[MSI] The best of MSI 2021: Six (more) winners from the group stage and finals

 

Welcome to Inven Global’s Award Show for 2021’s Mid-Season Invitational. It was certainly a memorable addition to one of League of Legends’ most iconic tournaments. Games were thrown, crazy kills were made, and Cloud9 made North America proud. Here are six awards giving a good summary of all the crazy things at MSI.

The “Please Send Me To A Chiropractor” Carry Award: ShowMaker

Everything looked good for the most recent World Champions coming into MSI. They recruited the greatest coach of all time with Kim "kkOma" Jeong-gyun. Kim "Khan" Dong-ha joined the roster with seemingly no hiccups—in what looked in LCK to be an upgrade over their previous top laner. And every player on the team looked more well-seasoned and better as a unit, posting a ridiculous 14-1 win/loss ratio in LCK’s Spring season. One could argue every player on DWG KIA being the best at their position coming into the tournament—this team would create a bloodbath.

 

That team did not show up to MSI. Don’t get me wrong, making the finals of one of the biggest tournaments of the year is almost always impressive. For a team so hyped up to dominate everyone, that team was simply not present. The team did not seem on the same page many times. Khan was a complete dice roll—every game either helpful or deadweight. Cho "BeryL" Geon-hee seemed to lack any awareness of how he should play when behind or ahead, constantly jumping into fights only to be killed immediately. With Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun already having a more reserved style, he was constantly ball-and-chained by BeryL’s shenanigans. 

 

Only Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu and Heo "ShowMaker" Su performed as expected—with the latter leading the way. ShowMaker performed like the best player in the world should. With a player of slightly lesser quality, it’s very possible MAD Lion’s would’ve beaten them out in the semifinals. With his incredible plays, though, he willed his way into almost winning MSI. He still led all the main mid laners in KDA, and showed off 12 different champions throughout the tournament—even bringing out a surprise Xerath pick in the finals. DWG KIA is still a very strong team, but their issues are too great for even ShowMaker to fully carry them. 

The Surprise Contenders Award: PSG Talon

Despite their violent loss to RNG in the semifinals, PSG Talon should be proud of their fourth place finish. After losing Wong "Unified" Chun Kit, the team didn’t have any issues adjusting to a substitute player. Chiu "Doggo" Tzu-Chuan’s aggressive style paired perfectly with the rest of the team. Doggo was more than a serviceable player—leading all players in the Rumble Stage in kills. 

 

Even more impressive, the team finished the Rumble Stage with the highest KDA and amount of kills. Yes, they lost easily to RNG after that, but almost every team did as well. PSG Talon did better than anyone thought they could. It raises the question of if Doggo is one of the game’s next stars, or if PSG Talon will be even more dangerous with their complete lineup.

Man Of Many Talents Award Award: Li "Xiaohu" Yuan-Hao

This is some Bo Jackson-type stuff. We’ve seen players like Rasmus "Caps" Borregaard and Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong be successful in roster swaps. What Xiaohu has done is simply unprecedented. He’s not only managed to competently play two different roles, but won at the highest level. After previously considering retiring from competitive play less than a year ago, Xiaohu’s role swap has breathed new life into his career.

 

He hasn’t just found himself lucky to be on good teams either. In both his iterations as a mid laner and a top laner, Xiaohu is almost always a positive contributor to the game. It serves as a lesson to other jaded players that even a role swap can make all the difference in revitalizing your career.

Best Debut Award: Javier "Elyoya" Prades Batalla

MAD Lions were already a threatening team in Europe. After their impressive showing at MSI, it’s even more so. Especially after Elyoya has received Supreme Kai-like training from junglers such as Wei and Canyon—LEC Spring’s Rookie of the split is even more intimidating. What a debut for Elyoya. It’s shocking how you can actually see him game-to-game improve as the tournament progresses. 

 

Just like his debut in the LEC, his first international tournament had a rough start—performing poorly against teams like paiN Gaming. As he gained more experience, however, he looked more and more like the confident bloodthirsty player we’ve come to love watching in the LEC. They weren’t able to make the finals, but taking a team of DWG KIA to five games is a hell of a start on the international stage. With this valuable training no with him, Elyoya returns to Europe as one of the most exciting young players.

Source: Cloud9

The “I Spent $30+ Million And All I Got Was Stupid 5th Place!” Award: Jack Etienne

What is there to say about Cloud9’s performance? I’m kind of impressed. North American fans were so numb to disappointment that C9 went a more creative route. Rather than simply nip any optimism in the bud, the NA team opted for more of a rollercoaster of sadness. They first shockingly dropped games to DetonatioN FocusMe—a team using a former player/coach. Then they took a game off DWG KIA, going on a three game winning streak. Our hopes were raised.

 

It was in the Rumble Stage that they went in for the kill. They started off with brutal last-minute blunders and very poor starts, putting themselves in a rough spot to advance. Even as they started winning games, they were poisoned with inconsistency—losing to RNG and Pentanet.GG on the same day. In the end, the C9 iteration has seemed about as good of an idea as buying a BMW: expensive, beautiful, but very unreliable. 

Best Billie Eilish Impersonator Award: Jackson "Pabu" Pavone

Who else could it have been?

 

All kidding aside, the show the boys at Pentanet.GG put on at MSI is one of the most impressive underdog stories in recent history. Just after the dissolution of the OPL—to take a barely professional team and upset some of the best rosters in the world is incredible. Not only that, but they also went from a no-name team few outside fans outside of Oceania have watched to now boasting tons of international fans. With clever social media, charismatic players, and great play—they’ve become a beloved team on the world stage. No doubt there will be more interest in the Oceanic representative at Worlds.

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