MSI 2021 preview with LCK caster Chronicler and LPL caster Munchables

The League of Legends Mid-Seasonal Invitational (MSI) kicks off in Iceland on May 6th 2021, after a two-year break due to the pandemic, bringing together championship-winning teams from Riot’s different regional leagues.
While MSI is often dominated by the Chinese LPL and Korean LCK teams, in 2019 G2 Esports and Team Liquid bucked that trend by making the finals in Taiwan. With the help of Megalodontus, ENUK editor Dom Sacco speaks to Dutch caster Chronicler (pictured left, from the LCK) and Brit Munchables (right, from the LPL) to get their insights before MSI begins.

Will LPL champions Royal Never Give Up win MSI?

Munchables: Yes of course RNG will win, is the answer! Here’s the thing about RNG, and it’s a really important thing, I don’t know if people have been looking at Reddit and stuff recently, but they’ve seen clips of bot-laner GALA absolutely running it down and they’ve also seen him absolutely smurfing games.

I feel like that’s a really good representation of how I see RNG a team: when everything is working nicely, my god, they’re just the best team in the world. Indisputably, they’re just too unbelievable. But sometimes… things don’t quite go that way. Sometimes they blind pick Gnar two games in a row in a series, get 3-0’d by FunPlus Phoenix (FPX) and they have to go all the way through the Lower Bracket, for example.

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RNG’s playoffs run in the LPL 2021 Spring Season, where they lost to FPX before beating them in the finals (credit: leaguepedia.com)

It’s very difficult to know exactly what you’re going to get from RNG. But when the stars align and they’re firing all cylinders like it was in the finals against FPX, this team is unbelievable. If they can set Xiaohu up, I still think playing topside and playing through Xiaohu is going to be the way forward for RNG. If they do that and they draft smart and don’t blind pick Gnar -please don’t, I’m begging you guys – then everything will be great for RNG.

They’re a little inconsistent, but I will say they are inconsistent versus the top three in the LPL and I’m kind of exaggerating their inconsistency, they’ll still be an exceptionally good team even on a bad day. Whether they win MSI or not, they need to be hitting that peak.

Chronicler: I think RNG is an incredibly strong team. I watched the latter half of the LPL playoffs and what I saw of RNG is it’s very clear that these players are individually very talented, but there are also so many fights that don’t necessarily make sense. And they just want to fight!

That maybe can work, but the problem doing that against DK is you just can’t give them any openings in a 30/35 minute game, and that’s not something I think with the current iteration of LPL teams will do. I don’t think that the mechanical gap between players is there either.

I think like DK’s bot-lane duo of Ghost and Beryl, Ghost in particular who hasn’t always been the strongest of players, but I don’t think he’ll completely falter like FPX’s bot-laner LWX did in the LPL finals. Khan doesn’t have the star factor of Nuguri, sure, but no one in the LCK could shut Khan down completely.

It’s the same problem with Nuguri, but for Nuguri if you kill him three times in lane he’ll just Kennen ult your entire team and single-handedly win the game. Khan does something similar if you look at the stats and he does unreal damage with no resources because he’s like, ‘Oh it’s fine Canyon, you take the kills. I’m a Sion/Lulu, who gives a crap?’ and he’ll still do a lot of work.

I just don’t see enough openings and even if the openings are found, I don’t think RNG are consistent enough to beat DK even though RNG are really, really good.

What about LCK champions DWG KIA?

Chronicler: DWG KIA will absolutely win! Here’s the thing right – you already heard Munch saying ‘there is a prerequisite for RNG’, they need to actually show up. We [LCK] have the best player in the world in Canyon, in a jungle meta.

We also have arguably one of the best mid-laners in the world in ShowMaker, who has had his weaker moments throughout this season, but he’s currently going like 31-5 in EUW Challenger solo queue and it’s an indication he’s feeling pretty good!

I think the problem with DWG KIA and why some people are unfairly critical of the LCK is that people say, “ah, they only have DWG KIA,” forgetting casually that DRX, a team that was super inconsistent, easily made quarter-finals at Worlds 2020. And Gen.G, a team that in any other league, would easily make it to the top of playoffs due to the sheer force of their players.

DWG KIA is just a mutant team that comes to demolish people and I’m somewhat memeing it but I think as team, they have the flexibility of an LEC team – they’ve taken a lot of characteristics from G2 Esports – while still having the fundamentals of an LCK team. And that is something terrifying to deal with.

They will flex on you in draft and even if they fall behind early on, which doesn’t happen very often, they always find a way back. And if they do find an early lead? They just win. Every time. They’re win percentage with a lead at 15 minutes is just disgusting. They’re too good, they’re going to win MSI.”

Former LEC caster Froskurinn shares the views of Chronicler towards DK

Munchables: Let’s be honest, any reasonable person is going be like, ‘wow, a super strong, consistent team with some of the best players in the world in a lot of roles?’ Yeah, that sounds like a pretty good argument to make! But what DK lack… is mojo. And the LPL is the region of mojo!

