The 2022 Mid-Season Invitational is less than a day away, and with eleven teams participating in the whirlwind of international competition, it can be difficult to head into the event familiarized with the entire field. Fortunately, Inven Global's MSI 2022 cheat sheet has provided you the information on how these teams play, how they got to the international stage, and the players key in their successes. Let's dive in.
➕ Playstyle/strengths: After the organization’s excellent run at Worlds 2021, the DFM coming into MSI 2022 is perhaps the most well-conditioned Japanese team in history. According to some of the players, top Chinese and Korean teams took notice of their run, and have been scrimming them ever since. The LJL is also considered much stronger than it has in the past, meaning it is no longer the easy-breeze it used to be. DFM have the same level of talent as they did last year, only this time it’s far sharper.
➖ Weaknesses: The biggest question mark with DFM is how their playstyle will do against international teams. Lee "Aria" Ga-eul was one of the main reasons for the team’s success last year. Though Lee ‘Yaharong’ Chan-ju seems to have fit in well, it is concerning considering how much success was reliant on DFM doing well in the mid lane. For DFM to make it to the Rumble Stage with the playstyle they’ve shown thus far, each player must be able to carry their own weight.
🔑 Key Player: One of the primary reasons DFM has continued to look like a top minor region team is the fact that Mun ‘Steal’ Geon-yeong has been able to provide assistance to all three lanes and get them ahead. If he doesn’t do this, it will be much harder for the rest of the team to get the ball rolling. It’s up to Steal to do it again — only this time against some of the best junglers in the world.
➕ Playstyle/strengths: Evil Geniuses won their first LCS title through superior control of side lanes and unparalleled decisiveness. Mid laner Joseph "jojopyun" Joon Pyun was put on a steady diet of Twisted Fate and Ryze for the majority of the Spring Playoffs and EG's decisive calls after pulling the map apart was their near-instant decision making, whether it be to force an objective during a split-push or set up an ideal teamfight for AD carry Kyle "Danny" Sakamaki to do tons of damage.
➖ Weaknesses: Danny is an excellent teamfight AD carry and support Philippe "Vulcan" Laflamme has a penchant for playmaking on multiple picks, but their laning phase is far from stellar and could be exploited by the superior 2v2 bot lanes early on, especially if Kacper "Inspired" Słoma is outpaced in the jungle.
🔑 Key Player: Top laner Jeong "Impact" Eon-young should be able to hold his own in lane, but it will be up to jojopyun to translate his lane dominance in a relatively weak LCS mid lane pool onto the international stage.
➕ Playstyle/strengths: While a lot of their competition hasn’t had much time in international events, G2 has the benefit of possessing some of the most experienced players at the tournament, while also having young talent that looks better by the day. The synergy of Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski and Rasmus "caPs" Winther is a powerful combination more tested than almost anything at MSI. Especially at the earlier stages, other teams will have a hard time overcoming it.
➖ Weaknesses: It wasn’t that long ago that people weren’t very excited about the current iteration of G2. Then caPs went Super Saiyan, and the roster immediately looked like the strongest in Europe. While he has been reliable at big tournaments in the past, it’s concerning that so much of G2’s success is predicated on G2 doing well.
🔑 Key Player: It’s up to caPs again. G2 lives and dies with him — thankfully, he’s one of the best players of all time that’s still hungry to win. With some of the greatest players of all time facing him in the mid lane, it’s going to be tough. However, there is perhaps no other European talent more fit for the challenge than caPs.
➕ Playstyle/strengths: Few teams at MSI are coming off a hotter streak than that of IW. While the team has had great domestic runs in the past, few of them compare to the run that they had TCL 2022 Winter Playoffs. After a first-place finish in the regular season, IW went on a ferocious tear through the playoffs and went undefeated — only one of the games even remotely close. With an experienced roster and such strong momentum, IW have some points in their favor coming in for a minor-region team.
➖ Weaknesses: The biggest knock on IW is their international history. While it’s good having a lot of experience together as a roster, the fact that there are no major changes to the team that went 1-5 at MSI 2021 is not encouraging. Perhaps the Turkish region has leveled up since then, but history is not in their favor.
