Fnatic and Invictus easily advance out of Group D at worlds

Outside of the BEXCO Auditorium in Busan, South Korea, where League of Legends World Championship group stage is taking place. Courtesy of Riot Games

Fnatic 1,. 100 Thieves 0

Fnatic started out the final day of the group stage at the 2018 League of Legends World Championships by obliterating North America's 100 Thieves at the end of a 30-minute affair on Wednesday in South Korea.

The fact Fnatic that died at all during the course of the game was a minor surprise, as the leads that mid laner Rasmus "Caps" Winther and jungler Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pederson built in the early game were so vast that Fnatic could have cruised to victory on those two alone. Instead, 100T found a number of kills on various overextended members of Fnatic, only one of which was answered positively by Fnatic. Interestingly enough, despite there being several teamfights, 100T never managed a kill in a single opposing team member, and instead only found kills when they were able to throw all of their ultimates at an isolated target.

Overconfidence aside, the game was yet another example of the mid and jungle synergy that makes Fnatic such a terrifying team to try to attack. Broxah and Caps together dismantled their opposite numbers on 100T, as both found significant kill and gold leads over the course of the game. Caps in particular stood out as his mastery of Irelia -- a champion that has proven to be one of the defining pillars of the worlds metagame -- was perhaps greater than any other player on the worlds stage. If Fnatic do manage to retake control of Group D from China's Invictus Gaming, it will almost certainly be because of an outstanding performance from Caps and Broxah. Then the European League of Legends Championship Series may well be getting their first top placing in a worlds group stage in quite some time.

-- James Bates

Invictus Gaming 1, G-Rex 0

Invictus Gaming qualified for the quarterfinals of the 2018 League of Legends World Championship early Wednesday morning after they pummeled Taiwan's G-Rex in a 25-minute beatdown in Busan, South Korea.

Of all the teams that Invictus Gaming defeated in the first round robin for Group D, G-Rex proved the most formidable -- a surprising result considering G-Rex were thrashed by both other teams in the group, and have yet to win a game in the World Championship group stage. IG made it a matter of pride to make it clear which of them was better, however, and wasted no time in the early game. They went straight for the jugular with a composition designed to find early leads.

G-Rex didn't take long to self-destruct, however, as a crucial misstep by jungler Anson "Empt2y" Leung -- who looked to greedily extend a lead he had made for himself by stealing a buff from iG's jungler, Gao "Ning" Zhen-Ning, blew the game wide open in favor of iG in the first five minutes. Unsurprisingly, a composition built around the nearly uncounterable synergy between Galio and Camille's ultimates found it easy to snowball a 1,000-gold lead in the first five minutes. Wherever Ning went, death followed, and while G-Rex almost made a comeback happen after nearly wiping iG during an overly ambitious tower dive, their laners were too far behind by that point to weather the storm. Soon a 1,00-gold lead became a 10.000-gold lead, and iG made the game mercifully short for the doomed G-Rex by taking a 20-minute Baron to the Nexus, ending the game and eliminating G-Rex from Worlds 2018 shortly thereafter.

-- James Bates

Fnatic 1, G-Rex 0

Fnatic proved once and for all that its victory against G-Rex earlier in the 2018 League of Legends World Championship was anything but a fluke when it once again blew the LMS team off the face of the Rift in a 25-minute slaughter.

It was a game that was functionally the equivalent of both the games these teams played earlier in the day, with a few different actors. Once again Fnatic crushed an inferior opponent in record time via a superior laning phase, and again it was with top laner Gabriel "Bwipo" Rau. G-Rex, on the other hand, once again were defeated without putting up much resistance much like they were against Invictus Gaming earlier in the night, only this time with substitute jungler Wang "BayBay" Yu-Chun, who put on one of the weakest Nidalee performances to ever grace the international stage.

While the differences in Fnatic's roster were small, the results of those differences were anything but. With Bwipo on the roster, Fnatic was more than willing to run a far more aggressive top laner than it otherwise would be, as it demonstrated with a Swain pick. To say that the pick worked would be an understatement. Bwipo not only found a solo kill unto his lane opponent, Hsieh "pk" Yu-Ting, but he was also crucial in helping salvage some of Fnatic's less calculated fights. His contributions made the game the easy victory that it was, despite Fnatic's -- or, more specifically, their mid laner, Rasmus "Caps" Winther's -- best efforts.

-- James Bates

Invictus Gaming 1, 100 Thieves 0

Invictus Gaming maintained its undefeated record when it defeated 100 Thieves at the end of a game Wednesday that was, at times, surprisingly close during the 2018 League of Legends World Championship in Busan, South Korea.

