All thirteen regions have determined their champion and now the time has come for the best of the best to represent their region at the Mid-Season Invitational. This time around, let’s take a look at the teams representing the five main regions of China, Korea, Europe, North America and Taiwan. How did they get to this point? What are the expectations? Let’s find out.
China: Invictus Gaming
Invictus Gaming comes into MSI looking as dominant as they did at Worlds. They qualified for MSI with convincing victories over Topsports Gaming (3-1) in the semifinals and JD Gaming (3-0) in the finals.
With the team being completely the same one as their championship squad, the makeup of the team remains the same. With top laner Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok and mid laner Song “Rookie” Eui-jin leading the way, the team plays with an aggressive style and usually dominates their matches. Along with that jungler Gao “Ning” Zhen-Ning continues to be a great playmaker for the team in the early game. As a result of all the star power in the top half of the map, the bot lane tandem of ADC Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo and support Wang “Baolan” Liu-Yi don’t get enough appreciation for how good they are in a region known for their strong bottom lanes.
With the same roster that already won Worlds looking even better than before, expectations for the team are fairly high. It would be a disappointment if IG doesn’t find themselves in the finals at the end of the tournament.
Korea: SK Telecom T1
SK Telecom T1 makes their return to the international stage after a dominant performance in the LCK playoffs. They come into MSI after 3-0 victories over Kingzone DragonX in the semifinals and Griffin in the finals.
While the team comes returns to international play with a whole new roster, one position remains the same for SKT with Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok in the mid lane. Joining him this time around is another god of the game in support Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong with his new ADC partner in Park “Teddy” Jin-seong who makes his highly anticipated international debut. Rounding out their amazing roster is another amazing carry player in top laner Kim “Khan” Dong-ha and a great playmaker in jungler Kim “Clid” Tae-min.
The goal is clear for SKT: dominate and win. While they were able to do so in Korea, the international competition could prove to be a bit much. Although they should be a favorite to reach the finals, the team still falls victim to playing at a slower pace than what the current meta dictates. While they should outclass most teams in the tournament, they could still fall victim to an upset and miss out on the finals.
Europe: G2 Esports
Coming into MSI with the most dominant domestic performance by any of the top teams, G2 Esports will look to build on a fairly successful Worlds run. They made it to MSI with back to back 3-0 victories over Origen in both the “Juggernaut” match and the finals.
Out of all the teams in attendance, G2 may have the most flexibility in pick bans. Everyone on the roster has shown they’re capable of playing a huge variety of champions as the throughout the season. The most obvious example is ADC Luka “Perkz” Perković who is still able to take over games with mages. Along with that, top laner Martin “Wunder” Hansen, mid laner Rasmus “Caps” Winther and support Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle have all demonstrated a huge champion pool throughout the season. Lastly, there’s jungler Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski who not only has a wide champion pool for junglers, but has also shown his capabilities on the likes of Morgana and Braum in the past.
In general, G2 should contend against the likes of SKT for a spot in the finals, but with Mikyx’s injury possibly keeping him out, it’ll be interesting to see how they match up with Hampus “promisq” Mikael Abrahamsson instead.
North America: Team Liquid
Out of all the main region teams, Team Liquid may have had the hardest road to reach this point. After a quick 3-0 against FlyQuest in the semifinals, they would have to reverse sweep Team SoloMid in a thrilling five-game series to make it back to MSI once again.
Team Liquid comes into MSI having made upgrades in their two weakest roles of mid lane and support since their last international appearance at Worlds. Taking over mid lane, Team Liquid addressed the problem of lacking a second carry by bringing in Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen from Cloud9. On top of that, they provided ADC Yiliang “Peter” “Doublelift” Peng some more help by bringing in world champion support Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in. Along with that, top laner Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong and jungler Jake Kevin “Xmithie” Puchero continue to act as solid and consistent playmakers for the team.
While Team Liquid as a whole looks solid, the expectations for the team are not as high. For most fans, an appearance in the playoffs would be enough of a result for the team. However, in general, Team Liquid could still steal an upset win over the likes of IG and SKT and find themselves in the Finals.
Taiwan: Flash Wolves
After some losing long-time players in Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang and Hu “SwordArT” Shuo-Chieh, there was some doubt as to whether Flash Wolves could win Taiwan once more. Luckily for them, after a close 3-2 victory over ahq e-Sports Club in the semifinals and a 3-0 victory over MAD Team in the finals, Flash Wolves maintain their rule over Taiwan and will represent the region once again at MSI.
Despite losing two key members of the team, Flash Wolves still maintain the core of top laner Su “Hanabi” Chia-Hsiang and ADC Lu “Betty” Yu-Hung, who are both capable players that can hold their own on the international stage. Meanwhile, Flash Wolves still have a great mid laner in Shin “Rather” Hyeong-seop, who is on loan from Griffin and will now have a great opportunity to show how well he can match up against the likes of Rookie and Faker. Finally, Flash Wolves brought on an amazing rookie support in Liu “ShiauC” Chia-Hao and a solid jungler in Lee “Bugi” Seong-yeop. While the Flash Wolves roster has quite a few new faces, they’re still as dangerous.
While Flash Wolves should still have an easy time qualifying for the main stage, it’s hard to see them making it into the playoffs. However, as always, Flash Wolves can always be a wildcard and could still get some upset victories and slide into a playoff spot. No matter what happens, this will be a great chance to see how well Flash Wolves can do on the international stage.
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