This will be the second year that Riot has hosted MSI following the conclusion of the Spring Split. This time the event will take place in China at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center.
The six teams hailing from North America, Europe, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Turkey will battle it out over the course of six days to figure out who will be crowned MSI Champions.
We’re here to provide a preview of each team, a quick power ranking guide, and predictions for those readers who are also planning to visit a real money eSports betting site during this event.
6. SuperMassive – IWCI Champions (Turkey)
SuperMassive earned their wildcard position by winning the 2016 International Wild Card Invitational 5-2. The team was just formed in 2016 after SuperMassive eSports bought BeSiktaS’ spot in the TCL before the Turkish Winter Season started.
They retained Thaldrin and Dumbledoge, adding two-time Turkish champions and former Worlds participants fabFabulous and Naru to the roster.
The roster took some time to gel, going a mediocre 8-6 during the TCL Winter Season to finish in third place. They turned it up another notch in the playoffs though, going 9-4 on their way to a victory that included a decisive game five win against number two seed Team AURORA.
They built on that momentum to secure first place at IWCI, grabbing the last available spot at MSI.
This is a team with a veteran presence and enough talent to be one of the best wildcard teams we’ve seen in a major tournament. Led by Dumbledoge, SuperMassive likes to play aggressively, forcing their opponents to react.
This team features interchangeable top laners in Thaldrin and fabFabulous, both of whom like to play similar champions (such as Maokai and Rumble). Naru enables SuperMassive’s playstyle by utilizing high damage mage champions in the mid lane (his tope three champions played are Leblanc, Ahri, and Azir).
While they won’t be super massive underdogs in this tournament, SuperMassive eSports will look to play the role of Cinderella at MSI. The team will have a difficult time matching up against top tier talent and have the unfortunate disadvantage of starting against tournament favorite SK Telecom T1 on day one.
If they can mentally rebound from that game, a mid place finish is not out of the question.
5. Royal Never Give Up – LPL Champions (China)
Formed in May of 2015 by former Royal Club player Godlike, Royal Never Give Up has played sensationally so far in 2016.
They finished the LPL Spring Split Group B in first place with a 13-3 series victory record. They then knocked out last year’s winner at MSI, Edward Gaming, 3-1 in the LPL Spring Split Playoffs, securing their spot at the 2016 MSI.
This is the same team that finished ninth in the 2015 LPL Summer Split and had to requalify through the Promotional Series just to play in the 2016 LPL.
Royal Never Give Up features two former Samsung Galaxy White players with Looper in the top lane and Mata supporting. Mata is widely considered one of the best supports in the world, and his Thresh plays can be devastating for the enemy team.
Rounding out this team are three young but talented Chinese players with mlxg (former Team King player) in the jungle, Xiaohu in the mid lane (loves to play Azir and Leblanc), and Wuxx at AD Carry (also a former Team King player).
If you want to see how explosive a team can be, look no further. RNG has the ability to make quick and decisive plays anywhere on the map. Individually, the skill set of this team can match up with any team in the world. The problem is, we just haven’t seen it translate to success in major tournaments.
While RNG is no doubt talented and has deservingly racked up the accolades this year, the region as a whole has performed poorly during international tournaments. Two subpar showings at the last two Worlds are the most glaring examples. RNG had a chance to rectify this just recently at IEM, only to finish tied for third place.
RNG’s inability to adapt to the other teams in international tournaments has been a huge detriment, and it’s one of the major reasons they’re placed so low in our power rankings.
MSI provides the perfect stage and the perfect precedence for RNG to prove they can create success when it matters. They’ll also be hometown favorites with the event taking place in China.
4. Counter Logic Gaming – LCS Champions (North America)
Having been around since 2010, Counter Logic Gaming is one of the oldest active League of Legends organizations. After a quick start that saw the organization win the 2010 WCG Grand Finals and sweep both the 2011 IEM Cologne and 2011 MLG Raleigh, the team went into a severe tournament drought.
CLG finally turned it around last year by winning the 2015 NA LCS Summer Split and survived a grueling five set series against TSM this year to defend their title and earn a trip to MSI.
Counter Logic Gaming plays with a distinct style, and they’re one of the few teams that can literally drop a superstar player (in this case, Doublelift) and still maintain the same success as last year.
