The first day of play at the main event of the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational took a little bit longer than expected. A schedule featuring the most talented and intrepid teams from across the globe was extended due to a gameplay delay that lasted over an hour just before the start of the 5th game on the slate: Invictus Gaming vs. G2 Esports.
To say that an unprecedented delay of 1 hour, 16 minutes, and 17 seconds killed a portion of the hype going into the marquee matchup would be a bit of an understatement, as the game was proceeded by three separate versions of champion select before the two teams finally hit the Rift. If anything, the latter half of the broadcast could have been mistaken for a monstrous analyst desk segment bookended by some League of Legends gameplay. And still, a 76 minute delay, the longest in the history of the modern era of professional League, didn’t deter the near-900,000 viewers who stuck around to see the day’s most anticipated matchup.
But it’s not like those viewers were necessarily rewarded. While the match ran along the lines of the aggressive nature that the day’s previous matches had featured, a blown early lead from G2 combined with 30 total kills on the side of IG saw the Chinese champions run away with the win in just under 29 minutes – not even half the duration of the delay that came before the action.
By the time G2’s nexus had exploded, Invictus had accumulated a 14k gold lead over the European champions, while each member of G2’s roster had died at least five times. Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok’s Akali proved to be the difference maker with 10 kills and a seemingly never-ending presence across the map. Apart from him, it felt as if the entirety of the IG lineup was a step ahead of G2 once the Chinese champions were able to shine to their fullest extent.
The difference between G2 and Invictus throughout the course of the game went from seriously competitive to decidedly one-sided, as the stark gap between the two teams heavily favored IG as soon as G2 took its foot off the gas. The moment Invictus found a glimpse of vulnerability on the side of G2, the Chinese tacticians brilliantly took down their opponents in a flurry of violence and grace. In a game where Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski earned three kills for G2 in less than six minutes to kick off the action, it didn’t take long to become clear that Invictus was ready to strike back.
Not even three minutes later, Invictus closed the gold gap and never looked back from there. A kill onto Martin “Wunder” Hansen at the 8:37 mark sealed G2’s fate, as IG refused to let up moving forward, posting a kill score of 13-2 over the course of the next 14 minutes.
Beyond that, it’s clear that IG is on a different level when compared to G2. While it’s obvious that G2 was able to handle SK Telecom earlier in the day quite handily, the gap between Europe and China at this tournament may have already been estbalished, making the gap between China and Korea one to keep an eye on. If Invictus can have this easy of a time with G2, and G2 had quite the cakewalk with SKT, perhaps when IG and SKT face off, it might not be as close as the history between China and Korea might have us believe.
Thankfully, we won’t have to wait too long to find out how wide (or tight) that gap might actually be, as Invictus and SK Telecom cap off tomorrow’s scheduled matches.
Photo Credit: Lolesports, Invictus Gaming, Riot Games