The League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational 2021 will feature the Spring season champions from each of the Riot regional leagues. Initially, the tournament was supposed to host 12 teams, but due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the Vietnamese champions (GAM Esports) were unable to take a trip to Iceland.
League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational 2021 Mid-Season Invitational Format and Changes
Long regarded as a tournament that doesn’t count for much, Riot Games decided to make some much-needed changes to make winning the MSI a much more appealing goal for all participating teams.
Besides claiming the lion’s share of the base prize purse of $250,000, the MSI champions will also earn an additional regional team spot for the 2021 LoL World Championship. What’s more, the highest-ranking team in the power rankings after the MSI will earn an additional spot at Worlds for their region.
The 2021 MSI will also see a changed format, with two separate group stages.
The tournament will kick off with the “normal” group stage, which will divide 11 teams into two groups of four and one group of three teams. All group stage matches will be played as best-of-one (Bo1), with a double round-robin for Groups B and C, and a quadruple round-robin for Group A.
After the group stage concludes, the top two teams from each group advance into the “Ruble Stage”. There a single group of six teams will compete in double round-robin Bo1 format to determine which four teams will advance into the Bo5 playoffs bracket.
The tournament will be played on Patch 11.9. The newly released Gwen and Viego will both be disabled.
League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational 2021 Team Previews – Favorites
DWG KIA (LCK)
Odds to win: 1.44
After winning the 2020 LoL World Championship, DWG KIA swapped out their top laner and coach, but they’re still the same powerhouse that terrorized everyone last November. This team is simply better than everyone else and until they start to slump – or we see another team step up – it’s fair to say that DWG KIA are the main favorites to win their second Worlds title.
It should not come off as a surprise that DWG KIA are also by far the biggest favorites to win the MSI. There are arguments to be made that DWG KIA are not a perfect team and that they can potentially lose matches, but it will take a perfect showing from their opponents to see that happen.
There is not a lot to be said about DWG KIA that hasn’t already been said. They field some of the best players in the world in each position and are a type of team that can play many different styles. They rarely make mistakes and feed on their opponent’s mistakes rather than look to make flashy plays on their own.
At better odds, betting on DWG KIA to win the MSI would be a no-brainer pick, but at 1.44, it’s better to pass. Perhaps betting against them would make sense had the LoL Pro League (LPL) sent FunPlus Phoenix or Top Esports to Iceland, but for now, we’re stuck with Royal Never Give Up.
Royal Never Give Up (LPL)
Odds to win: 2.87
Royal Never Give Up barely made it through the highly competitive LPL Spring Playoffs to win the title and earn their ticket for the MSI. Although other LPL teams seem better equipped for international success, it’s not like RNG are a bad team.
In fact, RNG are a very good team and the fact that they won their domestic league only further proves that. Their problem, however, is that they are very predictable with their playstyle.
As seen throughout the season, RNG like to play into their top lane (a bit too much), which should work against weaker sides due to the individual quality of their players, but that could prove to be a problem when facing DWG KIA who can match them.
RNG’s predictability is also the biggest reason why we believe Top/FPX would be better LPL representatives and would have a better chance to defeat DWG KIA. Still, RNG are clearly the second-best team traveling to Iceland.
League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational 2021 Team Previews – Second-favorites
MAD Lions (LEC)
Odds to win: 16.00
MAD Lions struggled a bit during the LEC regular season, but they found their form just in time for playoffs to outperform everyone and claim the historic LEC Spring title. Does this make MAD Lions as dangerous as G2 Esports were during the 2019 MSI? Well, no.
I have a big problem with MAD Lions and am very skeptical about their chances to succeed in Iceland. That is mainly because this team is very into taking risks and coin-flipping their games, which just won’t cut it here.
While they won Europe with this style of play, it’s important to consider that MAD Lions hit their peak in the playoffs, but were otherwise very unimpressive throughout the season. In other words, this team isn’t consistent.
On one hand, MAD Lions could perform extremely well in Iceland if they can continue playing at their peak. But that’s a big IF.
Odds to win: 26.00
The LoL Championship Series (LCS) teams constantly underperform in international tournaments and I don’t believe that will change with Cloud9. They won their domestic league and they deserve some props for it – although there are arguments to be made that Liquid were the better team this split.
The big issue I have with C9 is that they don’t do much outside of relying on Luka “Perkz” Perković and Robert “Blaber” Huang to do it all. While they’re very good at what they do, you can’t really expect a team like that to defeat the likes of RNG and DWG KIA, who will exploit their weaknesses elsewhere.
