Mid-Season Invitational Final
On Sunday the 16th of May in the Oriental Sports Center Shanghai, CLG and SKT T1 clashed in the final of the 2016 Riot Mid-Season Invitational. Whoever emerged as victor would make history for their respective regions. For South Korea’s SK Telecom, they would become the most trophied team in the history of League of Legends, as they would be holders of the most trophies possible at one time for a League of Legends team. They are currently LCK champions, World Champions and IEM Champions, as well as Faker being part of Team Fire, who won the 2015 Allstars event. For North America’s Counter Logic Gaming, their appearance in the final is a milestone in it’s self, as it represents the first time a North American team has appeared in the finals of a Riot sponsored event. Should they win, they would become the most successful team their region has ever produced. Game 1 Throughout the tournament, Aphromoo has stood out because of his unconventional pool of support champions. Whilst he has been playing mainly ranged mage supports, such as Soraka, and Janna (even Sona), his peers have been opting for tanky supports, such as Braum and Alistar. This game however, Wolf decided to show that Aphromoo wasn’t the only one who could play these champions, and brought out Nami for the first time all season. CLG had a terrible early game, losing 3 early kills to the lane swap, but managed to recover somewhat, with a risky baron call, which seemed to pay off. However, SKT managed to find 4 members of CLG in the ensuing fight, nullifying any advantage CLG could have gained from the play. The game eventually came down to a tense teamfight in the botlane. The fight was engaged by Darshan, and Huhi managed to catch Bang out of position. However, Faker came up huge, with a big sweeping play on Azir, zeroing out Aphromoo, and allowing the rest of his team to clean up the fight. SKT – 1 CLG – 0 Game 2 CLG clearly saw that their problem in the last game was not in the draft, but in the execution, as they changed nothing in pick/ban, and picked the same team comp as they did in game 1, with a Poppy toplane, Nidalee jungle, Ekko mid, and Lucian Soraka botlane. SKT responded in kind, and picked up the same champions for themselves, with Trundle for Duke, Elise for Blank, Azir for Faker, and Ezreal/Nami for Bang and Wolf. CLG got a much better start this game, securing 2 early kills for Stixxay, and putting him in the position to carry. Unfortunately for CLG, Stixxay was outclassed this game by Bang, who looked unstoppable on his Ezreal. Bang, for me, is probably the best Ezreal in the world, and is a joy to witness his mastery of. Wolf also had a huge impact, with his second Nami game of the day, going 0/0/11 and setting up kill after kill for his team, whilst ensuring Bang’s safety. SKT take game 2, and go one win away from becoming MSI champions. Game 3 Now, everyone who plays League of Legends has that one champion who they call upon when winning is paramount. For Faker that champion is Ryze. He is an undisputed master of the champion, and uses it to mow down his enemies mercilessly. Faker locked in Ryze in game 3, just as he did in the last game of Worlds against Koo Tigers, and went on to dominate. CLG responded with a comp centered around Huhi’s Cassiopia and despite securing first blood for Darshan’s Maokai, CLG never managed to grasp control of the game. Every member of SKT played phenominally with Duke back on Poppy and Wolf with his 3rd consecutive Nami game. CLG made an attempt at a comeback and Stixxay’s Caitlyn began to ramp up in damage, but in the end SKT proved to be far too powerful, and felled the CLG nexus with only Stixxay still standing to win the series 3-0. Counter Logic gaming can go back to North America heads held high, as they performed above and beyond their expectations showing the world that they are a force to be reckoned with. SKT had a rough start to the tournament, but managed to pull themselves together when it mattered most, and win MSI. Personally, I think Wolf deserves MVP for the series as his Nami was a key component to SKT’s victory, but overall tournament MVP has to be Faker, who looks just as dominant now as he ever has been. Can anyone stop SKT’s reign? I’m afraid we’ll have to wait until Worlds to find out.