Banner Image Credit: LoL Esports
Words: Peter ZDS Tingson
As the dust settles after the group stages of the League of Legends Midseason Invitational, only four of the six teams are still in the running. The remaining teams which are the Korean LCK’s SK Telecom T1, the Taiwan LMS’ Flash Wolves, the Chinese LPL’s World Elite, and the European LCS’ G2 Esports will compete in a single elimination, best of 5 knockout stage as their road to the MSI championship continues.
These four regions who advanced to the knockout stage have won their respective regions the top seeds coming into the 2017 World Championship group stage.
Image Credit: LoL Esports
North America’s Great Depression Continues
In a repeat of their collapse during last year’s World Championships, the North American LCS’ Team SoloMid once again failed to qualify for the knockout stage in a Riot international tournament.
One of the oldest League of Legends teams still active, Team SoloMid has been the most dominant team in the NA LCS, winning 5 out of the 9 NA LCS championships. However, they haven’t been able to translate their domestic dominance into international success, as they’ve failed to make it past the group stages in both Worlds and MSI since 2015.
North America’s inability to produce solid international results has been a recurring worrying trend for years.
Hope for the SEA Region
One of the changes Riot Games implemented in this year’s MSI was that the highest wildcard region finisher gets promoted to the Worlds Group Stage with an additional seed in the Play-In stage of the tournament.
Although they failed to make it out of the group stages, The Gigabyte Marines who represented the South-east Asian GPL region at MSI finished first among all the wildcard regions thus giving the winner of GPL summer a direct slot at the 2017 World Championship group stage with the runner-up getting a slot in the Play-Ins. Should a Philippine team place first in the GPL in the coming summer playoffs, then we’ll be seeing another Philippine team compete in Worlds this year; something that hasn’t happened since Mineski-League of Legends qualified for Worlds four years ago during the Season 3 World Championships.
Knockout Stage Preview
Image Credit: LoL Esports
SK Telecom T1 vs Flash Wolves The first matchup of the knockout stage features the defending champions and 3-time winner of the Summoner’s Cup, SK Telecom T1 against the Taiwanese Flash Wolves. Despite being just the fourth seed among the teams that made it past the group stage, the Flash Wolves were responsible for one of the losses that SKT suffered during the group stage.
Although Taiwan’s LMS isn’t among the most popular regions in the world, they’ve shown over the years that their style is one that the dominant Koreans have struggled against. Despite that, Korea is still the most dominant region when it comes to playing in best of 5s in Riot’s international tournaments, as they’ve lost in only 3 best of 5s since Season 2. SKT is the likely winner in this showdown, but the Flash Wolves just might be able to take another game against League of Legends’ reigning overlords.
Team World Elite vs G2 Esports
Team World Elite are finally back on the world stage! The last time they were participants in one of Riot’s international tournaments was during the Season 2 World Championships, where they lost to Counter Logic Gaming Europe in what was a series riddled with problems. The team, with a completely revamped roster, showed some promise against international competition back in 2015 where they took 2nd place in IEM Katowice. However, they’ve struggled to make it to an international tournament hosted by Riot until now. They’ve shown promise again during the group stages by taking the second seed, even managing to win both their games against G2 Esports in this rematch.
G2 Esports is a team that suffers from the same sickness that Team SoloMid does. They are incredibly dominant when playing domestically against teams from their region, but they’ve struggled against international competition. This was evident last year when they finished in 5th place in last year’s MSI, as well as failing to make it out of the group stage in last year’s World Championships. They’ve shown improvement this year, but it’s still an uphill battle for the Europeans to prove themselves internationally again.
That about wraps it up for the round up of the group stages of this year’s Mid Season Invitational and the preview of the knockout stage. Tune in this weekend to see the four remaining regions battle it out to advance to the finals of MSI.