come out on top.
Invictus' solo laners took it upon themselves to change that narrative. Between Games 1 and 2, mid laner Song "Rookie" Eui-jin and top laner Kang "TheShy" Dong-geun each put on an MVP performance after pulling out the pocket Jayce pick. In each case, G2 Esports fielded Aatrox in the corresponding lane, a microcosm of the European squad's drafting troubles throughout the series. Despite mid laner Luka "Perkz" Perkovic struggling mightily in the matchup in Game 1, G2 allowed top laner Martin "Wunder" Hansen to relive his teammate's suffering in Game 2, to a strikingly similar result.
Aside from the pace of early kills, the first two games of the series played out almost identically; Invictus quickly secured leads in its solo lanes, and used the siege power of Jayce to knock down inner turrets before the 20-minute mark. Even when Wunder was given a supposedly favorable matchup, he couldn't beat out TheShy, and the winning bot lanes G2 drafted were inconsequential in the mid-game carnage. The Chinese squad virtually ignored Baron, easily threatening the G2 base without the buff and taking it only as an afterthought. After less than an hour of total playtime, Invictus Gaming was one game away from the finals.
Up against a wall, G2 Esports needed a major change. After finally throwing in a Jayce ban during the draft, G2 managed to find winnable matchups for its solo laners, securing Irelia and Lissandra for Wunder and Perkz, respectively. While it wasn't the type of carry champion that Perkz had used to eke out G2's quarterfinal victory, the ability to roam paired with the relative safety from Rookie's LeBlanc made it a successful pick, and both he and Wunder managed to come out ahead early on, finding numerous kills in early skirmishes.
It seemed like G2 had finally found its footing, but just as quickly, it all slipped away. Despite a significant gold difference, the mechanical prowess of Invictus Gaming's star players was too much for G2 to handle. Post-15 minutes, G2 couldn't find a favorable fight, as Invictus outplayed its opponent time and again, highlighted best by TheShy's four-man final cast of Aatrox's Darkin Blade that single-handedly turned a dragon fight. After a virtually uncontested Baron, Invictus found its way to its third sub-30-minute victory of the series.
With Invictus securing China's first finals appearance since 2014, all that's left is to determine the West's representative, its first since 2011. North America's Cloud9 will duke it out with Europe's Fnatic for the privilege on Sunday at 3 a.m. ET.