The 2017 Mid-Season Invitational has brought one humbling truth home for many League of Legends fans: the gap between Korea and the rest of the world is not closing, but the gap between wild card and so-called ‘major’ regions certainly is. Vietnam’s Gigabyte Marines, an unknown entity heading into the MSI 2017 Play-In, have bowed out of the international tournament with an admirable record, earning victories over Europe, North America and China.
The path the Gigabyte Marines were required to tread to even reach the Rio de Janeiro stage of the Mid-Season Invitational is reason enough to admire the achievements of the Vietnamese squad. After an unbeaten split in the 2017 VCSA Spring Split (Vietnam’s regional league), GAM then qualified for the GPL to compete for wild card status against the respective champions from Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia.
As victors of the GPL, the Marines qualified through to the MSI 2017 Play-In, where they dominated their group and came close to upsetting Team SoloMid. After establishing their clear superiority over SuperMassive eSports, a spot at the Mid-Season Invitational was finally theirs. Having endured so much earn their seat, the Gigabyte Marines were not going to let it go to waste…
The Gigabyte Marines were a joy to watch at MSI 2017. Where fans have typically considered ‘wild card’ to be a synonym for ‘free win’, GAM presented each of their opponents with a legitimately challenging test. The team’s aggressive style, whilst no match for SK Telecom T1, posed a serious threat to every other team at the tournament.
The unique style the Gigabyte Marines had developed in Vietnam served them well in Brazil. Where every other team was floundering to grasp the ‘Korean meta’, GAM continued with their unique style undeterred and not intimidated by anyone.
The refreshing approach to tournament play saw the squad cement Galio as a top tournament pick after crushing G2 eSports with a double assassin composition, whilst jungler Duy Khanh “Levi” Do attracted global acclaim for his high-level of performance.
man Levi is so solid, he pressures objectives, ganks, and keeps up in farm as a top tier jungler
— Yiliang Peng (@TSMDoublelift) 3 May 2017
“Thank you so much for all of your support at MSI! This is the first time we have experienced this much support ever.
“We will try our best to get to Worlds and perform at Worlds so that we won’t let you guys down.”
Gigabyte Marines Official Announcement
The new system for World Championship qualification all but assures that fans will get the opportunity to cheer for the Gigabyte Marines once more on an international stage. Following their strong performance at the Mid-Season Invitational, GAM will need to place second or higher in the GPL to entertain the prospect of stealing games away from the likes of Team SoloMid and G2 eSports in early October.
GAM earned themselves $84,500 for their remarkable performance at MSI 2017, a deserved prize for a team who have re-framed the communities perception of wild card participants; $84,500 will go a long way in Vietnam. The Gigabyte Marines will be remembered as one of the defining storylines of the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational: the team that earned respect for international wild card representatives with their courageous strategy and dogged determination.