The New World Order At LoL’s Mid-Season Invitational

lol-riotgames-esportsWith more twists and turns than you typically find in an entire season of pro League of Legends, the group stage of the Mid-Season Invitational ended with a leaderboard that seemed like something from an alternate universe.

China’s LoL Pro League was all but written-off as the place where good Korean pros went to get rich while their skills died, following months of bad headlines and dodgy performances that made the entire region look like a Potemkin esports scene. Yet the aptly-named Royal Never Give Up (RNG) absolutely ran the table at this tournament, going undefeated in the opening days of competition.

Counter Logic Gaming seemed like they were going to follow the depressingly familiar script for all North American League champions: they would show some signs of life, get people’s hopes up that maybe the region has produced a credible international contender, and then go sliding down the standings into the barely-better-than-a-wildcard region.

Their loss to Turkey’s SuperMassive eSports team on the second day of the tournament seemed almost to guarantee ignominy for the Americans… and then they won three straight games and managed to finish second by the end, as well as stage this masterpiece of a comeback against RNG.

But nothing is more surprising than the precipitous collapse of SK Telecom, a team that has seemed likely to become a repeat world champion this year and further establish mid laner Faker as some kind of Michael Schumacher-like, era-defining superstar. This is a team that seemed poised to crush all comers at MSI… and instead they dropped four straight games and plummeted into fourth place in the standings. Like a switch has been thrown somewhere, their play has seemed bizarrely haphazard and ill-considered.

Then again, this is an SK Telecom team that’s trying to find its new identity after losing their in-game leader from last year’s team, as well as find a more capable player in the jungle role. Given that they don’t have absolute confidence in each other, it’s not surprising that, in the face of adversity, the team has started to crumble.

Full stroy @ Kotaku

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