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Wednesday’s matches can’t begin with a more intense contest than this. It’s not just a battle between two competent teams, but one that invokes the healthy North America v Europe rivalry. It’s the kind both sides take immense pride in, and for a second, it’s convenient to simply ignore trophies, roster, international presence, team dynamics and recent form.
In many ways, this is a fight to establish superiority in the region, and to get their MSI 2022 campaign up and running. Remember, unlike other groups, Group C has only three teams, the other being order. The odds are with G2, but you will need to be brave to entirely count out Evil Geniuses.
Both sides finished fourth at the respective regional spring splits, with similar runs. And while the odds may favour one team over another, you’d believe this is a clash of equals.
If you look past where they finished in the table, you’d notice Evil Geniuses actually struggled mid-season and overcame a slump to cobble up fourth place. Towards the end of the season, finishing top had become a distant dream.
Form has been somewhat iffy lately. They began the playoffs with a demoralising loss to Team Liquid before they picked up some momentum in the lower bracket. For them to turn it around from there to go on a winning run by beating Cloud9, Team Liquid and 100 Thieves speaks volumes of their resolve and never-say-die attitude. Expect more of the same at MSI 2022.
G2 Esports have had to stave off intense competition from Fnatic and Rogue during the spring split. Having mustered a fourth-place finish, they also struggled in the playoffs, losing to Fnatic and dropping into the lower bracket. Like Evil Geniuses, they found their mojo there and then went on a roll to ransack Team Vitality, Misfits Gaming, Fnatic and Rogue to win the title.
Interestingly, both G2 and Evil Geniuses have never faced each other at an international tournament. Considering that, their first meeting already promises some spark as the battle between Europe and America is set to intensify.
There’s a reason why ORDER are rank underdogs going into this clash. This is the first time they’ve made it to the MSI on the back of a dream run at LCO 2022, and as commendable as that is, you can’t quite see them winning. Pushing the top sides? Perhaps. But being able to hold their own and challenge the might of Evil Geniuses, who despite the form slump still have enough pedigree? Perhaps not.
It’s going to be too much of a chance for someone to punt on ORDER even if it may bring with it the tantalising prospect of winning returns upto seven times your investment should they win. Place a safe bet on Evil Geniuses to do the job irrespective of how they fare in their opening game.
This one’s a gap far too big for Order to bridge, even if they have some talented individuals such as Victory ‘FBI’ Huang (formerly with 100 Thieves) and James ‘Tally’ Shute (formerly with Golden Guardians). The presence of the best mid-jungle duo in Oceania history – Samuel ‘Spookz’ Broadley and Simon ‘Swiffer’ Papamarkos – gives them the heft, but may not be enough to sustain pressure from the opponents.
Expect flashes of brilliance, expect pockets of dominance, but in the end, you have to back the tried and tested team to win here.
LCO 2022 Split 1 was a struggle early on. They didn’t rise above third until the very end. It seemed as if they’d be stuck in the mid-table logjam, and eventually finished with 11 wins and 10 losses in fifth place.
In the playoffs, however, they found some form and made their way up the losers bracket, winning against Dire Wolves, PEACE and then Pentant. With a 9-0 record in the playoffs up until the final, ORDER squared off against Chiefs Esports Club in the final, where they eventually held on in a see-saw battle to complete their dream run and secure their entry to the first-ever MSI.
DetonatioN FocusMe have won 12 domestic splits since inception into the LJL in 2014. While internationally the exposure hasn’t quite been at the same competitive level, they know how to win.
And they’ve come through a lot of churn over the past few years. That this hasn’t let their performances overall dip is testimony to their rise over the years. Pushing top sides such as Cloud9 right to the limit at the Worlds 2021 Play-ins is a further sign of their growing potential.
It’s no surprise that the punters have the odds with them as they square off against VCS champs Saigon Buffalo, who’ve had to face their own set of challenges, not least due to Covid-19 protocols.
That they’re here despite border restrictions and other challenges due to personnel – for instance, their best support player Yang ‘Gaeng’ Gwang-woo had to leave to complete his mandatory military service – makes them a team to watch out for. They may not be conventional favorites, but you can’t discount them either. Expect a middling run.
Saigon Buffalo – Slowly Building Towards Excellence
Saigon Buffalo didn’t win the 2022 VCS Spring season but are here at the MSI as the Vietnam representatives as the VCS’s first international appearance since 2019. They’re here with a brand new team, which is perhaps why expectations around them are at a bare minimum. They bring with them plenty of question marks over form and big-game capabilities which will truly be tested at MSI 2022.
That said, the Saigon Buffalo team that is here is unrecognisable from their 2019 version, even despite them having famously beaten G2. This is a new roster and all five players have only had experience in the current setup, having never professionally played elsewhere earlier.
