By Paul Shin
In the pro scene of League of Legends, it is always difficult to state who the best team truly is simply because there are multiple different winners in each region. But, what if there was a tournament to truly find out which team is the best Ranging from North America’s LCS (League of Legends Championship Series) to the lesser known Japanese league, the LJL (League of Legends Japan League)? That’s exactly what MSI (Mid-Season Invitationals) and Worlds are meant to do; find out which team is truly the best in every region after the Spring split.
This year, a huge format change occurred compared to the previous MSI tournaments. Originally planned to start three groups of four different teams, due to COVID-19 traveling restrictions on, the Vietnamese representatives from the VCS, GAM eSports, were unable to come in as the second seed in group A. This left group A having only three teams as opposed to the four in groups B and C. However, the format remained the same. Led by one of the favorites of the tournament, RNG (Royals Never Give Up) group A starred the LPL, LCL, LCO. Respectively led by MAD Lions, the European representatives, group B had players from the LEC, PCS, TCL, CBLOL. Finally, returning to hold their title as the best team in the world, previous world champions DAMWON GAMING led group C alongside the North American representatives, Cloud9, with players from the LCK, LCS, LLA, LJL.
The three groups in the Mid-Season Invitational (cred. LoL eSports)
LCK’s DAMWON Gaming KIA (DK) was last year’s world champions, with only one major roster change: top lane from Nuguri to Khan. While objectively speaking, they were not as dominant as last year in the split, but still ended 15-3 in the regular season and 3-0 in their playoff semifinals against both HLE and GenG. DK are one of two clear favorites to win the competition as each player is considered a top 3 player for each of the roles. Canyon, their jungler, is considered the best in his role alongside Showmaker, the mid lane prodigy that is the face of DK.
LPL’s RNG is a historical team that has always had strong players and made it to almost every international event. However, they do not have uzi, their historic ADC. While this change may have huge ramifications, their new superstar ADC, GALA, has been stepping up to the huge stepping stone that uzi had previously made for RNG. Additionally, their support, Ming, has been carrying multiple team fights both from the group stage of MSI and the finals of the LPL, which only makes them a stronger team. Will they have a strong showing in MSI or will other teams over perform them? Based on current standings, it seems as if RNG has a great chance of making it out of MSI as the favorites.
DK vs. RNG in the first Round Robin of the Rumble Stage (cred. EpicSkillShot and LoL eSports)
The LEC’s MAD Lions is also one of the most interesting teams as well. While they are not a clear favorite to win the tournament, they have shown some of the most dominant performances throughout the rumble stage and group stage. MAD Lions is interesting as they are the first team from the LEC/EU LCS that isn’t Fnatic or G2. Additionally, MAD Lions is coming into the MSI as a strong team that was able to beat both teams before in the LEC’s playoffs, which makes them an even stronger contender for the title.
Cloud9 is NA’s super team with some of the strongest players in the league with Perkz and Blaber leading the charge. Cloud9, after being dominant for the entirety of 2020, came back by replacing their mid-laner, Nisqy, with Perkz, the G2 superstar. While Cloud9 is not expected to win the Mid Season Invitational, they are still a team that is to be reckoned with as they are known to snowball leads quite frequently.
Probably one of the biggest upsets was in Group C’s first round robin as Cloud9 went 0-3 against DAMWON and two wildcard regions. While C9 was not dubbed as the clear favorites of the tournament, they were still from a major region, which entitled them to being the favorites against teams like Detonation FocusMe. However, after a one sided stomp from the LJL Representatives, C9 was left without a single win in the first round robin. However, in the second round robin, C9 was able to pull off upsets against even DK, which proved their ability heading into the next stage.
Detonation FocusMe goes 2-3 at the end of the group stage, getting eliminated by Cloud9 (cred. DFM eSports)
Two teams from each of the groups were able to come out to compete in the Rumble stage, a new introduction to the MSI format. Each of the six teams were able to go against another team at least twice in order to gain a spot in the playoffs, and with only four spots available for the semifinals and finals, the competition was fierce on who would advance to the next stage.