Every sport has dream matches that never happened. Boxing has Ali versus Tyson, basketball has Michael Jordan versus LeBron, football has Brady versus Montana. In League of Legends, the dream match will finally happen on a true international stage. At the Mid-Season Invitational, we will be treated to Faker versus Rookie. What many may not know is the history behind the meeting of these two titans. It all started in 2014.
In the 2014 Spring Split, SKT T1 K were the reigning world champion, OGN Winter champion, and considered the best team in the world. But in that fateful spring, they faltered. They came in second in their group, behind their rival KT Arrows. What was shocking was the way KT beat SKT. A dominant 2-0 sweep showcased Faker being consistently bested by a highly praised newcomer called Rookie, who posted an impressive 8 KDA against the Demon King. This would be the only meeting between the two for four years, as Rookie left for the LPL in the Korean exodus.
Upon arriving in the LPL, Rookie joined the prolific Invictus Gaming. Everyone knows what Faker achieved staying in Korea, winning four LCK titles and two world championships in the following three years. While Faker thrived, Rookie toiled in the LPL, making playoffs every split but never winning a single LPL title. He would only appear in major international competition once over the next three years, the infamous 2015 World Championship where IG bowed out in the group of death. In 2018 the tides turned for Invictus, emerging as a top team in the LPL. Rookie led the charge, capturing both MVP awards that year. But Faker was not so fortunate, as SKT went on a notorious slump. It seemed that Rookie and Faker were destined to never face again… until Rift Rivals.
SKT barely made the 2018 Rift Rivals event, where Invictus were guaranteed a spot by finishing first in spring. While it wasn’t a true international tournament, it was more than fans had had in years. We would finally get Faker versus Rookie. The Demon King versus the Next Big Thing. The clash did not disappoint, with IG winning a closely fought game that saw Rookie barely edge out Faker. But this was just Rift Rivals. This was the “meaningless” tournament Riot had created to fuel regional rivalries. With SKT missing the World Championship and Invictus taking home the Summoner’s Cup, the suspense grew. Who was the better mid laner? The masses wouldn’t be satisfied until the two met on a real international stage. Little did we know we wouldn’t have to wait long.
With the the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational attendees revealed, the community salivated at what was going to be delivered. SKT and Faker had won the LCK Spring. Rookie and Invictus Gaming finally captured the illusive LPL title. They will represent their regions on the second biggest stage League has to offer, with two of the best teams in the world at their backs. While Faker brings the best bottom lane in the world, Rookie is flanked by the strongest top-jungle duo in League of Legends. Even with the talent around them, all eyes will be on the mid lane. The greatest of all time versus the man he has never beaten. The outcome can only be speculated, but one thing is for certain: This is the most hyped MSI ever. The Mid-Season Invitational main event will start on May 10, broadcast from Chinese Taipei and Vietnam.