Pentanet .GG has yet to play a match in the Rumble Stage of the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational, but the team has already become the biggest success from the region of Oceania in international history. The odds facing the team simply cannot be overstated, and yet, it finds itself in the top 6 of MSI in the Oceanic region's first ever appearance in the second round of an international tournament.
Let's take a closer look at the odds Pentanet .GG overcame to qualify for the Rumble Stage and by doing so, evaluate the significance of the team's accomplishments in context of the Oceanic region's previous international efforts.
Pulling the rug
When Riot Games shut down the Oceanic Pro League following the conclusion of the 2020 League of Legends Esports season, it affected the Oceanic region in two ways.
First, the dissolution of the OPL led to a decline in infrastructure throughout the region's ecosystem. With less sponsors and less organizations able to sustainably justify an investment in Oceania, the region was doomed to suffer in certain capacities with less money and resources than it boasted in previous seasons.
In addition to Riot's dissolution of the OPL, import restrictions were lifted in large capacity for Oceanic talents looking to head to North America, which further weakened the region further.
"Between the OPL and LCO itself, there's no change of level from that change. However, with the huge exodus of our top tier talent to North America, the quality of play has decreased, of course," said Pentanet .GG jungler Jackson "Pabu" Pavone explained in an Interview with Inven Global during the MSI 2021 Group Stage.
When considering players like Immortal AD carry Quin "Raes" Korebrits, who has international experience, have emigrated from OCE to NA, only a year after players like C9 top laner Ibrahim "Fudge" Allami, the amount of talent the region has lost to the LCS and the LCS Academy Leagues makes PGG's success thus far at MSI all the more significant.
Why Pentanet.GG came into MSI 2021 was the consensus weakest team was already understood, but in addition, the team's preparation in the weeks leading up to the tournament was suboptimal in more ways than one. Not only did the team lack scrim partners in OCE leading up to MSI, but upon arriving in Reykjavik, Iceland for the tournament, Pentanet .GG found itself with far less scrims played by the time the event began.
"We're kind of taking these games as a bit of a learning experience so that we can be more prepared in our games that are later in the tournament," Pabu explained. "We weren't fully prepared coming in since we didn't get enough data from our scrims to really understand, so the stage games are as much of a chance to prove ourselves as they are a chance for us to learn and improve throughout the tournament."
As the inaugural champion of League of Legends Circuit Oceania, Pentanet .GG came into MSI 2021 with the least likely odds to succeed of any team in a vacuum, and despite representing a weakened Oceanic region in terms of infrastructure and having less competitive preparation than any other team at the event, has proven itself as a top six team in the competition in the most successful international run in OCE history.
Pentanet .GG has already exceeded what's expected of a LCO representative — any success from this point on is just gravy.
All images by: Riot Games