This first day of play at the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) has been hectic, and a little disappointing. What follows is a simple recap of each game, to prepare you for the coming day two of MSI.
Team SoloMid (TSM) v Fnatic (FNC)
TSM were expected to be at least top three coming into this tournament, behind SK Telecom T1 (SKT) and Edward Gaming (EDG). There was hype to begin with, coming off of both international and local tournament victories, coupled with the struggles of some other teams attending the tournament and you could theoretically make a case of them posing a threat.
However, factor in the struggle of the team over a single game format and poor in-game strategy, and you end up with the result of the first day at MSI: disappointment.
Fnatic were never counted out leading into MSI, but they were perhaps labelled as a wildcard. With an excellent coach, players with fantastic mechanical ability and YellOwStaR leading the team, you could be forgiven for forgetting most of this team are in their rookie split.
In the first game, Fnatic had a fantastic draft planned out, banning Dyrus out with Maokai, Lulu and Sion all taken away from the American. In response, TSM banned Rumble, Hecarim and Vladimir — six top lane bans.
Draft phase was won by Fnatic, but as if that wasn’t enough, Reignover proceeded to monster the game, getting multiple successful ganks off and even roaming with YellOwStaR on Bjergsen.
After the first ten minutes, this game turned into a systematic obliteration of TSM as FNC played out their strategy exceptionally well, to complete a good draft. Santorin seemed to have nerves reminiscent of Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) San Jose, while TSM typically are not good at adapting on the fly in the middle of a game, which was necessary in this instance to win — they failed to lane swap with weaker laners and Dyrus was broken by the top lane bans.
Be?ikta? e-Sports Club (BJK) vs. SK Telecom T1 (SKT)
BJK never really stood a chance here, but they didn’t fail to have fun with the game. Of course, Faker saw his LeBlanc banned away as well as the Kalista of Bang. But that didn’t really help them as despite a 4-man gank on Faker, SKT dominated this game. Wolf and bengi played fantastically in the early game while Bang, MaRin and Faker just did their thing. There isn’t really much to say aside from the fact that it was good to see BJK having fun and trying to learn from their encounters with the best teams in the world.
Edward Gaming (EDG) vs. ahq e-Sports Club (AHQ)
Can somebody cry mercy? There were so many one-sided games today this is probably going to be a relatively short article. EDG had a very nasty draft phase here, picking up a lot of hard engage and area of effect crowd control, with some questionable choices by AHQ — Janna was open against Sejuani, Hecarim and Alistar. The Thresh pick didn’t make much sense, although it was relatively early in the draft — at least we can say hindsight is 20/20.
Of course, the Gragas ban and Sejuani first pick forced Mountain onto Jarvan IV, though Clearlove read the game well enough that it probably wouldn’t have mattered what Mountain was playing. EDG’s bot lane had no summoners and Mountain was staying on the bot side of the map. When he eventually ganked, Clearlove countered with Koro1 teleporting down, using his ultimate on his Hecarim with good effect to win the team fight. Relatively clean game by EDG.
Be?ikta? e-Sports Club vs. Team SoloMid
This is a perfect example of what is called a Zerg composition from TSM, so we can take a minute to look at this. The instrumental component is the Sivir, with her fantastic utility based ultimate and destructive area of effect potential, Sivir is such a good ADC in this meta. The ultimate enables champions such as Maokai and Sejuani more opportunities (or more control) in deciding when to engage, or if an engage is unlikely, it makes one relatively easy to find. That, coupled with the pick potential of the composition and general utility of the Thresh, make this a very dangerous team to play against. Of course this team comp wouldn’t work if it was purely hard engage, the fact that it was a Maokai/Sejuani is what makes this Sivir pick so dangerous.
As far as the game goes, this comp was utilised effectively and resulted in a relatively quick victory for TSM as expected. Lustboy in particular showed his efficiency in this game with a kill participation of 100%.
