Over the course of five days, the six remaining teams in the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational will battle it out in a double round robin, best-of-1 group stage. The four most deserving will earn berths into the playoffs and from there — the path to the trophy awaits.
There are a lot of matches ahead and a clash of very diverse playstyles in a very volatile format. But part of the fun watching MSI is guessing who will come out ahead, and that’s what we’ll do, starting right away.
The day 1 predictions below come with a few asterisks. First, it’s back to best-of-1’s where one mistake and one surprising cheese strat can lead to an upset. Second, it’s a new patch and we’ve seen little to no games on 9.8 from some of the group stage teams.
With no additional data as to the true form of the teams at present point, it’s the general power rankings that become the primary basis for predictions. So let’s see how this author expects the teams to do on day 1.
Rough start for G2
G2 Esports are coming to MSI after a very successful LEC season, which saw them lifting the title without so much as breaking a sweat. To say this is the best EU team ever assembled is very premature but they certainly make a strong case for if not winning, then at least playing at the MSI grand final.
In fact, the only way G2 can start MSI on a negative score is face the other two giants at the tournament which, unfortunately for them, they do. G2 have by far the toughest day 1 out of all six teams, as they play SK Telecom and Invictus Gaming — the former in the very opening match.
One thing that goes well for G2 is that the West finally has a mid laner who can stand his ground in the conversation for best in the world. Rasmus “Caps” Winther has been a beast since his Fnatic days and comes to MSI as the MVP for the 2019 Spring Split. He’s a playmaker that on a good day can match the Song “Rookie” Eui-jin’s and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s of the world. If G2 are fielding a less-practiced bot lane given Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle recurring health issues, Caps will have to be the super saiyan carry beacon for the samurai.
On paper, G2 are in disadvantage against SKT and IG. Many consider IG the strongest team in the world, while IG themselves have been singing praises to SKT’s “perfect team”. Then again, it’s a best-of-1, and you can never count out Danish mid laners. And don’t take this 0-2 day 1 prediction as a bearer of bad news: there’s zero indications that G2 won’t make playoffs.
The Team Liquid question
Unlike G2, Team Liquid have the ideal day 1 scenario, playing the arguable two worst teams in the group stage: Flash Wolves and Phong Vu Buffalo. In theory, this puts them on a good path in the groups and should give them some buffer “fat” in terms of a 2-0 lead when they start running in the tougher matches.
But there are a lot of tangible and intangible questions hanging over Liquid. For one, NA has only made the MSI semifinals once, and not in the last two years. Liquid may be the most consistent team to come from the region in recent times, but the curse is there. What’s more, Team Liquid did look shaky in their early game against PVB which can be exploited further by the more aggressive eastern teams.
Odds are, however, that it’s easier for Team Liquid to find a solid early game footing then for PVB and Flash Wolves to convincingly turn it around.
SKT, iG unopposed
The best thing about MSI day 1 is that SKT and iG do not meet each other right off the bat. By the time they do on Saturday, we’ll have gathered some actual footage and understanding of the teams’ current form.
Both teams have the chance to take an early 2-0 lead in the tournament and it’s only G2 that can realistically mess with that. The LCK and LPL champions each look stronger individually than FW and especially PVB. They have better macro and make just fewer teamfighting mistakes and there’s no reason to think they can lose to the lower seeds, bar some monumental upset.
Predicted day 1 standings
1. SK Telecom (2-0)
1. Invictus Gaming (2-0)
1. Team Liquid (2-0)
3. G2 Esports (0-2)
3. Phong Vu Buffalo (0-2)
3. Flash Wolves (0-2)