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Japan disappoints, SuperMassive dominates and other notes from Round 1 of the MSI play-in stage

SuperMassive MSI

After four days of the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI), the first round of the play-in stage has come to a close. Southeast Asia’s Gigabyte Marines and Turkey’s SuperMassive eSports will join Round 2 to face the Flash Wolves and Team SoloMid.

If you missed out on the first round of MSI, you’re in luck, because we’ll be going through some of the interesting things that happened over the past four days and what we might have to look forward to in the coming stages.

Rampage didn’t live up to high hopes

Japan’s LJL was also part of the play-in stage, and there has been a fair amount of positive buzz surrounding the region. Its teams had a couple of seasons worth of experience, though some of the buzz was also admittedly due to the fact that Japan was in close proximity to Korea — enough to not only play on the Korean servers for practice, but also be able to find some Korean talent of their own in Jeon “Dara” Jeong-hoon and Lee “Tussle” Moon-yong. In their home region they were first or second in the playoffs every split, and the hope of Japan was on their shoulders.

But Rampage fell woefully under expectations with a painful record of 1-5 by the end of the round. With only one win against Australia’s Dire Wolves, Rampage also failed to play spoiler against GAM to perhaps force a tie breaker between them and Brazil’s RED Canids. They also had a solid fan following, beating out North America and Korea in Riot Games’ “Fandom Battle” with a total of 1,083 points based on Friday’s leaderboard. Although the team has a lot of work to do in preparation for the League of Legends World Championship, one thing can be said for certain: They have some very artistically talented fans.

The Brazilian crowd is, and will continue to be, great

Even though Rampage had a rough time, the Brazilian fans weren’t going to let them go home without some good memories. Chants of “Let’s go Rampage” could be heard on stream, as the home crowd wanted the LJL team to do well, regardless of their chances to make it to Round 2. It goes without saying that they were great when their home region was playing, when cheers were loud and emotions were high — even though the RED Canids failed to advance.

The Brazilian crowd wasn’t an impressive size for the play-in stage, but that didn’t mean they sat on their hands either. The audience was colorful, excited, happy, and most of all, loud. It was almost as if the crowd collectively wanted to make the stage more exciting with their involvement, and frankly it worked like a charm. Their warm reception of all the teams regardless of nationality was delivered through the camera, and if the play in stage is like this, I can’t imagine what it’ll be like later in the tournament.

Bravo, Brazil.

SuperMassive doesn’t really have a sizable early game lead

SuperMassive went 5-1 to qualify for Round 2, but interestingly enough, its early game isn’t all that strong. Over the course of six games, SuperMassive had an average gold deficit of 139 gold at 15 minutes and a first blood rate of 33 percent. It seems like their strengths are being able to play around objectives and creating a lead for themselves that snowballs into the mid and late game.

Not only did SuperMassive take the first tower 83 percent of the time, it shares the same percentage in being the first team to take down three turrets first, generating and showcasing impressive map control. SuperMassive also claimed 82 percent of the dragons taken in its games, which isn’t anything to sneeze at either. Seeing as how they also end their games fairly quickly so far — under 33 minutes — they get a big boost later on in the game.

There is a rising argument for better team play always being preferable to individual skill, as can be seen in Korea’s Team MVP, a team with comparatively average individual skill that makes up for it with in-sync team movements and crisp shot-calling. SuperMassive seems to be yet another example of a team that doesn’t mind getting behind a little bit early as long as it can come back and get going through objectives.

Obviously, this can be utterly abused by teams that use a strong early game to roll the opposition over without losing their grip on the lead, but then it becomes a debate on just how good SuperMassive can be in giving only a finger as opposed to the entire arm.

Gigabyte Marines likes to take their lead and win with it too

I didn’t really pay attention to Southeast Asia until I saw some of the games that GAM played, and man, they definitely looked like the strongest team in the play-in stage. With a record of 5-1, GAM was another team of note, and even more so when we look into the numbers that they did in the past four days.

Over six games they amassed an average of 2,446 gold lead at 15 minutes, and leads the play-in stage in kills with a total of 115, beating out SuperMassive’s count by 26.

The player on GAM who gets these early game leads seems to be jungler Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh. Levi has an impressive lead of 793 gold by 10 minutes, as well as an average of 60 percent of the jungle creeps killed across six games, which paints a picture of some serious jungle control. Even if he doesn’t get the lanes going through successful ganks in all games, he doesn’t die often, keeps the lead, and transitions it into a team-wide advantage. Seeing him against the likes of Hung “Karsa” Hau-Hsuan of the Flash Wolves or Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen of TSM would be interesting.

Their weakest lane seems to be the bot lane, which is consistently behind in terms of CS, gold, and experience. But hey, AD Carries are useless in 2017 anyway.

Keeping the carries alive is hotly contested in MSI

Lulu and Ivern share a near 100 percent pick and ban rate. Those shields are a real pain in the ass in the new patch of 7.8, and it’ll be a continuation from what we’ve seen in the NA LCS playoffs, as we saw Lulu being a priority pick when she’s open, and even Ivern being contested. Karma is still a popular pick with her poke and shields, with a general focus on keeping the damage dealers alive also being present in MSI’s play in.

0.2 patches later somethings just never change.

Galio’s pretty popular

Speaking of change, what a journey Galio has been through as a champion. Originally a champion most well known for being banned by Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok in solo queue — because he was the first champion in order of the Korean alphabet and Faker just didn’t care — was a pretty popular tank choice in MSI.

With Patch 7.8, the newly-reworked Galio entered MSI with a bang. Galio isn’t seeing the love in solo queue with a small pick rate and a win rate of barely over 50 percent. But during MSI he was picked or banned in about 71 percent of all the games, and winning 85.7 percent of the games in which he was picked.

Quite impressive statistics, especially taking into consideration how unpopular he has been for a long time. It’s hard to say whether or not Galio’s rework has been a successful one just yet, seeing as the pick has yet to be implemented in major regions outside China’s LPL, but he certainly has been making a splash in the play-in stage for now. So far, Galio’s been implemented in a variety of roles ranging from top, jungle, support, or even mid. The guardian of Demacia could be a hot commodity in the coming days.

No more Baron steals from Nappon

The RED Canids’ most popular player was probably the jungler Carlos “Nappon” Rücker, as he was not only cheered by the audience, but also drew international attention for his great plays during RED’s games.

Most impressive must have been when he stole Baron away from the Dire Wolves on Day 3 not once, but twice. Although the Canids lost the close match, Nappon left the stage a hero with clearly more fans than he did before going on stage. It’s a shame that we won’t be able to see Nappon steal away more Barons away from teams, but the world was made aware of his prowess, and many will be looking forward if he will be present for the group stage of this year’s worlds.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games


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