The group stage of MSI has officially kicked off, so let's break down the biggest talking points from the first few days of competition.
T1, RNG and G2 remain undefeated
The LCK, LPL and LEC representatives have yet to drop a game, and are unsurprisingly emerging as the early favourites in the tournament. T1 are looking particularly dominant, especially after they eviscerated the LLA's Ace in 20 minutes and finished the game with 25 kills and only 4 deaths.
Though G2 have shown signs of brilliance, including sneaking away a Baron from EG at 20 minutes, they've been the most inconsistent out of the top 3 teams. After an incredibly clean early game in their second match against EG, they nearly threw after attempting a greedy Baron; this allowed EG to pick up a slew of objective bounties and even out the gold lead:
G2 were able to re-establish control after some great team fights, but the end of the game was much closer than it should have been and showed G2 are still susceptible to some 'happy' games. Meanwhile, it's a close battle for second place in groups A and B, as 4 teams are on 1-1 but only 2 can qualify for the Rumble Stage:
ADC Meta Shift and Gwen's Resurgence
Throughout Spring, Jinx and Aphelios were by far the best ADCs across multiple regions. However, after Jinx received a huge nerf to her health in Patch 12.8, she has yet to be picked while other ADCs have risen to the top. Lucian currently has an 100% pick/ban rate and 100% win rate, and appears to be an early tournament favourite. Other popular ADC picks include Samira, Ezreal and Tristana.
Jhin's W root duration and E cooldown were also buffed in Patch 12.8, meaning he has seen some play so far at MSI. Interestingly, teams are taking advantage of the recent Umbral Glaive buffs as they are now rushing it as a first item on Jhin. The low cost, easy build path and early Lethality spike it provides make it a very appealing first item, and allows Jhin to clear wards quickly without being held back by his slow basic attacks.
Gwen is currently the most picked champion in the tournament, with 8 picks and a 75% win rate. Although her E's bonus attack range was gutted in Patch 12.5 and rendered her mostly invisible for domestic playoffs, the 12.7 buffs to her E CD refund and ultimate CD have brought her back into pro play with a vengeance.
The 35 Ping Controversy Rages On
There is still a lot of debate surrounding RNG playing remotely while the rest of the teams are being forced to play on 35 ping to compensate. Several pros, including Faker, Impact and Yaharong, have expressed how challenging it has been to play on such abnormal conditions, and suggested the artificial ping actually feels worse than 35 ping found in solo queue.
Faker has also said the champion tier list may be different for this tournament based on which champions are best played on this ping. Therefore, teams may need to adapt throughout the tournament and adjust their strategies based on which champions are better or easier to play on 35 ping.
Nevertheless, with RNG being unable to compete in person, MSI's competitive integrity was always going to be compromised. Having all players compete on 35 ping still appears to be the best solution, given the fact all other possibilities (LPL not competing, or RNG being the only team to play on higher ping) would have been much worse.
Highlight Play - G2's Sneaky Baron
G2 snuck a Baron right under EG's nose in this beautiful play. They were able to execute this steal by:
- Managing their side waves
- Controlling vision around the Baron
- Playing around the Dragon timer, as it respawning soon so EG thought G2 would be moving toward bot side
It's these moments of pure magic that prove why G2 can be a real threat in this competition, and are not to be underestimated.
The Group Stage continues tomorrow, with some critical games in groups A and B to determine which teams will claim second place and advance to the Rumble Stage. Stay tuned for more updates and higlights from MSI 2022.