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DAMWON Dominating or PSG surprising? – A look at the Final Four of MSI 2021

We have reached the final stage of the Mid-Season Invitational and the only defending champion has left the building. Who will prevail?

With only MAD Lions, PSG Talon, DAMWON GAMING KIA and Royal Never Give Up remaining, it is sure to be a close fight for first place. Let us take a look at their playstyles, how their journey has been so far and who has the best shot at reaching and eventually winning the finals.

Hungry MAD Lions

The European representative fields a line-up with a lot of rookies. However, according to an interview with assistant coach Christophe ‘kaas’ van Oudheusden, Elyoya does not really feel like a rookie. He talks, thinks, and plays like a veteran and has been outstanding during the Group and Rumble stage. Overall, everyone stepped up as Carzzy and Kaiser adopted an aggressive 2v2 playstyle while Armut has been solo bolo-ing in the toplane.

Humanoid had a very consistent run as well, mirroring his play in the LEC play-offs. Nevertheless, the team still drops the ball in some of these skirmishes and once they fall behind in the early game against a team that knows how to close out a game, it looks like it’s game over. They face DAMWON GAMING KIA in the first round of the Knockouts which will be a hard – Korean – mountain to climb, but one that Europe conquered before when G2 Esports took down SK Telecom in the semi-finals of MSI 2019.

Dark horse PSG Talon

At the start of the tournament PSG Talon were predicted to maybe go into the Rumble stage, but not to be in top four. Nonetheless, they defied the odds and played their game to perfection. It should come as no surprise to the people who watched them in their regular split, as they were dominating their region, winning games in the same fashion that they are winning them at MSI. There were a lot of doubters when it became known that Unified, the original starter for PSG Talon, could not join the team in Iceland due to health issues.

The loaned Doggo has shown everyone that they are still a fierce team and are truly worthy of the dark horse label. They face Royal Never Give Up whom they managed to beat in the Rumble stage already. This will be a close call and likely the most competitive best-of-five out of the two. Expect more of the same, but with better execution from the PSG Talon line-up.

Challengers Royal Never Give Up

The only team still in the tournament that won MSI years ago, but only two of the members of that line-up are still with us today on this one. Xiaohu and Ming, the toplaner and support respectively, won the MSI trophy back in 2018 bringing yet another title to China. This year they started off very well, as they looked like the new top favorite over DAMWON GAMING KIA to win the tournament. They beat the Koreans and showed us that the competition might be tighter than originally expected. as opposed to the true LPL-playstyle, RNG plays more controlled and focused on objectives.

While they can play around their toplaner Xiaohu, who has shown to be a true carry, they also have a formidable new force in the botlane under the nickname GALA who replaced Uzi after his retirement. Showing some insane mechanics in the tournament already, we cannot forget how crucial he was in the LPL-playoffs to earn RNG the title. They look like the team to make it to the finals and give us five games when facing a strong DAMWON GAMING KIA.

Favorites DAMWON GAMING KIA

We kind of gave it away earlier, but DAMWON GAMING KIA look like the team that was made to win MSI. Up until now, their games haven’t always been clean and it was far from perfect. However, the last two days looked more business as usual for the Korean squad. Naturally, coming from the LCK they bring high expectations with them. With a star-studded line-up only replacing one player after winning Worlds and dominating the LCK, everyone thought they would steamroll MSI. Nonetheless, they were halted quite a few times in the Group and Rumble stage.

After they got the int out of their system, they regrouped for the last two days before the Knockouts to show us all what a Korean representative brings to the table: dominant gameplay. They look like the favorites to win it all and they started off by selecting MAD Lions as their opponent in the semi-final. They choose them because they think they can beat them, but they should not underestimate a European team since that is what cost Korea the trophy back in 2019.

It all comes down to this. Four teams and one last Knockout-phase. DAMWON GAMING KIA and Royal Never Give Up look like the two favorites to make it to the finals, but it would not be MSI if there aren’t a couple of upsets. Both PSG Talon and MAD Lions are not done yet, they still have some things up their sleeves.

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