Does North America Have A Chance At MSI?

The teams have qualified and now all that’s left is the waiting as we count down the days to the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational (MSI). It marks the first major international tournament of the League of Legends season, which means two things historically. Disappointment and apathy.

But with COVID having shut down the League of Legends MSI last year, I feel more buzz for the invitational than I have in awhile. Or maybe. Just maybe, it’s because people think North America might make some noise.

History Says There’s A Chance

I don’t need to get on here and pontificate about North America’s abysmal history at the World Championships. I do that often enough. But the Mid-Season Invitational has historically been much kinder to our corner of the world. It was just a few short years ago that Team Liquid made it all the way to the finals.

A few years before that, CLG lost to SK Telecom T1 in the finals of MSI 2016. My point is that while North America has never won the Mid-Season Invitational, they’ve had a far more successful run there than they have at Worlds.

At MSI, it’s not just the top four regions on display. All the regional leagues send their best. And with Riot Games putting an extra worlds spot on the line this year, what better time to make history?

A Hope And A Prayer In Group C

Ah group stages. The natural predator of North American esports. To qualify for the main event of the Mid-Season Invitational, competitors need to place in the top two teams of their group. So let’s take a look at Cloud9’s competition in Group C.

  • Damwon Gaming – This is the first problem that Cloud9 will run into. Last year’s world champions have slotted into Group C with them. The South Korean juggernaut features one of the most talented top laners I’ve seen in Khan. In addition, their bottom lane connection of Ghost and Beryl should be keeping North America fans awake at night. This is an almost guaranteed 2 losses.
  • Infinity eSports – Listen. I’d love to get on here and tell you I’ve watched every game in the Latin American region this year, and thus have all the info on Infinity eSports. I haven’t, and I don’t. The Costa Rican squad defeated Furious Gaming to advance to MSI, and likely into a buzzsaw. Their support, Ackerman is a rookie sensation, but their team spells it “eSports” and for that alone, I hope Cloud9 buries them.
  • Detonation FocusMe – Perhaps better known by their title of “The only team from Japan you can name.” They’ve been the best of the region for what feels like 70 years, but their success has never transitioned to the international stage in a meaningful way. I would expect them to be better than Infinity, and not much else.

The Main Event

So what does it all mean? While International League of Legends has almost always been the death knell of North America, we should have hope. Cloud9, lead by Perkz, is a better team than either Infinity eSports or Detonation FocusMe and that’s good enough to make it into the main event of MSI 2021.

After that, who knows? The play-in stages are over, the group stages are over, and you just need to win some one-on-one matches. Cloud9 could get hot at the right time. Their opponents could get sick. Hell, it’s Reykjavík Iceland, a volcano could explode and the ash could get in the eyes of the opposing team. The point is, you’ve got a puncher’s chance once you make it out of group stages.

I’m not about to get on here and predict Cloud9 to stun the world and win North America’s first international League of Legends event. I don’t think they’re going to win that additional slot for the hometown region. I just think it might be more fun to watch than people are giving credit. They’ll have plenty of time to prove me wrong.

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About The Author

Kali Scales Kali got into gaming from a young age when her mom bought her a GameBoy with The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. She’s been a lifelong gamer, particularly fond of the Final Fantasy, Mass Effect, and Star Wars franchises. Her interests extend outside gaming; she loves comics and is particularly passionate about movies. As a member of the LGBTQ+ family, she feels strongly about working with charitable causes and has hosted numerous charity streams. She serves as the Head of Content for the CheckpointXP brand, but also as a producer for the CheckpointXP Radio Show. She occasionally appears as a guest on CheckpointAFK.

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