League of Legends: 2021 Mid-Season Invitational preview
The 2021 Mid-Season Invitational is just around the corner. Eleven champions from across the globe will come together in Iceland to fight to become the 2021 MSI Champion. Find out who inside.
Group Preview and Predictions for the Mid-Season Invitational
Esports host Akinola Verissimo helps break down the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational format as well as introduces what teams will be participating in this years event:
Below is Esports. gg's group-by-group breakdown for the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational as well as predictions on which teams will be advancing to the Rumble Stage.
Fans of the Mid-Season Invitational will finally get to see their favorite tournament return to their monitors. After a year-long hiatus, MSI is back and in full force with a brand new format.
Group A - RNG in a position of power
Group A will be the most unique group of the three in the group stage portion of MSI. VCS's GAM Esports was unfortunately withdrawn from the tournament due to ongoing travel restrictions. This leaves three teams to battle it out, Royal Never Give Up, Unicorns of Love, and Pentanet.gg.
The LPL powerhouse RNG reclaimed their title as the best team in China and will be looking to reclaim the Mid-Season Invitational trophy they won in 2018. RNG had a solid split in the LPL, finishing 14-2 in the regular season and putting together a playoff run worthy of a champion. RNG dusted themselves off when they fell to FunPlus Phoenix in the upper bracket by beating their rivals 3-1 in the grand final.
The Unicorns of Love return to the international stage once again as the representatives of the LCL. This will be a big opportunity for the side to gain experience playing against a team like RNG multiple times due to the nature of the format. While the UoL had a less than desirable regular season, the introduction of Stanislav "Lodik" Kornelyuk turned their fortunes around and as a result, they dominated in the playoffs.
Pentanet.gg are the underdogs coming into this group. The LCO side lacks the international experience to compete with the two teams in their group. That has not stopped OCE from overperforming in the past, however. Superstar OCE player Jackson “Pabu” Pavone role swapped to the jungle and has taken his team all the way to earn a spot at MSI. This is a great opportunity for the LCO side to gain experience ahead of the 2021 League of Legends World Championship.
Group A predictions:
- Royal Never Give Up
- Unicorns of Love
Group B - A chance for redemption for MAD Lions
Group B is the most stacked group in the MSI group stage with MAD Lions, PSG.Talon, Istanbul Wildcats, and paiN Gaming all competing for two spots in the Rumble Stage at the Mid-Season Invitational.
The MAD Lions are the favorites coming into this group, however, the organization's performance at the 2020 World Championship will be on the minds of every player and team in this group. MAD failed to advance from the play-in last year and will have to fight their way through what is a tough group on paper. MAD impressively took down G2 Esports and reverse swept Rogue to punch their ticket to Iceland.
Image courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr
PSG.Talon will once again be feeling the pressure as they are forced to use substitutes for a second international tournament in a row. Wong "Unified" Chun Kit will be unable to attend the tournament due to health problems. Beyond Gaming's Chiu "Doggo" Tzu-Chuan has joined the team on loan for the duration of the tournament. Despite the challenges they face, this is still a stacked PSG roster that will contend for a Rumble Stage spot at the Mid-Season Invitational.
The Istanbul Wildcats is the dark horse in this group and could cause teams like MAD major headaches. It will be interesting to see how the TCL side deals with the pressure. This Wildcats roster lacks international experience which will either be the hill they die on or the motivation to play without fear and flip this group on its head.
Brazil's paiN Gaming will be returning to the international stage for the first time since the 2015 League of Legends World Championship. Brazil's best bottom laner in Felipe "brTT" Gonçalves will be leading his lineup into battle and paiN Gaming will need him to be at his best if they are to stand a chance at progressing in this group at the Mid-Season Invitational.
Group B predictions:
- MAD Lions
Group C - Reigning champions Damwon KIA's Lair
Image courtesy of DWGKIA Via Twitter
Group C of the Mid-Season Invitational sees two major regions collide along with two teams capable of causing chaos. Damwon KIA, Cloud9, Gilette Infinity Esports, and DetonatioN FocusMe will take to the stage in Iceland.
There is no better place to start than with the defending world champions in Damwon. The superstar line-up returns to the international stage to continue their dynasty and add another trophy to the collection. Damwon KIA is the heavy favorites to win not only this group but the entire tournament. Veteran top laner Kim "Khan" Dong-ha is the only change to the world's winning roster and has slotted in just fine.
Despite being one of the best North American teams internationally, this is the first time Cloud9 will be attending MSI. C9 was robbed of the opportunity last year when the event was canceled, so it was only fitting they got to attend MSI this year. Western legend Luka "Perkz" Perković is the player from the 2019 G2 roster to return to MSI to defend his crown, the crown he never lost due to 2020 cancellation. While it is unlikely C9 takes first place in this group, the side has too much firepower to be eliminated at this stage of the tournament.
Image courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr
Infinity Esports will be looking to cause chaos at yet another international event. The LLA side is returning to the international stage for the first time since 2018. At that tournament, they were able to make waves by taking a game off of the LPL's Edward Gaming and earn a place in the best-of-five portion of the play-in despite starting the group 0-2.
DetonatioN FM will be looking to do one better than their best performance at an international event at worlds 2018. DFM made it to the best-of-five portion of the play-in event that would have seen them advance to the main event at worlds. Similar to Cloud9, DFM had their MSI hopes in 2020 dashed away. Now they are back on the international stage in Iceland and will be looking to cause a major upset in Group C.
Group C predictions:
- Damwon KIA
The 2021 Mid-Season Invitational kicks off Thursday April 6 with LCK Champions Damwon KIA taking on Mid-Season Showdown (LCS) Champions Cloud9.
Editor | Twitter @MarnMedia
Jordan "Marn" Marney is an esports journalist from across the pond. Marn specialises in telling stories about League of Legends and Call of Duty. Marn has been a passionate esports fan since 2014 and has written for publications Unikrn, Esports Network, ESTNN and The United Stand.