There was no shortage of on the rift and even some off the drift drama at this year’s MSI. We’re here to get you all caught up on the action and provide some League of Legends betting predictions for this weekend’s Knockout Stage.
MSI Group Stage coverage
From a longtime spectator’s point of view, this was one of the craziest, most action-packed tournaments in the history of League of Legends.
The two presumptive favorites, SK Telecom T1 and G2 eSports, struggled through the first three days of this tournament. Discounted Counter Logic Gaming drop kicked the monkey off their back and the notion they can’t win when it matters, finding repeated success in big tournaments.
All of this led to multiple upsets, close games, and unexpected blowouts.
G2 eSports and SK Telecom T1 struggle through Group Stage
It quickly became public knowledge that G2 eSports had been on vacation mode the two weeks prior to the tournament, and their play certainly indicated as much.
The team demonstrated an excellent understanding of the current meta during the EU LCS and featured two promising rookies. They entered MSI with lofty expectations, only to disappoint the fan base of Europe in a major way.
G2 eSport’s found success in the EU LCS Spring Split with an aggressive, playmaking style. That type of playstyle requires crisp, clean mechanical execution that is largely dependent on timing as well. It was evident their time off had dulled those skills.
The lack of pressure led to sloppy mistakes and poor map presence, with G2 finding themselves caught out of position multiple times. G2’s rising star, Perkz, was completely shut down in the mid lane all tournament long. They finished MSI with a 2-8 record, joining SuperMassive eSports (a team many expected to finish last) on vacation once again.
If anyone predicted SK Telecom T1 finishing in fourth place, the last qualifying spot for the Knockout Stage, you need to go buy multiple lottery tickets immediately. The glorified reigning World Champions were heavy favorites to win MSI after finding their form at IEM.
Instead, we witnessed SKT struggle through a shocking four game losing streak, which wasn’t something the fans or the eSports betting odds makers foresaw.
The home team shines in the moment
China’s Royal Never Give Up entered MSI feeling extreme pressure to perform well, with the tournament was being held in their home country just one point of pressure.
Secondly, the entire region of China has come under heavy criticism for underperforming during key tournaments. The last notable win for this region dated back over a year ago, when Edward Gaming captured the title for the inaugural MSI.
Pride was at stake here, and RNG came roaring out of the gates, fueled by an exhilarated crowd. A tightly contested win in the opening match against CLG set the tone for the rest of the tournament. As RNG continued to rack up win after win, it became clear this team was locked in for the long run.
It was never a question of whether this team was talented enough to compete with the best in the world.
Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao has been considered a superstar in the making and Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong is a former World Champion and 2014 WC MVP. The real concern was whether they could find the direction and synergy necessary to make the macro plays to consistently win.
That was an emphatic yes in the Group Stage, as the team finished 8-2 and in first place.
Counter Logic Gaming proves they belong
It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes CLG a contender. There’s no true superstar on this team, but rather a collection of players that each excel in unique areas of the game.
They’ve then managed to bring those differences together and form a unique bond through adversity this season. The loss of Doublelift during the offseason, once considered a cornerstone member of CLG, further pushed the team to rely on each other for success.
Perhaps it’s most fitting that Doublelift’s replacement, rookie Stixxay, was the catalyst for CLG’s success during Group Stage. When CLG needed someone to make crucial plays and carry the damage, it was Stixxay who stepped up.
There’s no shortage of world class players in this tournament, and for Stixxay to perform at this level quickly makes CLG fans forget that Doublelift ever played for this team.
Here are the official standings following Group Stage:
- Royal Never Give Up (8-2)
- Counter Logic Gaming (7-3)
- Flash Wolves (6-4)*
- SK Telecom T1 (6-4)
- G2 Esports (2-8)
- SuperMassive eSports (1-9)
*Swept SKT in Group Stage to earn sole possession of third place
Royal Never Give Up (2.25) vs. SK Telecom T1 (1.57)
Legends persevere when it matters most, rising up to the occasion and conquering any obstacles that lay in the way. Most of all, legends don’t die off easily.
SK Telecom T1 provided yet another signature moment yesterday as they continue to build their legacy, knocking off first seeded Royal Never Give Up.
There was a lot of hype surrounding this match, and rightfully so. SKT was the pre tournament favorite, establishing a long history of successful showings in international tournaments.
However, this season has been particularly difficult for SKT. ROX Tigers and KT Rolster have provided plenty of competition in the LCK.
Meanwhile, RNG has used the momentum of playing on their home turf to overcome the persona that their country choked when it mattered most.
RNG would take game one after a fast start, but the next three games were all SKT. RNG could not figure out how to adapt from game to game, a skill SKT is known for.
Faker would finally provide us with a world class performance, posting a 6.2 KDA through four games in this series. He was unkillable on both Azir and Ryze as well.
After an embarrassing game one performance from Duke for SKT against Looper’s Trundle (which he questionably only played once in RNG’s one win of the series), the top lane was completely dominated by SKT. Duke posted zero deaths in all three of SKT’s wins, leading to a ridiculous 29.0 KDA. Talk about dominance.
SKT ended the series with a perfect game against RNG, silencing the crowd and sending the home team away with yet another disappointing finish in an international tournament. Up next is the winner of the CLG versus Flash Wolves game.
Flash Wolves (2.11) vs. Counter Logic Gaming (1.74)
Both Counter Logic Gaming and Flash Wolves found success in the Group Stage, finishing second and third respectively. Both of these teams are proficient in team fighting and individual mechanical skill.
Heading into this tournament, Flash Wolves would have been the presumptive favorite in a best of five series, but after finishing the Group Stage 7-3, CLG find themselves in the driver seat.
A recurring theme for both of these teams is momentum. They both translated the momentum of winning their league’s Spring Split into securing a spot for the Knockout Stage. For that reason, game one could be huge. The winner can definitely snowball this series if they can get on a roll.
Another huge factor heading into this matchup are these two teams direct results from the Group Stage. CLG swept FW, winning all three of their games against them. That will no doubt provide some confidence for CLG heading into this series.
For Flash Wolves, look for Maple to have a huge game. He currently has a 7.9 KDA at MSI 2016, the second highest in the tournament. CLG’s Stixxay has stepped up in a big way for his team, posting a 4.2 KDA as well as 21 more kills than the next player at MSI (73 total takedowns). His counterpart, Aphromoo, has helped substantially along the way with over 75 percent kill participation.
Counter Logic Gaming will have to continue to play aggressively to beat Flash Wolves. For Flash Wolves, they will have to forget about their three performances against CLG in the Group Stage and instead harness the way they played in the two games they won against SKT.
I feel CLG has more momentum heading into this matchup, and they’ve shown the propensity to be innovative when they’ve had some time to prepare (e.g. Aurien Sol against RNG for the opening game of this tournament). If CLG can take game one and push their winning streak to 4-0 against FW, it could be the breaking point.
From an eSports betting standpoint, I like CLG 3-1 here as they move on to face SKT in the finals should you find yourself paying a visit to Betway, Bet365, or AlphaDraft this weekend.
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