League of Legends MSI Semi-Final Preview: Invictus Gaming vs. Team Liquid

League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games. /
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TheShy, Invictus Gaming.
League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games. /

The first international tournament of the year concludes this weekend, with four of the world’s best teams facing off for a chance to lift the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational trophy. Invictus Gaming, SK Telecom T1, G2 Esports, and Team Liquid all progressed through the group stage and will now battle it out for a place in Sunday’s final in Taipei.

As expected, the top four regions saw their champions qualify for the semi-finals through the group stages, but there were a few surprise results along the way. The teams have since travelled to Taipei, Taiwan to prepare for semi-final BO5s on Friday and Saturday, the first of which is a 1st vs. 4th clash between current world champions Invictus Gaming, and North America’s latest hope for international success, Team Liquid.

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IG have defeated TL twice already in this tournament in two very close games. While many teams have succumbed to Invictus Gaming’s high-intensity, aggressive play style, Team Liquid have looked capable of mitigating their early game pressure and reached the mid game on even footing in their two match-ups so far. That being said, IG still managed to pick up victories in both contests and will head into Friday’s BO5 as the clear favourites.

Invictus Gaming

Invictus continued their impressive 2018 Worlds form in this tournament, blitzing through the competition and securing their place in the knockout stages as early as day 3. IG concluded the group stages with a 9-1 record, only falling to SK Telecom T1 on the final day, sending a message to the rest of the world that they’re on a mission to lift their second consecutive international trophy. If they were to succeed, IG would become the second team to win back-to-back international tournaments, the first being fellow semi-finalists SKT.

Throughout the group stages viewers were treated to a showcase of what the LPL has to offer – extremely high pace action, early game focus, and constant fighting. While the likes of G2 Esports and even Phong Vũ Buffalo were praised for their excellent skirmishing in the first 15-20 minutes of the game, nobody does it better than Invictus Gaming. On multiple occasions we watched IG gain complete control of the map before Baron even had a chance to spawn, and there was no better example of this than their 16:01 destruction of three-time Worlds champions SK Telecom T1.

Nonetheless, Invictus were hit with a wake up call on the final day of groups as they were dealt a dose of revenge from the team they humiliated just three days earlier, ruining their chances of an undefeated group stage. SKT’s victory over IG proved that, while this roster is incredibly talented, they aren’t unbeatable and will provide Team Liquid fans with some hope heading into their semi-final.

One to Watch: Song “Rookie” Eui-jin

An argument could be made for TheShy, Ning, and Rookie when discussing the current best player in the world, but the latter is certainly the most likely candidate for the title. The South Korean mid laner made his mark on the international stage during the 2018 World Championship, picking up 4 player of the game awards and becoming many viewers’ player of the tournament. While its common for some players to have a dip in form after such a remarkable performance, Rookie is showing no signs of stopping and has continued to dominate throughout MSI so far.

Combining with his top laner and jungler, Rookie and co. create an unstoppable force in the top half of the map that regularly rolls over opposition teams through intelligent roaming and 2v2 or 3v3 skirmishing. This is demonstrated by the mid laner’s +251 GD@15 (second at MSI for mid laners), and a strong 4.1 KDA in the tournament so far.

Rookie will be facing Team Liquid’s Jensen on Friday, a 2018 Worlds semi-finalist, and a player that has been consistent so far in a TL shirt. Jensen’s start to MSI has been about as impressive as you could have hoped for when facing the likes of Rookie, Faker, and Caps, but he will definitely have his work cut out for him heading into the Invictus Gaming match-up. It’s expected that Rookie will continue to demonstrate his mid lane prowess against Team Liquid, but Jensen could prove to be a tricky opposite number, especially after his incredible performance against Caps on Tuesday.