From ‘Titan-killers’ to undefeated underdogs, PSG Talon in troubled waters cover image

From ‘Titan-killers’ to undefeated underdogs, PSG Talon in troubled waters

PSG Talon have gone from upstart king slayers to defeated underdogs. What happened that caused this sudden fall from grace in day 4 of MSI’s rumble stage?

Akin to the LMS's heyday, PSG Talon have managed to challenge top teams as a persistent threat on the periphery. Handing RNG one of their few losses, PSG appeared poised to finally break into a top spot. The PCS Champions firmly defeated western teams however faced a momentous task on day 4, playing RNG and Damwon Kia back-to-back. Unfortunately for PSG, they could not repeat their king-slaying performances. After falling to both teams PSG's once-steady third place position could now be in jeopardy.

PSG Talon wins the fights, but loses the game

Certainly not one of MSI's premier team fighting squads, PSG Talon have embraced more frequent skirmishes in the rumble stage. In their game against RNG, the Taiwanese representatives matched the stereotypical LPL fast-paced team fight heavy playstyle. Though at an early gold deficit, PSG tried to bridge the gap with kills, taking fights even when in losing positions.

Taking a herald fight with an initial man disadvantage, Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang zoned out RNG. Rotations from Su "Hanabi" Chia-Hsiang and Ling "Kaiwing" Kai Wing turned this facecheck into an all out brawl. Though marginally losing out, PSG's fight-loving playstyle granted them both herald and the botlane tower plates.

RNG banked on Li "Xiaohu" Yuan-Hao's late game scaling. Though doubling RNG's kills, PSG only momentarily held a gold advantage due to Xiaohu's massive lane differentials. By acting as a split pusher and exerting immense map pressure, Xiaohu made up 25% of his team's gold share through tower plates. He also had a 2K gold lead over Hanabi. A single fight put RNG ahead, a second one lost PSG Talon their first game of the day.

RNG recovered well from their first loss to the PCS team and found that subtle map control was a much better way of combatting them than taking them on in flashy, 5v5 team fights.

ShowMaker shines but PSG unable to recover

PSG Talon's second game against Damwon Kia was bound to be contingent on the midlane matchup. Before going into the game, Maple's Sylas pick had an impressive 90% winrate. When surrounded by useful ultimates to steal, Sylas proves invaluable, however Damwon's midlaner, Heo "ShowMaker" Su, matched Sylas with a hard carry pick in Zoe.

The early game saw an ideal start for ShowMaker. Not only did a double-kill in the botlane get Damwon's star midlaner ahead, but more importantly was a huge setback to Chiu "Doggo" Tzu-Chuan.

By 10 minutes, ShowMaker had found 4 kills and held a +20 CS lead over Maple which exponentially accelerated hthe pace of his item builds and power spikes. An early mid tower take also opened the map for Damwon, allowing them priority over neutral objectives. Damwon used this advanage to win 100% of the game's dragons, but in an attempt to slow DK's dominance over the map, PSG unknowingly made their last stand in the dragon pit.

Unable to win over dragon priority, Maple found a two man stun with a stolen Gnar ultimate, however was quickly outdone by Kim "Khan" Dong-ha. This 3-man stun gave Damwon's solo laners plenty of time to burst down PSG and ended any possibility of a comeback. PSG Talon valiantly tried to contest their inevitable loss several more times. But 2 more aces and a 13K gold deficit made this PSG's worst defeat yet.

Titan killers to defeated underdogs, what happened to PSG?

From surging titan killers back to defeated underdogs, the variance in PSG's performances has been stark. This primarily stems from the role their substitute ADC, Doggo, has been able to play. In the previous 3 days, Doggo held sole position of first place in kills (40), kill participation (76.9%) and damage share (31.9%), as well as CSPM (10.3). Teams since then have learned that in order to defeat PSG, you must shut down their botlane. In day 4, Doggo only found 3 total kills, had the second lowest KDA among ADCs (1.5), and had all negative laning differentials.

PSG Talon need to find a wider variety of win conditions if they hope to make a deep tournament run. This static, one-dimensional style may not just cost them later, but still has the potential to stop them from advancing to the knockouts stage.