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In October, the League of Legends world will travel to Europe to fight for the Summoner’s Cup, and what will await them is the champion of champions. The best region in the world. Unchallenged in Europe and now victorious in Taipei, G2 Esports makes history by winning the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational after destroying Team Liquid 3-0. It is Europe’s first MSI win and first major international win since Worlds Season 1. This has been eight years in the making, and after suffering a crushing heartbreak at Worlds, Europe is, once again, king.
Since the dawn of time, NA and EU have been trading jabs at each other anywhere you turn — be it on social media or Twitch chat or in-game, they have relentlessly taunted each other. But the idea of them actually playing in a grand final seemed like the biggest joke of all. The international scene has been dominated by the LCK teams and more recently the LPL teams, but finally, as Kobe said at the start of Game 1, the paradigm has been shifted. They could settle the debate on the Summoner’s Rift.
Game 1 showcased the difference in experience on the big stage between these two teams. G2 was a Worlds Semifinalist last year and their biggest roster addition, LEC MVP Caps, was in the Finals. Liquid, led by Doublelift, is in their first knockout stage, period. And though they managed to defeat Invictus Gaming, it seems they were still affected by nerves. G2 managed to blow a couple early flashes from TL, including CoreJJ’s after his bewildering decision to overstay in a forward position.
Jankos, Europe’s first blood king, played Jarvan (the best early game jungler at MSI) and followed the Level 1 shenanigans with a successful gank onto bot lane. From there, the Liquid bot lane was repeatedly attacked and repeatedly killed. TL responded by pouring resources to help the lane, including from Impact, but those attempts were thwarted, which meant TL lost everywhere on the map. G2 converted the early wins into a 20 minute Baron and from there demolished Liquid.
And, well, it never really got much better for TL. A combination of tilt and mismatch in skill meant that G2 would just run away with the series. Even though Game 2 featured TL in the lead for the majority of the match, it was G2 that still held initiative throughout the game, and it felt like TL was merely responding. Eventually a single bad teamfight for G2 completely swung the game wide open, and skirmish after skirmish fell in G2’s favor.
Caps on Sylas in particular played maybe the single best of the tournament from anyone, and over and over he seemed to utilize the stolen ults from Kennen and Ashe better than they themselves did.
“To be the best you have to take risks,” says Caps. “Sure, not everyone on your team has to, but the teams I play on, I take a lot of risks. A lot of times it doesn’t work, but a lot of times it does.”
The 2-0 start was so dominant that the thought of a reverse sweep was merely a meme, and true to form, G2 opened Game 3 in equally dominant fashion. TL locked in a scaling comp that featured Vladimir, Sejuani, and Kai’Sa, and G2 pounced all over them. Every single lane generated solo kills and outplays, and it became a thing where TL looked like a Solo Queue team that was just waiting for the surrender vote to go through. G2 gave them the mercy, though, and finished the game in 18 minutes. The combined game time was 71 minutes, which was 9 minutes faster than the previous fastest set of all-time in an international Best-of-5.
It’s reminiscent of their similarly fast LEC Spring Final, and now going forward they are the favorite, not just in the LEC, but in the world. Caps was awarded the Finals MVP trophy, which I think is a testament to the insane growth he’s made in the last couple of years. He’s exploded into the conversation of best Western players last year, and this year he has a case for being the single best player in the world.
Caps remains humble, though. He says, “I always want to be not just the best in the world, but the best team in the world. I don’t think we’re there. I don’t think I’m there. There’s a lot of teams that are better than us. There are a lot of players better than us. But I’m going to work hard to become the best.”
At least today, I don’t agree with him at all. He’s the best player on the best team in the world at the moment, and I hope he and G2 take some time to savor that fact. This was a tournament where expectations were unraveled. Champions of new and champions of old both fell, and what rose from that chaos is a team that has made a brand on being able to thrive in that kind of environment. From flex picks like Syndra bot lane and Pyke top to traditional comps, this was a team that showed us a new way to play League of Legends. They showed us a new international stage where anything can happen. And now they are your 2019 MSI Champions.