After three weeks of vicious action in Iceland, we finally have the winner of the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational.
But before we hop on the final match, let’s see what happened throughout the entire semi-finals, aka Knockout Stage.
MSI 2021 Knockout Stage Recap
Four teams that earned a spot in the Knockout Stage were DWG KIA, Royal Never Give Up, MAD Lions, and PSG Talon, representing Korea, China, Europe, and Southeast Asia.
During three days from Friday to Sunday, the teams competed in the best of five series with the ultimate goal of getting the international MSI trophy.
MSI 2021 Semi-Finals – Royal Never Give Up VS PSG Talon
Pair to open the semifinals was Royal Never Give Up and PSG Talon. The outcome was quite predictable, with RNG as one of the outright favorites. However, as PSG Talon managed to climb strong towards the Knockout Stage, we expected some sort of battle in this match.
Some sort of battle happened, and out of four games played, PSG Talon won in the second map. Yet, it didn’t take much for RNG to get back on track and win the following two maps, ending the match with the final score of 3-1.
MSI 2021 Semi-Finals – Damwon Gaming VS MAD Lions
The second semi-finalist duo was Damwon Gaming and MAD Lions. This one was a bit more intense, as MAD Lions pushed the tempo strong until the final game. What’s more, after the third map, the MAD Lions were leading with 2-1.
Yet the final two maps acted like a wake-up call for the 2020 World Champions, as they secured two bold wins afterward, with the final result of 3-2 for the Korean Damwon Gaming.
From that moment on, we were ready for the anticipated finals of Koren David versus Chinese Goliath. It was a clash between Damwon Gaming and Royal Never Give Up – just like we predicted during the previous stage.
MSI 2021 Finals – Damwon Gaming VS Royal Never Give Up
After five intensive maps with multiple turnovers, RNG earned their second MSI Trophy by beating Damwon Gaming with a tight but satisfactory 3-2 score.
This was RNG’s first international title since 2018 and China’s first title since 2019. Also, the first team to earn multiple MSI trophies was SK Telecom T1, for the wins in 2016 and 2017. Now we’re having a second team in the same hall of fame – RNG, with the winnings from 2018 and 2021.
On the other hand, just a month ago, DWG were considered the best League of Legends team in the world. Yet as the MSI finals were getting closer, we saw a gradual increase in RNG’s performance, followed by a couple of misses from the anticipated favorite Damwon Gaming.
After all, the battle we’ve seen was quite epic, and both teams were playing bold until the last game. We saw Damwon’s significant drop in performance during the decisive map, where RNG took the apparent opportunity and turned it into a big win.
To make the long story short, let’s look at a brief recap of all five games.
RNG started a duel fresh from the full day of recovery, while DWG was still under the influence of the last day’s tight battle with MAD Lions. Logically, RNG won the first map, yet the Damwon also stood firm throughout the entire game.
The second map was the one that boosted Damwon a bit more, as they scored a win that led them to an even result of 1:1.
However, as soon as they earned the first win, RNG followed in the same manner from the first game, leading to the second win.
Now the score is 1:2, and if DWG keeps with the sloppy defensive tactics, it would be the last game for them. Luckily they managed to wake up for a moment, leading into their second map win.
Unfortunately for Korean fans, this was the last piece of effort we’ve seen by Damwon Gaming in this competition, and there was the last decisive game yet to be played.
From the very beginning, DWG looked entirely outmatched. Just the opposite from the first four maps that were highly competitive and on the expected top-class level. RNG took the early lead during this one, winning by a final kill score of 27-9.
RNG’s Gala as the MVP’s finals
The key player during the MSI 2021 Finals was Royal Never Give Up AD carry Gala. Throughout five games, he set the score of 37/9/22, with a fantastic KDA of 6.5. What could be the key to success was the champion he took for the five consecutive games – Kai’Sa.
As we look deeper into the statistics, this makes even more sense, as Gala played Kai’Sa 37 times out of RNG’s total 80 games during this season.
ShowMaker isn’t enough to defend a title
Opposite from Gala, ShowMaker played five different champions in all five games. This gave DWG a significant advantage, as ShowMaker was ready to hit from a different angle each time.
However, it’s not enough to have just one carry performer during international competitions such as MSI. We’ve seen a similar scenario with the Korean SK T1, where Faker was left more or less alone until the team died.
This might be a major takeaway for DWG, and if they want to continue dominating throughout the LCK and the following Worlds, they’ll need to get properly reassembled.