A Look Into Team Liquid's First MSI

May 09 2018

With play-ins over and group stage right around the corner, it’s time to focus on MSI. Let’s take a look at the tournament’s structure, evaluate our competition, and get ourselves excited for what is bound to be a spicy tournament!

The Tournament


So, how do we win? The simple answer is to play the best we know we can, take the tournament no sweat and bring home that MSI trophy! The more complicated answer is that as the NA representative, Team Liquid has been auto seeded into Group Stage. MSI’s group stage is formatted as a Bo1 Double Round Robin tournament. This means the 6 group stage teams will play each other twice with the top 4 teams advancing. After that it’s pretty straight forward. The top 4 teams will play semi-finals Bo5 matches, after which the top 2 teams will play a Bo5 final for the championship.

The Competition


Winning MSI is important for many reasons. First, MSI performance influences regional seeding at Worlds. Doing well at MSI would benefit both Team Liquid and NA. MSI is also the first opportunity for NA to show just how much we have improved as a region. Competition will be fierce with each region looking to prove themselves on the international stage, and knowing one’s enemy is an important part of any strategy.

Fnatic


Our EU counterparts enter MSI this year after conquering their region with little trouble. Both Team Liquid and Fnatic took their domestic titles in 3-0 blowouts. As Fnatic has repeatedly performed well internationally they are sure to be a tough competitor.

Just how tough, though, has yet to be seen. How did Fnatic win their region with so little effort? Of course, skill. More importantly there was no Zven/Mithy bot lane to challenge them. G2 Esports with Zven and Mithy was Rekkles and Fnatic’s kryptonite. If NA’s 5-6th place bot lane is too much for Fnatic, Team Liquid is a raid boss. #NA>EU

RNG


Having finally earned Uzi his long-awaited crown, RNG are coming off a 3-1 championship victory against their bitter rival EDG. Despite RNG’s house hold name status, they have repeatedly missed out on international titles. You can bet that RNG will make one hell of an entrance this year at MSI so don’t underestimate their fast, bloody playstyle.

Doublelift named Uzi the best ADC he’s played against internationally and he’s sure to be a tough opponent. But is his new crown enough fuel to lead them to victory? When it comes down to it, will Uzi be able to stay red hot or will Team Liquid cool him down?

Kingzone DragonX


After ruining everyone’s Worlds bracket with a surprising quarterfinals loss last year, Kingzone came back this year in a major way. Dropping only 2 series the entire split, the Peanut injected Kingzone went on take the LCK championship 3-1. The Korean juggernauts enter MSI as the heavy favorites but the team’s history of struggling to turn domestic successes into international ones will follow them. Kingzone is not a team to doubt. They are the best team from the toughest region and will play accordingly.

That said, our Team Liquid roster has more accolades than Kingzone’s. Impact alone has done the very thing that has eluded the members of Kingzone for years. No doubt Kingzone are on a roll, but do they have the momentum to keep it going?

The Unknown and The Wildcard


In addition to the above 3 teams, Team Liquid will also have to play against the top 2 teams that advance from play-ins. With Vietnam’s EVOS clinching the 5th spot in groups through trash talk and a few thousand push-ups, Taiwan’s Flash Wolves has once again taken up shop as the 6th member of groups.

The Story


The most exciting part of this year’s MSI is that none of the usual suspects have shown up to represent the 4 major regions. The LCK lacks SKT, the LPL: EDG, EU: G2, and NA: TSM.

While this does look like the dawn of a new era in professional League of Legends on the outside, a surprising number of this year’s rosters are made up entirely of veterans. Of the 4 major regions’ 20 starting players, only Fnatic’s top laner Bwipo is in his rookie split. This means the current rosters of Team Liquid, Fnatic, RNG, and Kingzone not only have international experience, they have history. And lots of it. These players have battled each other so many times there is no guarantee expected storylines will play to script.

Kingzone is looking to take over as the new hotness, but will they be able to do so? The majority of Kingzone’s roster was expected to have been our 2017 World Champions. Not only did they fail to meet said expectations, they failed to make finals. Despite their collective international failures, Kingzone’s roster has chosen to remain largely the same. As has the Fnatic roster that eliminated them.

Fnatic look even more well put together than they did at Worlds. That is, with one exception. Fnatic had to sub out one of EU’s oldest veterans due to injury. This means 2 things. First, not having any real competition in their home region could put Fnatic on the back foot. Losing is an important part of growth and its possible that this emotionally driven squad will crumble if they lose even once. Second, their rookie top laner is a liability. Bwipo did well in his home region against much bigger names and helped Fnatic win their title. But just how well can he do against our world champion?

RNG has a history of dominating at MSI early, only to crumble before finals. Though RNG has knocked Western teams out before, can they show that same level of aggression now? LPL teams do well when they play their fast, bloody play style but often falter when forced to conform to a more measured pace. Shutting down runaway play styles is something that other regions are used to doing and Uzi and RNG don’t often perform well in this type of game. How will they measure up this time?

Last, but most certainly not least, our squad has come together in such a way that our players have finally unlocked their true potential. You gotta say, we’re looking good! Impact and Doublelift perform like monsters on the international stage, we proved ourselves worthy of attending MSI, and we’re capable of coming out of a loss unscathed — a skill that may or may not be important to have after our very first game.

Through all this chaos one thing remains true, MSI will echo the shake-ups seen round the world by crowning a brand-new champion. These 4 stacked squads will battle it out to prove which region is the best (Spoiler alert: its NA) so get HYPE! MSI gives us a taste of what the competition and the narratives of Worlds will look like. And It’s looking spicy.

Team Liquid [#NAWIN]


So, obviously Team Liquid is going to win. Period. “How can you be so sure?” you might ask, judging our blind faith. Well fellow NA supporters, the answer is simple: Emotion. Or rather lack thereof. Sure, you could look at the teams’ records, perceived synergy, average game time, CS numbers, KDA, etc. until you drop. You could even breakdown the rosters lane-by-lane and role-by-role to see who has the most advantageous lane matchups and therefore the highest chance of winning. When it comes down to it though, the team that performs the best on the day itself will win.

This year’s MSI will pit 4 of the world’s best ADCs against each other. Two of the biggest names are Uzi and Rekkles as both players are the commanding forces behind their teams. Often, we see RNG and Fnatic running the classic “buff the ADC and watch them work” strategy for their star players. The problem? They’re too emotional. While emotional highs bring these teams success, emotional lows just as easily bring failures. If you get inside the heads of Rekkles and Uzi, you get inside the heads of Fnatic and RNG. These squads are fierce and talented but have a singular breaking point. Being this reliant on emotion is like playing with fire. Dangerous.

Similarly, both Kingzone and its squad have a history of, for lack of a better term, choking on the international stage. PraY alone has qualified for 5 separate World Championships. Losing every single time in the knockout stage. This Kingzone roster has yet to prove they are capable of success on the international stage and may just struggle to do so this time as well.

This is where Team Liquid comes in. While our org is new to international competition, our players are not. We boast the only world champion attending MSI, some of the best players in their roles worldwide, and we’re hungry as ever.

Though NA lacks international accolades, we are confident in our abilities. Our goal is to prove once and for all that NA is an internationally competitive region. With our players’ cool headedness, international experience, and overall skill, we are confident Team Liquid will bring home the trophy for NA.

Don’t forget to equip your Team Liquid MSI summoner icon while you watch MSI in the coming weeks and we look forward to making the fans, and our region, proud! Hop into our team's Discord server and join fellow Liquid fans in cheering #NAWIN and #LetsGoLiquid !

Writer // Sarah Enders






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