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LCK

MSI 2021: Which Teams Have Made the Cut for MSI?

Michael Hassall

With leagues across the globe wrapping up their finals, we now have a picture of just how MSI 2021 will look. Teams have fought hard to win their regional split, but now just one representative from each of the 12 leagues will travel to Reykjavik to battle it out for the title of MSI Champion.

MSI 2021

MSI 2021 is starting to take shape as we now know who the competitors will be. (image courtesy Riot Games)

But more than that, the winner of MSI 2021 will secure an extra team spot at Worlds 2021 for their region. If the chosen representatives are good enough, they’ll up their entire league’s chances of becoming a world champion. But it won’t be easy: A former world champion, and some of the very best squads in the world stand in their way.

By Monday, April 12th, the official group draw for MSI was completed. As a result, we knew both the competitors and their opponents for almost half the regions. With the rest of the leagues wrapping up the following weekend, we finally have a picture of what MSI 2021 will look like. Unfortunately, on April 19th, we discovered that the VCS would be unable to compete at MSI due to travel restrictions. This brought the number of teams competing at the event down to just 11.

LCK – DAMWON Gaming

Reigning World Champions, KeSPA Cup 2020 winners, and now LCK 2021 Spring Split Champions, DAMWON Gaming’s resume keeps on growing. However, this is a slightly different roster to the one you’ll remember from Worlds. Instead, Kim “Khan” Dong-ha stepped up to replace the hole left by the departure of Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon.

But even with the roster change, DAMWON hasn’t missed a beat. An undefeated run through the playoffs saw the team cement themselves the as the top team in what many consider the best region in the world. In the era of a resurgent Korea, the LCK champions are the most formidable team among them.

LCS – Cloud9

The big story of Cloud9’s off-season was the signing of Luka “Perkz” Perković. Despite a somewhat disappointing start to the split, where the Croatian mid failed to impress, Perkz showed up in the playoffs. In their finals game, it was Perkz insane outplays that helped secure the first MSS title for C9.

Perkz has lit a fire in C9 which we haven’t seen since the heydays of the classic roster. With a truly international calibre of player in the mid lane, perhaps Cloud9 now have a chance to take home wins on at MSI in a decisive fashion.

LEC – MAD Lions

On the weekend of April 11th-12, MAD Lions and Rogue did the unthinkable and made sure for the first time in years there was a champion in Europe not called Fnatic or G2 Esports. In the finals MAD took one step further, and cemented themselves in the “new era” by defeating Rogue and punching their ticket to MSI.

But even with this so-called ‘new era’ now in full swing, MAD will have to prove themselves capable of handling international competition. Past attempts have seen the organization fall flat outside of regional competition. They’ll have to step up to an even higher level of play, and iron out the mistakes they made against rivals Rogue on Sunday 12th.

LPL – Royal Never Give Up

It’s not easy to head into a game where your opponent’s are being heralded as obvious winners. But that’s the situation RNG found themselves in as the faced off against Worlds 2019 champion FunPlus Phoenix. With a star-studded roster, and a dramatic series of victories to their name, most expected an easy win for FPX.

That’s what made RNG’s stunning victory all the more momentous. After dropping game one to FPX, RNG dug in their heels and started turning things around. It started in the bottom lane, with RNG straight-up outplaying their opponents. And it continued into the mid, with Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang looking uncharacteristically sloppy. Mistakes started to mount, and RNG took control. In fact that was the story of the match-up: FPX would make a mistake, and RNG would win the game.

Ultimately RNG are headed to MSI 2021 to represent the LPL for the first time in what feels like years. The Royal legacy has waned in the last few years, but finally it feels they’ve put together a team that can compete at the level expected of this storied organization.

Minor Regions at MSI 2021

Besides the four major regions, eight minor regions are also set to compete at MSI 2021.

CBLOL – paiN Gaming

The CBLOL 2021 Split 1 finals wrapped with paiN Gaming taking the title. One of the most famous organizations in Brazil, if not the whole of South America, this team is anchored by Felipe “brTT” Gonçalves. Somewhat of an international veteran by this point, brTT will be keen to once again test his skills on the international stage.

LCL – Unicorns of Love

The LCL is home to two of the most historically important teams in competitive LoL: Gambit Esports and Unicorns of Love. And once again, UoL are heading to international competition. This time the team are out for revenge. A disappointing group stage knock-out at Worlds 2020 has them hungry for blood. They’ll be head-hunting for the likes of a Cloud9 or MAD Lions.

LCO – Pentanet.GG

After the disbandment of the whole OPL, LCO team Pentanet.GG will be playing for the honor of their entire region. They’ll want to prove Riot Games wrong for snatching away their direct support. And playing upset to leagues which the company had decided were more financially viable will go a long way towards mending the hurt of the OPL’s loss.

LLA – Infinity Esports

Costa Rican esports organization Infinity Esports is one of the most well-known squads in the whole of South America. Their impressive roster has surged this past season, winning a Latin American title for the first time in three years. Their hopes on the international scale are slight, but what they learn from the experience will be more valuable than any trophy.

LJL – DetenatioN FocusMe

The most famous and dominant team in the LJL returns again to the international stage. DetenatioN FocusMe have been the number one team in Japan for what seems like forever, and 2021 has seen no change in that. However, after narrowly missing out on Worlds 2020, the team seems to have a chip on it’s shoulder. Hopefully they can take this chip and leverage it into some success on an international scale.

PCS – PSG Talon

Another familiar name for those who tuned into Worlds 2020, PSG Talon will be the PCS’s representatives. Having bolstered their roster with former Flash Wolves stand-out Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang, PSG Talon look poised to once again cause some upsets on an international stage.

TCL – İstanbul Wildcats

The unusual finals in the TCL 2021 Winter Playoffs saw the İstanbul Wildcats face off against 1907 Fenerbahçe Esports. It was a perfect example of the TCL’s deep talent pool. No longer is this a region of just a few big names, who inevitably head to other countries to compete. The TCL is a powerhouse in its own right, and looks to upset one of the Major regions at MSI 2021.

VCS – Will not Compete

While the VCS Spring 2021 title was decided on April 18th, the elation of the winners, GAM Esports, was to be short lived. On the afternoon of April 19th, Riot Games officially announced that due to travel restrictions, the VCS would have no representative at MSI 2021. A crushing blow to the region as a whole.