BERLIN -- Day 2 of the League of Legends World Championship main event had all the makings of one of the biggest days in the tournament's eight-year history.
The game's all-time best player, SK Telecom T1's Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, was pitted against Chinese rival Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao of Royal Never Give Up in a rematch of the 2013 world final. There was also another rematch, this one more recent, with reigning world champions Invictus Gaming looking to exact revenge against Team Liquid after being knocked out of the Mid-Season Invitational by the North Americans.
Neither matchup disappointed.
Here's what we learned following the opening weekend of games in the world championship group stage.
This might turn out to be the most-watched esports tournament ever
While we still don't know numbers from China (by far the region with the most eyeballs watching League) and TV, the viewership through the first two days of the world championship group stage have been massive on YouTube, Twitch, Facebook and other online outlets.
Per Esports Charts, the peak viewership for Saturday and Sunday's opening games, SKT vs. Fnatic and SKT vs. RNG, each eclipsed 2 million. The only two matches with a higher peak in viewership over the past three years? The 2017 and 2018 finals, with 2019's group stage games not too far behind.
From top to bottom, this year's edition of the world championship has so far surpassed its previous iterations. With top franchises such as SKT and Invictus Gaming impressing early on in the group stage, the knockout rounds are shaping up to break records.
Royal Never Give Up and SK Telecom T1 are ready for a bigger stage
SKT and RNG not only was the most-watched game so far at the world championship but became an instant classic that will live on in Riot Games promotional packages for years to come. RNG showcased their technical talent with Uzi starring, per usual, as the team's focal point on Xayah. Where RNG thrived in the skirmishes and vital mechanical outplays, SKT, built around Faker on a split-pushing Twisted Fate, wanting to stretch the Chinese squad thin across Summoner's Rift.
By the end of the 42-minute slugfest, both teams cashed in on their strengths. RNG won the pivotal teamfights, yet it was SKT exiting the Verti Music Hall in Berlin with the victory, teleporting into the opponent's base and rushing down their Nexus. It was the type of game you want to see more from. In 2013, Faker ousted Uzi from worlds in the final with a dominant sweep. Three years later, Faker dumped RNG and Uzi once more out of worlds, this time by a 3-1 scoreline in Chicago. The next world championship, Uzi came as close as he ever has to topping Faker and his white whale in SKT, going up 2-1 in front of his home crowd in China before losing in heartbreaking fashion.
If both SKT and RNG advance from their group, they could not meet again until the final. Following their first meeting in Berlin, no other stage would feel quite right between two of League's classic organizations.
Invictus Gaming are the reigning, defending and still undisputed world champions
Forget the disappointing spring split. Forget the sometimes-terrible summer split. Forget that they needed to go to five games twice in the Chinese regional qualifier to make the world championship.
Invictus Gaming's second match against Team Liquid was slated to show us how good the reigning champions really are, and they did just that. The North American champions got out to a quick start, piling on as they did at MSI, but this go around, iG staved off the early deficits and fought back. When Invictus Gaming needed them the most, their heroes from the title run in 2018, solo laners Kang "TheShy" Seung-lok and Song "Rookie" Eui-jin, came up in the clutch to grab the win.
Invictus Gaming's opening game of the event was an up-and-down win over Taiwan's ahq e-Sports Club, though it did highlight iG's strength: a multi-faceted starting five with maybe the highest skill ceiling of all the eligible teams in the tournament.
They're not back in the form that won them the Summoner's Cup -- time will tell if Invictus Gaming can even achieve that same form with rookie jungler Lu "Leyan" Jue -- but it's a start, and the rest of the field has to take notice. The reigning world champions have one eye open and are waking from an almost year-long slumber.
G2 make statement at home against Griffin
It's never a good thing when you lose the head coach that shaped a young, nerves-laden roster a few weeks before the world championship. It gets even worse when the team that just lost their shepherd is thrown into the ring with the favorites of the event in front of a ravenous Berlin crowd wanting to see G2 Esports wreak havoc.
This game went as you would expect from a setup like that. G2 secured themselves an early lead and never looked back, with Griffin putting together a few solid plays but overall having a flat debut on the international stage. In particular, starting support Son "Lehends" Si-woo looked out of sync on Nautilus, finding himself caught out and deleted multiple times throughout the game.
Griffin will need to be better if they want to make it to the quarterfinals. For G2 and their fans, it's the opening chapter they were hoping for with a fairy-tale ending perhaps awaiting them in Paris at the grand final.