Esports Events

Ranking the MSI Group Stage Teams

The Play In stage of the Mid-Season Invitational has concluded, with the six group stage competitors decided. The 2019 edition of MSI, the fifth of the event’s history, is widely considered to be the most competitive in the weeks leading up to the event, with every team being talked about as a potential knockout stage contender. How do these teams stack up against each other?

Today we take a look at the six teams and rank them from worst to best, and who would be the best to bet on based on our MSI Betting Odds.

Breaking Down The MSI Group Stage

Going into MSI's Group Stage during the Play-Ins we saw some clear favorites that were ought to make it out of groups. Group A was highly contested between Phong Vu Buffalo and 1907 Fenerbahce, as they both ended the group stage with a 4 - 2 score, leading us to a tiebreaker in which PVB came out on top.

On the other hand in Group B we saw Vega Squadron dominate in spectacular fashion. Anyone interested in betting on LoL had an easy time cashing in as they only dropped one game to MEGA Esports.

This led us to round 2, in which PVB and VEG had to face off against the North American titans Team Liquid and the Flash Wolves from the LMS. Both PVB and VEG showed little resistance against the veteran regions, and this was a rather easy bet for anyone who's into esports betting. In the end, PVB faced off against VEG and in a very close best of 5 series the Vietnamese Phong Vũ Buffalo came out on top.

Going Into MSI's Main Event

The main event at MSI will take place between 10-05-2019 and 19-05-2019. It will also be split up into two stages. First, we'll go through the group stage in which all the teams will face off against each other. Once that stage is concluded, we'll see the top 4 teams battling it out in the playoffs. By having a closer look at the group stage, one will be able to make educated MSI betting for the playoffs.

MSI Main Event Teams Analysis

6. Phong Vũ Buffalo - VCS

  • Top: Phạm “Zeros” Minh Lộc
  • Jungle: Hoàng “Meliodas” Tiến Nhật
  • Mid: Võ “Naul” Thành Luân
  • ADC: Đặng “BigKoro” Ngọc Tài
  • Support: Nguyễn “Palette” Hải Trung
  • Play in Stage: 5-2, 1st in Group A, 0-3 Loss vs Team Liquid, 3-2 Win vs Vega Squadron

The VCS representative may have made it to the MSI Group Stage, but they are at the stage where they become the riskiest bet as can be seen on any MSI Odds. They were defeated by Team Liquid in a resounding sweep during the Play In stage, and exhibited several weaknesses. Their games showed they take many moves in the early game to establish a lead, but consistently collapsed the longer the games went on.

This was even further put on display in a full five game series against Vega where the home team was almost reverse swept. Despite winning skirmishes, it rarely turned into overall significant gains.

In the MSI Group Stage, Phong Vũ Buffalo are outclassed in every one of these areas. SK Telecom and the aforementioned Team Liquid specialize in dragging games on with their superstar AD Carries and superior teamfight prowess. G2 and Invictus Gaming can outpace their early game with stronger solo lanes and objective control. For a team that mainly relies on having the stronger mechanical players surrounded by the best in the world….the odds are stacked against Phong Vũ Buffalo. They might have the biggest payoff if they win, but that also means that any MSI betting on Mr. Buffalo should be done carefully.

5. Flash Wolves - LMS

  • Top: Su “Hanabi” Chia-Hsiang
  • Jungle: Lee “Bugi” Seong-yeop
  • Mid: Shin “Rather” Hyeong-seop
  • ADC: Lu “Betty” Yu-Hung
  • Support: Liu “ShiauC” Chia-Hao
  • Play in Stage: 3-1 Win vs Vega Squadron

The Flash Wolves are a team with a massive spotlight on them. To be blunt, the LMS has been a one-team region for the last two years. The Flash Wolves would win every title, play well at MSI and underperform at Worlds. For teams not named the Flash Wolves, the LMS is 2-16 in Main Stage international play, and a majority of the FW team who did go are now on other teams. In the past, if you bet on the LMS you lost money, and this year it could be worse.

The LMS is expected to be the weakest major region, reinforced by dropping a game to their Wild Card opponent in Play Ins. Of the major region teams they have the least stacked rosters and struggle to find footholds when Bugi isn’t outperforming his opposing jungler. The betting odds currently are not in the favor of the Flash Wolves, however you can never cut the Wolves out of the equation.

4. Team Liquid - LCS

  • Top: Jung “Impact”Eon-yeong
  • Jungle: Jake “Xmithie” Puchero
  • Mid: Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen
  • ADC: Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng
  • Support: Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in
  • Play in Stage: 3-0 vs Phong Vũ Buffalo

The North American champions enter with a chip on their shoulder and the best chance to get out of groups in years. The issues with Team Liquid are glaring, with an immense focus on the late game and over-reliance on Doublelift. They tend to sac the early game and come back with superior teamfighting, which will not get you far against teams who specialize in the art of the quick kill. They have solid map rotation macro play, but it will likely pale compared to Invictus or SKT.

