And just like that it was all over for another year. Worlds 2018 is finished and all we have left is memories, possibly regrets and possibly, if you’re Chinese, a night you will never forget.
As a European, though, looking back over this year’s Worlds is bittersweet. They say it’s better to have love and lost than to never have loved at all but is it better to have finally made a grand final and lost than to never have made a grand final at all?
I guess we’ll have to confer with our American cousins on the latter.
The whole grand-final experience was quite weird, on a personal level. I went to a friend’s house to watch it with five other guys in their late 20s and early 30s.
Watching the opening ceremony with five other blokes was bizarre and one of the more unique experiences in my life.
The performance clearly wasn’t aimed at me, to put it politely; to be blunt, it was bloody awful. One of my friends described it as exactly the sort of thing a 14 year old would think is cool, which is fairly accurate.
Another, while watching scantily clad, sub-optimally rendered CGI popstars saunter around stage, sarcastically asked why so few women are interested in esports.
RIOT knows its audience, I’ll say that much. I’ve been watching esports for about 17 years now, and I’ve never felt as old as I did watching that teenage wet dream of an opening ceremony.
I am rapidly approaching 35, after all, at which point I cease being a relevant marketing demographic, so I suppose it makes sense that me and my friends found the whole thing slightly embarrassing.
I haven’t even got onto the music yet. Actually, it’s probably best if I don’t go too in-depth on that. I actually don’t hate RISE, and the animated video was really, really good. The live performance, however – well, the less said about that the better.
Then, at long last, we were onto the match itself. After six weeks of hard-fought, creative and, above all, exciting League of Legends, the final was over in about an hour. What a let-down.
I make no secret of the fact that I wanted Fnatic to win, but the manner of their defeat must have left neutrals almost as disappointed as fans. Worse still, I lost three whole pounds on a bet with my friend. Thanks, Fnatic.
Honestly, the entire team looked like a shadow of its former self. I don’t know if it was nerves, or if IG were just too good and made Fnatic look bad, but look bad is what they did.
One atypically insightful Redditor (I couldn’t find the post again, sorry) said the snowball nature of the meta-game means that when two aggressive teams go against each other, the one that loses the early game is always going to look bad.
The thing is, though, Fnatic did draft for the early game and just didn’t stick to the plan at all. Broxah, formerly one of the standout players of the tournament, did next-to-nothing on Lee Sin.
Bwipo looked like a deer in Theshy’s headlights (I wonder if stage fright got the better of him, because the most experienced Soaz performed much better when subbed in for game three), and Caps was a non-entity for most of the series.
In a tournament where “do your own thing” has become the unofficial slogan, Fnatic decided they had a new thing for the final, and that thing was to do nothing and lose. TSM would be proud.
They got out-drafted and out-played, after looking uniquely strong until this point. Don’t forget, before the final Fnatic held a 2-1 record against IG, thanks to tie-breakers but the team that showed up on Saturday bore no similarities to that squad.
It’s a shame because now there is a real chance that what had previously been The Best Worlds Ever will be remembered for the lamest grand-final of all time – the second 3-0 sweep in a row, by the way.
Honestly, up until the semi-finals, Worlds 2018 genuinely had been the most exciting ever and I hope that, once the dust has settled, people will see the tournament holistically. It was, after all, the year League of Legends finally shifted away from Korea, and, importantly, away from the Korean style. It is Ironic that it should be the year that Korea hosted it, then.
Maybe it will shift straight back again, time will tell, but the shift, however long it lasts, was very real.
Fnatic died on their feet in the grand-final, and tournament hype died with it. But at the end of the tournament’s life, I hope we can remember it as it was in those dizzyingly exciting pre-semi-final days.
Celebrate its life, don’t mourn its sickly ending, because its life was glorious and worthy of remembering.