For the past several seasons Korea has been the king ruling over international League of Legends play.
But this year the royal houses fell like dominoes, one after another, with the killing blow being dealt by North America's Cloud9. And not since the Red Wedding has the death of a king been quite so jarring or unexpected. With semifinals looming large this weekend, let’s look at the matchups.
G2 vs Invictus
After a dramatic victory over KT Rolster in a best of five series that went the full distance, Invictus takes aim at G2. As not only the sole representative of their home region, LPL, but the only eastern team left in the tournament, Invictus finds themselves in somewhat unfamiliar territory. The LPL region has been in a slugfest with the Korean LCK the past few years over the top spot. But suddenly they are surrounded by western teams.
But with standout performances from their AD carry JackeyLove and Mid-laner Rookie, whom many believe to be the best mid in the tournament, they may well be getting champion skins next season.
However, G2 is one of two teams from the EULCS looking to step in and claim the throne to show the world what a true European monarchy looks like. G2 has fought their way to this spot from the third seed position for their region and look to continue their Balboa-esque rise glory. And with a stacked roster featuring an outspoken Top-laner Wunder, who has no qualms about calling out opposing top laners, G2 looks to become the second ever champion hailing from the EULCS. Lets see if Invictus knows to ban Heimerdinger.
Fnatic vs Cloud9
On the topic of European excellence must talk about Fnatic. The first ever League of Legends worlds champion, and sole team from EULCS to have claimed the summoners cup. They face down Cloud9 to add the the storied NA vs EU blood feud. If you ask anyone from the EU region they will tell you that you are dead wrong to call Invictus’s Rookie the best Mid-laner in the tournament, “how could you possibly say that with Caps sitting right there??” they might ask. And with Caps dominating performances this season and during this tournament they make a valid point. But Caps has a lot to live up to coming out of a region famous for producing top tier Midlaners.
Cloud9 truly seem to live up to the name. Seemingly unfazed by pressure and concerned more about which cosplay AD carry Sneaky will wear on stage if allowed. But don’t let them marching to the beat of their own drum fool you into false confidence. C9 has proven themselves to be deadly adversaries, just ask Afreeca Freecs. After a 3-0 sweep of the Korean second seed they are poised to finally bring the summoners cup to NA. With veterans Sneaky and Svenskeren leading a team with multiple rookies, time will tell if the C9 hype-train that started rolling so many seasons ago will finally reach its destination.
Any great championship, no matter the sport, has about a hundred great stories to tell. This year's League of Legends finals are no different. Will the final be a NA vs EU shootout to determine the best in the west? Will Invictus bring the cup to china? Will it end up being an EU vs EU battle for ultimate supremacy? The final act in any of these dramas will be set up after this weekend.