We’re all set for a great League of Legends weekend event.
Taking place at the Taipei Heping Basketball Gymnasium, the MSI knockout semifinal rounds will see the best LoL squads in the world battle it out to lift the coveted trophy.
As the first team ever in the Mid-Season Invitational to achieve a 9-1 record, top seed Invictus Gaming (IG) chose fourth seed Team Liquid (TL) as their opponents. That leaves second seed SK Telecom T1 (SKT) to face third seed G2 Esports.
Tournament favorites IG is breathing new life into MSI. Compared with last year’s LPL representative Royal Never Give Up (RNG), IG are more willing to take risks and have fun. From Gao “Ning” Zhen-Ning picking Ivern, to Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo bringing out his signature Draven, this team dares to play champions outside the meta — and win.
Yet no matter what IG drafts, opponents always seem to pressure the same side of the map, the top lane. Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok has been rated the best top laner this tournament and for good reason. On average, he provides 21.4% of the team’s overall damage, but is a first blood victim 40% of the time. Together with Song ‘Rookie’ Eui-jin on the team, IG relies on their champions in their drafts to gain the upper hand.
Player to watch
IG’s jungler Ning can often make over-aggressive plays in the early to mid game, and coupled with the habit of the team to always follow through every team fight, it can cost them the game, as seen in the IG vs SKT match in the group stages.
It will be interesting to see how their discipline and team shotcalling holds up in a best-of-five. Ning might be the only one capable of handing his team a loss as IG depend on him for early game play-making and getting ahead.
You know it’s Team Liquid playing when you see Gangplank in the pick and ban phase. Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong has played Gangplank three times, and Kennen another three. This pick leaves the top self-sufficient, so TL drafts tend to center around the mid and bot lane. Star player Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen’s addition to the roster this season means a lot more assassin plays — he has played an assassin in six out of ten games at MSI. For the jungler Jake Kevin “Xmithie” Puchero, his goal will be to get his mid-laner ahead.
Bot also boosts a new addition this year with Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in to protect AD carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. Tahm Kench is his most played champion, so look out for TL prioritizing it in the draft if it’s not banned. Being able to save his high-damage, immobile AD carry is key to TL turning team fights in their favor.
Player to watch
CoreJJ will be key to Team Liquid’s success, as he facilitates Doublelift’s playstyle. In lane, he is dependable as a defensive support. Outside of lane, his early roams and rotations from early to mid game stretches TL’s advantage.
Verdict: IG vs Team Liquid
IG will continue on their path of early dominance and TL may not be the best team here to punish their mistakes, with IG taking the series in the end.
SK Telecom T1
SKT’s Kim “Clid” Tae-min seems perpetually on Lee Sin — it is his most picked champion this year and the South Korean squad frequently plays around him. When Clid invades, ganks and takes the early kills, it’s highly likely that SKT has victory in the bag. This playstyle means that Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok has been playing wave-clear champions like Corki, Azir and Ryze rather than flashy assassins.
However, we can still look forward to beautiful Shurima Shuffles during team fights that make you go, “this is Faker being Faker”. After losing to G2 in their first game of Group Stage, SKT has adapted fast to the tournament meta. They are also flexible enough to play around all three lanes and their jungler, and ended their group stages solidly with a win over IG.
Player to watch
Park “Teddy” Jin-seong is an AD carry who is very consistent. A former Jin Air Greenwings member, his career flourished after joining SKT this year. Known for being an outstanding Ezreal player, it is his most played champion followed by Kalista. Contributing an average of 24.7% of damage during the current MSI tournament, he is a rock that SKT can always rely on to propel them to victory.
This superstar lineup started with Luka “Perkz” Perković moving to bot lane. Former Fnatic frontman Rasmus “Caps” Winther then joined the team late in 2018. Together with top laner Martin “Wunder” Hansen, G2 gained so much draft flexibility by virtue of their players alone — more than SKT can offer. For example, think Neeko top or ADC, or the possiblity of Vayne in bot, mid or top.
G2’s draft was so flexible that Wunder played Pyke — a support champion –in the top lane during the Group Stage. Even though he was down in CS and pushed in by SKT’s Kim “Khan” Dong-ha’s Jayce, the tide turned the moment he hit level six. The resets from Death From Below meant that SKT’s mistakes for getting caught out mid game were heavily punished. Wunder ended the game 11/4/7, gaining a well-deserved second victory over SKT.
Player to watch
It has to be Caps. He’s the player with the most memorable solo kills during the group stage. When he starts out playing his opponent in lane, he doesn’t stop to give them a chance to recover. With the support of his jungler, they will then transfer the pressure from mid to side lanes, accelerating the midgame.
Verdict: SKT T1 versus G2 Esports
If G2’s two victories over SKT say anything, it’s that draft flexibility in terms of champions and power-spikes could reign supreme in this matchup. Yet If Phong Vũ Buffalo’s two victories over G2 say anything, it’s that having an aggressive jungler is the way to go and Clid appears to be the perfect candidate. This series can go either way.