Royal Never Give Up overcame Kingzone DragonX in the Mid-Season Invitational 2018 final, ending Korea’s spell of dominance in the tournament.
Despite KZ pushing them all the way, RNG were the better side on the day and were able to finish their opponents off in the fourth game.
The MSI 2018 champion’s chances were never in question during the game. However, Kingzone’s performance did come as a surprise. Korea famously dominates the MSI and the region was tipped to prevail again heading into the tournament.
Royal Never Give Up’s victory ends a spell of two consecutive years that the LCK representative won the tournament.
It is usually SK Telecom T1, guided by Faker, that dominates here. They finished runners-up in 2015 before going on to win the tournament in 2016 and 2017. Kingzone managed to end their reign of LCK dominance, but they were unable to match SKT’s success on the international stage here.
Tens of thousands of fans tuned in to watch the final. Some 190,000 people were watching the stream via the official Riot Twitch channel at one point.
RNG vs KZ: A recap of the Mid-Season Invitational 2018 final
Game 1 – Kingzone DragonX 0-1 Royal Never Give Up
Both teams started strongly, but it was RNG who secured first blood after fHan “Peanut” Wang-ho found himself in trouble after pushing forward into the jungle. However, Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong quickly pulled it back level for KZ.
It was RNG who took the first turret 16 minutes in, but Bdd returned with a double kill soon after and KZ secured a turret in what was an incredibly tight first game.
A four kill attack put RNG in the driving seat with the 25 minute mark. The Chinese side went from strength to strength. Unable to deal with an assault on their base, KZ’s nexus eventually fell, handing Royal Never Give Up the first game.
Game 2 – Kingzone DragonX 1-1 Royal Never Give Up
Kingzone came out strong, securing first blood after just a minute after surrounding RNG’s Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao. However, the two teams were soon after level again, suggesting that this would be another game of back and forth.
It was once again RNG that secured the first dragon, but KZ took the first turret. Both teams were aggressive, but the game was still finely poised after 20 minutes.
KZ were two turrets ahead, but a backfiring attack allowed their opposition to take two turrets in quick succession. Within minutes, RNG were 5-1 ahead for kills, 3-2 for turrets and they had a 2k gold advantage.
However, KZ were unwilling to give up without a fight and they claimed victory in what was probably the most important one of all. A 5-5 victory resulted in four kills for the side, allowing them to take the first baron and get themselves right back in the game.
It made a huge difference. Within minutes, KZ were able to swarm on RNG’s base, take out all five of their enemies and take down the nexus in what was an incredible turnaround.
Game 3 – Kingzone DragonX 1-2 Royal Never Give Up
The third game didn’t start with the same urgency as game two. Despite a number of small battles, it took four minutes for Royal Never Give Up to secure first blood. It seemed as if Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Haowas about to fall, but Bdd overextended and was taken out by the RNG mid.
RNG destroyed the first turret after 12 minutes, but KZ levelled it up almost immediately. Both teams were proactive in the early stages, but RNG proved better in team fights, led by a rampaging Uzi, RNG found themselves ahead by 11-3 after 20 minutes. They secured the first baron after 23, putting them in the driving seat to take game three.
Down 10k gold, the game seemed all but over for Kingzone. RNG confirmed that that was the case minutes later as they stormed their opponent’s base. With no defence to be seen, RNG took down turrets in succession before turning their attention to the nexus.
With game two in the bag, Royal Never Give Up were just one game away from winning the best of five and taking the Mid-Season Invitational 2018 trophy.
Game 4 – Kingzone DragonX 1-3 Royal Never Give Up
RNG knew what they needed to do and they came out ready to take the fourth game. It took five minutes for first blood to come, but it was RNG that got it once again, as Letme took down Khan.
It was a slow start to game four, with both teams having their moments during the first 15 minutes. While RNG looked like the better team, yet another double kill for Bdd after 16 minutes kept KZ well in the fight.
It was KZ who went ahead for turrets after this, albeit only marginally. However, the tides turned after 25 minutes as RNG pulled ahead after securing first dragon. KZ, never one to give up, turned things around again a few minutes later as they secured the first baron before overpowering their opposition in a team fight.
It was the lifeline that they needed and they took their opportunity expertly, but it was far from the end of it. The action persisted and both teams went for it. It was RNG that pushed through and with Kingzone struggling to gather their defences, RNG powered their way to MSI 2018 victory.
Route to the final
KZ qualified for the Mid-Season Invitation 2018 via the LCK Spring Split. The team finished top in the regular season standings, having won 83% of their 18 games. They continued to show their dominance in the LCK playoffs, as they swept aside Afreeca Freecs 3-1 in the playoff final to secure the Spring Split championship and a place in the MSI.
Entering at the semi-final stage, KZ showed their relentless strength against Taiwanese side Flash Wolves. Despite the LMS champions securing some early successes, they were unable to keep up the pressure on Kingzone. Despite Flash Wolves taking the tie to 1-1 in game two, KZ secured the next two games to secure their place in the final.
Unlike Kingzone DragonX, Royal Never Give Up didn’t top their region in the Spring Split regular season table. However, finishing third with a record of 12-7, they were able to secure a place in the playoffs. It was here where they stepped things up. Entering at stage one, RNG defeated Team WE, Snake Esports and Invictus Gaming to set up a final clash with West region table-toppers EDward Gaming.
Despite their shortcomings in the Spring Split, their fantastic run in the playoffs meant that RNG entered the Mid-Season Invitational 2018 in good form.
Their opponents in the semi-finals were European champions Fnatic. Despite the EU LCS side’s dominance in their regional league during the Spring Split, RNG disposed of them with relative ease, producing a 3-0 sweep to secure their place in the final.
The Mid-Season Invitational is a League of Legends esports tournament, played in between the Spring and Summer splits.
A total of 14 teams qualified for the tournament after topping their respective divisions in the Spring Split. Representatives from LPL (China), EU LCS (Europe), LCK (Korea) and NA LCS (North America) went straight through to the main event, while champion teams from LMS, VCS, CBLOL, LCL, LLN, TCL, LJL, CLS, OPL and GPL had to fight for a place in the main tournament via a number of play-in games.
MSI 2018 was held at Le Zenith, a multi-purpose indoor arena in Paris with a maximum capacity of 9,000.
A total of $1 million was on the line at MSI 2018. By winning the tournament, RNG secured a $385,000 share of the prize pool.