Fnatic vs. ahq e-Sports Club
Again we see the strength of the Sivir pick here with an excellent performance by AN as AHQ take a surprise game from FNC. There are definitely a team full of power picks here for AHQ; westdoor’s Fizz was great; Mountain on Rek’Sai and Ziv’s Gnar were all on display here in this victory.
While AHQ did have the Sivir utility on their side, Fnatic did seem to have a decent team comp for countering it (at least in theory). The crowd control offered here by the Sejuani, Nautilus, Urgot, Cassiopeia and Hecarim all make this composition excellent for team fighting and could stop a team running with a Sivir ultimate dead in their tracks.
Looking at FNC however, questions are definitely raised over their performance. Steelback struggled on Urgot, and Febiven — not exactly well known for his Cassiopeia — struggled. The excellent strategy that FNC had employed earlier in the day against TSM seemed to falter against the tenacious Taiwanese team of AHQ.
SK Telecom T1 vs. Edward Gaming
The rise of Easyhoon!
It’s an amusing thought that while Faker was brought out for arguably the two weaker sides – TSM and AHQ – Easyhoon played against EDG and did exceptionally well. It becomes extremely apparent just how hard it is to ban out SKT, even without Faker. Or just how good SKT’s drafts are in this instance. The Rumble pick for MaRin was a joy to watch, with one particular Equalizer coming from maximum range and fog of war to decimate EDG; Easyhoon played Vladimir against PawN and did well, denying the EDG middle laner his role as ‘god killer’ for at least a little while longer. Bang got his Kalista, a dangerous player/champion combination to let through the draft phase (while attaining significant free farm thanks to the lane swap), and Wolf along with bengi controlled the game well.
No matter the mid laner, SKT looks almost impossible to beat.
So what of EDG? Their team composition was almost completely tank and utility, with Deft the lone carry.
Why pick Tristana? With a Lulu and Thresh, the utility and movement enhancements available to you are substantial enough to warrant picking a Jinx here. Especially when you consider the Gnar/Sejuani potential for peel.
The pick was poor, although it should be noted Deft said he was feeling not feeling well after the game. Regardless of whether that was true or not, the team likely would have done substantially better with a Jinx pick.
Hopefully EDG can sort out their health and strategic issues, as they did not look like a team vying for ‘best in the world’ — their play was scrappy at best, and not up to their standard – either on a team or individual level.
ahq e-Sports Club vs. Be?ikta? e-Sports Club
AN and westdoor carried this game — the entire team played well but those two showed the world today just how strong they can be (as if we didn’t already know, in the case of westdoor). This game was probably the best of the day from a spectator standpoint, which will be both a disappointing and sobering fact for most as they look to the playoffs for a higher level of play in a series format, as the round robin so far has been disappointing.
The battle of Albis Dumbledoge! Memes aside, BJK tried their hardest here and actually looked like they could win for a period. However, the skill of AHQ’s star players eventually won out, creating several picks in this relatively high kill game.
SK Telecom T1 vs. Team SoloMid
This wasn’t quite the killer blow for TSM as far as the tournament goes, but they were absolutely annihilated by SKT. Dyrus made mistakes this game, but he was simultaneously the only sign of life for TSM. Initially when he went to lane, he fast pushed and exposed himself — with no flash on the Hecarim, bengi capitalised for first blood. Once would have been bad enough, but, it happened again. Twice before seven minutes.
That aside, he did make an excellent teleport play shortly after which earned his team some gold, however with Santorin again struggling, and TSM’s bot lane barely going even with Bang and Wolf, there wasn’t much hope.
The one bright side of this (for the western fans) was that Faker vs. Bjergsen did become a reality – and Bjergsen went even with the man affectionately known as ‘God’ until the scuffles of the top and bottom lanes spilled over into the mid lane.
This loss puts TSM in a delicate position where they either need to win against AHQ or EDG in order to force a tiebreaker, which they’ll need to win to make the playoffs. Luckily, the ball seems to be in TSM’s court as AHQ play against the seemingly invincible SKT in their final game of the round robin.