The Group Stage of the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational has concluded and it was one of the closest and most even group stages of any international event in League of Legends history. There were ties between three to five teams in almost every day. This just goes to show that aside from Korea being ahead, every other region is close to the other regions in terms of power. Let’s take a look at every team’s performance.
Disappointment from the Flash Wolves
The LMS champions and Taiwan’s #1 team were expected to be one of the strongest teams in the tournament and to possibly even challenge SKT for the 1st place spot. That has definitely not been the case so far. Not only did the Flash Wolves start off very poorly with an 0-2 result in the first day, they had to play a tiebreaker to barely secure 4th place. Definitely not what the Taiwanese fans wanted to see from the Flash Wolves.
There have been some major weaknesses for the Flash Wolves so far. Starting off with top lane, Yau “MMD” Li-Hung‘s champion pool has been very questionable. He only seems to have 2-3 champions that he performs very well on and if they get banned out, he seems to be a little bit of a liability for the team. Hung “Karsa” Hau-Hsuan‘s jungle presence has also been lacking to some extent. Although when he ganks it’s usually a success, the amount of ganks he gives to his lanes is not very high at all. Lu “Betty” Yuhung was supposed to be an upgrade over Hsiung “NL” Wen-An however he hasn’t proved that so far. His performance in laning phase has been very lackluster, losing to lane in most of Flash Wolves’ games. And finally, Flash Wolves’ early game is quite weak and just in the group stages alone they were the weakest early game team, having to play from a deficit in a lot of their games. These are weaknesses the Flash Wolves have to address if they want to have a chance against SKT.
Much like Flash Wolves the EU LCS champions displayed a very weak early game and a lot of underperforming from some of their members. Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun has not been having a good tournament at all and he was the weakest jungler in the group stage both in terms of stats and performance. His tendency to engage at the wrong moment and give away kills for free has cost him more than once. Ki “Expect” Dae-Han has also underperformed though not as much as Trick. Some of his engages on tank champions however have been questionable and some of his teleports were very late.
That being said G2 still performed much better than at last year’s MSI and managed to reclaim Europe’s #1 seed at Worlds by finishing 3rd in the group stage. Luka “PerkZ” Perković and Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen are playing their hearts out so far and if G2 is going to beat Team WE in the semifinals it will have to be through both of them as the backbone of the team.
Same old for SK Telecom T1. They came into the tournament as the favorites, dominated the competition and are still looking like the favorites to win the event. Although they suffered a few losses to Flash Wolves and Team WE, the team is playing incredibly well. What makes them truly dangerous is the fact that they punish mistakes and snowball games better than any other team in the world. One mistake against SKT leads to many losses for the team playing against them. Han “Peanut” Wang-ho is having the tournament of his life so far, playing insanely good at Lee Sin and taking over games with the champion. Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and Seung “Huni” Hoon Heo are also playing very well and the bottom lane of Bae “Bang” Jun-sik and Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan are as consistent as ever. Although it’s worth noting that the bottom lane for SKT has gotten solo killed a few times and they need to be careful not to let it happen more than it should because it could be Flash Wolves’ way of finding victories against SKT.
Team WE proves to the world that the LPL isn’t a joke
More than ever before the LPL has been severely underestimated. After weak international performances from China over the last few years, the LPL became the running joke of the League of Legends community. People all over social media were wondering when the LPL “became so bad” and it made a lot of them lose interest in the region. That being said Team WE is proving everyone wrong by performing really well and doing it their way. Of all the teams at MSI they have been the ones to experiment the most along with the GIGABYTE Marines. In their second game against SKT, Su “Xiye” Han-Wei went with Lucian mid and dominated the mid lane against Faker. Eventually the snowball lead to Team WE’s victory over SKT. The scary thing about WE is that every member on the team is performing at a very good level. Even Ke “957” Changyu who was overlooked by many people managed to show his worth on Kled, making insane plays with the champion in their Day 1 victory against the Flash Wolves. Things are looking very good for Team WE and assuming that they beat G2, a Best of 5 series with them against SKT would be really explosive and fun to watch.
So close yet so far for Team SoloMid
Although expectations were not high at all for TSM after the Play-In stage, they still managed to perform decently well and barely missed out on making Top 4. Opposite to Team WE, TSM’s members all had their ups and downs. Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell would play very well in one game but would end up getting solo killed in silly ways sometimes. Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen was punished for his tendency to invade aggressively without back-up, however he played better and better as the tournament went on. Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg made some huge plays for TSM on Ahri and Jayce but in other games he was largely invisible and had low impact. Both Jason “WildTurtle” Tran and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang performed well against some bottom lanes, even getting a solo kill against SKT’s bottom lane. However they were both caught or failed to flash in crucial moments which hurt TSM a lot.
No player on TSM deserves to be solely blamed. Everyone was responsible for the team’s 5th place finish. Although losing NA’s #1 seed hurts the region a lot, TSM’s next goal should be to win the NA LCS again and face the consequences of losing the #1 seed at Worlds. With Doublelift returning to the roster in the Summer Split, TSM should become an even stronger team.
GIGABYTE Marines’ statement that the GPL is a strong league
Although they finished last in the group, the Marines proved that the Vietnam isn’t a weak region by challenging every team at MSI not named SKT. Both Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh and Văn “Optimus” Cường Trần had breakout performances, showing the whole world that they are star players. Even Phan “Stark” Công Minh who hasn’t been playing competitively for very long proved that he’s a solid top laner. Although his reliance on picks like Gragas and Jayce did hurt the Marines in some games. The most impressive thing about this team is that they play the game their way. Whether their opponent is SKT or Supermassive, the Marines always play with their champion picks in their own style. They’re not afraid to take fights or contest for objectives. If there was ever a Wildcard team similar to Albus NoX Luna from last year, it would definitely be the Marines. Their impressive performance at MSI has secured the GPL a spot at Worlds and if they continue to play at a high level, they will most likely claim that spot for themselves.
Although the group stage has concluded, MSI will continue with the semi-finals. SKT will take on Flash Wolves in a match with a lot of history behind it while G2 Esports will look to upset Team WE who are on a massive hot streak. Both matches will be very fun to watch and are sure to provide the fans with some high quality League of Legends.