2021 Mid-Season Invitational Preview

MSI 2021 League Of Legends

The Mid-Season Invitational is like Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and your birthday all rolled into one — and its 2021 edition is no different in that regard. Eleven champions will convene in Reykjavik, Iceland (a setting worthy of the tournament’s importance) and put it all on the line for regional pride and a sizable sack of cash. So, as always, a thorough tournament preview is in order!

Getting a ton of money for your efforts is great and all, but being able to etch your name in history is undeniably even better — it is a testament to your work ethic and inherent talent, and proof that at one point in time you were atop the world of competitive League. It’s what all of these players try so hard to achieve, and yet something so few of them manage to accomplish. There’s a lot on the line, and you can expect a lot of tryharding from everyone involved.

Being a pro League of Legends player is undeniably a masochistic profession. And, of course, it is vastly more layered and complicated than any of us — those watching from afar — could ever imagine. Moreover, it is a profession imbued with many stereotypes and misconceptions. All we see are the flashes of brilliance, the fleeting moments of greatness in which these adolescents hoist their hard-earned trophies and get showered in confetti. But there’s so much more to it than that; it is a solitary calling, one that is merciless in nature.

Please Note:
There’s always a brand-new patch in the pipeline, a slew of balance changes that may or may not alter the game root and branch. Whenever a giant of competitive League is dethroned, it is often for one reason and one reason only: they failed to adapt in time. The game changed — either in huge sweeping ways or imperceptibly, in ways no one even noticed — and the rug was pulled from under their feet. And, as always, it’s the nuances that matter most.

A “winning formula” does exist, but it changes over time, at least ever so slightly. The teams that manage to adapt the quickest are often capable of preserving their position, but such a feat requires an immense amount of work and dedication. This time around there’s no G2 Esports, no Team Liquid, no T1 or Gen.G, FunPlus Phoenix or Top Esports — they’ve all failed to adapt, and it wasn’t for a lack of trying or talent.

We’re at the verge of a brand-new chapter of competitive LoL, and it’s undeniably an exciting moment, both for those competing and those who will tune in to see it all unravel!

2021 Mid-Season Invitational Preview | The Core of it All

International tournaments are at the very backbone of what makes competitive League so darn great. Without them, things wouldn’t be nearly as exciting as they are. These tournaments bring forth the most mind-blowing narratives and storylines that make our mouths water.

And boy have we missed the Mid-Season Invitational!

It’s not quite as exciting as Worlds, but it’s not far off either. It is a great litmus test for each of the competing regions and it provides us with a fair bit of tangible evidence — we can quickly surmise who’s good, why, and whether or not they’ll have a chance at leaving a mark come October.

The Mid-Season Invitational provides us with a much needed (global) frame of reference. It is a hugely important benchmark and it invariably affects the competitive season in complex and nuanced ways.

And it’s also mind-blowingly entertaining! Fireworks are all but guaranteed whenever the best teams in the world converge at one point, and we’re in dire need of a bit of fun right now, given the current state of the world and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

We’ve divided this preview into numerous bite-sized chunks so that you can easily consume it at your leisure. Maybe there’s a specific segment you’re really interested in, or just want to see who’s favored and why without having to scroll for hours on end. The ultimate goal of this piece is to deliver all the information you need, regardless of which end of the spectrum you’re at. So don’t be afraid to use that nifty CTRL + F feature and pay close attention to the headlines as we’ve segregated things in as neat a fashion as possible!

So, with that (surprisingly thorough) introduction out of the way, let’s begin with our 2021 Mid-Season Invitational preview!

The Meta | Pros and Cons

This year’s meta is quite unique and it definitely warrants a bit of granular analysis. As always no meta is without its pros and cons, and the same holds for 2021 as well.

Teams tend to either prioritize early Dragons or, conversely, go for turret plates and Rift Herald.

You can easily predict when they’ll skirmish and over which objectives. The whole mechanic regarding Elemental Dragons has been incredibly detrimental to the game as it favors teamfight comps and basically nullifies everything else. Poke comps are still viable, but that also depends on what the opposing team ends up drafting. Regardless, late game teamfighting is the name of the game right now — for better and worse.

The jungle meta, in particular, has been the target of some heavy criticism and community vitriol.

The reason why is simple:
Turbo Chemtank. Now, patch 11.9 did alleviate some of LoL’s most pressing issues, but it was by no means as thorough and all-encompassing as some had hoped. And, in true Riot Games fashion, they “nerfed” one obscenely powerful item and simply redirected its power into another — Moonstone Renewer.

Whether we’ll see the “revival” of enchanter supports still remains to be seen, but the potential is certainly there.

