Gao “Ning” Zhen-Ning was considered as the weakest link in Invictus Gaming’s roster, if there ever was one. Even so, IG went on to win the 2018 League of Legends World Championship, and Ning was lauded as the MVP.
Ning had an exceptional performance in the finals, where IG swept Fnatic to claim the Summoner’s Cup. He picked up 2 Player of the Match awards alongside being declared the MVP for the series. It came as a bit of a surprise, as many would have expected his other teammates to be the MVP, not him.
According to many analysts, the jungler position was the one area which Fnatic could have exploited for success as Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen clearly had been the best jungler in the tournament. The last time the two junglers met before the final was in their group stage matches and the tiebreaker where Broxah easily out-jungled Ning.
Despite all the stats going against him, Ning was not only able to guide IG to victory, but he was also clearly the better jungler at the end of the day. So what set him apart from the rest of the players?
Ning has always been good mechanically since he was previously an AD Carry. The main issue was the inconsistency in his form. In 2017 Ning was considered to be one of the best junglers in the LPL. This quickly faded in 2018 as he was mostly playing as one of the supporting cast to his solo lanes.
In the finals, it was clear that he was up for carrying. He repeatedly ganked Fnatic’s midlane in Game 2 for multiple crucial kills. In all these scenarios, Ning took all the kills and every available resource.
He changed the standard meta build of Gragas and went for full AP, showing that he is confident in himself. Getting a comfort pick was another factor for Ning’s success as in all three games he went for a champion that he is confident on.
Despite the solo laners of IG being the stars for the majority of the tournament, Ning showed that he means business. Even after being under much criticism he tackled the situation comfortably. He had one of the best stats at the end of the series. Though IG performed well across the board, Ning was truly pivotal in their success.
And that is why he is the MVP.