No game of League of Legends is more painful to watch as one where an entire team seems outclassed up and down the roster, and that was exactly the situation that 100T quickly found itself in against Invictus Gaming. It didn't even take five minutes for Song "RooKie" Eui-jin -- hailed by many as the best mid laner in the world at the moment -- to find a solo kill onto Yoo "Ryu" Sang-ook, the luckless mid laner for 100 Thieves. With its mid lane in tatters, 100 Thieves did the only thing it could: gank RooKie until the lane was equalized. RooKie had other plans, however, as he not only survived the first gank pointed his way, he actually turned the gank around and killed both Ryu and 100 Thieve's jungler, Andy "AnDa" Hoang. While he did die in the process -- to a turret shot, of all things -- RooKie's play made the early game completely untenable for 100 Thieves, and looked as though it would set up Invictus Gaming to cruise to another easy victory.

Rather than glide across the finish line, Invictus Gaming instead opted to play with its food and made a set of recklessly aggressive plays that almost gave 100 Thieves a way back into the game. For the majority of the mid-game, the North American squad actually made convincing headway in retaking map control, if not control of the gold lead, which resulted in a game that felt much closer than it was. While Invictus Gaming certainly gave away far more kills than it should have given its position, it still controlled a gold lead so massive that it could end the game at will, which Invictus Gaming finally did after getting a nasty wakeup call in the form of a nearly lost 5-vs-5 teamfight -- all while Invictus Gaming controlled an over 10,000-gold lead. The near defeat only seemed to anger Invictus Gaming, however, and the Chinese team were relentless in dismantling 100 Thieves from that point on, which left the opposition with a ruined Nexus as shattered as their dreams a few minutes later.

-- James Bates

100 Thieves 1, G-Rex 0

100 Thieves ended its time at the 2018 League of Legend World Championship by finding its second victory against the LMS representative in Group D, G-Rex, securing third place in the group for themselves in the process.

All throughout the group stage, both 100T and G-Rex have run face first into the same immutable and unfortunately problem: their players are simply not skilled enough on an individual level to compete with truly world-class teams. Thus, when the two teams clashed against each other, the expectation was that they would be at a similar level, and that the game wouldn't be a one-way stomp like the rest of the second half of group D's round robin.

Unfortunately for G-Rex, that ended up not being the case, as it got absolutely styled on in the laning phase by 100T. With the exception of Hsieh "pk" Yu-Ting in the top lane, every member of G-Rex simply looked either overmatched or burned out and unable to compete with their opposite numbers on the side of 100T. The jungle matchup looked particularly lopsided, as Anson 'Empt2Y" Leung was little more than a gold pinata for 100T to crack open while Andy "AnDa" Hoang arguably hard-carried the entire game with a spectacular Taliyah performance. AnDa's domination of the game started early on -- he had almost completed stacking his Mejai's Soulstealer by the fifteen-minute mark -- and didn't cease until after 100T took the Baron for themselves and used it to break G-Rex's base wide open, ending both teams' run at Worlds 2018.

-- James Bates

Fnatic 2, Invictus Gaming 0

Fnatic sent a message straight to the heart of China's LPL when it defeated Invictus Gaming twice in a row to take first place in Group D of the 2018 League of Legends World Championship in Busan, South Korea.

Invictus Gaming was a step away from a perfect run through the group stage. It had already defeated Fnatic -- the only other team in the group worth mentioning -- in decisive fashion when first they met and looked poised to do so again. That wouldn't be the case as Fnatic's first victory came from the mid and bottom lanes, lanes where Invictus Gaming was meant to be at their best. Despite some early struggles, Rasmus "Caps" Winther's Aatrox was the talk of the game, as he tore apart Invictus Gaming while providing space for the equally devastating Tristana piloted by Martin "Rekkles" Larsson. From first blood to last, it was obvious which team would take the first game, as Fnatic's level of play seemed to entirely transcend its normal abilities.

Fnatic's work was not done for the day, however, as its victory triggered an immediate tiebreaker. iG opted to sub in Lee "Duke" Ho-seong, their substitute top laner, in the hopes that he would have a better matchup against Fnatic's Gabriel "Bwipo" Rau, who had all but neutralized Kang "TheShy" Dong-geun in the previous game. While iG's substitution certainly helped things -- Duke's Irelia was more or less the sole threat on the side of iG for the majority of the game -- it didn't help prop up iG where it had struggled in the first game: the bottom half of the map. This time it was Caps' Akali that blew the game wide open. zfespite being forced to play into a counter matchup in the form of Song "RooKie" Eui-jin's LeBland he still found the upper hand and crushed not only RooKie, but his team as well. Meanwhile, Rekkles and Zdravets "Hylissang" Iliev Galabov, Fnatic's bot lane duo, weren't content to let Caps take all the glory as they too played one of the best games of their respective careers. Even when iG would finally manage to stop Caps in the later stages of the contest, Rekkles would be right there to provide another offensive weapon, eventually helping Fnatic bully its way into a first-place finish in Group D.

-- James Bates