There were no dramatic twists and turns in the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational's fifth day of action, as the LEC's MAD Lions and the PCS's PSG Talon moved to the Rumble round. Nevertheless, despite their elimination from the competition, Brazil's paiN Gaming and Turkey's İstanbul Wildcats.
paiN (1:2 before Day 5) and the Wildcats (0:3) faced an uphill battle as MAD Lions (3:0) and PSG Talon (2:1). The Wildcats' fate was out of their hands as they needed to win all three games to proceed, whereas paiN still controlled their fate—with three wins, or two wins with one against PSG Talon, nearly guaranteeing a tiebreaker.
It was almost #RobsDay
In a surprising turn of events, İstanbul Wildcats defeated MAD Lions on Day 5's opening game, paving the way for a scenario where paiN Gaming could contend for the top spot in Group B, as long as they overcame PSG Talon and MAD. However, the Brazilian squad's lack of lucidity was their downfall as, despite strong early-game play, PSG Talon and MAD Lions punished their macro decisions.
paiN's game against PSG was deceptively close as, despite the 11:3 kill score line in PSG's favor, paiN's movements around the map and initial skirmishes kept their opponents on their toes. Eventually, Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang's Zoe and Ling "Kaiwing" Kai-Wing's Thresh picked them apart and denied split push forays, nullifying paiN's plan.
Source: Michał Konkol for LoL Esports
Their game against MAD Lions was far less straightforward as top laner Leonardo "Robo" Souza elicited IRIRIRIRI spam on Twitch chat following his dominant early-game showing against İrfan Berk "Armut" Tükek. However, MAD's recovery around the other lanes—and, crucially, around LEC Rookie of the Split Javier "Elyoya" Prades Batalla—proved decisive.
Had paiN won against MAD Lions, they would have added pressure to the European team ahead of their game against PSG. Instead, MAD's victory sealed the fates of every team in the group, with MAD and PSG advanced to the next round half-way into Day 5.
MAD Lions, PSG Talon reassure themselves and their regional fanbases
MAD Lions and PSG Talon faced tricky predicaments of their own before the day started, as an elimination would prove damaging moving forward.
For MAD, the specter of their elimination at the 2020 World Championship Play-in stage still loomed; the organization was the first major region team to drop out of Worlds before the main stage, as Armut—then 1907 Fenerbahçe's starting top laner—singlehandedly defeated them. Their dominant showing has done much to appease a fanbase that had grown accustomed to the sight of deep G2 Esports runs at MSI and in international competitions.
As for PSG, who are playing without starting AD carry Wong "Unified" Chun Kit and are borrowing Chiu "Doggo" Tzu-chan from Beyond Gaming, their predicament is a reminder of the team's visa issues leading to the 2020 World Championship. Once again, they have managed to qualify to the next stage without significant issues despite fielding an emergency substitute.
MAD and PSG join Oceanic sensations Pentanet.GG and heavy favorites Royal Never Give Up at the Rumble stage, with two teams yet to be determined from Group C. Besides DWG KIA (3:0), the outcome of that group remains unclear as Cloud9, DetonatioN FocusMe and Infinity Esports stand at 1:2, with either having a shot at a Rumble slot.