You can still expect Perkz and Blaber to take over a few games. Then if C9’s bottom lane steps up (like they did in the LCS finals), and if Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami proves he is more than a liability C9 could make some noise, but I don’t expect them to make much further than the Rumble Stage.
PSG Talon (PCS)
Odds to win: 41.00
PSG Talon and the Pacific Championship Series (PCS) league as a whole don’t get as much appreciation as they perhaps should have. For those unaware, the PCS is a combination of the League of Legends Master Series (LMS) and other SEA leagues into one super league, which has now become up to par with LCS and LEC.
Even the fact that this is an upgraded league of LMS (by far the strongest wildcard region) should indicate that a team that went 17-1 in the regular season and 9-0 in the playoffs isn’t bad by any means.
Unfortunately, PSG Talon had to travel to Iceland without their ADC Wong “Unified” Chun Kit, who suffered a collapsed lung. It marks the second time PSG Talon were forced to make roster changes – after the 2020 LoL Worlds.
Regardless, they got a replacement in Chiu “Doggo” Tzu-Chuan who might be a slight downgrade, but it shouldn’t impact this team too much. Although Doggo is the only player on the team without any international experience.
The esports bookmakers have PSG Talon priced at 41.00 to win the MSI and 3.40 to win their group, which underrates them by A LOT. This is largely because the PCS doesn’t get the acknowledgment it should have, so it’s easy to speculate they are weaker than MAD Lions, which I would argue that they aren’t.
They’re far more consistent and are up to par with MAD Lions quality-wise. It also wouldn’t be too wrong to say that PSG Talon field better individual talent.
I have this team to win group B. What then? They only need to finish inside the top four in the Rumble Stage, which doesn’t seem too hard given the opponents they’ll likely face there – and they’re already in the semi-finals.
With some luck, they can avoid RNG and DWG KIA – as the only two teams I am confident can beat them consistently – and they’re in the MSI finals. PSG Talon to reach finals at 23.00? Take my money.
Prediction: PSG Talon to win group B – 3.40
Prediction: PSG Talon to reach MSI finals – 23.00
League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational 2021 Team Previews – Outsiders
While every team that earned their spot at MSI deserves respect, I won’t spend too much time talking about the bottom six teams, largely because I don’t believe either of them can achieve much outside of a couple of Bo1 victories.
As CIS representatives, Unicorns of Love (67.00) deserve some respect, since their league has previously produced teams that shook the world in international competitions. That said, the current version of UoL is not nearly as good as the one that made it to the 2020 Worlds.
With the departure of their ADC Ilya “Gadget” Makavchuk to mousesports, UoL struggled to look as dominant domestically as in previous years. Although they fixed their communication issues by signing another Russian ADC in Stanislav “Lodik” Kornelyuk and then went on to dominate in the playoffs, I am a bit skeptical about how high can they fly against international competition.
They’re still better than other bottom-six teams, including the Turkish Instanbul Wildcats (91.00), but they’re hardly much more than that.
Instanbul Wildcats hail from a league that has made some serious noise internationally of late, but the problem is that this team is not assembled from the best Turkish Championship League (TCL) players.
TCL is a very competitive league, which is good for the development of the players, but there is no single team that dominates. The talent in this league is so spread out that it’s hard to find a team to properly represent the league’s strength – SuperMassive (at 2020 Worlds) were an exception.
PaiN Gaming (101.0) boast very impressive stats heading to MSI, but due to the low quality of play in the Campeonato Brasileiro de League of Legends (CBLOL) I would take those marks with a grain of salt.
There isn’t much more to be said about this team. They’re the best squad in a region that isn’t very good. I can’t make myself trust this squad too much.
League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational 2021 Team Previews – Bottom Three
Much of what was said about paiN Gaming also holds true for DetonatioN FocusMe (151.0) and Infinity Esports (251.0). I would argue that Infinity might be individually better than paiN, but it’s not like these two teams will get a chance to meet given that I don’t expect either of the two to make out of groups.
That leaves us with The LoL Circuit Oceania (OCL) champions Pentanet.gg (301.0), who enter the MSI priced as the weakest team in the field. There are arguments to be made to support that claim, but I have faith that the Aussies will step up and prove that they can be better than other bottom teams.
The Oceanic region has produced solid talent in the past and are usually – similarly to PCS – very underrated in international competitions. At 2020 LoL Worlds we saw Legacy Esports finish second in the Play-In stage, ahead of INTZ, MAD Lions, SuperMassive Esports, and tied with Team Liquid.
Although they ended up losing to LGD Esports in the knockout stage, Legacy Esports proved that Oceania has some talent. Will that be enough for Pentanet.gg to make much noise at MSI? Probably not, but they should arguably be viewed as much more than a bottom-three team.