The Mid-Season Invitationals is a momentous gathering of Spring Split champions from 5 different regions, with the addition of the winner of the International Wildcard tournament (which included multiple other regions battling for a spot at MSI). With teams from all these powerful regions coming together to fight for not only $100,000, but also for the more-important title of MSI champion (something that would set the bar for this year’s World’s).
Everyone had high-hopes and expectations that their respective regions/favorites will come out on top. People were hyped up for all the amazing match-ups that were much-anticipated throughout the year and even before.
Casters, analysts, fans, and players alike locked in their predictions, most of which were pretty standard, some were really hopeful.
Buuuuuuut, not everything went according to plan. Let’s just say some did, and some realllyyyy didn’t make the cut.
What’s up everyone, my name is Kenji from Prince Kouhii’s…..something (please help me decide a cool name for this article series). Today, I present an article detailing the greatest gathering of some of the most powerful teams in League of Legends, at least, until the world championships: the first-ever League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational.
Alrighty, without further fanfare, let’s allons-y into the hype, the upsets, and the overall awesomeness that is MSI.
Let’s start with the team that not a lot of people real cared about: Besiktas. A pretty brutal statement, I know, but the reality was that nobody really gave a damn about this wildcard team from Turkey, being so new to the international scene and all. And with a surprise twist that no one ever expected, Besiktas left the invitational without a single win. Granted, this tournament is probably nothing but a learning experience for them, and I’m sure that people will at least look out for them in the future, but this does not really do much for this team’s reputation.
Up next is Team Solomid, a team that had one of the highest expectations in terms of stellar playmaking after their showing at IEM Katowice and their dominance of the NA LCS scene. Everyone awaited what TSM would do, what new things would they bring to the table, and if they would prove to the world that North America is not a laughing-stock of a region when it comes to League of Legends.
They didn’t do any of those things.
Instead, what we got was a painful compilation of some of TSM’s worst international games ever, only having a single win over the course of the tournament (guess which team they beat). None of the members were playing at the high caliber that we have seen from them before, and teams repeatedly abused Dyrus in the top lane, essentially creating a campsite and a feeding area, where weary travelers of the rift can fuel themselves up for the manslaughter that were soon to follow during the later-half of the game. This led to the team being eliminated early, not even making it to the playoffs as most people expected.
Being a fan of TSM, I was severely disappointed at their results at MSI. If anything, this event is a wake-up call for TSM: change your strategies, come up with new battle plans, and do something about top lane (not just Dyrus specifically but how the team interacts with the lane in general), because this TSM is never going to win World’s unless some things change.
Okay, moving on from Team Solomid, we have the team that not everyone expected would come out so strong in this series: AHQ.
Hailing from Taiwan’s League of Legends Master Series, AHQ was a team that hailed from a region that took home the Summoner’s Cup during Season 2 (Taipei Assassins). However, after that victory, the region experienced a decline in competitive up-bringing, being the underdog league for the entirety of Seasons 3 and 4. Therefore, almost everyone thought that this team, who struggled just to win their split series, would just fall off the invitational early.
AHQ seems to want to change that stigma.
This team showed up during the entire tournament, being able to defeat fan-favorites such as Fnatic and TSM, while being able to give the 2 most powerful teams in the league (EDG and SKT) a run for their money. Their mid-laner, Westdoor, deserves a special mention for being such an insane player, able to make plays and carry the team to victory, ESPECIALLY ON FIZZ.
With their showing at MSI, one question remains: how will this team perform at the international level again during World’s, when the stakes are higher?
We won’t get an answer for a few more months, but at least, for now, Taiwan’s finest has dispelled that stigma of the LMS being a weaker-than-other-main-regions league.
And now, time for the real Western heroes.
I spoke very highly of this team on my “EU LCS Spring Playoffs Highlights” article (I highly recommend checking it out btw *shameless plug alert*), and one of the things that impressed me about this team was how organized and synergized they seemed to be, as if they were a team that has played for years together when, in reality, they just formed during the Spring Split earlier this year. This proved to be a source of worry, however, as fans wondered if the team would be able to perform at a high level at an international stage, if they are able to tangle with some of the biggest names in e-sports history, given their youth and inexperience.
Fortunately, Fnatic threw all those doubts out the window, HOLOHOLO’d all over it, and reigned over (hehe) our hearts with their stunning performance.
My monitor needs more HOLO in it…
Beating TSM during the first game of the tournament, Fnatic went off to a pretty good start, proving that EU > NA (for now, at least). Despite losing to AHQ, however, Fnatic showed their steel(back) on their match against SK Telecom, where they were able to drive the world-famous team to their limits like no other Western team had done before. They continued to do so during their semifinal match, continuously pressuring SKT every single game until they forced the series into a Game 5.
