2016 MSI Power Rankings: SKT lead the pack


It’s the time of the year for the first international tournament with at least one representative from every region: the second annual Mid-Season Invitational (MSI). The 2016 MSI will consist of six teams from all over the world that are looking to represent their regions to the best of their abilities and also grab regional seeding for World’s. Let’s take a look at how the teams stack up coming into the tournament with MSI power rankings.

First – SKT Telecom T1

The well known Korean kings are back at it again.  The defending World Champions come to MSI after finishing off an excellent gauntlet run in the League Champions Korea (LCK).  After finishing third in the group stage, SKT dominated the gauntlet style playoffs and went on to win the finals 3-1 over the top-seeded ROX Tigers.

With strengths in every lane and the undisputed best player in the world in the mid lane, SKT are the huge favorites coming into MSI.  Lee “Duke” Ho-Seong, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, Bae “Bang” Jun-sik, and Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan are all top players at their positions, arguably either first or second.

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Jungle was looked at as a potential weak spot for SKT earlier in the year, but after excellent performances at IEM and the end of the LCK season, Kang “Blank” Sun-gu has quelled the doubters.  

SKT T1 will be coming to MSI looking for revenge after losing a tough five-game finals last year to Edward Gaming (EDG). There is no doubt they intend to fill the only spot left in their trophy case.

Second – Royal Never Give Up

Looking to defend the MSI title for their region will be RNG who are coming off a great regular spring split in the League of Legends Pro League (LPL). They finished atop their group and dominated the playoffs by ending them with a 3-1 finals victory over 2015 MSI champions EDG.

The combination of great veteran leadership from the likes of Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong and Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok (two former World Champions) mixed with incredible young talent like Lie “mlxg” Shi-yu, Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao, Cheng “Wuxx” Wang make RNG top contenders at MSI.

They have shown the ability to play the map better than anyone on top of simply having better mechanics in team fights than their opponents.

After their disappointing performance at IEM, you can bet that RNG will be hungry to mimic their LPL counterparts and bring another MSI title home to China.

Three – Flash Wolves

The League of Legends Masters Series (LMS) champions come into MSI as one of the hotter teams. After finishing the regular season in second place, Flash Wolves were able to take home the LMS title with a crushing sweep over the top-seeded seed ahq.   

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Flash Wolves will once again be lead by familiar faces with Huang “Maple” Yi-Tank in the middle lane and Hung “Karsa” Hau-Hsuan in the jungle, but one of the biggest improvements for the team has come from Lihong “MMD” Yu replacing Chou “Steak” Lu-Hsi in the top lane.  Flash Wolves are a very good team overall, but they seem just slightly below the top teams in terms of overall strength.  

Hsiung “NL” Wen-An could be a weak spot for the Flash Wolves in the bottom lane and will need a lot of help from his teammates if his team is going to do any better than a third place finish.

Four – G2 Esports

The European representative will be looking to gain some experience on the international stage for the first time ever after they dominated the regular season and playoffs in their region.   

They will need their inexperienced carries to really step up to have any shot at climbing the rankings at MSI.  Luka “PerkZ” Perkovic and Kang-yoon “Trick” Kim have shown to be an excellent combination in the for G2, and they will need to continue that against the tougher competition at this tournament.  

The top lane has been a question for G2 all year. Even though Mateuzs “Kikis” Szkudlarek has demonstrated to be a capable player (especially in the tank meta), but he looks to be overmatched at this event.  

G2 have some capable carries that will need to mask their other weaknesses to have a shot at climbing higher than fourth.

Fifth – Counter Logic Gaming

The Spring Split brought CLG their second consecutive championship in North America, but now they will finally look to show their strength on the international level.

Even though the roster overhaul was enough to make it to the top of North America once again, it’s not promising to believe it will translate internationally.

CLG usually gain ground through executing team based rotations or great teleports to gain advantages, but they will struggle to out macro their MSI opponents.

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Not only will they not be able to execute their strength properly, but their weaknesses will become even more clear. Their weak laners in the middle and bottom lane could become a massive problem against this level of competition.  

Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaha will need to bring his split push to a whole new level and truly try to carry in order to pull CLG up from the bottom.

Sixth – SuperMassive eSports

SuperMassive played great in their Wild Card tournament run, but it’s going to be hard for them to do much of anything against stronger competition.

The Turkish squad does have a few familiar faces leading the way in Koray “Naru” Bicak (mid laner) and Mustafa “Dumbledoge” Kemal Gokseloglu (support).

While they should be outmatched by most of their opponents, it will be exciting to see if they can steal some games and at least upset the bottom of the standings. And realistically, that should be their goal – seeing if they can steal a couple of games from the likes of CLG or G2. 

At the very least, SuperMassive will be able to gain some valuable experience against some the best teams in the world.  

The Turkish representative will either make some plays or die trying, and they should put on a good show. 

The action at MSI kicks off May 4 in Shanghai, so be sure to tune in and see who will raise the cup this year.  You can be sure there will be plenty of action and incredible plays.

Will this be the revenge of Faker’s SKT? Will RNG lift the cup again for the LPL?Will the LMS establish their region as a contender at international events? Will Europe or North America pull off the miracle? Will Dumbledoge kill Faker again?

There are so many questions on everyone’s minds, and we will soon get some answers.

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