The Mid-Season Invitational 2018 (MSI 2018) is a multi-week League of Legends tournament hosted by Riot Games. In this tournament the top teams from all 14 regions compete for the chance at international bragging rights and a hefty cash prize. MSI 2018 was held in Europe this year between the Spring and Summer Splits of each region, with the play-ins in Germany starting May 3rd, and the finals in France held on May 20th. With the title being taken last year by Korean powerhouse team SK Telecom T1, people were wondering if this years Korean representative Kingzone DragonX would continue the legacy.
Short answer: no they don’t! This years winner of MSI 2018 was China’s Royal Never Give Up. Their path to winning the tournament was not smooth sailing. going 3-3 in the first three days could have lead to a undesirable group stage finish if they didn’t sort out strategies and cohesive game play.
The MSI 2018 Play-ins
MSI 2018 started with the Play-In stage that began on May 3, 2018. In this stage, all regions but Korea, China, Europe and North America participate in a best of one, double round robin style format. Korea, China, Europe and North America were exempt from the play-ins because of performances at League of Legends‘ World Championships and MSI’s from the last two years. Of the remaining 10 teams, eight participated in the first round of the play-ins and were split into two groups. These teams were representatives of Russia, Brazil, Turkey, Latin America North and South, South East Asia, Japan, and Oceania. The top team from each group, Russia’s Gambit eSports and Turkey’s BAU Supermassive eSports, moved onto the second round to face Taiwan’s Flash Wolves and Vietnam’s EVOS eSports. These four teams competed in best of fives matches with the two winners, Flash Wolves and EVOS eSports, moving to the group stage.
The MSI 2018 Group Stage
The group stage started on May 11, 2018, and had six teams competing in a best of one, double round robin format. It is this stage were we finally get to watch the representatives of Korea (Kingzone DragonX), China (Royal Never Give Up), Europe (Fnatic), and North America (Team Liquid) compete. The best of the best, or so we think. In the first two days, Flash Wolves seemed unstoppable going 4-0, while Team Liquid went 0-4, and Fnatic went 1-3. Day four, things started to get more interesting. Liquid going 2-0 on the day putting them at 3-5, as well as Royal Never Give Up going 2-0 on the day putting them at 5-3. Once the dust settled on day six, the top four teams of the group stage, Royal Never Give Up, Kingzone DragonX, Fnatic and Flash Wolves proceed to the knock out round.
The MSI 2018 Knock Out Round
The knock out round matches were best of fives in single elimination format. In the knock out round we saw Royal Never Give Up go up against Fnatic, and Flash Wolves go up against Kingzone DragonX. Royal Never Give Up took out Fnatic in three games, moving them into the finals. While KingZone Dragon X beat Flash Wolves in four games going 3-1 to move onto the finals against Royal Never Give Up. A final in any international tournament against Korea and China is quite predictable at this point in League of Legends.
Analysts were split on who they thought would win MSI 2018. Some rooted for the Korean team as Korea has quite the record of success when it comes to best of fives. Some rooted for China to dethrone the Korean overlords of international tournaments and claim victory. I love an underdog and I felt Royal Never Give Up was the likely winner of MSI, but you just never know. Congratulations to Royal Never Give Up beating Kingzone DragonX in a 3-1 victory, but let’s see if they can turn this MSI victory into a Worlds victory. Royal Never Give Up return to China with $527,650.20 USD for winning, out of the total prize pool of $1,370,520 USD.
Do you think Royal Never Give Up deserved the win? Did they play the meta better? Let me know in the comments.