The veteran presence of Darshan in the top lane and his hectic split-pushing duties provides CLG with the dynamic ability to create diverse winning conditions. Aphromoo has also been around since the beginning of the NA LCS and is widely considered one of the premier support players in the world.
The rest of the roster isn’t quite as well-established. Xmithie provides another veteran player but his play can be inconsistent at times. Stixxay is still a rookie and prone to mistakes. Huhi has provided utility from the mid lane, but he hasn’t shown the propensity to carry games.
While the young players have adapted extremely well to the way CLG likes to play, this team is still another split or two away from truly maximizing their potential. They’ll be considered underdogs in every game except for the one against SuperMassive eSports, providing great underdog potential.
Really any finish above fourth place will be considered successful for a team that many didn’t expect to be here (thanks to TSM upsetting Immortals).
3. Flash Wolves – LMS Champions (Taiwan)
The League Master Series has been an epic battle between ahq e-Sports Club and Flash Wolves this year.
Flash Wolves finished in second place with a respectable 9-2-3 series record. They surprisingly swept both Machi in the semifinal round and ahq in the finals to claim first place in the LMS and secure a spot at MSI.
Flash Wolves’ roots extend all the way back to Season 3 when the team was known as yoe IRONMEN. The organization would replace the entire roster with the disbanded Gamania Bears team after a poor start. The team was also rebranded as Flash Wolves at this time.
After a few minor tournament wins in 2013 and 2014, the team erupted onto the international scene by winning at IEM Taipei and then finishing first in the 2015 LMS Spring Split.
Flash Wolves also found recent success at last year’s Worlds, finishing in first place during group stage that included two wins over KOO Tigers. While the team would eventually lose to Origen in the quarterfinals, Worlds was viewed as a huge success for a team that many didn’t expect to make it out of group stage.
Flash Wolves boasts a talented roster that has played together for many years now. Their team coordination and trust in one another will be a huge factor at MSI and it wouldn’t be at all shocking to see this team battle it out with SKT in the finals.
The next step in progression for this team is winning a marquee tournament, such as MSI or Worlds.
2. G2 eSports – LCS Champions (Europe)
G2 has found Origen-like success so far in the organization’s early inception, finishing in first place during the EU LCS Spring Split with a 15-3 record. After securing coach of the split, player of the split, and rookie of the split honors, G2 capped off a magical run to MSI by beating both Fnatic and Origen 3-1 in the EU LCS Spring Playoffs.
This is a team that just recently qualified for the EU LCS after defeating SK Gaming in the 2015 Promotional Series. The roster features veteran European player Kikis in the top lane (formerly played for Team ROCCAT and Unicorns of Love).
Two Korean players are featured in the jungle (Trick) and at AD Carry (Emperor). Meanwhile, mid laner Perkz and support Hybrid are rookies who started their professional careers by posting dominating numbers during the spring split.
This is a team that has found immediate success but comes into MSI with little international experience. They were clearly the best team in a region that features some strong competition. The current 1-3-1 meta also fits the skillset and playstyle that G2 favors.
Will that be enough to take down a team like SKT?
1. SK Telecom T1 – LCK Champions (Korea)
Defending world champions. Five time LCK champions (and now three in a row). Best player in the world. What’s left for SKT to check off on their list of accomplishments? A win at MSI, of course.
After losing to Edward Gaming at last year’s inaugural MSI tournament 2-3 in the finals, SKT will look to add some more hardware to their trophy case. They dispatched ROX Tigers in the finals of the LCK to earn the right to play at MSI once again.
It has been a rough start to 2016 for SKT. Before winning at IEM, SKT struggled to consistently win in the LCK before finally resembling the SKT we’ve come to know at the end of the split. The loss of MaRin, Easyhoon, and T0M during the offseason left the team void of depth, demanding more plays from their stars.
In the mid lane will be longtime SKT star Faker, widely considered the best player in the world. Bang is still one the most versatile AD Carries in the game. Rookie Blank will once again be an X factor. As long as he continues to make strides, it’ll be hard to win a five game series against SKT.
SKT is battle-tested and has overcome diversity this season. They’ll enter this tournament as clear favorites and rightfully so. Despite all of the other talent in this tournament, there is a large gap between SKT and second place.
Needless to say, SKT will be favorites from day one with eSports bookmakers – and everyone else – and should find themselves in the winner seat. Be sure to compare odds with our eSports betting odds tracking tool before you place a wager!