The 2016 Mid-Season Invitational has been one of the most exciting international events to this date. Between the massive upsets, the closely contested games, and the drama surrounding G2’s choice to vacation in China, the tournament has everything it needs to appeal to the fans. The first two days showed that the home team, Royal Never Give Up, means to defend their home turf and that Europe may be losing their number one seed at worlds. G2 Esports will need a massive turnaround to make the knockout stage while most of the other teams will look to find some consistency in their performances as knockout stages meet the halfway point in Day 3.
Game 1: Flash Wolves versus Royal Never Give Up – Winner: Royal Never Give Up
The first game of the day pitted two teams who took down tournament favorite SKTelecom T1 earlier in the groupstage. Both teams entered with impressive records, but Flash Wolves came out of the gates ready to perform. They garnered an early lead through impressive macro play but ultimately gave up the win after a team loss fight that gave Royal Never Give Up Baron and the ability to control the game. Royal Never Give Up’s bottom lane continued their masterful display at the tournament. Wang “wuxx” Cheng and Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong didn’t have the strongest start, but when the game was on the line, they made the necessary plays to win. Royal Never Give Up improves to 5-0 after beating every team in the first half of the groupstage. Flash Wolves will look back at the game and see they had the opportunity to close it out. They fall to a respectable 3-2.
Game 2: Counter Logic Gaming versus SKTelecom T1 – Winner: Counter Logic Gaming
Most analysts thought SKTelecom T1 would roll over the competition at MSI, but they are now 0-3 in their last three games. Counter Logic Gaming completely outclassed SKTelecom T1 in terms of macro play. Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes continued his impressive play in the biggest of games and carried his team to many team fight wins. Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok looked much more like himself and completely dominated his lane, but ultimately couldn’t affect the game enough. Multiple Baron buffs and a Dragon aspect were acquired by the teams throughout the game. The last team fight came down to a Baron where Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun made up for his rather poor performance by doing an incredible amount of damage. Counter Logic Gaming improves to 3-2 and are back on track after an impressive win that will surely give them the momentum to perform for the rest of the tournament.
Game 3: Supermassive versus G2 Esports – Winner: G2
Gamers2 finally got their first win of the tournament after a hard fought battle with Supermassive. Both teams played well, but ultimately Supermassive’s shotcalling was their downfall. Gamers2 took advantage of their opponent’s poor decisions numerous times including at a pivotal moment near the end of the game. Gamers2 took two inhibitors and a nexus turret just for a quarter health of their own inhibitor. Berke “Thaldrin” Demir spent far too much time trying messing around instead of teleporting or recalling to defend the Baron-empowered Gamers2 from taking his base. The win from Gamers2 will give European fans hope that they may be able to turn things around in the second half of the group stages after improving their record to 1-4. Supermassive falls to 1-4 and last place in the standings.
Game 4: Flash Wolves versus SKTelecom T1 – Winner: Flash Wolves
SKTelecom’s nightmarish MSI continues as Flash Wolves methodically took yet another game from the World Champions. Flash Wolves fell behind early but they knew their win conditions and kept the game close enough that once late game came they would be in a position to win the game. The game was turned on its’ head after Hung “Karsa” Hau-Hsuan stole a Baron. They took two inhibitors with that buff and then ended the game shortly after. SKTelecom T1 was once the favorites of the tournament, now it’s unknown if they’ll even finish in the top four and move on to the knockout stages. Flash Wolves rise to 4-2 while SKTelecom T1 are now 2-4.
Game 5: Counter Logic Gaming versus Supermassive – Winner: Counter Logic Gaming
Counter Logic Gaming redeemed themselves for their loss in the first matchup between the teams. They beat Supermassive via their superior macro play. Counter Logic Gaming didn’t make many mistakes and it was one of the cleanest games of the tournament. Supermassive went with an odd pick with Poppy support which accomplished almost nothing. Mustafa “Dumbledoge” Kemal Gökseloğlu was caught out of position and away from his teammates throughout the game and was the major reason the game ended so quickly. Supermassive falls to an almost irredeemable 1-5. They will need a miracle to make it past the group stages in the coming days. Counter Logic Gaming improves to 2-0 on the day and 4-2 overall. They’ve fixed most of their issues from the previous days in their performances today and will look to secure a spot in the next stage soon.
Game 6: G2 Esports versus Royal Never Give Up – Winner: Royal Never Give Up
Royal Never Give Up remains perfect with a record of 6-0. They didn’t have the most impressive of performances and they didn’t blow G2 out of the water, but ultimately the team fighting prowess from Royal Never Give Up won them the game. Their micro play throughout the game was exceptional. Their engages were amazing and it gave them the advantage in nearly all their team fights. They’re forcing their opposing teams to play their own style and it allows them to always be in control of the games. G2 falls to 1-5 and despite getting their first win in the tournament earlier the day, still faces an incredibly hard task in trying to make the top 4. They looked better than they did in the first few days but the amount of mistakes G2 made throughout the game truly shows how detrimental it was for them to vacation instead of prepare for one of the most important tournaments of the year.
Cover Image by: Dwight Casin