Welcome to Shanghai! After an epic opening ceremony presenting all the teams, the MSI finally started. We watched every game, and it was so worth to wake up early: there was passion, mistakes, stomps and a high amount of Baron steals. Do you want to know more? Keep reading, although spoilers alert are in order!
GAME 1: Counter Logic Gaming vs Royal Never Give Up – RNG WIN
In NA, CLG is used to dominate with their macroplay. 75% of their games includes lane swaps and good rotations, so they are able to win with their strategy. But China is used to play that game too, and they were playing home, so they put things difficult for the North American team. In the draft, the surprise of the day was the Aurelion Sol pick for Huhi, and the lack of Azir and Nidalee bans. The game started slow, almost without teamfights, with an early dragon for RNG, a Rift’s Herald for CLG and first blood for Looper. Both teams tried to avoid any mistake, there was almost no gold difference until midgame, but the key to this game, Mata, RNG’s support, was ready to start the show. Combined with Xiaohu’s Azir, they managed to start to get advantage for their team through powerful engages. CLG and RNG were ready to finally fight. Thanks to good positioning and Maokai’s peeling, Stixxay managed to get a quadra kill, leading to a Baron for NA and a lot of map pressure. But Royal Never Give Up, and after a dragon steal from mlxg, Mata made another game-changing engage, allowing his team to take another mid tower. Not satisfied with the last one, Stixxay managed to get another quadra kill on a disputed teamfight that ended only with Looper alive. Time went by, CLG took mid tower and inhibitor, but they were not strong enough to finish, so after another impressive engage from RNG’s support, the AD carry Wuxx was able to get a quadra kill for himself too, scoring an Ace and pushing their way to victory.
GAME 2: G2 Esports vs Flash Wolves – FW WIN
It was time to watch EU against Taiwan. They decided to ban mostly supports, leaving a lot of power picks on the table, champions like Ekko and Azir for FW and Ryze and Kindred for G2. The European team managed to get first blood, and Trick’s aggressive playstyle started to pay off, ganking and stealing the enemy jungle. At the beginning there were no difference on the gold lead, the teamfights ended with kills for both teams a dragon for each one, and G2 started to dominate the game a bit more. Even though FW was able to take the tier 2 mid tower, G2 contested doing Baron and taking three kills, still showing dominance. Time passed by, and it was time for another Baron try for G2, only to be stopped by the Taiwanese team. The teamfight could have been worse, but Hybrid’s Monsoon avoided more kills. Both teams were fixated on doing Baron, and after another try from G2, Karsa managed to steal it, giving them the chance to take the top tower and keeping the gold tie. It was revenge time: G2 stole the next Baron from FW’s hands, and started to have more map pressure, going to the enemy’s toplane. But it was SwordArt’s time to shine – after a powerful engage with Braum’s ultimate, FW was again in the game. Everything depended on which team would make the next mistake, and sadly for Europe, it was G2 the ones to fall on the last teamfight, that allowed FW to push and take the Nexus and the victory.
GAME 3: SKT Telecom T1 vs SuperMassive – SKT WIN
The favorites against the Wildcard representatives. SuperMassive knew that the odds were not in their favor, so they built a disengage composition, hoping to keep Faker away. But the Korean team decided that mercy was definitely not their style, so they used their aggressive composition to bully Thaldrin’s Trundle on the toplane, dominating the game with Blank’s ganking playstyle. After Katowice, the jungler went from being almost a rookie to be one of the keys to Korea’s victory, showing amazing synergy with all his team, and shining with his own light. The highlight for SUP was the impressive Baron steal, but it was not enough to make a comeback, SKT managed to keep the lead, push mid, make an ace and win the game.
GAME 4: Counter Logic Gaming vs Flash Wolves – CLG WIN
After all the roster changes, this matchup was interesting to watch, since both had international experience, and similar playstyle. The two teams opted for powerful and aggressive compositions, standing out Aphromoo with Thresh and MMD with Ekko on the toplane. The Chain Warden was decisive to give first blood to CLG, with an unerring hook under the botlane tower. Fights occurred everywhere, giving kills to both teams. The teleports were vital for the development of the game, and allowed CLG to make more map pressure and also take the Rift’s Herald. SwordArt tried to shine again with his engages with Braum, making picks and helping to take the two midlane towers, but Aphromoo had the teamfight’s control at the end of his chain. Even though Huhi was caught a few times out of position, CLG managed to take dragon and also stop a Baron try, losing the mid tower and inhibitor on the way. FW took Baron after a long teamfight, and they also managed to take their first dragon, that would have been the fifth for the North American team, taking a gold lead of 7k on a game where both teams tried to play slow and careful. It was the time for CLG to wake up, taking the fifth dragon, and also taking Baron after a long and chaotic teamfight with only three players of each team alive and a double kill for Huhi’s Lissandra. It looked like even thought they had so much map pressure, they would not be able to finish the game, but after a while, on another crazy teamfight, Stixxay managed to dominate it with his Caitlyn, scoring an Ace and taking the much needed victory for them.
GAME 5: G2 Esports vs SKT Telecom T1 – SKT WIN
It was a game decided in the botlane. After the usual bans, expected picks like Ryze for Faker, unexpected ones like Ekko for Perkz in the midlane and two sets of powerful botlanes, the game began with Faker losing his flash on the first minute. It was not enough. In their last game it was Blank who carried, but this time it was Wolf’s time to shine with an unstoppable Alistar, engaging in every opportunity and showing no mercy. It was a fast game, and even though G2 had good strategic ideas, they could not execute them properly, conceding a huge gold difference, tons of map pressure, and Faker with two Rods of Ages leading his team to a unavoidable victory. Everyone was hyped to watch the duel between the talented Perkz and the legendary Faker, but sadly this game was not what the people was expecting. The lack of scrims for G2 during the training weeks, and the fact that it is their first international tournament played a trick on them. It surely is a clarion call for the European team, that still has four more days and plenty of games to show their potential.
GAME 6: SuperMassive vs Royal Never Give Up – RNG WIN
Last game of the day! We could see again the supports and the Nidalee bans, but unlike the other matches, this time we could see different picks, like Lee Sin and Tham Kench for RNG and Fizz for the SUP toplane. At the beginning, RNG did not take the game as seriously as they should, so SUP showed them that they still were a team to fear and respect. That changed RNG’s approach to the game, and they started to build a better strategy, using teleports to make effective rotations to the botlane, and containing FabFabulous, the strongest contender of the game, that was even able to outplay Looper with his Fizz. The pressure on the botlane allowed Mata to get the most out of his Tahm Kench pick, helping killing the enemies and saving Wuxx in multiple occasions. The gold lead increased, RNG had all the objective control, and even though he made a few mistakes, Looper was able to handle the toplane by himself while the rest of the team bullied the botlane. The game started to be definitely over after a Baron for RNG and a push where they took the mid tower and an inhibitor. The team scored an ace on the enemy jungle, and subsequently, the nexus easily fell.
It was doubtlessly an intense day for everyone. Korea and China finished it with two wins for each, NA and Taiwan managed to win at least one, meanwhile EU and Wildcard lost the two games. There are still plenty of days left, so anything could happen if everyone learns from their mistakes. We are excited for sure to watch the rest of the games!
Cover image by: Skadi