2016 MSI Playoffs Recap

May 18, 2016

The 2016 League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational has been the most exciting tournament in recent history. Six teams entered the tournament to represent the best their region has to offer. The group stage proved to be an exciting one with Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) defeating the at the time undefeated Royal Never Give Up (RNG). North America has never made it past the group stage in MSI history and NA fans have been in for a treat throughout the tourney. SK Telecom T1 (SKT) however struggled to make it into the semi-finals, only finishing 4th place in group stage. The two-time winning World Champion team had not played to their usual skill level and fans wondered if they would be able to beat RNG in their upcoming semi-final match. Here is a recap of the playoffs of MSI as well as what this means for Echo Fox in the upcoming future.

MSI Semi-Final: RNG vs. SKT

RNG vs. SKT was deemed to be an exciting game. With the Chinese team going into the set as the first seed, RNG was not going to let this best of 5 series go to SKT easily. SKT needed to play more organized compared to their group stage performance if they were going to be able to keep up with RNG in this series.

Game 1 - RNG Win

SKT came into quite a bit of trouble this game due to losing the pick and ban phase. RNG’s Looper was able to pick Trundle, countering SKT’s Poppy heavily throughout the game. Due to early ganks and constant snowballing, Looper was able to get first blood as well as dominate for the rest of the game. Looper was practically indestructible at this point, and RNG secured their 5th dragon as well as baron, then going on to destroy the Nexus for the win.

Game 2 - SKT Win

SKT bounced back heavily during Game 2 and dominated the rift. Faker had an outstanding game with Azir and was able to get a solo kill during laning phase. With the kill under his belt, Faker was able to easily dominate the rest of the game. During an engage on dragon by RNG, SKT was able to turn the fight and win the skirmish, only losing 1 member. The reigning World Champs secured the win while having a 5k gold lead.

Game 3 - SKT Win

SKT loves getting to the late game because that is when they show true dominance on the Rift. After Faker managed to do an amazing Teleport play top-side which secured 2 kills, SKT was able to snowball from that point. During a fight at Baron, SKT was managed to ace RNG 5-2 and constantly push their advantage until they won two more team fights and took the victory this game.

Game 4 - SKT Win

SKT dominated Game 4 by having a flawless game, not dying once, losing one turret, or any Dragons/Barons. With overwhelming picks such as Kindred, Maokai, and Ryze, SKT dominated throughout every phase of the game. At minute 22, SKT secured Baron without a fight from RNG and, in turn, secured their ticket to the Finals.

MSI Semi-Final: CLG vs. FW

Nobody expected CLG to make it this far in the tournament. CLG has played amazingly throughout all stages of the tournament and North American fans had been at the edge of their seats watching them rise. However, beating the World Champs, SKT, would not be an easy feat and CLG would have to play at the top of their game if they were going to outmatch the Korean Superstars.

Game 1 - CLG Win

CLG had an amazing start to this series by winning the pick and ban phrase with picks such as Ryze, Bard, and Ekko. CLG’s ADC, Stixxay, managed to grab first blood after a 3-man turret dive while in top lane. CLG continued to snowball with little to no resistance from the Flash Wolves. At 27 minutes, CLG aced the team and secured the win.

Game 2 - FW Win

Flash Wolves managed to win the pick and ban phase by grabbing Kindred and Ryze. After Maple was able to get first blood with Ryze, the late-scaling champion was able to dominate the Rift and not allow the CLG lineup to have any objective control. Flash Wolves won the game in around 35 minutes.

Game 3 – CLG Win

CLG used a new strategy this time around in pick and ban phase. With an attempt to counter Karma, Aphromoo picked Sona, a champ that surprised viewers and casters due to its very small pick rate. Karsa was able to get First Blood on Kindred and things didn’t look so good for CLG. Flash Wolves had map control as well as a gold lead by mid game. However, after an amazing Sona ultimate by Aphromoo, CLG took down Kindred and secured not only Baron and Dragon, but the win.

Game 4 – CLG Win

Aphromoo followed the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and picked Sona yet again against FW. After Aphromoo got first blood through an amazing flash ultimate, CLG gained not only several kills but many objectives across the map. After 14 minutes, CLG easily had control of the enemy jungle and pushed in for the win.

MSI Final: SKT vs. CLG

Game 1 – SKT Win

SKT showed a lot of confidence coming into Game 1 by going with a unique bot lane of Ezreal and Nami. After a few mistakes by CLG, Bang, Faker, as well as Duke, were able to grab First Blood for the Koreans. CLG got over the mistake however by maintaining an amazing gold lead and secured Baron and Dragon at 27 minutes after catching Faker out of position. Due to a lack of vision, SKT killed 3 members of CLG mid lane and was able to come back and win the game.

Game 2 – SKT Win

Game 2 was very interested as both teams went with the exact same picks and bans as the previous game. Things were looking good for CLG early game as Stixxay was able to kill Faker for First Blood. However, SKT was consistantly able to pick CLG off for the entirety of mid-game. After winning the next team fight 4-0, SKT was able to secure Baron and win the game.

Game 3 – SKT WIN! League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational 2016 Champions!

CLG decided to try things differently for Game 3 by having Huhi pick up Cassiopeia as well as grabbing the Caitlyn for Stixxay. With a great First Blood by Darshan’s Maokai, things were looking good for the Americans. However, with several mistakes such as failed ultimates by Huhi and bad positioning by Darshan, SKT slowly picked up many killed mid game and were at a 10k gold lead by 27 minutes. After securing Baron freely, SKT provided enough pressure on CLG’s base to secure their third win, and become the MSI 2016 Champions.

Conclusion, What Have We Learned?

This year’s Mid-Season Invitational was arguably the most exciting one yet. North America has shown massive improvement this season and gave a message to the other regions of the world that they are not a region to joke about. With SKT winning MSI, they earn a higher seed placement in the World Championship later in 2016. Counter Logic Gaming showed many new strengths and also sent a message to other NA teams as well that they are ready to dominate the upcoming Summer Split. For teams such as Echo Fox, they will have to continue to improve and practice harder than ever during this time off to be able to keep up with the Spring Split Champions.