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MSI is the perfect tournament for players to prove themselves (Picture: Michal Konkol/Riot Games)
The greatest League of Legends teams and players from around the world will soon gather for the Mid Season Invitational (MSI) 2021. But who will leave their mark?
From stardom-bound rookies making their international debuts to world-class players looking to secure their legacies, this is the kind of tournament that every pro wants to be a part of.
MSI 2021 will have plenty of elite talent on display, from the reigning World Champions DWG KIA to the young and explosive squad of MAD Lions – there is a lot to be excited about.
Here are five players who could have a massive impact at this year’s international competition.
MAD Lions – Elyoya
It seems like a good place to start is with Javier ‘Elyoya’ Prades Batalla who was awarded rookie of the split and lifted the LEC trophy in his first-ever season. The Spaniard has had a meteoric rise to fame after competing in Spain’s second division just two years ago.
Now, the rookie is competing in an international tournament for the first time. While he’ll be fully focused on learning as much as possible, there’s no doubt that he is also hoping to announce himself to the world with a strong performance.
Nothing seems to faze him as he recorded more kills and assists as well as the highest kill participation of LEC junglers in the playoffs. Plus, he has shown far more consistency and a larger champion pool than Zhiqiang ‘Shad0w’ Zhao which is a good sign that MAD will fair better than they did in last year’s Worlds Play-Ins.
DWG KIA – Khan
Khan has won more LCK titles (five) than any other top-laner (Picture: Riot Games)
Unsurprisingly, reigning World Champions DWG are heavy favourites heading into MSI after they dominated the LCK playoffs without dropping a single game. Since the organisation’s immense showing at Worlds last year, there’s only one difference in the starting line-up.
Former SK Telecom T1 and FunPlus Phoenix (FPX) top-laner Kim ‘Khan’ Dong-ha has a lot to prove and big shoes to fill after replacing Jang ‘Nuguri’ Ha-gwon. After an impressive career with five LCK titles, the most of any top-laner, there’s no doubt that Khan will be desperate for his first international trophy – especially as he may be retiring at the end of this year due to mandatory military service.
While the Korean pro is well-known to like his aggressive, carry-oriented champions, he has done an excellent job playing weak side as he recorded more assists (47) than any other top-laner in the LCK playoffs. He is extremely solid and consistent which is exactly what DWG needs so they can continue to dominate the map and have full control around dragons.
Cloud9 – Blaber
Another jungler, Cloud9 dominated North America this year and that was largely thanks to Robert ‘Blaber’ Huang whose aggressive style is crucial to the team’s success.
This season, of all junglers in the top five leagues (LEC, LCS, LPL, LCK, and LMS) who have played more than 10 games, Blaber is tied first for the highest average gold difference at 15 minutes (396) this year – putting him in good company with Top Esports’ Hung ‘Karsa’ Hao-Hsuan.
However, that only speaks to his strength compared to those within his region. MSI will be the true test as this will be the first time he competes at an international tournament in sole-possession of the jungle spot – he attended both Worlds 2018 and 2019 as an understudy and occasional substitute to Dennis ‘Svenskeren’ Johnsen.
MSI junglers will need to watch over their shoulders for Blader’s aggressive style (Picture: Riot Games)
Royal Never Give Up – GALA
Another young player with an extremely bright future, the highest praise you can give to Chen ‘GALA’ Wei is RNG don’t look like they miss legendary ADC Jian ‘Uzi’ Zi-Hao.
GALA recorded more kills (205) than any other player in the LPL during the regular season and capped off an extraordinary season with a pentakill in the extremely close five-game LPL final against FPX to earn him the MVP award for the series.
This is the first time that GALA has competed in an international tournament, making this MSI a pivotal moment in his career. The 20-year-old will know all too well that the last time RNG competed in an MSI, they won it. He’ll be hoping he can lead the organisation to the trophy just as Uzi did back in 2018.
MAD Lions – Armut
Finally, we have one more MAD Lions player as this really is a massive moment for the team. It will be particularly fascinating to see how İrfan ‘Armut’ Tüke gets on.
The top-laner struggled for a lot of spring. He was making silly mistakes and seemingly struggled to have an impact in the majority of games. However, when he did show up it was game-winning as he secured victories for MAD Lions in a few big games with massive engages. That was the case in the final as his Wukong and Gnar play appeared to be the difference between MAD and Rogue.
On his comfort picks, Armut is an absolute menace and one that cannot be underestimated. The question will be whether he can find consistency and repeatedly make an impact no matter what champion he is playing. Though if he does stick to comfort and it works, teams will be forced to target him with bans which could give MAD a huge advantage when it comes to the drafts.
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