The Mid-Season Invitational main event is set to get underway in a few hours, with six of the best teams from around the world battling it out for a $250,000 prize pool and international glory. Fans of League of Legends will get to see a mix of young guns and veterans duke it out on an official stage.
But which players should you keep an eye on at MSI? Here are some of the key players that you should be watching as they look to triumph on the international stage.
Top: Phạm “Zeros” Minh Lộc (Phong Vũ Buffalo)
After edging out 1907 Fenerbahçe to make it to the knockout stage and beating Vega Squadron in a best-of-five thriller, Phong Vũ will now get a chance to prove their worth against the major regions.
A lot of the team’s hopes rest on Zeros, the MVP of the VCS and a standout player for the Vietnamese squad in the play-in stage. While he had a few hiccups playing against Team Liquid’s Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong in their knockout match, his Sylas and Jayce looked unparalleled compared to the rest of the minor region top laners.
Zeros will get the chance to prove his worth against some of the best carry top laners in the world in Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok and Kim “Khan” Dong-ha in front of a home crowd. If he can keep up the form he’s been showing in Vietnam and during the start of MSI, he might be able to cause an upset or two on the biggest stage he’s ever stepped on.
Jungle: Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski (G2 Esports)
The European jungle meta is vastly different to any other meta across the world. Picks like Olaf, Kathus, Kha’Zix, and Elise have been high in priority—a far cry from the Jarvan IV vs. Rek’Sai meta we’ve seen in every other region.
Jankos stands out as the master of all picks, having played a bit of everything throughout season nine for G2. He’s even played Morgana to funnel into Luka “Perkz” Perković’s Xayah while Rasmus “Caps” Winther played Pyke. He’s dominated on Karthus, while still performing outstandingly on the more traditional picks like Rek’Sai and Jarvan IV.
If G2 bring their traditional gameplan to MSI, their vastly different jungle meta might prove to be too much for the less-adaptable teams. After falling short at Worlds 2018 with a semifinals exit at the hands of Invictus Gaming, Jankos and his team will be out for revenge. And they might just have the tools to triumph.
Mid: Song “Rookie” Eui-jin (Invictus Gaming)
Every time an international event rolls around, the discussion of Rookie vs. Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok pops up. The prodigy who defected to China to try and make a name for himself will go up against the most decorated player in the world. But they never seem to cross paths.
Rookie has the chance to cement his place in the League history books and immortalize himself as possibly the best mid laner.
On top of that, Rookie’s faith in China has finally paid off after taking home a world championship and his first LPL title in the span of six months. He was pretty much unstoppable in the LPL during the 2019 Spring Split, outperforming every mid laner across a wide range of champions.
If Invictus can mount a defense of their Worlds title at MSI, and Rookie can slay the final boss of League, there’s no reason to question his ability as the best mid laner in the world.
Bot: Park “Teddy” Jin-seong (SK Telecom T1)
Teddy has made a slow climb up the ranks in LCK. Starting off with Ever8 Winners, he quickly found a spot on Jin Air Green Wings. Once he outgrew the middling squad, he finally got his chance with SK Telecom T1, and he didn’t let the opportunity pass by.
He averaged a KDA of 7.39 throughout the Spring Split, as well as maintaining the highest CSPM between bot laners with 10.72 and GPM with 463. His Kai’Sa was almost a perma-ban during this season of the LCK, and he had standout performances on many traditional marksmen. The only person who looked close to rivaling the young gun was Griffin’s Park “Viper” Do-hyeon.
MSI will be Teddy’s biggest test yet. With his first international appearance catapulting him into the spotlight against the likes of Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo, and Perkz, it will be Teddy’s best chance to prove that he can stand up to the strongest players in Korea and in the world. If he passes the test, he’ll return to Korea as the undoubted best bot laner in the region and set himself on a course to win Worlds later this year.
Support: Liu “ShiauC” Chia-Hao (Flash Wolves)
The Flash Wolves look starkly different heading into MSI 2019. The days of Kim “Moojin” Moo-jin, Hu “SwordArT” Shuo-Chieh, and Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang leading them to many international upsets are over. There’s a new guard of Taiwanese and Korean talent looking to maintain that legacy.
ShiauC arguably has the biggest shoes to fill after veteran SwordArt left for Suning Gaming in China. While he played a game here and there during 2018 for Flash Wolves, his first full split as a professional was this spring. After finding success on tanky supports at home, he looked solid against Vega Squadron on Tahm Kench and Nautilus.
Now, at his first international tournament, a lot of pressure is riding on ShiauC’s shoulders. If he can keep his—and star bot laner Lu “Betty” Yu-Hung’s—heads above water against the best bot lanes in the world, the Flash Wolves will be well on their way to silence their doubters.
The MSI main event starts on May 10 with G2 facing off against SKT at 5am CT.