Can SuperMassive beat Flash Wolves and advance to the MSI main event?
Last night's MSI draw did Turkish League of Legends team SuperMassive a favor—they have an extra day to prepare for Thursday's best-of-five match against Taiwan's Flash Wolves.
At stake is a spot in the six-team MSI main event. It's a spot both teams are familiar with—Flash Wolves is perhaps the most successful international team not from South Korea. And SuperMassive support Mustafa Kemal "Dumbledoge" Gökseloğlu is the only non-SKT member to have attended all three MSI tournaments.
Dumbledoge and the Turkish champions have a long road ahead to make the main draw. How do these two teams stack up?
A new and improved bot lane
The biggest change to SuperMassive lineup that we last saw at MSI is new ADC Berkay "Zeitnot" Aşıkuzun. Zeitnot has been the best ADC in the region for a while now, and adding him to the roster has been a boon to this super team.
So far at MSI, SuperMassive has drafted heavily toward teamfight comps that rely on supporting Zeitnot as he scales. Picks like Lulu, Ivern, and Galio have all been used to give him the proper peel and engage. All this has led to much stronger teamfighting compared to last year.
In fact, the entire MSI meta has shifted significantly from what we saw last season. That meta was dominated by assassin-oriented pick comps that sought to skirmish all over the map. SuperMassive has adapted well, especially top laner Asım "fabFabulous" Cihat Karakaya, who has been great as a front-line initiator.
They're going to need those side lanes to perform against Flash Wolves if they want any chance at a victory. That's because it's going to be nearly impossible to win in the middle.
Maple in the middle
Flash Wolves' mid-jungle duo of Huang "Maple" Yi-tang and Hung "Karsa" Hau-hsuan have been dominating for years. They've proven over the years that they are one of the best duos to ever play the game. And the scariest thing is that they are looking better than ever.
In the past, Maple and Karsa have been held back by their teammates. Flash Wolves, too, struggled at the ADC position against better competition last year. ADC Hsiung "NL" Wen-an just wasn't himself on the international stage. Across six games at Worlds, he accumulated only 13 kills, unable to make a dent in either his lane or the team's fights.
Maybe it was just nerves, as NL was passable in the LMS, but Flash Wolves decided they couldn't wait to find out. The new season brought in a new ADC, Lu "Betty" Yu-hung. There have been some predictable growing pains with the young player, but he has been a strong laner and shown some good synergy with veteran support Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-jie.
Flash Wolves' team-defining win earlier this year at the IEM Championships in Katowice came off the back of strong team play with everyone contributing. Maple still crushed his lane, but Flash Wolves made intelligent use of his ability synergy with Karsa to set vision for proactive map movements.
In the IEM final, Flash Wolves ran G2 (the best macro team in Europe) ragged around the map. Even as G2 built a kill lead, Maple and Karsa set up vision for unstoppable power plays. Thoroughly shaken, G2 rolled over in the closing game, ceding the mid lane to Maple, and their hopes of victory with it.
This will be a big challenge for SuperMassive. Their own mid laner, Koray "Naru" Bıçak, has been brilliant at times, but also inconsistent, as he has a bad habit of being caught out of position. That is a death knell against a duo like Maple and Karsa. Naru has looked best on high-mobility split push champions, but if he can't be trusted in a side lane with Maple, the team's macro will go right where G2's went—in the toilet.
SuperMassive got to this point by supporting their ADC, and that is still a fine strategy. But in the first 15-20 minutes, they need to play as a team to support their mid laner. They need much sharper play from jungler Furkan "Stomaged" Güngör, who can be caught in no man's land. Sure, they dominated Group A, but the same type of game is not going to hold up against Flash Wolves. They need all five members to buy wards and roam together to control the river lest the Flash Wolves appear out of nowhere for dives and picks.
As much as fans want this to be a good series, there's little hope that SuperMassive can beat Flash Wolves in three out of five games. Maple is just too good. After getting their long-awaited international title at IEM, Flash Wolves has looked better than ever. Maybe the best thing SuperMassive can do with their extra day is to do some scouting on Gigabyte.