Reigning League of Legends world champions Invictus Gaming suffered a shocking defeat in the first round of the LPL playoffs that could threaten their chances of defending their Worlds title.
Invictus were swept aside 3-0 by LNG Esports, crashing out of the summer playoffs in the first round, a 7th-8th finish for the Worlds and LPL Spring champions.
Not only does the result mean the end of iG’s chances to defend their domestic title, but they’re also suddenly looking in danger of not even reaching the World Championship at all, an outcome that would have been unthinkable as recently as their Spring victory.
The first seed from the region will go to the LPL Summer champions, but even the second seed – which is given to the team with the most championship points – is highly likely to go to another team.
If either top seeds FunPlus Phoenix and TOP Esports make it to at least third place – a rather likely outcome given that they are already guaranteed top four – they would collect enough championship points to beat Invictus to the spot.
Invictus are relying on one of those teams to win the title and the other to finish in fourth to guarantee their own Worlds qualification – and even then, if it were Royal Never Give Up who finished second, they too would surpass Invictus in championship points.
It is very likely, then, that Invictus will be forced through the Regional Qualifier, a prospect that looks incredibly dangerous considering the form the reigning World Champions have shown at the end of the Summer split.
Invictus Gaming certainly wouldn’t be the first World Champions to miss their opportunity to defend their title – in fact, only SK Telecom T1 and the Samsung Galaxy team that became Gen.G have ever managed to qualify for the tournament in the year after their victory, with SKT doing so in both 2016 and 2017 following their wins in the previous years.
Even if iG do win the Regional Qualifier and secure the third seed, the consequences of their loss here will likely still be felt at the World Championship, as there’s a very good chance they could end up drawn into a tough “group of death”.
While China does now have three direct seeds into the group stage, coming in third would mean a high likelihood of facing multiple strong teams from other regions, a dangerous prospect on both sides depending on the kind of form iG might be in.