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MSI 2018 Day 4: Surprise contender – big regions in crisis

On the eve of day four of the MSI, only one question is relevant: Has first place already been decided?

Is anyone really capable of stopping Flash Wolves? They’ve beaten everyone so far, some even twice. For years the Wolves have been a team known for surprises (and usually the good kind). They are regular LMS champions (Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan), and at the previous MSI they ended in a satisfying 3rd/4th place, leaving behind teams from the bigger regions. Then again, at the last World Championships they fell to 13th/16th place. The departure of their long-standing veterans, Karsa and MMD, had commentators wondering whether their winning streak had come to an end. But the addition of two fresh players – Moojin (jungle) and Hanabi (top) – has seemed to only further increase their team’s strength.

Betty and SwordArt (Flash Wolves) are still unstoppable

Betty and SwordArt (Flash Wolves) are still unstoppable

They began the fourth day with a score of 6:0. Ahead of them are Royal Never Give Up (3:3) and Fnatic (3:3), who certainly don’t want to end up in the middle of the table. When it comes to RNG, unfortunately it’s become clear that their strength was highly overestimated. The Chinese team isn’t as dominating as expected, and Uzi is steadily moving away from a chance at the championship. The in-form Kingzone DragonX stand in their way on day four, so it wouldn’t really surprise me if RNG end the day with a score of 3:5.

I hope that Caps and co. don’t just become another pushover for Flash Wolves. That’s partly because the evolution of Fnatic in clear to see – they stopped being a team focused on Rekkles. Caps rose as a second and equal threat, and started receiving bans and focusing the attention of the enemy junglers. I expect to see him give an effortless lesson to Pobelter from the struggling Team Liquid (1:5), but it may not be that easy with Maple (FW).

Caps showed his strength several times, but will it be enough for Fnatic to leave the group stage?

Caps showed his strength several times, but will it be enough for Fnatic to leave the group stage?

It’ll be interesting to see how Team Liquid fare in their remaining matches. Will they take revenge on EVOS Esports (1:5) or Fnatic? They can’t afford any more losses at this point. Fnatic also needs to keep an eye on their score, so the NA–EU game could be significant.

I’m playing Kingzone DragonX’s games by ear – they’ve stumbled slightly, but it’s still Korea and they’re still easily the favorites for second place. RNG and EVOS are unlikely to make it difficult for them. Here are all of today’s matches, with the most interesting ones (in my opinion) bolded:

  • Kingzone DragonX vs. Royal Never Give Up (11:00 CEST)

  • Fnatic vs. Flash Wolves (12:00 CEST)

  • EVOS Esports vs. Team Liquid (13:00 CEST)

  • Royal Never Give Up vs. Flash Wolves (14:00 CEST)

  • Kingzone DragonX vs. EVOS Esports (15:00 CEST)

  • Team Liquid vs. Fnatic (16:00 CEST)

The results of day three of the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational. Flash Wolves already have a place in the quarter finals

The results of day three of the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational. Flash Wolves already have a place in the quarter finals

Confusion in the table and wolves feasting on their enemies: The third day of the 2018 MSI in short

The second day showed that I shouldn’t put too much faith in Team Liquid. Though the it was still unlikely, they bet everything on their star, Doublelift. Giving him the formidable marksman Caitlyn, setting up Olleh’s favorite Morgana, and adding protection from Shen, Impact’s favorite champion, made sure they could take the fight to the bot lane to create a lead and carry it into the later game. Xmithie also got a roar of approval from the crowd after boldly stealing the Baron and tilting the scales in Team Liquid’s favor.

Unfortunately, it didn’t go so smoothly in the match against Kingzone DragonX. The Koreans went on an all-out assault. Khan got Camille, Pray got Kalista (who he has humble 4.7 KDA with), and Gorilla got Tahm Kench to protect them. Their domination of the map was visible from the very beginning and translated into three Mountain Dragons and an insane advantage on the objectives.

A restrained Doublelift after TL’s first win, knowing there was still a difficult road ahead of them

A restrained Doublelift after TL’s first win, knowing there was still a difficult road ahead of them

It turns out I was prophetic yesterday when I warned that Fnatic shouldn’t disregard EVOS Esports. Maybe that’s why sOAZ came back to the top lane – his experience and calmness must have been meant as a counterbalance to the Vietnamese’s aggression. Although the orange team began confidently with an invade and dive under the second turret in the seventh minute, the Vietnamese team quickly adapted and bullied Fnatic by split pushing Camille, coming close to winning the game several times. It took time for Caps’ Vlad to stop her and then to translate it to the Baron and victory – and it certainly wasn’t easy. The game ended opposite to yesterday’s – this time it was Caps who scored the quadra and Rekkles who stole the fifth kill from him.

It’s good that Fnatic is starting to build up reliable form. Unfortunately, they still lost against Royal Never Give Up. The Chinese team were clearly afraid of Caps and banned him from Zoe and Yasuo, but the Danish midlaner surprised them with Aurelion Sol. Although he put pressure on the side lanes in the early game, it was RNG who turned out to be the teamfight champions and bested them in the late game. It’s ironic that this time they were the ones who fell victim to Uzi’s quadra. Maybe they should’ve played with sOAZ again?

Although I’m not rooting for any particular team, Flash Wolves vs. Kingzone DragonX was the match of the day. FW are unbeatable and KZ should be, but we haven’t had too many chances to see their full might so far. We couldn’t see it in their match against the Wolves. Khan, a renowned toplaner, was bullied by Yasuo, who countered his Gnar and Moojin by aggressively playing with Kha’Zix. After their exploding start, the Wolves moved onto teamfights, where Yasuo changed from a gust to a hurricane.

One time the Wolves extended too far into the enemy base, which allowed Kingzone to regain the initiative and get the Baron, but later the fight for the Elder Dragon ended with victory for FW when Maple again used Galio’s taunts on four enemies. The picture was completed by the massacre of KZ during their desperate attempt to get the Baron, leaving Flash Wolves undefeated. Who would’ve predicted that before the tournament?