After four days of play, the two finalists to move on from the first stage of the Mid-Season Invitational Play In Tournament have been decided. Turkey’s SuperMassive eSports and Vietnamese outfit Gigabyte Marines proved to be the top team in their respective groups, and will now move on to face Taiwan’s Flash Wolves and North America’s Team SoloMid in where three of the four teams will advance. While neither team seems likely to win their first round match-up, the winner of a best-of-five between Gigabyte and SuperMassive could easily be either team.
Turkey’s SuperMassive eSports emerged victorious from a difficult Group A where they had to overcome another top team, and the hometown favorites, Brazil’s RED Canids. Behind the play of star mid-laner Koray “Naru” Bıçak, SuperMassive proved they possess a superior macro understanding of the game than the rest of their Group A opponents, and were able to go equal or on top in terms of individual skill. Naru made many highlight plays throughout the two days, but he also overstepped multiple times with mistakes that could easily be disastrous in their upcoming match against the Flash Wolves.
As a team, SuperMassive brought to MSI what was comparatively a very controlled style, clearly demonstrated in their first (and only serious) match against the RED Canids, where they gained an early advantage and never looked back. Naru would start the game with first blood, and SuperMassive would ride that momentum to a victory that only fell short of being a perfect game due to a tower that was taken in the top lane by the Canids (the kills were 7-0). They would end the group stage with a 5-1 record, but still showed some early game weaknesses and questionable decision making that may be exploited.
A relative unknown on the international stage, few would have recognized any of the names on the Gigabyte Marines roster, outside of perhaps support Minh “Archie” Nhựt Tran. After an undefeated run through their regional playoffs and the Garena Premier League where they failed to lose a series, they carried that momentum with them to MSI where they would finish with a 5-1 record that included a 2-0 sweep of the second-place Lyon Gaming.
The Gigabyte Marines are an exciting team to watch, and also bring flexible drafts that can keep their opponents on their toes. Mid laner Văn “Optimus” Cường Tran is highly regarded for his play on assassins, and it showed in their decisive match against Lyon where he dominated on a flexed Fizz pick. Gigabyte found great success in their cross map decision making, including five-man dives on the bot lane and heavy roaming plays by Optimus. While all-star jungler Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh struggled in some moments during the group stage, he was clearly one of the best players in the group and was able to make the highlight of the group stage with his dragon steal on Lee Sin.
With Flash Wolves and Team SoloMid looming, it is likely that the Gigabyte Marines have the better chance of advancing on the initial best of five alone. Flash Wolves look to be one of the best teams in the World at the moment, and despite winning their group do not be surprised if SuperMassive fail to win a game against them. Team SoloMid have looked slightly more vulnerable during the season, but the real opportunity for Gigabyte lies in their aggressive and creative playstyle. When matched against what is supposed to be a “superior” team, as an underdog you must be aggressive and take risks to emerge victorious. If Gigabyte can create an early edge that puts TSM on the back foot, they could possibly ride early series momentum to a victory. Still, in reality do not expect TSM to drop more than a game to Gigabyte.
When the likely scenario of SuperMassive and Gigabyte playing each other in a best of five for the final spot occurs, the series could go either way. Currently, their play in the group stage could hint at Gigabyte having the advantage, as SuperMassive has shown early weaknesses that could easily be exploited by Gigabyte. For SuperMassive, a controlled game flow will be a key to victory through limiting the roaming potential of the Gigabyte line-up and instead forcing them to react to SuperMassive’s playstyle.
The Defining Moments From The 2016 Mid-Season Invitational
The Mid-Season Invitational 2016: Shanghai
The electric venue, in the heart of one of China's most iconic cities, provided a stunning backdrop for what would prove to be one of the most dramatic League of Legends events in history...
Shanghai Opening Ceremony
The opening ceremony for the Mid-Season Invitational in Shanghai once again raised the benchmark for eSports production quality.
Day 1: Scumbag G2 Kikis
The tournament got off to a disastrous start for European Spring Split champions G2 eSports. With a number of almost comedic errors from top laner Kikis, G2 found themselves down 0-2 after the opening day of play.
Day1: RNG Delight The Chinese Crowd
China's representative Royal Never Give Up delighted fans with two convincing displays on Day 1, defeating both Counter Logic Gaming and the wildcard entree, SuperMassive eSports.
Day 2: CLG Defeat G2
The NA vs EU rivalry provided the first fixture of MSI's second day of play. Rookie AD Carry Stixxay provided a masterclass performance to claim the bragging rights for Counter Logic Gaming and North America.
Day 2: RNG Defeat SKT
The atmosphere within the Shanghai stadium was to grow even louder as Royal Never Give Up stamped their mark on the tournament with victory over reigning world champions SK Telecom T1.
Day 2: SUP Claim Their First Win Over CLG
After looking so strong against G2 eSports, CLG inexplicably handed SuperMassive eSports their first (and only) win of the tournament. Truly 'counter logic'.
Day 2: Flash Wolves Defeat SKT
SKT's kryptonite Flash Wolves claimed victory over the Koreans once more to complete a shocking 0-2 for the tournament favourites.
Day 3: CLG Shock SKT
Lose to the wildcard, crush the reigning LCK and World Champions, all within the space of 24 hours. CLG stunned the Shanghai arena with victory over SKT, a fabled moment for the NA representative.
Day 3: Flash Wolves Complete the Double Over SKT
Lightening struck twice as Flash Wolves added further insult to injury, defeating SKT for the second time in the group stage.
Day 3: SKT Slump To A 4th Straight Defeat
Defeat to Flash Wolves marked SKT's 4th consecutive defeat at the tournament. Few could believe their eyes, the tournament favourites were at serious risk of not qualifying for the knockout rounds.
Day 4: CLG End RNG’s Unbeaten Run
Unbeaten in the tournament, RNG entered their 2nd meeting with CLG as heavy favourites to win the entire tournament. In what was yet another masterclass from Stixxay, CLG somehow survived intense pressure to steal the most unlikely victory.
Day 4: SKT Find Their Feet
SKT steadied the ship with victory over SUP and CLG. Faker expressed his disappointment at the team's performance at the tournament so far and vowed not to lose another match.
Day 5: G2-8
G2 eSports made a hurried exit after a woeful performance from the European champions. Claiming just two victories over wildcard SuperMassive eSports, the G2 roster had brought shame upon the EU region.
Day 5: SKT Bounce Back Against RNG
SKT provided a signal of intent in their final matches of the group stages. Defeating RNG in the last game, the dominance of the Chinese hosts had not lasted long.
Semi-Final 1: CLG Defeat Flash Wolves
Qualifying as the second seed with a 7-3 record, Counter Logic Gaming proved too strong for Flash Wolves once more, earning the NA squad a spot in the MSI final.
Semi-Final 2: SKT Overpower RNG
The omens of the final group stage match came back to haunt RNG. Despite appearing so dominant with an 8-2 record in groups, RNG were outclassed by SKT in the second semi-final.
Semi-Final 2: SK Telecom T1 Were Back
After slumping to four consecutive loses just days earlier, SKT were once again considered favourites after silencing the Chinese crowd.
The Mid-Season Inviational Final
After what had been an exhilarating and unpredictable tournament, Counter Logic Gaming and SK Telecom T1 met for the final.
Final: SKT vs CLG
After SKT eliminated the Chinese favourites RNG, the majority of the crowd support was behind the underdogs CLG.
Final: SKT Sweep CLG Aside
After a heroic tournament run, CLG were convincingly swept aside by SKT in the final. The NA seed returned home with their heads held high.
Final: SKT Claim The MSI Crown
Despite faltering in the group stages, SKT claimed their first MSI title.