Mid-Season Invitional (MSI) 2018 is here! Amidst all the excitement, here are a few key things to keep an eye out for as the tournament progresses.
One thing that is constantly brought up when discussing MSI 2018 is the roster of Attack Damage Carries (ADCs) that will be there – and with good reason. The top four teams boast Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, Kim “PraY” Jong-in, and Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao.
Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng joined Team Liquid this season, and was able to turn around a rough start to the split. His exceptional play eventually led his team to 10-1 in the playoffs, taking the trophy. Though not a perfect season by any means, Peng’s impressive mental resilience is something to be admired, as it allowed him to come back from an 8-7 start, going on to win the finals. When he is on form, he can hold his own with the best.
EU LCS Spring Split MVP Martin “Rekkles” Larsson is looking better than ever. Averaging .75 deaths per game, Larsson’s positioning and decision-making are unrivaled in his region this season. Though he was successful on many champions, he earned an insane 65.0 Kill Death Assist Ratio (KDA) over 7 games when allowed to play Tristana. With a Fnatic team around him that looked dominant nearly all season, Larsson is looking to make a big impact at MSI this year.
Kingzone DragonX are favored by many to win MSI, and that is thanks, in no small part, to Kim “PraY” Jong-in. With a team made up of some of the best players in the world in all positions, Jong-in still finds a way to shine. He has long been considered a top ADC, but will have to break his tradition of coming up just short in international competitions in order to take home the MSI title.
Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao is the best ADC in the world, by nearly all accounts. While he has always been top-tier mechanically, it seems that his mental game has recently risen to match. A calmer approach has helped him synergize better with his team, and earned him his first League of Legends Pro League (LPL) Championship. If it comes down to a battle of the ADC’s, Royal Never Give Up (RNG) should be feeling good about their shot at winning MSI.
If recent competitions are any indication, Kai’Sa will have a noticeable impact on MSI. Most notably, Afreeca Freecs allowed Kim “PraY” Jong-in to play her in all four of the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) LCK Spring Split Finals. He ended up going 22/4/17 during the series, earning Kingzone DragonX the title. Additionally, Kai’Sa can potentially be played in the Jungle or even other lanes, and this flexibility only adds to her value. The high damage, high mobility Marksman has shined since her competitive release, and will likely be picked or banned in most games.
Although she made her mark in the LCK, many regions have not yet been able to play Kai’Sa competitively. Released on Patch 8.5, she was unavailable for play throughout the end of the Spring Split for most. This creates an aspect of mystery around which teams will prioritize picking her, prioritize banning her, and which teams will stick with what they know. Though if teams have been paying attention at all, they will keep her out of Kim “PraY” Jong-in’s hands.
Mid Lane Excitement
With Patch 8.8 came several nerfs to the control mages that have been dominating the meta recently. Champions like Azir, Ryze, Galio, and Taliyah have all taken slight nerfs, which opens the door to the possibility of Assassins showing up in the mid lane. These high risk, high reward picks often add a good amount of excitement in professional matches where mechanics are at the highest level. The potential for surprise assassinations and tricky outplays makes for some of the most gripping moments on the rift.
Gambit Esports has been tearing up the LCL since Summer 2017. However, after a dismal 0-4 performance at Worlds last year, they will be looking for redemption on the international stage. Much of their plans for success will rest on the shoulders of veteran Jungler Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov. The former EU LCS All-Star has been in impressive form recently as he led his team to first place in the 2018 LCL Spring Split.
His most popular champion is the tanky Sejuani. Her kit allows players to provide a safe front line for their team while also getting picks on the enemy with Glacial Prison. With six wins out of seven games played on this champ, as well as a 8.75 KDA, Sejuani is his favored pick. It’s safe to say that Gambit’s opponents will try to keep the Fury of the North out of his hands. If they do manage this, however, Diamondprox should still have an impact. He can always go with Kha’Zix, Olaf, Trundle, Skarner, Jax, or Zac – all of which he has a winning record with in 2018.
A New Fan Favorite
It seems that at nearly every international tournament, a relatively unknown team does surprisingly well. These teams tend to gather a large following of those fans who love the underdog story. In recent years Albus NoX Luna and GIGABYTE Marines have both caught the eye of new fans by making unexpected runs through some of the worlds best teams. Once the Play-In stages are done, there will be a large fanbase pulling for one of the lower ranked teams to beat some of the best organizations in the world.
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