The 2018 Mid-Season Invitational kicked off this week at the EU LCS Studios in Berlin, Germany, with 8 teams from League of Legends’ emergent regions facing themselves in the Play-In Stage for a chance to join Korea’s Kingzone DragonX, China’s Royal Never Give Up, Europe’s Fnatic and North America’s Team Liquid at the main event, which will be starting this Friday.
Following four full days and a total of 24 games played, I decided to try making some assumptions about the teams, as well as looking to predict how the tournament’s meta may develop throughout the duration of the tournament taking into account which champions and strategies the teams have prioritized so far.
Therefore, check it out the five most important things that we can take from this first week of the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational:
Turkey still is considerably ahead of the other emergent regions
Allegedly the emergent region with the most consistent results in the history of League of Legends, Turkish Champions League’s representative at the MSI, SuperMassive, entered the tournament as favorites to top Group B, following a very dominant domestic season, which saw the team dropping a mere 4 games throughout the split, while being on the victorious side 32 times.
However, the way they destroyed their opposition with relative ease still impressed everyone. A team able to play an “intelligent” League of Legends, putting use to their superior macro game and rotational skills in order to open gold leads, SuperMassive had absolutely no problems at all at securing a spot at the Play-In Finals, imposing heavy defeats, such as the 22-minute annihilation of Brazilian Champions KaBuM e-Sports, completely humiliated and hopeless against a side that clearly used the chance of scrimming against some of the best European sides very well to improve their own game.
Led by Korean duo Lee "GBM" Chang-seok and No "SnowFlower" Hoi-jong, SuperMassive’s biggest highlight so far has been however ADC Berkay "Zeitnot" Aşıkuzun. Playing his second MSI after being denied a participation at the main even by Vietnam’S GIGABYTE Marines, his performances are another proof why the success of a team highly depends on the skill of their marksmen. In a meta where ADCs are kings, having a reliable player is of uttermost importance, and Zeitnot does his job more than well to give his team a vital edge.
With only one step remaining until the main event, luck seems to be on the Turkish team’s side, as they managed to avoid Taiwanese powerhouse Flash Wolves, and will be playing the (theoretically) weaker EVOS Esports for the spot. However, despite entering the best-of-five as favorites, all caution is required, especially as they will be facing yet another aggressive side hailing from Vietnam, with the defeat last year to Levi and co still being relatively fresh on the players’ mind.
But overall, if SuperMassive are able to at least maintain the same level of performances they have been showing so far, and not get themselves “dragged” to EVOS’ more “chaotic” style, they have all conditions to come out ahead, which will be yet another proof that Turkish reigns supreme and very well above all other emergent regions.
Kai’sa will be Perma-Banned for the duration of MSI
In a tournament stacked with world-class ADC’s, it would be a folly to give any of them a marksmen who is clearly on another level of power. Kai’sa on Patch 8.8 is simply way too strong, and on the hands of an able player, has the power to decide almost by herself the course of the game. The teams on the Play-In Stage quickly noticed it, with her ending up being banned in 20 out of the 24 games played over the last 4 days.
Therefore, although it would be surely a huge delight seeing Pray, Uzi, Rekkles, Doublelift and co outplaying their opposition as the Daughter of the Void, we should expect that trend to continue throughout the Main Stage, with teams quickly banning her in the first rotation. But hope remains that we see these superstars on Kai’sa at least a couple of times over the course of the Mid-Season Invitational in Berlin.
Diamondprox is as good as he used to be
Moving to Group A, we have a bunch of well-known names playing some top-level League of Legends, easily recognizable if you are an ancient League of Legends fan. Among them, a player who defined the jungler position so many years ago. Danil "Diamondprox" Reshetnikov is one most legendary players ever to play the game, one of the first junglers who understood the importance of an optimal pathing and vision control while executing ganks and plays to propel his lanes ahead.
With a formidable career on European soil for Moscow 5 and Gambit Gaming, his career in the EU LCS was however cut short by the interminable visa problems who affected him and the rest of his Russian teammates, giving him no option, following an unsuccessful stint in North America, to return back to his home country.
