The LoL Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) is back for 2021 after it got canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s edition of the international tournament will be held in Iceland on May 6-23.
COVID-19 Continues to Impact the MSI
Riot Games have worked hard to make the 2021 MSI happen amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the tournament is confirmed to take place, the global pandemic has left its mark on this year’s edition as well.
To make the tournament as safe as possible, Riot Games decided to host it in Reykjavík, Iceland. The country has reported only 132 COVID-19 cases in April, making it the safest country to host an offline event.
While everything went as planned for the organizers, things turned sour earlier last week. On Tuesday, April 20, it was announced that GAM Esports will not be able to participate at the MSI.
The announcement surfaced after the Vietnamese government restricted national travel. This marks the second time Vietnamese LoL teams were unable to attend an international tournament.
The Vietnam Championship Series (VCS) squads already missed the 2020 World Championship. This forced the organizers to adjust the Play-In format and award Korean teams an additional seed for the season-culminating event.
Mid-Season Invitational Format
Despite GAM Esports withdrawing from the competition, the MSI format will remain largely unchanged. There will, however, be a slight modification to the group stage.
The 11 remaining teams will compete over three stages of the tournament. Those include the group stage, the rumble stage, and the knockout stage.
For the group stage, the teams have been drawn into one group of three and two groups of four. As a group with only three teams, Group A will have its format changed to compensate for it.
- Group A: Royal Never Give Up, Unicorns of Love, Pentanet.gg
- Group B: MAD Lions, PSG Talon, Instabul WIldcars, paiN Gaming
- Group C: DWK Kia, Cloud9, Infinity Esports, DetonatioN FocusMe
Groups B and C will use a double round-robin format, with all matches played as best-of-one (Bo1). Group A, on the other side, will play in a quadruple round-robin format.
The top two teams from each group will advance to the rumble stage, where all six teams will play a Bo1 double round-robin. The top four teams from this stage will then advance to the semi-finals, i.e., the knockout stage.
In the knockout stage, the four teams will be drawn into pairs of two. Each pair will play a Bo5 match to determine the two finalists who will duke it out on the main stage on Sunday, May 23.
The winning team will be crowned as the best team in the world – the MSI 2021 Champions. Besides the prestige that comes with winning the title, the champion will reap an additional award – granting their region an additional seed for the 2021 World Championship.
11 Teams, One Title, and One Ticket for the 2021 World Championship
With a lot on the line, all 11 teams will be eager to prove not only that they have what it takes to win it all but serve as worthy representatives of their respective region.
Entering the MSI 2021 as the main favorites are the reigning world champions DWG KIA (-200). The Korean squad are priced well below any other team at the tournament – including the Chinese champions Royal Never Give Up (+160).
Following the two Asian juggernauts are MAD Lions (+1300) and Cloud9 (+1600). The two Western representatives will make their MSI debut in May, having won their respective league’s Spring Splits.
The Pacific Championship Series (PCS) champions PSG Talon and League of Legends Continental League (LCL) champions Unicorns of Love enter the 2021 MSI as two darkhorse teams. Priced at +3000 and +5000, respectively, these two squads are unlikely to make a deep run.
Istanbul Wild Cats (+9000), PaiN Gaming (+10000), DetonatioN FocusMe (+15000), Infinity Esports (+25000), and Pentanet.gg (+30000) travel to Iceland as complete outsiders. Hailing from some of the weakest LoL regions in the world, neither is expected to win; however, you should never underestimate teams that have nothing to lose.
2021 MSI Outright Betting Odds
Odds courtesy of BetOnline Sportsbook:
- DWG KIA (-200)
- Royal Never Give Up (+160)
- MAD Lions (+1300)
- CLoud9 (+1600)
- PSG Talon (+3000)
- Unicorns of Love (+5000)
- Istanbul Wild Cats (+9000)
- PaiN Gaming (+10000)
- DetonatioN FocusMe (+15000)
- Infinity Esports (+25000)
- Pentanet.gg (+30000)