Every year between the Spring and Summer splits in League of Legends, we see the winners of all the premier regions plus the International Wild Card Invitational (IWCI) winner battle it out for world glory at the Mid-Season Invitational. However, a slight twist has been added this year. The Top 4 finishers in the tournament get the first seed for their regions at Worlds later in the year (please note if Turkey, the IWCI winners win, Turkey actually get a first seed not the IWC region). So, not only are the teams playing for international glory for their own organisations, they’re truly representing the regions in which they come from. A brilliant move from Riot Games to make sure there is definitely something for all teams to play for.
The teams and regions that are represented are as follows:
- South Korea: SK Telecom T1 (SKT)
- China: Royal Never Give Up (RNG)
- North America: Counter Logic Gaming (CLG)
- Europe: G2 eSports (G2)
- Taiwan/Hong Kong: Flash Wolves (FW)
- IWCI: Turkey’s SuperMassive (SUP)
Game One of the tournament saw the host-nation, China’s RNG, up against North America’s CLG. RNG on blue side left last pick to CLG who amazingly took the newly competitive Aurelion Sol. This was one hell of a game to kick off to the tournament, incredibly back and fourth, either team could have won this one. One thing was obvious, Xiaohu (Mid laner for RNG) had never really laned against Aurelion Sol. Huhi made some incredible plays on the champion for its first competitive game.
In saying that, the game was carried by previous world champion Korean import support Mata. With an almost impeccable performance on Alistar. At 42 minutes, CLG held a mere 2k gold lead and the game hinged on one successful team fight for either team. An over-aggressive engage by Darshan (the CLG top laner) saw RNG obliterate the him before the rest of CLG were in the fight. The ensuing 4v5 team fight was easily picked up by RNG with a perfect ace. The game ended 22 kills to 21 with just a 2.5k gold lead to RNG.
Game Two saw Europe’s G2 take to the rift against the Flash Wolves from Taiwan. A game that, according to most, could’ve gone either way. With both teams being classed as “middle of the pack” teams. G2 took an early advantage securing a 21-minute Baron Nashor and the following team fight to take a 4.5k gold lead. With this lead, G2 well and truly had the opportunity to press the advantage and take the game.
At the 30 minute mark G2 decided to try and take a 50/50 Baron, which was easily stolen by Karsa on Graves. Winning a 2 for 1 team fight after. This was the window for FW to get back into the game. FW soon took a strangle hold on the game and didn’t let go. A 3-0 team fight for FW, 44 minutes into the game, in the mid lane/river saw them march down mid lane and take the victory. 26 kills to 12 with a 2.5k gold lead.
Game Three was the first showing for two time world champions SKTelecom T1 up against the IWCI winners in Turkey’s SuperMassive. At champion select we saw SKT’s Faker take Ryze, a champion he has not played competitively since his recent rework. Even with this in mind, the mechanical mastermind that is Faker showed us why you shouldn’t leave it open for him to play (and let’s be honest, if you play it into him he will probably just wreck you with Cassiopeia anyway).
The first 10 minutes were near flawless for SKT. Other than Duke very nearly falling to first blood twice against SUP’s fabFabulous, but ended up securing it for himself in probably the closest fight of the game. At the 11th minute SKT lost their chance to make it a perfect game as Blank’s Kindred fell to fabFabulous’ Trundle. Other than one of SKT’s towers falling. It was an almost flawless victory for SKT in just 28 minutes. 22 kills to 1 and a 17k gold lead (yes you read that right… 17,000 gold lead at 28 minutes)
Game Four saw CLG and FW return to the rift. For the first time this tournament we saw Thresh being locked in for Aphromoo, and boy did it pay off. Karsa ganked bottom lane, and Exhaust was used early by SwordArt. With Thresh’s Flash down FW felt the kill was secured. A very cool calm and collected heal from Stixxay’s Caitlyn while Thresh was in single digit health, healed him and provided him with the speed boost, just enough to get him under the first tier tower. A last minute hook from Thresh dragged ML’s Lucian into tower range and Stixxay secured a thrilling first blood for CLG.
