The Mid-Season Invitational is finally back. After a year off due to uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the pandemic, MSI 2020 never happened. This was a big blow to many teams who had fought tooth and nail to win their respective regions. Now in Reykjavik, Iceland, MSI 2021 will take place with the top 11 teams battling it out. The VCS representative will not be attending.
As a reminder, the top two teams will make it to the next round and they will face each other in a double round-robin. Only Group A will do a quadruple round-robin though because of the VCS not being able to attend. Here is a look at the three teams that make up Group A.
Royal Never Give Up (LPL)
RNG set themselves up nicely to reach MSI this year, finishing first in the regular season and starting playoffs all the way in Round Four. FunPlus Phoenix stomped them 3-0, dropping RNG into the loser’s bracket, where they clawed their way through two five-game series to rematch FPX in the finals. Once there, RNG secured a 3-1 victory to win the championship and book their trip to Iceland.
Most will be talking about bot laner GALA coming into the event, as he came out of the LPL Finals as MVP with a 32/4/19 total KDA. The third-year player only became a starter for RNG over Betty partway through Summer Split 2020, and has already reached high form. Alongside GALA, Ming should be a familiar face as part of the 2017 Worlds Semifinalist, 2018 Quarterfinalist and onward RNG rosters. Xiaohu also remains as a long-time RNG veteran, but he role-swapped to top lane this year.
RNG is so favored in this group, according to GG.Bet, that wagers only make three cents on every dollar bet if correct. That’s as close to 100 percent odds as most will get. RNG is actually the second favorite to win the entire tournament behind DWG KIA by a huge margin. Therefore, there is not much to discuss about the group. Without the VCS representative to even attempt to contest, Group A should easily go to RNG.
Unicorns of Love (LCL)
UOL returns to their third consecutive international event representing the LCL, since joining the league in summer 2019. Most of the original crew is going strong, with BOSS, AHaHaCiK, Nomanz and coaches Sheepy and Invi still with the organization. As the new dynasty of the LCL, the Unicorns continue to find results year over year. In 2019, they narrowly missed the Main Event at Worlds by losing 2-3 to Splyce. Last year they managed to qualify with a 3-0 over SuperMassive.
Unicorns of Love were not very dominant in the LCL this year. They actually finished fourth in the regular season, but went on to win two series 3-1 for the spring title. Nomanz remains the consistent anchor of the team, hard carrying on Viktor, Ryze and his signature Kassadin. Lodik and SaNTaS showed the Senna-Tahm Kench as their preferred duo.
At this year’s MSI, UOL will almost certainly qualify to the Main Event as the second seed. Their eyes should be on the Main Event, where they will likely play the top teams from every major region. This is a huge opportunity that has opened up for them with the VCS representative sitting out this tournament. If UOL can compete with PSG Talon for fifth place, and take games off of the major region teams, then they should come away feeling good about themselves.
The League of Legends Circuit Oceania is Australia’s new pro league hosted by ESL, following Riot’s dissolution of the OPL at the end of 2020. Pentanet.GG came out of this first split as the most dominant team in the region. They only lost one game during the regular season, and actually hold some of the highest dragon and Baron control rates globally.
While BioPanther and Decoy have three years experience, Pabu and Praedyth have five, Chazz only has two years experience, and none of these players have international experience. This is looking to be a rough tournament all-around for the LCO. Pentanet.GG should look to get as much solid practice as possible versus such great competition and bring that back to Australia to remain dominant. They can also test their mettle versus Unicorns of Love and just try to hold on against RNG.
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