The Mid-Season Invitational is here! The champions of LoL’s professional leagues meet in Reykjavik. Will Worlds 2020 Champions DWG KIA reassert their dominance internationally or would another team show their prowess?
The Mid-Season Invitational is Riot Games’ second biggest international event for professional League of Legends after the World Championship. After it was first delayed, then cancelled for 2020, this year the MSI returns to the calendar. It is hosted in Reykjavik, Iceland, and while the pandemic has not allowed a live audience, the teams will be facing each other on stage.
The tournament begins on May 6th and will have three stages. The first one features three groups with double round robin format, with the top two teams qualifying for the “Rumble.” In it, all six remaining teams are going to be slotted in a single group, with everyone playing everyone else twice. The top four teams qualify for a single elimination, best of five playoff bracket. It culminates in a grand final on May 23rd.
Cloud9 would once more open the group in a clash with DWG KIA - and this time, the LCS champions were up to the task. Behind for much of the game, they still found picks and won several skirmishes to stay close. Eventually, a clutch teamfight at the dragon pit that gave them four kills and the Baron. They used it to pick the DAMWON base apart and eventually end the game. DetonatioN FocusMe, meanwhile, made short work of Infinity Esports in their rematch, leaving their rivals no chance for a comeback this time.
DAMWON managed to recover with a win against Infinity. The Latin American champions took some early kills and stole a Baron to delay the game, but DWG remained in control and eventually closed it out. C9, meanwhile, had their vengeance against DFM in a much-needed win. Luka "Perkz" Perković's masterful Yone was on full display and the NA team left little chance of comeback for the LJL champions.
DFM had to go against DAMWON next, and while they had a good first 20 minutes it was not enough. DWG's teamfight composition got a massive teamfight that let them secure the Baron and take over the game. With their second spot in the group secure, C9 had a bloody game against Infinity but managed to put them away and complete their 3-0 day.
MAD Lions suffered their first defeat of the event in Monday's opening game against Istanbul Wildcats. A big teamfight win allowed the TCL champions to take an early Baron and stop MAD's dragon stacking, eventually securing their victory. PSG Talon, meanwhile, had a measured game with paiN Gaming but took over the mid-game, smashing teamfights and giving paiN no way to come back.
PSG took out the Wildcats in the next game, despite a hard contest by the TCL team. While the gold stayed close for a while, PSG had an early dragon lead and had a composed style that saw them keep control over the game even after the Wildcats stole an elder dragon. MAD, meanwhile, struggled with paiN at the start and Leonardo "Robo" Souza's Renekton was a terror early on. However, the Lions rallied and played a clean mid-game, securing the clutch win - after the disappointing Worlds, they will make it to the top 6 Rumble stage this MSI.
With the two top teams lost, paiN and the Wildcats went out with a brawl of a game, in which Robo and veteran Felipe "brTT" Gonçalves proved the difference and ensured the CBLOL champions would leave with a win. MAD and PSG played a cautious early game. However, as the match progressed the LEC team started to come out ahead with good picks and expert teamfighting, kiting away from PSG and dominating teamfights to take their fifth win and end on top of the group.
Sunday was dedicated to Group A alone and due to there being only three teams in the group everyone would play everyone else twice. RNG was unstoppable against both Unicorns of Love and Pentanet.GG, even playing with their substitute support in the top lane in the last game against the Oceanian team.
The fight between UoL and PGG was a lot more involved. The LPL champions got the first win of the day. A close early game transitioned into a Baron after a 3-0 teamfight 20 minutes in. In the rematch, Penta's early game focused composition and good grouping gave them the initial lead and they followed it up with great teamfighting to get a decisive win.
The tiebreaker for second place saw the Unicorns and Pentanet go neck and neck at start, but PGG slowly pushed ahead until a decisive 3-0 skirmish 20 minutes in gave them an early Baron. They played a nearly immaculate pressure game against a struggling UoL and deservedly won. This was a stunning victory for the Australian team and the first time they go to the group stage of a major event.
