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The 2018 MSI play-in knockout phase begins

Gambit and SuperMassive pass through their groups, but both face one more test before they can join the MSI lineup for good.

SuperMassive vs Evos Esports

The group phase turned out to be a casual walk in the park for SuperMassive. Crews like Dire Wolves, pegged by some as favorites, received an ice-cold LoL lesson from the Turks that they’ll remember at least until the next MSI. Judging from their score and the ease with which they got it, some may say it’s unjust to put the TCL crew in such a low phase of the tournament. It’s still not clear if SuperMassive will reach where it wants to be the most – the main stage of the MSI. To join the group of leading regions including Korea, China, and Europe (EU>NA, amirite?), GBM’s team has to show its superiority in the fight against EVOS Esports.

The Indonesian organization, which is filled with players from Taiwan, is a relatively young creation, and their presence at this stage of the tournament may be a surprise to some. However, Violet’s squad were the last winners of the VCS games. The team only entered this league at the end of the previous year, but they managed to achieve a real record in their debut performance, scoring 12 wins and only 2 losses, which earned them the first place in the general season. In the grand finale, they went up against the determined GIGABYTE Marines, which you may know from the previous editions of the MSI or the latest Worlds. GAM is not the same team though, with astonishing Levi now in its ranks, but the strength of the region still lies on the shoulders of the former GAM players – EVOS, Stark, and Slay.

A difficult task lies before SuperMassive, but their Turko–Korean roster has shaken the preliminary round so hard that they’re the ones being favored in the matchup with the Vietnamese champions.

Who do you think will come out on top in the clash between SuperMassive and EVOS Esports?

Gambit vs Flash Wolves

In the second pairing at this stage of the tournament, Gambit faces an even more daunting task. The Russian organization have been touted as group favorites since the beginning and successfully fought for promotion, but their games weren’t as certain as those of SuperMassive. Not only that, but even in the preliminary round they lost a point in a balanced match against a crew that was no match for them. Of course, Gambit is the best lineup that Group A could have released into the further fight in the MSI, but their temperament is so uneven that their further participation is in the balance. The situation doesn’t do anything to improve the fact of the two teams they could have faced in the knockout phase, Diamondprox’s organization drew the short straw – the incredibly strong, titled, and world-famous Flash Wolves.

The Taiwanese team led by the charismatic SwordArt is a regular guest at international events and the unquestionable leader of the local game. This year they reached for the LMS gold for the fifth time. The crew has been significantly rebuilt since their last performance on such a big stage, but their score from the local field shows that they’re still Taiwan’s best commodity from the LMS to send to fight for the MSI Championship. The appetites of the players are surely huge, especially after their last game, where they stole a point from Faker himself and his SKT T1 (the previous MSI winners).

Diamondprox can still play at a high level, and his team theoretically has everything it needs to keep going. But players like Maple, Betty, and SwordArt will be a big obstacle. As it stands, Flash Wolves are the strong favorite in the knockout phase.

Who do you think will win the duel between Gambit and Flash Wolves? Let us know in the comments!

Meanwhile in Group B...

The last day of the group phase in the preliminary round ended and there were even some real surprises late in the stage. The Wolves from the OPL started the MSI in pretty decent style, losing only one point to SuperMassive. Their composure going head-to-head with the Turks gave us hope that we may even see a playoff. We couldn’t have been more wrong, as the Dire Wolves fell victim to Murphy’s law. The first blow into to the Dire Wolves’ hopes was dealt by KaBuM!, which turned both the enemy Nexus and the Wolves’ confidence into dust in less than 35 minutes. The Asian organization was then crushed by the favorites in a very one-sided match, only to become even more unstable to the point they were beaten by the weakest team in the group, Pentagram. The Dire Wolves exchanged hope for disappointment in just one day and will return to their homes as one of the biggest losers of the preliminary round of the MSI.

The misfortune of one group turned out to be, as it often is, opportunity for another. The very weak KaBuM! started the second day in much better style than before, showing at the same time that Brazil is still a region that can be counted on in the fight for promotion. The South American representatives did everything they could that day, but the loss from the first day was too big to overcome, even with a perfect dash for promotion. Victories against Dire Wolves and Pentagram were practically meaningless, because SuperMassive’s 5 wins were simply too much, making the game between KaBuM! and SUP all but symbolic.

That’s why SUP decided that it was the perfect moment for a show, choosing… 3 marksmen, including a Kai’Sa mid with a Smite. The game quickly became a real clown fiesta, reminding us of what we can see every day in the solo queue. 75 kills, shapeless composition, Irelia as a support, and finally the game finishing in less than 23 minutes. SuperMassive bid farewell to its group with a smile on their faces. The KaBuM! squad weren’t as happy as their opponents, but ended up in second place in the group as consolation.

1. SuperMassive Sports 5-1

2. KaBuM! e-Sports 4-2

3. Dire Wolves 2-4