Lessons learned after one day at MSI and expectations heading into Day 2

Let’s look at the key takeaways from day one at MSI 2021. The meta has shifted towards new champions, and teams need to make a decision about their pick/ban style. We also take a look at how our power rankinsg are panning out and what comes ahead for Day 2 at the Mid-Season Invitational.

MSI 2021 Day 1

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New Picks or Old Meta? Some stick to the status quo…

The most interesting thing about the MSI so far is certainly the meta. The new patch 11.9 brought some substantial changes, particularly to the jungle meta. Hecarim, Udyr and all the Chemtank junglers were nerfed. This allowed new champions rise in popularity: Morgana, Rumble and Diana were the most contested picks.

Why is this shift so important?

The jungle meta directly affects all the other roles in the game. It impacts many of the early-game interactions as well as mid-game objective control. The new champions have different strengths and weaknesses from the Chemtank junglers and teams must adapt with either innovative strategies or team compositions.

With that being said, day one of MSI 2021 showed that teams have taken very different approaches. Generally speaking, though, teams can be divided into two large categories: one where teams have tried the new champions and one where they stuck to the “older” meta.

So far, it’s really hard to say what’s the better strategy. At MSI, teams from all different regions want to bring their own vision of League to the table. There is no absolute right or wrong, it’s more a matter of putting the pieces together and make it work.

Key takeaways of the MSI 2021 meta in Day 1

Since scrims and practice are usually not leaked to the public, it’s really hard to know what the teams have practiced during these past weeks. What we saw so far, however, is that it has become a general consensus that Rumble is very strong, borderline broken. It has more flexibility compared to the other two junglers (Diana and Morgana), and its ultimate brings so much value to the team. Expect to see him Pick-or-Ban throughout the tournament.

Speaking of junglers, Kindred was picked in the first game by Cloud9 against DK. Many people think that Kindred is viable again due to the meta shifting. The champion is hard to master and it takes a bit of time to get into the groove. We’ll have to see whether teams will continue training him or not…

Another champion worth mentioning is Lee Sin. You might have seen that pro players have played him, with relatively strong success. Well, the Blind Monk made it back to competitive, thanks to his recent buffs. While Riot wanted to push him back up in the jungle, it ended up, instead, pushing him to the solo lanes. The reasons are simple: he has strong dueling ability and it’s really easy to punish the enemies thanks to his mobility and all-in combos. Not to mention that he can always Insec…

It seems that teams finally picked up Varus, who was first seen in the LPL Playoffs. They will surely have seen his strong laning and the damage he can put out when given the condition. We will surely see more of him in the upcoming days as well.

Apart from these picks, teams have played similar team comps and champions to the previous patches. Gnar is still a hot pick in the top lane; Kai’Sa and Tristana are still relevant in their roles and the support usually involves an engaging champion like Alistar or Leona, or a peeling one like Tahm Kench. What we’re hoping to see, though, is more innovation the longer the tournament goes and that it will reward the most creative teams.

What about the teams?

The results of day one were all somehow predictable. The three strongest regions (LPL, LEC and LCK) have shown their strength: we’re going to have to wait until the next stages to find out who’s really the best of the best.

Cloud9 had an OK performance against DK, the favorites of this tournament. However, they never felt like they were in a position to take the win. We’ll have to see how they will play in the rematch.

As for the other teams, it was very obvious that lower seeds would have struggled against stronger teams. Pentanet.GG tried to be creative in draft to get leads, but the individual strength can’t back that up. DetonationFocusMe can be considered on the same boat…

What was impressive, however, was the comeback performance by paiN Gaming against Istanbul Wildcats. Despite being the “worse” team on paper, they were able to take a victory over the TCL Representative, thanks to what was arguably a better team composition.

The big letdown of the day was, undoubtedly, PSG Talon. We surely expected more from the PCS team, since we also put them high on our MSI Power Rankings. PSG Talon, instead, was obliterated by MAD Lions in a sub-28 minute game, with more than a 15k gold lead. If they want to get to the next stage, they will surely have to get it back in the next games.

Heading into Day 2 at MSI 2021

Day one of MSI was very indicative of how the teams’ strength are relatively to each other. Not only that, but the meta is shifting: teams that will make the right read of it will have a big advantage down the line.

The MSI schedule for Day 2 features plenty of top heavy matches, with the main regions meeting the “wildcards”. There is not much worth in terms of MSI Odds either, unless you want to bet on LCK/LPL/LEC teams obliterating teams in sub-30 minute games. There is however insight to be gained about who will adapt more to the new patch.

Let’s see if any upsets come from the wildcards today.

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