When you think about DK winning a game, it’s because they’re super clean and everything was just prefect. Now, when RNG win a game, it’s because they came out swinging and start screaming at people halfway through the game. Scuttle Crab spawned? All five players are just going to teleport on in! It’s a totally different style of gameplay.

We haven’t seen a clash [between LPL/LCK] in months since Worlds, and we haven’t seen RNG clash against LCK teams in years, so I do think the stylistic difference there automatically makes it harder to call there than people necessarily expect it to be.

When you look at Twitter or Reddit, you can very easily see who has regional bias. Because I think both of these teams are insane teams and you see comments like ‘RNG are the easy favourites!’ or ‘DK are the easy favourites!’ and it’s obviously not that simple.

But having said that, RNG are the easy favourites going into MSI!

“I have a weak spot for Mad Lions because they’re such a fun team. Their memes on Twitter and many of their players come from the European Regional Leagues (ERLs) and that’s really cool, but I think RNG and DK are on a different level.”

Chronicler

What are your thoughts on T1 and Faker’s absence from MSI 2021?

Chronicler: I think the T1 issues have been going on for a longer while since they lost to Gen.G in the Regional Qualifiers for Worlds last year, and the current state of T1 is really hard to call. There are a lot of complicating factors: Faker being a player that’s larger than life and T1 having an insanely big fanbase… that kind of popularity comes with a lot of drawbacks.

Faker even asked to be benched and then Clozer came in, as this 17-year old kid, who’s getting flamed to death on the internet. It came out afterwards that Faker asked for that to happen but it was not communicated initially and I think that’s kind of emblematic of what we see from T1. There’s been a lot of lacklustre communication considering the fact this team is making a lot of unorthodox moves.

I still think there is a timeline in summer where T1 smashes it, because they have insane players. Players like Gumayusi, Clozer, Zeus and Oner, if you slot them individually into other LCK teams, the level up is insane. They’re really mechanically talented but they are not there yet.

Maybe they bounce back in summer and everyone will forgive them for their spring performance but it’s rough because they’re such an iconic team, and the reality is that they’ve not been the best team in Korea since last year.

What do you of the other teams at MSI and the differences in comparison to RNG/DK?

Munchables: I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I think RNG and DK are going to be heavy favourites except against each other. The only way we’d have a final that isn’t DK vs RNG, is if the bracket turns out in a way that they have to face each other early. But having said that, teams like Cloud9, Mad Lions and even PSG Talon have talented players on their roster and they play aggressively. Those are the teams I see having an opportunity to find upsets and big wins.

I think what separates DK and RNG is not just mechanical skill. Cloud9 and Mad Lions have insane individual players, like jungler Elyoya is a player I will be watching very closelyin this tournament and I want to see how he matches up against players like Canyon or Wei, who are extremely intelligent junglers. I think the big thing that separates them is the intelligence with which they play their draft, it’s been something that’s been consistent throughout the regular season.

If you look at RNG in the regular season and then finals, RNG are an exceptionally intelligent team. If you pretend those other playoffs games didn’t happen for RNG and just push those aside, this team is incredibly intelligent. The way they draft and understand how their draft works and play correctly towards it, but also understanding their opponents draft.

A lot of teams, especially in the LPL, don’t play correctly to how they should be playing and that’s one of the things RNG has stood out on when they are playing well. They understand who needs to be carrying and who they need to get gold on.

But we’re going to have some really cool match-ups. The mid-laners and junglers in MSI are pretty insane and there are a lot of big names in this tournament, so I’m just excited to see those clashes.

Chronicler: I think Cloud 9 has super talented individual players, I’m not going to knock on players like Perkz and Zven or players like Blaber. Even though they’ve had their inconsistencies, they are currently looking really good. But if I look at the way the LCS finals went, it was kind of a slugfest and in the end it was ‘Game 5 Perkz’ solo carrying, as Perkz does.

I don’t think DK will necessarily be cocky in draft but they do like to have a little bit of fun. Something’s that interesting is that Khan gets a little bit of a reputation of being a Sion one-trick right? But he actually comes in second for the amount of most played unique champions: he’s played Quinn, Kayle, Fizz top into Gnar because he thought it’d be fun!

I think best-of-ones are so fun because you get these crazy upsets, but the gap in team cohesion and teamfighting, the consistency and how well they understand win conditions, I don’t think anyone is beating them in a best-of series. I just don’t see it happening.

I have a weak spot for Mad Lions because they’re such a fun team. Their memes on Twitter and many of their players come from the European Regional Leagues (ERLs) and that’s really cool, but I think RNG and DK are on a different level.

mad lions win lec
The casters have a soft spot for MSI’s EU representatives, the Mad Lions, due to their incredible players and funny social media presence

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You can watch the Mid-Season Invitational on Twitch from May 6th, and follow Chronicler and Munchables on Twitter here.

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