League of Legends is set to host its first International event of 2021, MSI. The event is starting with a group stage featuring 11 teams divided into three groups. The top six then advance to the rumble stage of the tournament. Let’s meet the teams in each group starting with Group A and see what we can expect from each one heading into the event.
Group A is made up of RNG from the LPL, Pentanet.GG from the LCO and Unicorns of Love from the LCL. Gam Esports from the VCS was also drawn into the group, but will not be participating due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
RNG was the top team in the LPL this entire Spring. They finished 14-2 during the split and had the top seed for the playoffs. A loss in playoff round four dropped them into the losers bracket, where they defeated Top Esports and Edward Gaming to earn a rematch with FunPlus Phoenix for the title. They then defeated them 3-1 to take the MSI spot.
RNG last went to MSI in 2018. However, they were able to win that event the last time they entered. So they look to become just the second team to win the event twice, matching SKT. They do have a pretty easy Group A draw so it’s very likely they advance as the top seed out of their group.
Pentanet.GG will represent the new LCO, formerly the OPL. They cruised through the Spring going 13-1 to earn the top spot in the playoffs. They defeated Peace in the winner bracket to make it to the finals, where they would match up a second time with Peace. They won the second series 3-1 to claim the title and MSI spot.
This is Pentanet.GG’s first trip to an international event. The OCE didn’t fare too well at the prior MSI events with a finish of 10th or 11th place every year. I would say expectations are low for this team and another year where they don’t get out of groups is likely. Through if they find an upset or two they could sneak out the group thanks to it only having three teams, with two of them advancing.
The final team in the group is Unicorns of Love. This team continues to dominate since the move to the LCL. They did go 10-4 and finish in fourth during the split, after losing a third-place tiebreaker. Though during the playoffs they beat second seed Gambit, before taking down CrowCrowd 3-1 to win the title.
This is mostly the same UOL lineup that made the group stage and Worlds last season. The only roster change is new ADC Stanislav “Lodik” Kornelyuk replacing Ilya “Gadget” Makavchuk. I feel like this is a team that is looking to not just get to the top six, but to make it to the final four. The first part should be easy, as they should be considered the second-best team in their group, which would be enough to advance to the rumble stage group.
Though I think the UOL benefits from Gam Esports being absent from MSI. I feel either one of those two teams could have been considered the favorites to take the second seed in the group. Both teams would challenge each other with only one of two advancing in a full group of four. Now that there are only three Unicorns mostly just have to focus on not being upset by Pentanet.GG and playing their best against a tough RNG team.
Group A does seem like not having Gam esports will tone down the competition a little bit. Though it should still be worth watching to see who gets the second seed from the group. Can RNG be stopped, or will they rule over Group A no questions asked?