At the close of play for Day 2, Flash Wolves threw their hat back into the ring for the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational title having tallied victories over Team SoloMid and the Gigabyte Marines. Expected to be one of the tournament frontrunners, the Taiwanese squad found themselves rooted to the foot of the table after the opening day, in need of a recovery to get themselves back on track. With a fortuitous fixture schedule against the tournament’s two weakest teams, Flash Wolves have caught up to their main competition.
With Korea’s SK Telecom T1 pitched as the clear tournament favourites, Flash Wolves were billed as the most likely team to challenge an otherwise inevitable title defence. Renowned as the “Korean Killers” – or more specifically “SKT’s Kryptonite” – the world’s other major regions were somewhat reliant on FW to dent the SKT armour. After falling to an 0-2 start after the opening day however, fans grew concerned that perhaps the Flash Wolves had been overrated and that no team would even come close to challenging SKT.
Defeats at the hands of fellow finalist hopefuls Team WE and G2 eSports left Flash Wolves in need of an immediate response. Fortunately, with back-to-back fixtures against the tournaments two weakest rosters, FW were granted with a golden opportunity to regain ground on their rivals.
In spite of their wild card status, the Gigabyte Marines have given a good account of themselves at the Mid-Season Invitational. Buoyed by their clean victory over fellow strugglers Team SoloMid, the Vietnamese squad started strongly against the Flash Wolves, earning themselves first blood in the top lane after earning an impressive amount of early game vision. FW were being forced out of their typically aggressive style and were cowering back to their side of the map, yet the Marines continued to turn up the heat:
— lolesports (@lolesports) 11 May 2017
But as has become a frustrating trend for GAM, they failed to convert their early game advantages as the game moved away from the laning phase. Playing the game slowly and avoided any head-on collisions with their opponents, Flash Wolves waited for the moment to pounce upon a GAM weakness. A series of incisive team fights later and FW emerged with first a baron to negate the Marines gold lead, before baiting a fight at the elder dragon and ending the game for their first MSI 2017 victory soon afterwards.
With their first win on the board, Flash Wolves turned their attention to the struggling Team SoloMid. Once more the LMS champions conceded early ground to their opponents, top laner Li-Hong “MMD” Yu sacrificing first blood over to TSM to begin the unfavourable snowball for the Flash Wolves.
Against a more co-ordinated opponent, Flash Wolves would have been facing an almost insurmountable challenge. With the enemy Fizz of TSM top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell capable of deleting any member of the FW squad, a simple split-push strategy may have spelled the end.
Fortunately for the Taiwanese representative, Team SoloMid wasted any advantage they may have established in the early game, instead playing directly into the FW hands by stalling the game and engaging in otherwise pointless skirmishes. Flash Wolves were able to the match with one conclusive teamfight: support Shou-Chieh “SwordArT” Hu sponging all of TSM’s major abilities to allow his teammates to steamroll through their defenceless opponents. With every TSM player laid to rest, Flash Wolves marched down mid lane once more to destroy the base.
Despite uncharacteristically sacrificing their early games against Gigabyte Marines and Team SoloMid, the Flash Wolves pulled through to deliver the expected results and get their tournament back on track.