🔑 Key Player: One of the biggest reasons for IW’s lack of success last year was due to the poor performance of Berk “Farfetch” Badur. He’s looked good in domestic competition, and is thankfully in a tournament with many inexperienced bot lanes. Him doing well and redeeming himself is perhaps one of the biggest factors in IW succeeding.
➕ Playstyle/strengths: ORDER barely finished above .500 in Split 1 of the 2022 LCO season, but hit their stride at just the right time in the post-season. ORD is a relatively well-rounded team, but their points of strength are in the side lanes. Support Ian "Corporal" Pearse was a linchpin for setting up AD carry Nathan "Puma" Puma to be the team's consistent damage threat while top laner Brandon "BioPanther" Alexander dominated the top lane matchups throughout the Split 1 Playoffs.
➖ Weaknesses: Aside from the strength of their key players, ORDER isn't known for being the best team in the LCO at any one thing. The individual skill gaps that have helped them get their wins may not be enough against the superior level of play on the international stage without a gameplan to catch major region teams off-guard.
🔑 Key Player: ORDER is not Pentanet.GG, but BioPanther returns to the MSI stage as the sole LCO representative from last year. BioPanther being able to maintain his level of individual prowess at MSI isn't a guarantee for ORD's success, it's a pre-requisite.
➕ Playstyle/strengths: PSG Talon are a veteran team, with three members returning from their dominant 2021 version. This means that, not only do they have a ton of experience to fall back on, they have a deep pool of champions and styles they can use. But above all else, PSG is an unbelievably aggressive team in the mid game, looking to pull the trigger on fights whenever they can.
➖ Weaknesses: Mid laner Park "Bay" Jun-byeong who joined the team after a less-than-stellar stint with NS RedForce in the LCK in 2021 has proven to be someone that can be a bit too safe in teamfights. As a result, his damage and kill participation are somewhat lackluster compared to other carry mid laners. Even though he plays a lot of aggressive picks (Ahri, Leblanc), he seems more comfortable on tankier, utility picks (Ryze, Orianna).
🔑 Key Player: Wong "Unified" Chun Kit is the best ADC that no one ever talks about. Last year, he missed MSI 2021 due to medical issues, and PSG was forced to borrow Chiu "Doggo" Tzu-Chuan from Beyond Gaming. With a 13.3 KDA, Unified is one of only two ADCs attending MSI who averaged more than 600 damage per minute in his domestic league, and should be hungry to prove himself on the international stage.
➕ Playstyle/strengths: RED Canids’ biggest strength is an unusual one, but a vital one on a stage where international giants compete: they know how to turn early losses into victories. The resilience of the Brazilian squad is impressive. With a good understanding of what their champions offer and how they play into the late game objectives, RED Canids pick their team fights well and force fate in their favor.
➖ Weaknesses: The early game is a stumbling block for RED Canids and the reason why they’ve had to become so good at climbing back from deficits. On average, the team ends the early game with a gold deficit. They’ve had trouble adapting to new metas and, with MSI being played on a new patch as well, it could take RED Canids too long to find their footing in Busan.
🔑 Key Player: TitaN is the man of the hour on the RED Canids squad. A proficient Jinx player, Titan has to be enabled by his teammates in order for the team to succeed. Thankfully, with the help of jungler Aegis, TitaN can consistently get the farm he needs in order to pop off. TitaN is one of the most mechanically gifted players at MSI, so be on the lookout for some great plays from him.
Royal Never Give Up
➕ Playstyle/strengths: RNG are BO5 monsters, plain and simple. Their ability to adapt in draft and gain momentum over the course of a series makes them a deceptively strong team. And, for a region based so heavily on early game aggression, RNG’s late-game decision making and teamfighting are what ultimately got them to MSI. If there’s a team that can contest T1, RNG is a likely candidate.
➖ Weaknesses: Undoubtedly, RNG’s biggest weakness is Yan “Wei” Yang-Wei. His early game is very hit-or-miss, something that has really hurt RNG through the entirety of 2022. It’s hard to say whether or not it’s because of Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao being swapped back to mid lane, but Wei’s early ganks are a sheer coinflip. While it’s great that RNG’s teamfighting is strong, they wouldn’t have to rely on it so heavily if Wei’s early game was more consistent.
