Kha’Zix and Yasuo make surprise appearances as first 2 play-in teams qualify for bracket stage of MSI 2023

Fans also got their first taste of a full three-game series.

Photo by Colin Young-Wolff via Riot Games

After three days of furious gameplay, two play-in teams have finally earned their place among the rest of the competition at the 2023 League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational.

G2 Esports, PSG Talon, Bilibili Gaming, and Golden Guardians collided on Summoner’s Rift today in an explosion of sparks, spells, and multikills as they fought for one of the three spots in the next round. With a great mix of popular meta picks and some surprising one-off champions making appearances, fans were treated to one of the best days of the tournament so far.

Related: MSI 2023: Scores, standings, and results

Whether you’re a North American fan who is holding on to their faith, an LPL supporter who hasn’t even broken a sweat, or an LEC enthusiast cheering for their samurai, here are the biggest highlights from the third day of MSI 2023.

Golden Guardians, Bilibili Gaming bring MSI’s first full series

Photo via Riot Games

Although most fans and analysts predicted that Bilibili Gaming would roll Golden Guardians in their upper bracket series, viewers were pleasantly surprised to see the LCS second seed take the fight to the LPL representatives with some high-octane team compositions.

In their first game against BLG, for example, Golden Guardians opted for an unusual combination of champions, including Malphite, Kindred, and Lissandra. They were dominated from start to finish by BLG’s hyper-aggressive team composition with picks like Gnar, Vi, and Rakan prepared to dive into a skirmish with no fear.

The Guardians showed great adaptability in their second game, however, by choosing a much more cohesive composition with Gragas, Rakan, and Yasuo as a reliable wombo combo with K’Sante and Xayah as strong late-game options. They were able to punish any positioning errors by BLG and stomped teamfights as they caught out Ahri and Vi multiple times on the way to a well-earned third match.

Related: Sett support and a pentakill 7 years in the making highlight a short second day of MSI 2023

BLG eventually won the series through their bottom lane star Zhao “Elk” Jia-Hao, who ended the match with a whopping 20 kills and 22 assists. They were quick to jump on the Guardians when they ventured too far into a lane or into the jungle and maintained pressure across the map with perfect macro decision-making.

This might have been an expected finish for the series, but NA fans should be excited for Golden Guardians and the potential they have on stage. Licorice, for example, was a force to be reckoned with on K’Sante and has quickly become the team’s most consistent player. They just need to lock down better drafts for their bottom lane to thrive and they could surprise even more teams as the event moves forward.

G2 recruits Kha’Zix and Olaf to cut down PSG Talon

Photo via Riot Games

G2’s series against PSG Talon was much more straightforward compared to Golden Guardians’ series against Bilibili, especially with how well the team’s top side played across the series sweep. In the first game, it was the team’s rookie jungler Yike and his Kha’Zix pick that did the dirty work for the samurais, picking up nine kills and four assists over a 40-minute slugfest.

As the series progressed, G2 showed confidence and poise as they continuously caught out PSG members in both games. And even when they were jumped on first, the EU reps managed to stall out until their whole team could mount a counter-attack. They did have a quick scare in game one where they made some careless mistakes leading to a few lost teamfights, but eventually, they grouped together and found the formula for success.

Related: A 50-minute slugfest and a Nautilus mid pick welcome LoL fans to MSI 2023

G2’s drafting was on point, with Broken Blade going absolutely berserk on Olaf from the opening minute of game two. He walked into the jungle, solo killed Azhi, and forced JunJia away from his own buff as a one-man army, while the rest of the team scaled into an unkillable machine. With Lulu buffing Broken Blade in the late game, the talented top laner was unstoppable as he simply ran past all of PSG to decimate their AD carry.

With G2 and BLG moving on to the next round, there’s only one more spot remaining in the bracket stage of MSI 2023. LCS fans are hoping that the Guardians can use what they’ve learned in this previous series to earn themselves a place among the best teams in the tournament.

About the author
Tyler Esguerra

Lead League of Legends writer for Dot Esports. Forever an LCS supporter, AD carry main, with more than five years in the industry. Sometimes I like clicking heads in Call of Duty or VALORANT. Creator of the Critical Strike Podcast.