The final day of 2019 Mid-Season Invitational group stage play is upon us. In one hour, the final sprint to the playoffs will begin.
Three teams are already through, but the future of Team Liquid, Flash Wolves and even Phong Vu Buffalo is still undecided. The fourth spot is wide open (OK, maybe not wide open, but still very much under question), and TL and FW are the main contenders for it.
This is the day that decides everything. Will NA fail yet another international event, despite fielding a line-up more expensive that your house? Can Flash Wolves keep their spotless MSI playoffs qualification record? What will be the semifinals match-ups and can LoL fans get the dream China vs. Korea and EU vs. NA face-offs?
In just a few answers, we’ll know all that.
Invictus Gaming undefeated
Ever since MSI introduced a double round robin best-of-1 format in 2016, no team has managed to go 10-0 in the group stage. You can’t really. You can be the best to ever play the game, like two-times champions SK Telecom, but there’s too much volatility in a best-of-1. One cheese you didn’t see coming, one mistake, one bad teamfight, one stolen baron and that’s your perfect record spoiled.
Invictus Gaming are two wins away from making this happen. They’ve already come farther than any other team before them, sitting at 8-0 after four days. In 2016, RNG got to 7-0 before taking their first loss. In 2017, SKT also finished 7-1 after day 4.
What’s more, there isn’t a team at MSI 2019 that seems capable of stopping iG. They’ve already beat G2 Esports twice, so that match-up is behind them. Flash Wolves are absolutely no match for the world champions and then there’s an unconvincing SK Telecom, who will have to play pitch perfect if they want to spoil iG’s 10-0.
Of all the matches today, this could be the upset. Unlikely still, but if anyone can stand in the way of history, that’s Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok.
Team Liquid vs. Flash Wolves tiebreaker
If the predictions above come true, Team Liquid and Flash Wolves will both be at 3-7 record. Their direct face-off record is one apiece, which means a tiebreaker to decide the fourth team to make the playoffs.
Of the two teams, Team Liquid have the better chance to evade a tiebreaker as they only need to win one fewer match than FW. If Team Liquid beat either of SKT and G2, FW will have to not just beat PVB, but also do the impossible and win against iG too.
What’s more, while TL are the underdogs in both games, these are still winnable matches. The G2 one less so perhaps, as TL have struggled to stop early/mid game power plays, but SKT keep drafting these Azir late-game compositions, which is a territory TL thrive in.
Playoff pick ’ems predictions
The format of MSI says that whichever team finishes 1st gets to choose his opponent for the semifinals. Even if they lose twice today (they won’t), iG are still locked at #1, meaning they get to pick.
G2 and SKT both need to get #2 to dodge an iG match-up in the semis. G2 have the better chance to do it because 1) they have the easier match-ups today; and 2) they already beat SKT twice, giving them a better tiebreaker difference. That means that iG will pick one of SKT and TL and both of them are valid options, for different reasons:
Choosing TL is the logical pick if you want an easier match-up and almost guaranteed place in the finals. I just don’t see a world where TL prevail in a best-of-5 against IG.
Choosing SKT is the swagger move: throwing the gauntlet at China’s long-time rival and setting up the Rookie vs. Faker match-up everybody wants to see in a best-of-5. That’s the ideal scenario for the fans on all fronts, because it would also mean an NA vs. EU match-up in the other semifinal and wouldn’t Reddit just love to see that…