This past weekend the 2017 Mid-Season Invitation (MSI) concluded with results almost identical to Worlds last year, and the year before that. SK telecom T1 finished the tournament in 1st place, much to everyone’s surprise (totally kidding). SKT always has a chance of winning any tournament; it just so happens that no team is capable enough of ending their reign as champions quite yet. But what does this MSI business all mean in regards to Worlds this year? How will teams’ performance at MSI influence their chances at getting to Worlds?
The top 4 teams of MSI automatically grant their country a top seed at Worlds this year. Every other team that placed below the top 4 will have an opportunity to grant their country an additional seed by placing higher than everyone else (except for the top 4). So, in this year’s case, the GIGABYTE Marines (GAM) have granted the Garena Premier League (GPL) an additional seed at Worlds. Their #1 seed will automatically start in the Group Stage, while their #2 seed will start in the Play-In stage. The Play-In is a new addition to Worlds, allowing for more teams to be involved with the tournament. In turn, the tournament will represent more of the world’s talent when it comes to League of Legends.
For the first time, all 13 leagues will have teams entered to compete at Worlds this year. In the past, teams from leagues like the GPL or the Oceanic Pro League (OPL)–leagues with less of a competitive level in comparison to leagues like the LCK, EU LCS, NA LCS, or LMS–had to battle for a spot in the International Wildcard Qualifier. Now each of these leagues has the opportunity to present the world with their best performing team. They also had the opportunity to obtain the second seed from MSI (GAM already secured the second seed for the GPL this year).
The only question I have remaining about this tournament is where the GPL, the league where GAM have proved their dominance, stands in regards to future MSI tournaments or Worlds this year. GAM were the wildcard to make it to MSI this year, but does that mean the GPL gets an additional seed for Worlds this year like they’re technically supposed to? If so, then that means we’ll be seeing another GPL team enter the world stage. The NA LCS is automatically granted two seeds because they are a highly professional league. TSM technically placed 5th (above GAM), but since the NA LCS is already granted their two seeds (plus maybe another), the GPL should be the ones rewarded with the additional seed.
All this being said, the top 4 seeds from the MSI this year are represented from the LPL (Team WE), LCK (SK telecom T1), LMS (Flash Wolves), and EU LCS (G2 Esports). None of these top 4 teams are guaranteed a spot at Worlds for their performance at MSI; the only advantage is that all 4 of these leagues will have top seeds in the Group Stage of Worlds starting on September 23 in China. So, for example, if SK telecom T1 makes it to worlds (highly likely), and they’re the highest seed to make it from the LCK (also very likely), then they’ll be a top ranked seed starting in the Groups Stage at Worlds. As that date nears, I’ll have more information as to which teams qualified after the Summer Split, and which teams to look out for. SK telecom T1 is always a threat to be reckoned with, but GAM proved themselves worthy of playing with the best. One thing is for sure: it’ll be an interesting rest of the season.