The Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) kicked off last Thursday with the Play-In Stage. The Play-In phase of the tournament allows the emerging regions of the world to show their stuff and contend for one of the two remaining spots in the main event’s group stage. While these smaller regions were not as spectacular as any of the mainstay competitors, they still possess some diamonds in the rough that were definitely worth keeping an eye on.
5: Dire Wolves’ “Triple”
While most of the MSI Play-Ins were about the AD Carries or the Junlgers, one Midlaner that definitely stood out was the Dire Wolves’ Stephen “Triple” Li.
Li displayed some very explosive results on picks like Zoe and Cassiopeia. His mechanical skill and ability to make plays on the individual level, even when his team was losing, made him a definite standout from the other participating Midlaners. There were several moments in the Dire Wolves’ losses where Li came extremely close to turning things around for his team. Sadly, he was not able to push the Dire Wolves over the edge and claim more victories in his group. Hopefully, Li will be returning to the international stage soon and display even more of his great talent.
4: Rainbow7’s “WhiteLotus”
Matías “WhiteLotus” Musso is no stranger to the international stage. Musso was introduced to the world during 2017’s MSI Play-In Stage. League of Legends fans were wowed by this one-man army and his impressively flashy play. This year proved to be no different.
Musso seems to have not lost his penchant for flashy, skin-of-his-teeth play. Any time Rainbow7 was caught in a fight, Musso would seem to stay alive much longer than would be expected, sometimes meaning the difference between a win or loss. This aspect of Musso’s play is a testament to his mechanical skill and his high value within his team. Sadly, there was a lack of explosiveness in his performance this year versus his other international performances that keeps him from reaching a higher place on this list.
3: Gambit Esports
While placing a whole team on a list of standout players may seem like cheating, it is hard to argue that Gambit does not deserve the praise that they received during the group stage of Play-Ins. Their crisp teamwork allowed them to easily dismantle any opponent that they came across. Each win for Gambit seemed to be child’s play due to their incredible synergy within the roster.
Though their performance in the group stage was a walk in the park, their match against the LMS’ Flash Wolves was another story. Their crisp coordination went ravaged as the Flash Wolves easily outmatched them for a swift 0-3 loss. Whether their performance in the second stage of Play-Ins was an indicator of the team’s strength or their unpreparedness against the Flash Wolves will be a debated topic. All in all, Gambit should still be proud, as their group stage performance was worth the watch.
2: Supermassive’s “Zeitnot”
Turkish team Supermassive had a lot to prove during this year’s MSI Play-Ins. Turkey has been a region looking to bounce back and show the world just how strong they can be. While they were not able to move on to the main stage of the tournament, Supermassive’s Berkay “Zeitnot” Aşıkuzun proved to be a world class ADC during the Play-In Stage. Aşıkuzun, especially on Caitlyn and Ka’Sai, was ruthless in dominating his opponents. Whether it be as an individual or operating within his unit, he was able to pump out incredible amounts of damage and dodge death multiple times. Aşıkuzun’s team also regularly priotized him when divvying up resources. Supermassive made sure to maintain a steady supply of jungle camps and minion waves toward their star player. This made Aşıkuzun’s survival a critical point to SUP’s strategy, as his presence was always a key factor between victory or defeat.
Though Aşıkuzun’s play was extraordinary, there was a dynamic duo from Vietnam that stole his claim to the number one spot on this list.
1: “Stark” and “YiJin”
Ever since the Gigabyte Marines made their splash at last year’s MSI, the LoL community has fallen in love with the region of Vietnam. This year’s MSI was no different, as fans fell in love all over again thanks to EVOS’ Phan “Stark” Công Minh and Nguyễn “YiJin” Lê Hải Đăng.
The Top-Jungler duo made up the driving force behind EVOS’ crushing win against Supermassive in the second round of the Play-In Stage. This dynamic duo brought smart and aggressive play that was left unchallenged. Lê Hải Đăng’s Graves was especially deadly, as he was able to accrue such an advantage in the early game that he was able to almost single-handedly fight the entire Supermassive roster. Whlie Lê Hải Đăng was creating chaos in Supermassive’s backline; Công Minh was able to make considerable room for his teammates upfront. Even if he was to fall in an ensuing fight, Công Minh’s space-making and damage-soaking would allow the rest of EVOS to sweep through with relative ease.
While these were perhaps the best standouts in the Play-In Stage, there is still plenty of action to go around as the Mid-Season Invitational moves on to the main event this weekend. Be sure to tune in and watch out for LoL’s top players and teams that will be participating.
Featured Image courtesy of Riot Games. Images courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr