The LPL Champions World Elite have entered the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational with very little noise surrounding them, curious considering their 3-0 sweep of Royal Never Give Up in the LPL Finals. It is clear many fans and analysts are not quite sure where to pitch the strength of World Elite, as the disappointment from Chinese teams in the past has tempered some expectations for how far even a dominant Chinese team could go. With so much uncertainty surrounding them, World Elite could be the true “wild card” of this year’s MSI.
Entering MSI, there is likely no team shrouded in mystery like the LPL’s World Elite. Unlike the EU and NA LCS, little tends to be known of the LPL outside of China itself and the most die-hard of fans. While analysts and reporters alike shine the spotlight on Korea’s SK Telecom and the LMS’s Flash Wolves as tournament favorites, the Chinese champions are rarely presented to the table. Whether the underestimation of World Elite could prove fatal to their other competitors in the east, is yet to be seen.
If there was any doubt who the best team in the LPL was, it was put to rest after a 3-0 sweep of Royal Never Give Up by World Elite. Avenging last season’s 3-2 LPL semi-finals loss to Royal Never Give Up, World Elite were able to show success with multiple compositions, and maybe most importantly, their ability to recover from a deficit. Resilience is often an underrated trait in a team, and by fending off RNG in game 3 they showed they know how to both stall out a game and play through their win conditions.
Over the years, the reputation of Chinese teams at International events has dwindled to it becoming a lacklustre shadow of its former glory. Entering last year’s World Championship, Edward Gaming had been dominant domestically in the LPL and came to the World Championship as one of the clear two favorites to win the title along with Korea’s ROX Tigers.
In typical Chinese fashion, Edward Gaming would drop the first game of the tournament to the Brazilian wild card INTZ eSports. Heralded as a top five player in the World, jungler Ming “Clearlove” Kai would be thoroughly outperformed by INTZ’s Gabriel “Revolta” Henud. While not the first example of disappointing performances by LPL teams, Edward Gaming’s struggles at last year’s World Championship only further cemented their reputation as overrated or unable to perform up to expectations.
If there is a player to watch on World Elite, it has to be star jungler Xiang “Condi” Ren-Jie. an MVP candidate in the LPL, Condi could easily be considered the best Chinese jungler and possibly one of the best in the world. While World Elite has still shown strong mid and late game team fighting, they are much more controlled than the “always fighting” reputation Chinese teams have accrued over the years, demonstrating a solid understanding of macro play and fulfilling their drafted win conditions.
The Mid-Season Invitational will mark World Elite’s first International Event (excluding IEM) since the Season 2 World Championships. While coming into the tournament as a relative unknown, they are a dangerous team that cannot be ignored. As was shown in their second place finish at IEM Katowice 2015 where they provided the greatest upset in League of Legends history, toppling the GE Tigers (last place LPL team over first place LCK). To under prepare for World Elite is a mistake that can quickly end a tournament run.
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.