Let me repeat that: A WESTERN TEAM (and a newly formed one nonetheless) WAS ABLE TO FORCE A GAME 5 AGAINST THE ALMIGHTY SK TELECOM. Say that statement a year ago, and no one would probably believe it, as pressuring such a huge Korean team was something that was unheard of in the West.
But Fnatic did it.
I solo-killed Faker LOLOLOLOL!
They ended up losing the series, unfortunately. They might have fallen to the hands of Faker in the end. They might have not reached the very summit of international fame (yet). But what they did do was not just hold their ground against one of the most celebrated marque teams of the game, but they showed that they have what it takes to tangle with the best of them.
And if Huni’s skillful 2v1 with Rumble or Febiven’s epic solo-kill onto Faker weren’t enough of an indicator of how far this team can go, then I don’t know what.
Eastern teams, beware. The hope of the West has come.
But some teams aren’t afraid of anything that the West can throw at them.
One of them is a little-known Korean team, named SK Telecom T1.
From left to right: MaRin, Bengi, Wolf, Faker, Piccaboo, Easyhoon, Bang.
This team was able to pull out a dominating 3-0 win against the GE Tigers during the LCK Spring Split, and so, expectations and hype ran rampant across all sides of the League community about how well they would perform at MSI. Will it be the same SK Telecom we all knew and loved back in Season 3? Or would they remain in a slump like the entirety of Season 4?
Well, with their astounding performance at MSI, I’d say the former.
SKT was a team that nobody wanted to mess with, being the only team to achieve a perfect score during the 2-day group stages, even beating their most powerful rival, Edward Gaming. Although they were are little shaky during some matches, it looked like a silly little ploy that SKT wanted to play with their opponents, because they were always able to get back up from heavy deficits (i.e. their match against Fnatic and AHQ). With every match they played, SK Telecom looked more and more like their old Season 3 selves: dominant, skillful, and just plain badass.
Probably the sexiest shot of Faker yet…
With players that include one of the best Top-laners in the world, one of the smartest junglers in the history of competitive LOL, 2 insanely skilled mid-laners (one of them being Easyhoon, and another one being a little-known player named Faker), and an ADC that proved to be one of the best at his role in Korea (sorry, we’re not counting Wolf on this one, no offence to him), it seemed extremely improbable that someone, ANYONE, can beat SK Telecom.
However, the Kings of Korea weren’t unbeatable. After a 5-game struggle, the title of the first ever MSI champions was eventually achieved by the Chinese-Korean-hybrid-powerhouse-team-of-awesomeness-from-China….
…yeah, not too good with names, but I was describing Edward Gaming.
EDG, along with SKT, was another favorite that everyone had high expectations for, given their insane performance at the Chinese LPL series. Made up of such phenominal superstarts, like Samsung White’s star mid-laner Pawn and Samsung Blue’s ADC alpaca Deft, along with Chinese greats such as koro1 and Clearlove, a lot of people thought that they would stomp through the entire competition and take down the rapidly ascending SK Telecom.
And stomp through they did.
Goign through the group stage with only a single loss (to SKT, no less), they effectively dismantled AHQ in the semifinals with a 3-0 victory, and went on to face SKT in the finals. This finals match-up was a long-awaited one, as both teams showed extreme prowess not only during the group stage, but also during their respective splits as well. In addition, the rivalry between Faker and Pawn was a huge factor in the hype surrounding the match, as Pawn was one of the very few players (3 in total) who were able to defeat Faker in lane and prevent him from achieving a split title (or, in the case of Najin’s Ggoong, from qualifying for World’s). Not only that, but Pawn was able to destroy Faker and his team 4 times.
The MSI finals was the fifth, but it wasn’t without a fight from Faker and SKT.
Taking the finals all the way to Game 5, SKT struggled to keep a hold of China’s finest, but EDG proved to be an immensely astounding opposition to SKT’s reign, effectively countering Faker’s LeBlanc (a champion that Faker went undefeated with during the entirety of the spring split) and winning the first-ever Mid-Season Invitational.
And with that victory, one has to ask:
What the heck can Besiktas learn from this event?
How can TSM come back from such an embarrassing showing?
What else can AHQ do?
…besides posing like a bunch of swag-masters.
How can Fnatic get stronger from this point ’till World’s?
…besides being Huni.
How will SK Telecom prep for their ultimate rival?
…besides subbing in Easyhoon
Will Deft ever be an alpaca?
All these questions and more will be answered in a few months, when the best teams from all across the world gather in Europe for an epic confrontation that will ultimately decide which new championship skins we’ll be getting next year.
Welp, that’s it for this article. If you guys have any comments or suggestions on what I should do next in terms of League of Legends, let me know in the comments section below. And, speaking of liking, give the article a thumbs-up if you enjoyed it.
Aaaaaaand, with that, I bid you all adieu. This has been Kenji, for Prince Kouhii’s Something Somethings, and I’ll see you guys in the future.