After having our Mid-Season Invitational hopes broken last year due to the coronavirus, many fans were excited to finally see some international League of Legends action at the halfway mark of 2021. The tournament didn’t disappoint either, with each day bringing matches as hot as the volcanoes in Iceland.
But at the end of the day, there were some players who rose to the occasion and stood tall among the rest of their peers at MSI 2021. From stars who shined bright to unexpected performances, the competition brought plenty of spice and action to help provide these individuals with the stage they needed to present themselves to the world.
Here are our picks for the best players at MSI 2021.
When PSG Talon announced that it’d be without starting AD carry Unified at MSI, many people began to close up shop on the PCS representatives’ chances at the tournament. A new bottom laner, joining a rival team, and playing up against some of the best teams in the world? Things weren’t looking too great on paper for the Hong Kong-based squad. But they showed up in a bunch of ways.
One of the biggest surprises of the tournament for PSG was the emergence of Unified’s temporary replacement, Doggo. Coming from Beyond Gaming, he was a last-minute sub who had to learn how to play with completely new teammates and a new coach in the span of a week. And yet he was one of the few names to capture the hearts of League fans with his great play at MSI 2021.
Throughout his time in Iceland, Doggo was able to keep up with his major region counterparts with the second-highest KDA and the third-most kills in the tournament, according to Oracle’s Elixir. He had multiple highlight moments of his own across various games and showed the fire and hunger to compete against the stars of the global League scene—doing it all while only being 18 years old. Look for this young star to make a name for himself in the upcoming season, returning to Beyond with a ton of experience to share with his teammates.
Another budding star who’s made the list, this time hailing from the LCS, is Cloud9’s rookie top laner Fudge. The confidence on this 18-year-old has always been high from the 2021 LCS Lock In to now and it showed whenever he got his hands on a carry pick in his first MSI appearance.
Although Fudge’s stats aren’t eye-popping at first glance, to many people, the promising young talent was the first or second-most consistent player on C9’s experienced roster at MSI. Whether it was him making huge, game-changing plays on Lee Sin or finding the perfect angle to enter a teamfight on Malphite and Sion, he remained steadfast for his team in multiple circumstances of playmaking and skirmishing.
Fudge’s trajectory as a player continues to point to the clouds. He’s constantly improved from his time in NA to now, taking on the likes of Khan, Xiaohu, and Armut on one of the biggest stages he’s been on in his career. Fudge has proven himself to be a genuine challenger for the best in his role back at home and should be yet another focal point for his team to play around moving forward into the rest of the year.
Even though DWG KIA weren’t able to take home the MSI trophy, ShowMaker was the perfect example of consistency. In his time at MSI, the superstar mid laner had the highest KDA at the tournament with the most dominant early-game stats of anyone in his role, according to Oracle’s Elixir.
He and Canyon also kept the team afloat in multiple situations. Throughout the tournament, some of his teammates—like BeryL and Khan—were having some flip-floppy performances. So ShowMaker and his jungler had to pull out some big stops to prevent the team from dropping any more games in the group and rumble stage. They did reach the finals, but they weren’t nearly as dominant as many League fans thought they’d be.
And yet ShowMaker did his absolute best to push this roster to the highest it could reach. In their five-game series against MAD Lions, he had key performances on Zoe, Sylas, and Yone to help the team capture the series. In their back-and-forth match against RNG, he broke out a Xerath pick to even the series. But RNG were simply far too strong for him to shoulder the weight of all the other issues plaguing the team.
RNG Xiaohu and GALA
RNG took home its second MSI championship in the organization’s history and it came behind the team’s two heavy-hitting stars, Xiaohu and GALA. Both players were two of the best at the tournament and they had a ton of huge moments that propelled them to greatness.
Xiaohu had the highest KDA of any top laner in the rumble stage and was by far the strongest early-game player at the tournament. He was barely given any time on his classic Lucian pick, but he was still a menace on a plethora of champions like Lee Sin, Gragas, and Gnar. As a whole, the 23-year-old veteran brought a level of steadiness and stardom that we’ve come to expect from a player of Xiaohu’s caliber.
On the other side of the Rift, GALA showed up huge in his first international tournament. The 20-year-old brought the flash and flair that we saw flourish in the 2021 LPL Spring Split playoffs and he’s slowly started to pick up the mantle that his predecessors left for him. The explosive ADC finished MSI with the most kills and the second-best early-game stats in the tournament, according to Oracle’s Elixir. People kept giving him Kai’Sa even though he was excelling on the champion and he punished every opponent he faced.
Ultimately, both players understood that RNG needed to keep pushing the pace and forcing teams into fights where they could outplay them, both as a squad and on an individual level. If any of these two players were underperforming, we could have seen another team lifting the trophy at Iceland. But the whole roster was clicking on all cylinders and they got to lift the trophy at the end of their adventure.
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