After reuniting with Edward "Edward" Abgaryan last year, the new Gambit Esports quickly become of the powerhouses in the LoL Continental League. After winning their second regional championship in a row, the team headed to Germany to prove they are able to perform internationally – especially after the disastrous campaign at last year’s World Championship – but Diamondprox himself wanted to prove something more: he wanted to show the world that the “old” Diamond still is very much alive, and that with his plentiful experience and pure skill, can carve his team a path to the victory.
And he did exactly that.
Simply put, he completely outplayed the other three junglers he faced this weekend, schooling them in the arts of pathing and invasion, taking whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, and rendering his opposition completely clueless and powerless, especially in the early game, giving his team the opening needed to come out of the laning phase substantially ahead – which usually meant a fairly comfortable closure to the games, even if to be fair, Gambit didn’t face exactly the best opponents so far.
He even brought nostalgic moments with the Nocturne pick against Rainbow7, a delightful reminder of old-school aggression, with his opponents cowering in fear every time he pressed “R”. With midlaner Mykhailo "Kira" Harmash following with an unlikely Karthus to round up the composition, it truly saw for at least one game that we were back to Season 2 – with Diamondprox on the helm.
But well, everything has been great and clean so far, but remember when I said Diamondprox and the rest of Gambit didn’t face any particularly good opposition so far. Well, that is due to change: on Wednesday, they will be playing the almighty Flash Wolves from Taiwan for a spot in the main event. An extremely hard nut to crack, especially in a best-of-five, where the LMS’ side experience internationally can simply prove to be a way too high obstacle for the Russian organization.
However, world-class jungler Hung "Karsa" Hau-Hsuan is no longer there, having left for Royal Never Give Up at the start of the year. Replacement Kim "Moojin" Moo-jin is an able player on his own, but the complete synergy still is not there with the rest of his teammates, and Diamondprox can use that in his favor and control the entire jungle, giving Gambit a vital edge in a fight that seems for some to be an almost impossible one to win.
Rakan still is incredibly annoying to play against
Well, this one shouldn’t come out as a surprise, but it is nonetheless still important to state the fact that Rakan’s playmaking abilities are a pain to play against. In a meta where the focus is heavily shifted towards the bot lane, it is of vital importance to have a well-rounded support in the team, who offers some defensive capabilities as well as offensive skills that can very well turn the tide of a game.
Therefore, it is perhaps unsurprising that we saw Braum and Morgana as the second most picked support champions during the Play-in Stage, but none could top the Charmer. His somewhat slippery kit is incredibly effective in the hands of able players, with his ultimate in particular being responsible for causing some big havoc in the enemy backline.
Don’t believe me? So let me support my point with some numbers: out of the 24 games in the Play-in Stage, Rakan was picked 11 times, and banned 12 more, for a win ratio of 73% (8 wins and 3 losses). And even in the losses, the Rakan player looked good, dying just 4 times at the “worst” game, which helps giving the champion the best KDA out of all support champions, 6.1.
Overall, with the main stage starting this week, expect to see the trend continue, with the Charmer being a much prioritized champions by all teams.
Troll games are one of the most enjoyable little things in professional LoL
While watching professional games, obviously we are looking forward to the high level of play the teams offer, where they put to show not only their extraordinary individual skill and mechanics, but also their superior understand of the game and its tactics as a whole, which for me, as a big lover of “clean” macro play, is the main reason why I actually enjoy watching more professional League of Legends than playing the game myself nowadays.
But sometimes, a little break from the seriousness and tenseness which surround the professional environment during all times are needed, and that is exactly what we had yesterday.
With all placements in group B locked as we approached the final game of the day, meaning that its result would have absolutely no impact whatsoever, Supermassive and KaBuM rewarded the fans with a “troll” game for the ages.
In true solo queue fashion, the ten players completely ignored the meta, picking two very unorthodox compositions that delivered us one of the most bloody games in pro LoL history. With 75 kills in a little over than 24 minutes KaBuM took the win after Supermassive surrendering, which even the game client didn’t understand much, giving us a hilarious bugsplat screen.
Overall, it is always nice once in a while do something out of the curve, and that includes professional LoL. Thanks for the fun, KaBuM and Supermassive.
(Photos courtesy of Riot Games)