🔑 Key Player: It’s well-known that both Chen “GALA” Wei and Xiaohu have the ability to carry. But the real player to watch here is Chen “Bin” Ze-Bin. Bin may be young, but he’s certainly not a rookie. This player was a major part of Suning’s 2020 miracle run through Worlds, and his reliable and consistent laning could be the deciding factor for RNG if things go awry elsewhere on the map. Bin’s the only player on this team without an international title, and I’m sure he wants to change that.
➕ Playstyle/strengths: Saigon Buffalo are bringing their region’s trademark playstyle in full force 2.5 years after the VCS last took to the international stage: aggression. The team loves to cause chaos on the Rift and squeeze out every kill they can. Saigon Buffalo’s young squad relies on their raw mechanics to carry them through the game and plays with the typical bold, at times reckless courage of fresh players.
➖ Weaknesses: The bloodthirst of Saigon Buffalo’s young players is an asset, but at times also the reason of the team’s downfall. Overconfident in their abilities and without years of experience under their belt, the team lacks restraint. From tower dives to ganks to team fights, no matter if it’s favorable or not, Saigon Buffalo will try to win the confrontation. The seasoned titans Saigon Buffalo runs into at MSI are more than capable of punishing this overaggression, so the team might have to pump the brakes a bit.
🔑 Key Player: Taki is the player to watch on Saigon Buffalo. If you take a look at the champions he has played so far this year, you’ll quickly understand why: he plays everything. Sure, other support players might sneak in off-meta champions such as Lux, but Taki goes one step further. Camille, Sion… you name it. Taki sacrifices himself and plays champions that, in the draft phase, appeared to be for his teammates, just so the opponent locks in a “counter”, only for Saigon Buffalo to hit them with a good ol’ switcheroo. Combine that with a great understanding of the matchup he’s playing, and you’ve got one of the most exciting players at MSI.
➕ Playstyle/strengths: T1 has gone undefeated in series so far this year and such an achievement naturally comes with many strengths in the team. The individual prowess of the roster alone puts them in contention for being the best players on the planet in their respective roles. What stands out for the team, though, is their early game. T1 plays the first 15 minutes of the game almost impeccably and will seize every inch they’re given by their opponents, which puts them in a fantastic spot to secure the victory in the later stages of the game.
➖ Weaknesses: T1 is strong and the favorite to win MSI, but they’re not infallible. While the team’s raw caliber is impressive and they emerge from the early game unscathed, the later stages can become relatively messy. Coordinating team fights is something T1 can struggle with. While they manage to muscle their way through the fights sometimes, the team also has to resort to making plays elsewhere on the map to stabilize and continue pushing forward.
🔑 Key Player: Keria is at the heart of T1’s success. The young support player offers his team a massive champion pool that allows for pivots in the draft phase. In-game, Keria bounces off bot lane partner Gumayusi perfectly and leads the way for them to get a sizeable lead. But it’s when Keria frees himself from the shackles of the bot lane that his genius gets to truly shine. With clever roams and a sixth sense for catching opponents unawares, Keria haunts his enemies.
➕ Playstyle/strengths: Team Aze have found success in the 2022 LLA season by pairing some of the region's top domestic talents with a pair of South Korean imports in top laner Han "Lonely" Gyu-joon and AD carry Park "5kid" Jeong-hyeon. Team Aze was promoted to the LLA less than one year ago and have already won a domestic title, and their consistency in all aspects of the game was crucial in becoming the LLA champion in their first split.
➖ Weaknesses: Team Aze faces the same uphill battle as LLA representatives at MSIs past: the methodical playstyle of the region and the skill jump on the international stage have often led the Latin American squad in the dust in favor of teams with stronger early games, stronger players, or both. Team Aze has more individual talent than perhaps any other previous LLA representative, but will it be enough?
🔑 Key Player: Lonely and 5kid are the points of power on Team Aze, but the player to watch is jungler Juan Dimitry "Dimitry" Hernández González. Dimitry started out as a strictly carry-style jungler, but has spoken at length about how his coaching staff have helped him become more versatile and developed his ability to facilitate his teammates.
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.
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Diamond TFT Player & esports watcher.
Carver is an esports journalist and analyst who specializes in Eastern League of Legends.