PREAMBLE BEFORE THE JUMP BECAUSE SPOILERS BLAH BLAH BLAH AND REMINDER THAT THE MID-SEASON INVITATIONAL IS THE CROSS-REGIONAL TOURNAMENT BETWEEN SPRING AND SUMMER. IT'S A TOURNAMENT IN ITS OWN RIGHT BUT IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE DOING WELL AT MSI HAS A POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOUR SEEDING FOR THE WORLDS CHAMPIONSHIP ETC ETC!
The winners of the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational 2017 tournament are:
SK Telecom T1.
I mean, you probably could have guessed that with a reasonable degree of success if you know much about League of Legends' [official site] because the stream of hot takes about whether the rest of the world can do anything to stop the Korean juggernaut is less a stream at this point and more a reliable geyser spurting thousands of words onto the internet every time a cross-regional League of Legends tournament rolls around. HOWEVER, the more interesting points here are that a) they were facing up against European side G2 Esports in the grand final and b) that G2 stood their ground in some impressive ways.
Game one saw an impressive start from the EU side although it was countered by SKT's ability to punish pretty much any mistake, capitalise on opportunities and create tiny advantages which start to snowball. Still, given the Korean side's reputation it's always reassuring to see them mucking up in some key human ways at tournaments. Game 2 was the one where the EU side really shone and I'm assuming that mid-laner Perkz will be dining out on his solo kill of legendary SKT player, Faker, for a good while. I know I would. It'd be all "Pip, could you make me a cuppa?" and I'd be like "Only if you rewatch me solo-kill Faker in front of thousands of cheering fans" I'd make a flick book out of the frames of the video and give it to everyone as a Christmas present.
ANYWAY. G2 translated their lane dominance into a proper trouncing which obviously set Twitter alight with "MAYBE SKT IS GOING DOWN!!!!" followed by a lot of "WELL YOU'VE JINXED IT NOW".
And jinxed it they had. Thanks Twitter. SKT spent games 3 and 4 doing SKT things. This play by Wolf was probably the highlight of the series - it's from game 3 and it shows Wolf as Zyra catching three of G2 with the Stranglethorns ultimate:
One of the big things for G2 at this tournament was the chance to put the meme about them going on vacation to rest. In case you're not up on your LoL history it's referring to the fact that after the spring split and before MSI 2016 the team's management let the players take a couple of weeks holiday. Their awful performance combined with the idea that they hadn't bothered to practice and their name was mud for the duration of the early stages of the tournament. Michael Johnson wrote a piece looking at the details in case you're curious, because it opens up discussions about whether G2 were showing complacency and squandered an opportunity through lack of practice or whether the organisation was caught between a rock and a hard place in terms of trying to make sure players didn't get burnt out with gruelling schedules. Perhaps a bit of both.
Obviously the vacation jokes won't ever go away entirely, but it's nice to see them get to come back and assert themselves with some strong performances.
Here's the official highlights reel so you can get a feel for how the whole tournament went down:
And now we prepare to head into the regional summer splits and see how the teams shape up with Worlds coming into view on the horizon. For SKT specifically their coach, kkoma, notes that there's definitely work to be done. He specifically noted that he wants to continue working on how the newcomers Peanut and Huni integrate with the team. Huni used to play for Fnatic and rapidly established himself as one of the biggest personalities on the sceneas well as being a skilled player. He headed over to the North American scene before replacing SKT's top-laner Duke this season. Peanut has been pottering around the Korean scene for a few years, first on NaJin and then ROX Tigers before joining SKT as one of their junglers. Maybe by then I'll be used to thinking of Peanut as an SKT player instead of spending whole games going "wait, when did Faker join the Tigers?"
While I do that, let's rewatch game 2!