Now, let’s get one thing out of the way:
Patch 11.9 has ushered in a different kind of meta, and no one’s all too sure of what’s the best and most optimal way of playing the game right now. This means that most teams will experiment and, in turn, lose when you’d least expect it. Still, things will stabilize in a week or two’s time by which point we’ll have a much clearer picture of what’s going on.

2021 Mid-Season Invitational Preview | Groups

All three groups have unique narratives accompanying them. This, of course, only makes the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational all the more exciting!

If we had to come up with a quick list of storylines and burning questions, it would look something like this:

Group A — Royal Never Give Up [LPL], Unicorns of Love [LCL], Pentanet.GG [LCO]

  • How good are Royal Never Give Up really? Do they have what it takes to rub shoulders with DWG KIA or are they like the LPL giants of old, great but not great enough for it to matter?
  • Will the Unicorns of Love play spoiler, much like Albus Nox Luna did in the past? Will their creativity be enough? They’re definitely brash and confident, but that doesn’t mean much in the face of such stiff competition.

Group B — MAD Lions [LEC], paiN Gaming [CBLOL], PSG Talon [PCS], fastPay Wildcats [TCL]

  • Will MAD Lions be able to fend off a slew of wild card challengers? Will they make Europe proud, or was their recent ascension nothing more than a bit of happenstance?
  • Will CBLOL finally step up after years of mediocrity? They were always so entertaining to watch but ever since the LPL era began they sort of diminished in presence and
  • Will PSG Talon once again subvert our expectations? Their run at last year’s Worlds was certainly impressive, and they could, by all means, do a bit of damage this time around as well.

Group C — DWG KIA [LCK], Cloud9 [LCS], Gillette Infinity [LLA], DetonatioN FocusMe [LJL]

  • Can anyone trade blows with DWG KIA, or will they just steamroll through all opposition en route to hoisting yet another international trophy?
  • Will Cloud9’s unique take on the game (and ample veteran presence) be enough for them to leave a mark? They certainly have a shot, but the odds aren’t exactly stacked in their favor.

2021 Mid-Season Invitational Preview | Who’s Favored?

This is where things get a bit less exciting. There’s only favorite and that’s DWG KIA. There’s just no other way to put it, frankly. They’re better, more cohesive, and more dangerous than any other team at this year’s Mid-Season Invitational — and, probably, the world.

They’re so good it doesn’t even compute.

And that’s a fact, too, without any room for discussion. Whether anyone will actually be able to challenge them still remains to be seen, but we’re not too hopeful. DWG aren’t perfect, of course, but they’re not far off, and it’s highly questionable whether any team at this year’s MSI has the tools to exploit the barely visible kinks in their armor.

Now sure, you could make a case for RNG or C9, but they still pale in comparison.

Whenever DWG KIA put their best foot forward it’s like they become an unstoppable force of nature — one that annihilates everything in front of it. Like a hurricane that tears and shreds a village in mere seconds, leaving nothing but desolation and despair in its wake. So if you’re looking for an outright betting favorite, look no further than DWG KIA — they’re sublime in every sense of the word and will surely make their region proud over the coming days and weeks.

PLease Note:
Now it’s all a matter of finding out whether anyone has the tools to challenge them (even remotely). Most folks are obviously focused on Royal Never Give Up, but they’re far too volatile and inconsistent to truly give DWG KIA a run for their money. The same can be said for Cloud9 who’ve also had a slew of ups and downs throughout the most recent split.

Still, they have ample experience and are creative almost to a fault; these virtues can be extremely beneficial if harnessed correctly. If they attack DWG KIA from strange angles and in ways they haven’t experienced before they might stand a chance of leaving a mark — “might” being the operative word here.

2021 Mid-Season Invitational | Wrapping Things Up

This year’s MSI is a strange one because the final outcome is pretty much a foregone conclusion. That doesn’t mean entertainment will be absent (on the contrary), but just that there’s very little mystery involved. We can theorize to our heart’s content, but in the end, DWG KIA are almost guaranteed to make their adversaries look like a bunch of scrubs.

Now, if you’re looking to put your hard-earned money on the line, this is probably music to your ears. If, on the other hand, you’re just in it for the top-tier play and the many exquisite narratives, then you’re bound to be left wanting.

Royal Never Give Up, Cloud9, and MAD Lions will all try their hardest to upset the status quo and will surely give DWG KIA a run for their money. Whether that’ll be enough in the grand scheme of things still remains to be seen, but at least we’ll be entertained regardless of the final outcome!

Outright Winner:
Elias Andrews / Author

Elias identifies as more of an esports geek rather than a sports geek. While he enjoys playing tennis and enjoying the outdoors once in a while, he’s most comfortable in the darkness of his self-proclaimed “man cave.” When Elias isn’t partaking in anything himself, he enjoys writing about the nuances of the esports betting world, including covering controversial takes, where esports might be headed, and why bettors should get in on the industry while it’s growing.