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Despite all odds, Invictus Gaming became the 2018 League of Legends World Championship. It wasn’t because they came from a weak region, or that they didn’t have the individual ability to win their lanes — on the contrary! — but because it was supposed to be Royal Never Give Up’s year. Ahead of Worlds 2018, RNG had won it all: two LPL titles, and the MSI gold. Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao was in peak form and the machine around him was clockwork.

On the other hand, what Invictus Gaming had to show was amazing regular split performance and the best top laner in the world: Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok. But the team had been notorious for failing in high-pressure situations, and were fresh off a five-game Summer Split finals loss to RNG.

“It’s a best-of-5 and it comes down to one intense moment and, frankly, Invictus Gaming have never been able to seal that deal,” analyst Indiana “Froskurinn” Black said before the fifth game of the Worlds 2018 quarterfinal match between iG and KT Rolster — the other big favorites for the title.

As we know now, iG not only broke their own curse by winning a high-stakes best-of-5, but went on to clean-sweep the rest of the bracket to be crowned champion. A combined 6-0 against G2 Esports and Fnatic left little doubt that China was the strongest region of that year.

Invictus Gaming now return to the Worlds stage, looking shakier than they did last year. RNG and FunPlus Phoenix are the more in-shape Chinese teams, but iG’s individual talent is still abundant. The reigning champions now wait to defend their title in what is perhaps the most difficult to predict World Championship to date.

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