Individually, Impact is a player with an unfair “can’t play carries” label going up against an incredibly stacked top lane pool. Xmithie is arguably the worst jungler in a mechanical sense, but is potentially the best teamfighter. Jensen, Doublelift, and CoreJJ are each in pools that are basically all star lineups in their respective roles. Team Liquid are expected to make the Knockout Stage, but possibly no further. Against the lower two squads the MSI Betting Odds are in their favor, but not much so for the rest.

3. G2 Esports - LEC

  • Top: Martin “Wunder” Hansen
  • Jungle: Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski
  • Mid: Rasmus “Caps” Winther
  • ADC: Luka “Perkz” Perković
  • Support: Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle OR Hampus “promisq” Abrahamsson

The reigning LEC champion are being hailed as the strongest European team ever seen. They are masters of the early game, using their elite top half of the map to snowball the early game the entirety of 2019. Caps is the best mid laner in the west, no contest.

The issue in their play arises in the bottom lane. When Mikyx is playing, they tend to overextend and lose to stronger bottom lanes, but can be bailed out by their top half. This matters because Mikyx is questionable to play due to wrist issues, and promisq significantly lowers the strength of the team as a whole.

Versus the bottom three with Mikyx starting, G2 is an extremely safe bet, but promisq starting should be seen as the big bright warning flag against betting on G2. Bottom lane is extremely stacked at the event, and regardless of support Perkz is debatably the worst ADC of the major region teams. Whether they are favored can hinge just on which support they play, but that isn’t the worst part. Even their strengths are outclassed, as Invictus set game speed records at Worlds against the same players G2 bring to MSI. SKT as well are considered to have stronger individual players, so G2 might have trouble trying to exploit their strengths against the top two.

2. SKT T1 - LCK

  • Top: Kim “Khan” Dong-ha
  • Jungle: Kim “Clid” Tae-min
  • Mid: Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok
  • ADC: Park “Teddy” Jin-seong
  • Support: Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong

A familiar name in international competition, SKT has attended all but one MSI, reaching the finals every time. They come in with the Korean super team to end all super teams, with the two greatest players of all time along with a pair of underrated younger players and a solid top laner. They destroyed the seemingly indomitable Griffin in the LCK finals, and work like a well-oiled machine. Their teamfighting is the best in the world, spearheaded by the best bottom lane in Teddy and Mata.

The community is split between Invictus and SKT as to who is the real favorite, but the meta favors carry solo laners, and that is where a smart esports bettor should look when trying to decide between the two. While Faker may be the greatest of all time, Rookie boasts the highest KDA against Faker of players who have faced him more than once while also being undefeated versus him.

SKT fare even worse in the top lane, as TheShy is widely regarded as leagues above Khan in terms of carry potential. History is on the side of Invictus, but a wise man never bets it all against SK Telecom.

1. Invictus Gaming (LPL, +120)

  • Top: Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok
  • Jungle: Gao “Ning” Zhen-Ning
  • Mid: Song “Rookie” Eui-jin
  • ADC: Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo
  • Support: Wang “Baolan” Liu-Yi

Who else was it going to be? Invictus Gaming are the reigning world champions and are poised to be the second team to complete the unofficial Grand Slam of League of Legends. (Both regional split titles, MSI, and Worlds in a years time but not all in the same calendar year) They boast the strongest solo lanes in the world, one of the best junglers, and arguably a top five bottom lane.

The meta has stayed in their favor, and they have the biggest advantages where it counts. Are they the perfect team? No. Invictus looked weakened during the LPL finals against a JDG team they should have swept with relative ease. JackeyLove has moments of notorious mispositioning in the mid-game, which can set Invictus back when contesting objectives. Rookie isn’t looking as dominant as in 2018, but still looks like a top mid laner in the world.

The majority opinion is that Invictus Gaming are the strongest team at the tournament and in the world, and winning would put them in a class with only SKT as the only teams to win MSI and the World Championship.

MSI Betting Odds

The main thing to get oute of this article is that you should always keep an eye on either IG or SKT. The rest of the pack is fairly cut and dry, and despite the hype around G2, the history of G2’s solo laners versus elite Korean and Chinese carries speaks for itself. They are locks against PVB and probably the Flash Wolves, but TL can upset them, especially if promisq is playing. An MSI bet on one over the others isn’t a bad bet either way. PVB should be avoided against any team other than the Flash Wolves, as the LMS is on its last leg and could see the last tournament of major region consideration.