The MSI 2021 knockout stages are underway, with the first semi-final match RNG against PSG Talon. PSG Talon headed in as “titan-killers” but were overpowered by a formidable RNG.

Following an intense rumble stage, MSI 2021 had its four finalists confirmed. The list included both tournament favorites, Damwon KIA and RNG, alongside MAD Lions and PSG Talon. We have seen the latter take down RNG in day 3 of the rumble stage, and the two have collided once again in the knockout stage.

Table showing RNG in 2nd place after rumble stage

The first match of two MSI 2021 spectacles put PSG Talon against RNG. While on the other side of the bracket, we have MAD Lions taking on 2020 World Champions, Damwon KIA.

Game 1 – RNG hit the ground running in semi-final

For PSG Talon, they have shown tremendous potential, incredible teamfighting, and a clear early game plan. Since the start of MSI 2021, they sit in 3rd place for Early Game Rating at 63.1. However, this where it usually ended. Once mid and late game stages come in, PSG Talon often seemed lost. This is reflected in their Mid/Late Rating of -0.6.

Questionable macro decisions have not been uncommon for PSG Talon, and this is exactly what happened in Game 1. It started off with a First Blood in favor of PSG Talon, following a successful gank on midlane. Maple’s Azir shuffled back RNG’s Cryin deeper into mid lane for River’s Udyr to lock him down for the kill.

RNG’s bottom lane, which comprised of Gala and Ming, tried to dive Doggo. However, it didn’t go as planned, and the kill was traded between ADCs. On the 23rd minute, a prolonged team fight showed the prowess and the high level of play we get to enjoy at this type of tournaments.

It started off with Maple trying to catch out Gala, who was quickly protected by Wei’s Morgana, and binded Azir for an easy kill. This translated into a back-and-forth team fight, keeping the game almost at equal gold even after the dust was settled.

Fast forward to the 30th minute, and no teamfight occurred till the end of the game on the 47th, and there is almost no one to blame than PSG Talon. They let RNG take objectives, scale, and pile up on Gold with no proactivity to stop them at any point. One of the surprising statistics was PSG Talon’s Hanabi landing a grand total of zero Gnar ultimates during any teamfight throughout the game.

This accurately describes the team’s implosion after a dominant early game. Their passive gameplan from the moment they were at soul-point and took the first Baron of the game costed them the game. The LPL representatives at MSI 2021 managed to stack three dragons in a row, followed by Baron, followed by an elder dragon to top it all off and end the game.

Game 2 – RNG show signs of life

Anything can happen when you put four of the best League of Legends team together in one tournament. That’s why you can never rule out any team. PSG Talon opened the game with a beautifully executed four-man dive on RNG’s bottom lane, killing both players. These two kills allowed for the bottom lane to exponentially increase their lead.

Not only that, both of PSG Talon’s bottom laners started roaming. This sparked a fight on the top lane against RNG’s Xiaohu. It started off by killing Ming, who was rotating to match the switch, but it went horribly as four members of RNG’s team went down. Only Wei managed to escape, even while Maple was doing everything to secure the ace for his team.

At that point of the game, it was almost done and dusted. It was all on PSG Talon to utilize this 4K gold lead and translate it to objectives and pressure on the map. Luckily, this time around they were more proactive than Game 1. Since they knew they were the stronger side, PSG Talon kept pushing RNG to take uncomfortable and almost unwinnable fights. By the 28th minute, and after an Basy baron however, they managed to tie the series at 1-1.

Game 3 – PSG Talon left powerless

Both teams are more known for their structured plays than chaotic fights throughout MSI 2021. However, Game 3 was a bit different. It started off with a failed level 1 invade from PSG Talon, costing Kaiwing his life. After that, RNG’s botlane, Ming and Gala, were able to flip a 3v2 fight. This continued for a few minutes, with RNG players pushing PSG Talon’s members to their tier 2 towers.

However, it put them in an unescapable position, with both Maple and Hanabi using their teleports to sandwich the LPL players. What was once a 3-0 kill lead is no more, as PSG Talon quickly equalized the score to 3-3. This didn’t stop RNG from finding themselves knocking on their enemy’s inhibitors at 20 minutes. This win proved to be more of an overall individual and team skill superiority over the PCS representatives. The kills and teamfights around objectives all went to RNG’s favor, even when it looked like either team can win at times.

Game 4 – Even Doggo’s Tristana unable to stop RNG

The fourth game gave a chance for RNG to close out the series, and so they did. Although PSG Talon started the game off with an early kill on Xiaohu’s Gnar in top lane, it didn’t really matter. As you would have predicted already, RNG’s bottom lane managed to continuously win the 2v2 fights. Skirmishes were constantly happening top and bottom, with RNG usually on the winning side.

This pressure was used to get rift heralds and open up the map. The primary goal is to enable the likes of Orianna and Gangplank to roam and catch minion waves outside of their own lanes. All these elements combined put RNG on soul-point by the 18th minute. However, PSG Talon were able to delay this permanent power spike after a well coordinated teamfight in the 22nd minute. Following a double kill from Doggo’s Tristana he was taken down, while the rest of RNG’s squad ran for their lives.

In the 28th minute, Kaiwing was caught out in mid lane by RNG. Naturally, the LPL team started looking at Baron, trying to force PSG Talon to take a 5v4 without their support. They didn’t imagine a heroic entrance from Doggo would ruin their party. Tristana was able to take down three members of RNG, with the remaining two only living with one bar of health on both of them. The Baron was stopped, buying more time for PSG Talon to try and get back in it.

The second soul-point fight didn’t happen, as at that point of the game RNG had the damage to melt through it. PSG Talon looked to reply by taking Baron, and they did. A fight erupted once the Baron was secured, with casualities on both sides. Once again, Doggo secured a double kill for himself, winning the team fight for his team who lost two in exchange for four.

At this point, and with the match this close, you are wondering how RNG won it after all. It all came down to a crucial elder dragon fight. The powerful buff it gave to RNG, allowed them to kill PSG Talon’s members effortlessly. The long death timers allowed for them to walk through mid lane and simply end the game, securing their spot in the MSI 2021 Grand Finals.

Tomorrow, we have MAD Lions taking on Damwon KIA to lock in the second team to play in the Grand Final. Who do you think will come out victorious?

Mostafa

Mostafa "Mostafeto" Salem

Writer of the Month: May | Twitter: @Mostafa_7os

Coming over to esports.gg after 6 years of gaming journalism experience and a year at THESPIKE.GG, Mostafa brings you all the latest VALORANT and League of Legends news. Whenever he is free, he is either in Masters elo TFT or Silver elo League soloq.