Their first competitive outing together was at the 2021 VCS Winter Split, where they gave glimpses of their potential by winning six and losing eight. It wasn’t enough to secure a playoff berth despite them being in the race till the very end. Now they’re back with a similar roster, hoping to build on that form of the previous year.
T1 are the only team at the MSI 2022 that went undefeated in their home region from start to finish. If that doesn’t speak volumes to their form and confidence levels, it’s hard to think of elements that will convince fans or those asking the tough questions. As such, they’re a well-oiled machine that have most bases covered.
They have solid gameplay, back-ups for every role, and immense role clarity among the players. Their bot laners are world beaters, be it Ryu ‘Keria’ Minseok or Lee ‘Gumayusi’ Minhyeong. So good luck to anyone trying to breach the T1 fortress. There’s a reason why they’re favourites not just for this game but also for the tournament.
It’s hard to see them getting beaten in the early stages. If Team Aze actually won, they would’ve pulled off the mother of all upsets. Oh, and of course, apologies for missing it earlier – they have Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeong. That’s all you need to know about their proficiency.
Team AZE will be the first team from the LLA to attend an international event with import players. Top laner Han ‘Lonely’ Gyujoon and AD Carry Park ‘5Kid’ Jonghyeon, both from South Korea, have joined the side at the start of the season and played a key role in the side going on a winning run through the domestic league.
They have through their performances elicited bigger debates around the selection of overseas pros, but it hasn’t really affected them nor the team. Team AZE have tried to mix and match to the best way possible, with a fusion of Martin American talent and Korean talent fresh out of the LCK Spring season.
At MSI 2022, 5kid will face off against former KT Challengers lane partner Harp in the group stage. Both players looked overseas after stints in the LCK CL – 5kid in the LLA, and Harp in the LJL. They’ll both be eager to prove their mettle once again for the new sides going forward.
The Wildcats are the only team at MSI 2022 to head into the competition without a single roster change from their previous international appearance – the MSI 2021.
They failed to make it out of the group stages there, but the team management itself realised that was a step in the right direction as far as their development was concerned, so expectations were anyway at bare minimum. Having gained exposure and continuity over the past year, they return to the MSI as a stronger and more cohesive unit looking to ease themselves into the competition.
They come in on the back of a clean sweep of their domestic playoffs, and will want to ride that momentum to try and get out of a group consisting of some top sides like Royal Never Give Up, PSG Talon and Red Canids, their opponents first up. The odds are with the Wildcats but if there’s one team they want to be wary of, it’s the Red Canids.
Red Canids are trying to improve on their consistency, looking to get past a series of indifferent results nestled between their CBLOL success. After an incredible CBLOL 2021 playoffs run, they secured entry to the Worlds 2021, but couldn’t make it to the group stage. Their 2022 CBLOL Split-1 playoffs began poorly, as they lost to KabuM! Esports after dominating more than half the game.
This consigned them to the lower bracket. In their elimination game, the opposite happened. They started poorly and were staring at an exit, until their faith in personnel ensured they decided against substituting Grevthar, who won them an emotionally draining five-setter to keep them alive.
From there on, he played every single game in the playoff, playing key roles in the lower-bracket wins as they made it through to the final where they played paiN Gaming. Despite trailing 1-2, they pulled back two straight wins to claim their second straight CLBLOL title and their second-trip to the MSI.
RNG are among four sides to return to the MSI, having won the League of Legend Pro League’s spring split two years in a row. After last year’s triumph at the MSI, they suffered from player fatigue and Covid quarantine, which played a hand in their early elimination from the 2021 summer split playoffs.
That setback was all too brief as they surged to the regional final and grabbed an entry to the 2021 LoL World Championships. They lost 3-2 to eventual champions Edward Gaming after advancing from their group.
Star player Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao returns to the mid-lane. They’ve also signed worlds-finalist top laner Chen “Bin” Ze-Bin. The duo played a key role in taking down Top Esports in the 2022 LPL spring final to return as the incumbent champions. Form is with them, and so it’s no wonder the punters place them as overwhelming favourites going into this clash.
PSG have also had a winning run to be proud of. Their incredible 2021 was highlighted by their combined 35-1 regular-season record across the spring and summer splits.
They also managed to make the final four at last season’s 2021 MSI tournament where they even took a game off RNG, who went on to clinch the title. In many ways, this will be a bit of a rematch and expectations are high.
|MSI 2022 Information|
|Teams||Evil Geniuses vs G2, ORDER vs Evil Geniuses, Saigon Buffalo vs DFM, T1 vs Team AZE, Istanbul Wildcats vs Red Canids, RNG vs PSG Talon|
|Location||Busan, South Korea|
|Time||Wednesday, May 11 at 4.00 AM ET|
|How to watch||Official Twitch channel|
Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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