RNG's dominance of group A continued, as the LPL champions once more dismantled Unicorns of Love. The Chinese team punished UoL from the early on and accelerated the game. The Unicorns couldn't even contest the 20-minute Baron and lost the game shortly afterwards. UoL's woes continued against Pentanet.GG. The Oceania team offered stiff resistance early. As the mid-game progressed they got the better of the Unicorns in several fights, winning the game off a 4-0 teamfight 30 minutes in.
Group C almost saw another huge upset as DetonatioN FM pushed DWG KIA to the limit. The LJL team was very proactive and came out of the early game slightly ahead. In the mid-game, they dominated the objective game, getting three Barons and a cloud soul, breaking in the DWG base twice. However, a single overreach in the DWG base cost them the game as the Korean team got four kills and won the game before the respawns. Cloud9, meanwhile, had another hard start against Infinity Esports. However, they stabilized in the mid-game and a clutch teamfight secured them both an ocean soul and a Baron, letting them take over the game and win at their leisure.
In Group B, MAD Lions and paiN Gaming had yet another crazy game. The Lions had a near immaculate first ten minutes that saw them get 4K gold up, before getting far too sloppy and letting paiN equalize the game. MAD again take the leave before their opponents outsmarted them in the macro game and took the first inhibitor. They nearly ended the game 38 minutes in too - but MAD saved their Nexus with seconds to spare, got the ace and ended the game. PSG Talon, meanwhile, continued their solid showing with a very one-sided game against the Istanbul Wildcats where they were ahead from start to finish. Was their loss to MAD just bad luck?
The day started with two group A games. In the first one, RNG stomped Pentanet.GG, taking an early lead and running away with it. The Oceania team had virtually no presence on the map after the first few minutes and had to concede another loss. Though Unicorns of Love tried to slow the game down, RNG dispatched them in a similar fashion, getting an early lead and pushing their opponents around for another quick win.
"" - Xiaohu pic.twitter.com/nwCTxJGqIv— LoL Esports (@lolesports) May 7, 2021
Wins for the favorites continued in group B, where DWG KIA left no chance to Infinity Esports. The LCK team shut down the enemy bot lane and secured the first baron shortly after is spawned, winning shortly afterwards. DetonatioN FM, however, buckled the trend with an huge upset win against Cloud9. A poor start by C9 jungler Robert "Blaber" Huang gave DFM an early lead they kept through most of the game. C9 won several skirmishes and secured three drakes, but a won skirmish 28 minutes in gave DFM the Baron and they ended the game after an ace at the dragon shortly after.
Istanbul Wildcats did their best to provide the second big upset and their game against MAD Lions was back and forth until the end, matching their map play and pick against MAD's better teamfighting. It took 37 minutes for the LEC champions to close the game after a grueling 5-3 fight. In the final game, PSG Talon had little trouble taking on paiN Gaming, taking off in the early game and dismantling the Brazilian champion.
Cloud9 proved a tough nut to crack against DWG KIA, enduring brutal early pressure to delay the game. However, the LCK champions remained ahead on the map and won several mid-game teamfights, grinding C9 down to start the tournament with a win. The other Group C game saw Infinity Esports and DetonatioN FM go blow for blow for 23 minutes, until a huge teamfight win for the Latin American champions allowed them to get ahead and pick the Baron, ending shortly afterwards.
Group A, featuring only 3 teams due to the VCS being unable to clear a team for the travel, started with a match between LPL's RNG and Oceania representatives Pentanet.GG. Despite the Oceania team getting first blood, the Chinese team powered on through and absolutely smashed the mid-game, ending in just 24 minutes. PGG did not have much success in their next game against Unicorns of Love, either: the CIS champions took an early lead and never let their rivals get back into the game.
The first game from group B between Istanbul Wildcats and paiN Gaming was a rollercoaster, with the Turkish team coming out swinging with a big advantage in the early game, only for Pain to recover after a heroic ace 23 minutes in. The TCL champions mounted a desperate defense of their base, but eventually their defense crumbled. PSG Talon, meanwhile, had a good opening against MAD Lions, but the LEC champions quickly turned the game around with great plays by Norman "Kaiser" Kaiser and Javier "Elyoya" Prades Batalla and won a decisive victory against what many see as their main rival for the top spot.
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That's all from the group stage - see you at the Rumble on Friday!