Five days of Rumble Stage have ended, and finally, we have the four teams that will compete for MSI Trophy.
The initial, group stage of the Mid-Season Invitational went smooth with a somewhat expected scenario. Yet as the competition advanced towards the Rumble Stage, the stakes were higher and matches became more intense.
After 30 battles during five days, we can finally name the semifinal quartet – DWG KIA, Royal Never Give Up, PSG Talon, and MAD Lions. Our MSI 2021 predictions for the top four finishers were mostly correct, with 3 out of 4 teams securing the expected spots.
The only mistake was with Cloud9. We saw them in the final stage of this competition, especially after winning versus DWG KIA in the group stage. Yet this time, they didn’t demonstrate the skills needed to get into the final four.
Speaking of which, let’s see the brief breakdown of the critical takeaways after the MSI 2021 Rumble Stage.
DWG KIA starts loose yet proves the point in the later phase
Damwon Gaming was a favorite from the very beginning, and according to the shape they showed during the Spring Split, we expected them not to encounter any problems throughout this year’s MSI.
However, things started getting weird with the first loss to C9. From that moment on, we started checking if the winners of the 2020 Worlds are capable of getting the MSI trophy. The shaky performance continued at the beginning of the Rumble Stage, where they lost to their tournament rival, RNG. At that moment, it seemed like DWG will be pushed to the second seed spot, just under the Chinese roster.
Luckily for the LCK champions, the MAD Lions showed some fantastic performance, beating RNG later that day. The European team gave Damwong Gaming the advantage they needed to secure the first seed. They only needed to win Planet.GG, which wasn’t problematic for the Koreans.
After they succeed in taking the first seed, they had to beat the same MAD Lions in the semifinals if they want to proceed towards the finals. Despite the MAD Lions’ decent form, it shouldn’t be a problem for the Korean team to advance. They’re expecting to meet Royal Never Give Up during the finals, the team with the highest odds of beating DWG KIA among all the other teams on MSI 2021.
MAD Lions and PSG Talon are getting ready for the challenging semifinals
MAD Lions and PSG Talon were presented as the underdogs with a lot to show during the MSI 2021. Luckily for their fan base, they fulfilled and even went a bit over the expectations. Now, the biggest threat and the most challenging opportunity is right in front of them.
MAD Lions are picked as the opponents by DAMWON Gaming, while PSG Talon will have to beat RNG.
PSG Talon unleashes the “borrowed” ADC
The third spot from PSG Talon could be predicted, but after their main ADC, Unified, announced that he won’t be able to come due to travel restrictions, the odds for winning became significantly worse. The breakthrough came with the team’s new ADC, Doggo – the main ADC for Talon’s domestic rival, Beyond Gaming.
We don’t often see domestic rivals taking spots for another team in the international competition. More precisely, this is the third time that the scenario happens, and hell, this is by far the best international substitute in League of Legends history.
Doggo managed to score outstanding achievements throughout 16 games played at MSI 2021. He scored a KDA of 6.5, which is the second-highest among all players on this event. Also, his damage per minute is 531, placing him on the third spot among all ADCs at Mid-Season Invitational.
MAD Lions still up to a challenge
MAD Lions, on the other hand, went through the Rumble Stage a bit sloppy, with a score of 5-5. On the last day, they also lost to Cloud9, yet it was too late for the American roster to get into the best four, so MAD Lions didn’t seem to bother about this match.
The semifinals and the clash with Dawmon will be fierce, yet if they show the strengths from those five wins and restrict from mistakes they made during the other five, they might see their names inside the finals bracket.
Cloud9 ready to go home and face Team Liquid and TSM
The team that set the expectation high in the group stage showed the lack of power in the Rumble Stage, even in the battle versus Pentanet.GG, as they lost one out of two played matches.
They were eliminated from advancing further even before the last day, so the final two matches weren’t influencing their further placement. PSG Talon and MAD Lions have already secured their spots in the final bracket, leaving C9 looking in despair.
If we had to pick a weak link of the LCS champions, that would undoubtedly be the mid-jungle duo of Blaber and Perkz. They simply failed to fulfill the expectations in this stage. They couldn’t even take the momentum in the early game, where they are expected to show dominance.
Those early game fails developed through the mid-game, projecting towards the significant mistakes in the late-game. The team as a whole also made a few unreasonable mistakes with poor plays and miserable trades.
During one match versus RNG, they traded a Baron for their Nexus. Even worse happened in a battle with DWG KIA, where C9 sacrificed all five champions to get the Dragon. At the end of the day, we hope that those mistakes were just unlucky calculations that the overpowered competitors fiercely punished.
Now what’s left for Cloud9 is to keep the reputation within the LCS championship during the next three months. Back home in America, they’ll face TSM and Team Liquid, two teams that are dangerously close to Cloud9, especially when we have an inferior performance from MSI in mind.
As our #MSI run comes to an end, we would like to thank all the support around #C9LoL even though the results were not as expected.— Cloud9 (@Cloud9) May 18, 2021
A lot of games came down to the wire and despite not closing them out, we showed that we can fight on the International stage. Worlds next. #C9WIN pic.twitter.com/2LXpYbjGPh
The Knockout Stage of MSI 2021 is ready
The knockout stage brackets are filled now, and we’re ready to see the top four teams performing in the fierce semifinals, followed by the finals on Sunday.
Teams enter the knockout stage with just a bit more room for error, as the matches are in a best-of-five format. However, the team that’s about to win the MSI trophy will need to win two challenging duels, one in the semifinals and one in the finals.
As we mentioned before, DWG KIA secured the first spot in the late phase of the Rumble Stage, thanks to the MAD Lions, who won over the RNG. Thanks to this unfortunate event, DWG picked MAD Lions as their opponent for the upcoming duel, while PSG Talon meets RNG. There’s also a bit of hope for PSG Talon, as they were one of the teams to take one game from RNG in the previous stage.
However, our final prediction is that the RNG and DWG will win in the semifinals and meet in the final clash. From there, we’re not sure what will happen, despite our prediction of DWG winning the finals. The Rumble Stage brought us plays and outcomes that we weren’t expecting, and it’s hard to tell if Damwon managed to keep up the shape from Worlds 2020, where they defeated China’s Suning with the score of 3-1. Plus, there was a reschedule in the matches, which certainly goes to the RNG’s advantage.
Semifinals rescheduled in favor of Chinese RNG
This is the first MSI to swap the dates of matches, in this case, beneficial to RNG. Traditionally, the team that’s placed first during the group stage, or in this stage, Rumble Stage, has the benefit of having a rest day between the semifinals and finals. So the first placed DWG KIA was supposed to have a match on Friday, rest on Saturday, and proceed with the finals on Sunday – in case they win in the semifinals.
RNG, as a second-placed, was supposed to have two consecutive days for semifinals and finals. So, in this case, RNG vs. PSG Talon was reserved for Saturday.
However, due to a scheduling conflict related to travel protocols for RNG, they will have to swap the semifinal matches with DWG. Due to this issue, Riot Games officially announced that Damwon would have to play on Saturday, while Royal Never Give Up will have their semifinal match on Friday, giving them an extra advantage of a rest day between those two.
CONTEXT on why the recent change to #MSI2021 semifinals schedule has caused discussion among both international and South Korean fans:— Ashley Kang #MSI2021 (@AshleyKang) May 20, 2021
In every single MSI held previous to 2021, the “1st-placed team from the previous round” played the semifinals first … https://t.co/K0LBthQZRi pic.twitter.com/0OhUj7Huqh