Credit: Lee Aiksoon/Riot Games

MSI Mid-Group Report: underdogs experience 50 shades of pain as favorites thrive

It isn’t easy facing T1, Royal Never Give Up, or G2 Esports as up-and-coming regions struggle to make a dent at MSI. The exceptions, Evil Geniuses and Saigon Buffalo, have confirmed the rule to some extent, but they have shown signs of life unlike the remaining teams.

Group A: T1, Saigon Buffalo send brutal message ahead of Rumble

Unspeakable violence predictably ensued in Group A as T1 are untouchable. However, they have found a worthy opponent in the VCS’ Saigon Buffalo, whose early game against T1 and victories against the other teams were brutal enough that Evil Geniuses must worry if they didn’t yet.

T1’s “cringe macro abusers”  have shown that they could crush their opponents, as their beatdown of DetonatioN FocusMe was anything but macro-focused. Meanhile, SGB’s “gigachad permafighters” brought the heat across the board, even making T1 sweat before key solo lane leads and mid-game teamfights shifted the game in their favor.

DetonatioN FocusMe’s MSI is on the line on Saturday, May 14, as they face Saigon Buffalo to potentially force a tiebreaker for the right to kick Evil Geniuses out at the Rumble Stage and make it to the semifinals.

As for Team Aze, it’s all about the experience as they are out of their depths in the group.

Group B: RNG 加油! RNG 加油!

Welcome to Group B, a.k.a. the waiting room for RNG’s train ticket to the semifinals. The impact of the games in this group is strongly felt among LPL fans, whose justifiably high spirits keep soaring.

Meanwhile, the other three teams have created a “circle of suck:” RED Canids > PSG Esports > Istanbul Wildcats > RED Canids. Popcorn stocks (and potentially energy drink stocks for Brazilian and PCS fans) will soar ahead of a possible three-way tiebreaker at this rate. That is, unless RED Canids keep calm and play games to their strengths—then, they should prevail.

For the sake of having the best teams at the Rumble stage, one move is possible: time-travel to the LCS finals and redraw the groups to send DetonatioN FocusMe to Group B instead of PSG Esports. Since that is not a possibility, we can only hope that PSG recover their 2021 mojo, as that would make the Rumble stage interesting—if they qualify.

Group C: Predictable but worth watching, if only for jojopyun

G2 Esports are flying high as they need a single win to qualify for the Rumble stage. At 4-0 and with four games left to play, a win would put them out of ORDER’s reach, allowing them to experiment with Flakked Mid, Jankos AD carry, Caps Jungle, whatever madness ensues, because G2 Esports fans will be in as much pain as Flakked anyway, win or lose.

Speaking of pain, Evil Geniuses hurt themselves when they narrowly missed the mark against G2 Esports on Day 2. A Gamers2 baron throw nearly allowed jojopyun to ascend to godhood and trashtalk G2 to oblivion; instead, NA fans will cope with a victory over LCO representatives ORDER, a step up from Cloud9’s 2021 Rumble Stage showing (hi PENTANET!)

Adel primarily covers League of Legends, with a particular emphasis on League of Legends esports competitions. He has over 10 year of experience covering the LEC and other LoL competitive events across Europe.