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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Team Liquid.
League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games. /

Team Liquid

North America have already made history this tournament by reaching a second consecutive international semi-final for the first time ever. But it’s likely the journey will end there yet again. Team Liquid are arguably the team best equipped for international success in NA history, with a star-studded roster containing two former world champions, Impact and CoreJJ. Nevertheless, MSI might be a bit too early to expect a trophy, as not only could the team use a bit more time to gel, but they also have to face an immense Invictus Gaming team before even reaching the final.

It’s very much a clash of styles when it comes to this semi-final match. Invictus are renowned for their aggressive, early game strategy, and on the other hand, Team Liquid are a lot more patient and conservative, looking to edge out small leads across the map over time. Similarly, while IG’s focus is very obviously around the top and mid lane, you’re more likely to spot TL in the bottom lane with mid roams and TP plays.

In normal circumstances you’d assume that Team Liquid would stick with their strategy and play around the mid and bottom lane but facing the best team in the world isn’t normal circumstances. Instead, we’re more likely to see Xmithie spending time hovering around the north half of the map, keeping vision control and tracking Ning’s movements in order to protect his solo laners.

TL have been great at playing from behind so far this tournament and it’s likely they’ll have to continue doing so in order to have a chance on Friday. It’s vital that they do not allow the IG solo laners to take over the game early on and reach the 20-25 minute mark having sustained as little damage as possible.

One to Watch: Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong

Liquid’s South Korean top laner has had a very impressive tournament so far, keeping some of the world’s best players at bay despite having little jungle presence. In fact, more often than not you’ll see Impact leave his lane with a gold lead (+226 GD@15, second highest for top laners) and push his team in the right direction heading into the mid game.

For the most part, TL’s top laner has reverted to comfort so far this tournament with Gangplank and Kennen making up over half of this games played. While this is mostly due to having to head into several match-ups blind due to the number of flex picks available in the current meta, its also because Impact is expected to stay even in lane despite often being in a 1v2. However, he is also capable of picking up a few carry picks and isn’t afraid to bring out a different option, like the Neeko in their last match against Invictus Gaming.

Impact is TL’s player to watch as it is his handling of TheShy (and Ning) that could decide Friday’s BO5. NA’s hopes of reaching their first ever international final is riding on Impact’s ability to shut out his opposing laner and aid Team Liquid in reaching the mid stages of the game unscathed.