The game stayed very even through to the 20 minute mark. With CLG holding a mere 800 gold lead and few early dragons. The game went back and fourth, with each team securing picks but not engaging in big team fights. FW took the mid lane Inhibitor after taking out an out of place CLGer and waited for super minions to push down mid lane before putting pressure onto Baron. CLG stopped FW taking Baron but lost four members in the process. That then lead to an easy Baron kill for FW. This took us to a 7k gold lead, 42 minutes in for FW after their Baron power play.
After a disengaged team fight in CLG’s red side jungle FW decided to take Dragon. Lissandra clawed over dragon pit wall followed by Xmithe’s Kindred. A 50/50 Smite battle was won by Xmithe and this secured Aspect of the Dragon for CLG, and just like that CLG pushed hard, straight into the engagement which lead to a 2 for 2 team fight. This didn’t stop CLG from attempting Baron. Lissandra clawed over the Baron wall head long into a 3v1 fight, she managed to pick up two kills and push away MMD, thus securing Baron for CLG. The ensuing push got CLG the middle lane Inhibitor Turret. FW responded by pushing CLG off the Inhibitor, however they didn’t disengage in time. CLG took down MMD and pushed in to take down the Middle Inhibitor. CLG continued to push for the Nexus turrets. A back and forth fight against a late game Gangplank was disengaged by CLG (and rightfully so)!
This brings us to a 600 gold difference. A team fight on the blue-buff side of FW’s jungle was hard-carried by a late game Caitlyn for CLG, with everyone down except FW’s Gangplank. Caitlyn, Kindred and Thresh push Mid to take Nexus turrets. A quick three barrel combo from Gangplank took out Kindred. A slightly mistimed barrel combo misses the Caitlyn and she literally three-shots him and the respawning Graves to get the win for CLG. 18 kills to 17 with a 1.7k gold lead.
Game Five was the return of titans SKT against Europe’s G2 eSports. G2 let Faker get Ryze again. Another display of complete dominance by SKT, at 20 minutes they held an 18 to 3 kill lead and were up by 13,000 gold. Oh, yeah and Faker had Seraph’s Embrace and 2 Rod of Ages…at the 20 minute mark… Just 4 minutes later SKT stormed through the Bottom lane and destroyed the Nexus, 23 kills to 3 and 19.5k gold lead.
Game Six was the last game of the day and it saw IWCI winners SuperMassive taking on home team RNG. As one sided as this game sounds, SUP put up an impressive fight. 10 minutes in RNG only had a 200 gold lead and were only up 4 kills to 3. This game was a lot closer than what most people thought it would be. But after this RNG started to take hold of the game, picking up another 8 kills in the following 10 minutes. RNG slowly took more and more structures from SUP. But with two similar play styles this game held an average of over a kill a minute to win in 36 minutes with a 16k gold lead at 26 kills to 11.
My thoughts on day one for each team.
SKT look by far the strongest team and that shows with a 2-0 start. RNG also hold a 2-0 record but do not look as strong, they could easily have been 1-1 with a close game against CLG and showed poor macro play against “the weaker” SUP.
CLG look to be a little nervous with a lot of small shot calling errors that are being punished very hard on the international stage, if this clears up they could be in the running for Top 2.
FW also look a little nervous, and are playing a very passive early game that is being punished by their opponents so far. If they come out swinging like they did against aHQ in the LMS finals they could well and truly secure Top 4 for the LMS.
G2 starting with a 0-2 record is putting EU into panic. However they look more nervous than anyone at the event. I think as nerves settle they should come back and show some of the strengths we saw in the EU LCS.
SUP in terms of game play (particularly fabFabulous) are actually impressing me, although they have started 0-2 they have played the potentially two hardest opponents so far, so games against NA, EU, and LMS in the coming days may be very interesting for them.
Tune in to twitch.tv/riotgames for Day Two from 3:30pm AEST 05/05/16
And come right back here for a Day Two recap in just a few hours!