2021 MSI Knockout Stage Matchups Finalized
The 2021 MSI Knockout Stage match-ups have been finalized, and they’re quite compelling! Still, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that they’re somewhat one-sided in nature. If you’ve been looking forward to a more competitive state of affairs, you’ll probably be left wanting. Regardless, this was the only way things could’ve shaken out, so it’s not like there are any surprises.
With DWG KIA opting for MAD Lions as their semifinal opponent, Royal Never Give Up were automatically paired up with PSG Talon. This means that both tournament favorites have a fairly clear path towards the MSI finals and are all but guaranteed to clash off on Sunday, assuming they don’t drop the ball before that point. They have all the information they need and more than enough practice, so they really shouldn’t have too much trouble taking MAD Lions and PSG down. They have been pretty inconsistent overall, but we’re certain they’ll shore up their weaknesses in time for their upcoming Best of 5s and play some of their best League of Legends yet.
PSG and MAD, therefore, are the de facto underdogs coming into the 2021 MSI Knockout Stage, but they probably don’t care much. If they did, they would’ve never have gotten to this point in the first place. And even though they’re not favored to accomplish much going forward, they’ve still earned our respect for the way they’ve played thus far and the fact that they’ve given both the LPL and LCK giants a run for their money. No one thought they’d be able to tango with the likes of DWG and RNG truly, and yet they not only stood their ground but also found a fair bit of success along the way as well.
So, what are the most interesting questions coming into the grand finale of this year’s Mid-Season Invitational?
2021 MSI Knockout Stage | Biggest Questions Coming Into the Semifinals
How Good Are PSG Really? — No one seems to have a decisive enough answer, making their upcoming clash with Royal Never Give Up all the more exciting. They’ve improved a ton over the last couple of weeks and have had a couple of incredibly close games with the biggest tournament favorites. Still, getting a win on the board in a double-round robin is nowhere near as challenging as winning a Best of 5 against a team that is seemingly better across the board. Regardless, PSG has impressed us in all the right ways, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens next. In particular, Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang has been playing out of his mind lately and has looked a lot better than Yuan “Cryin” Cheng-Wei. If he can keep this up, he’ll no doubt give RNG hell on Friday!
DWG KIA: Will It Be Enough? — It’s no secret that DWG cruised past everyone other than the LPL champions. Well, perhaps “cruised” isn’t the best way of describing it, but even when their backs were against the wall, they still found a way to win, so it’s hard to reprimand them too much for their (surprisingly frequent) fumbles and flawed execution. They’ll face MAD Lions next which, in all fairness, is pretty much an easy 3:0 given the fashion in which they’ve beaten the LEC champs in both of their previous outings. Still, assuming that the other semifinal clash pans out as expected, one has to wonder: does DWG have what it takes to best Royal Never Give Up? Based on empirical evidence, we’d have to go with a fairly confident “no,” but betting against DWG still feels ill-advised, even though they’re not as dangerous as they were back in October.
Could the MAD Lions Break Through? — The LEC champions aren’t expected to do much against DWG KIA, but they’re still a feisty bunch and have earned our benefit of the doubt for the many great things they’ve accomplished thus far. Do they stand a chance? On paper, they almost certainly do, but given just how ineffective their most potent weapons have been against the LCK champions, it’s hard to envision a world in which they win more than a single game — if even that much. MAD Lions are by no means one-dimensional, but a few key things need to go their way for them to rub shoulders with the likes of DWG and RNG, and, frankly, sometimes the stars don’t align. They lack in experience they more than make up for in sheer determination and creativity. Still, these virtues — impressive and commendable though they are — aren’t enough against competitive League giants like Royal Never Give Up and DWG KIA (even more so in a Best of 5).
RNG: A Sign of Weakness or a Sign of Experimentation? — This is perhaps the most interesting question coming into the 2021 MSI Knockout Stage. Royal Never Give Up was both downright spectacular and perplexingly flawed, depending on the day and opponent. Sometimes they entered the game and took very little time in making their presence known. Other times they meandered throughout the Rift, never really willing to take the reins and do what needed to be done to win. There are two sides to RNG, and both warrant a bit of discussion and analysis — but we’ll leave that for our post-tournament coverage. There’s very little certainty as to which “shade” of RNG will come out and play. And perhaps that isn’t all that important against PSG Talon, but against DWG KIA, it almost certainly will be.
There are just three Best of 5 left before the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational champions are crowned, so make sure to clear out your schedule and tune in as you do not want to miss any of the action!