In May, the regional leagues took a break. That, however, did not mean a month without League of Legends at all. Instead, the best games of the year so far took place in May, as the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational played out in Vietnam and Taiwan. During the almost three-week span MSI lasted for, we were able to witness some of the most exciting games ever, follow a myriad of player-related storylines and, overall, enjoy League of Legends at its maximum potential.
MSI 2019 shattered every preconception fans may have had about international power-rankings coming into the tournament. Invictus Gaming, current World Champions, bombed out of the semifinals after a heart-breaking defeat against North America's Team Liquid. On the other side of the bracket, G2 surpassed SKT's super team in a nail-biting five-game series. In the end, the European representatives would end up gifting Europe their first international trophy in ages.
All of these unexpected turns of events ended up making every single game in the tournament a magical one in its own way. Some, however, were simply better, more entertaining or more meaningful than others. Today, we present you with the top 3 games of May 2019.
If you’d like to view the games without being spoilered, we’ve made a playlist for you to watch. Click here, then come back and read the analysis, and discuss the games!
Now, without further ado, let's get onto the list.
MSI - SKT T1 vs G2 (Game 5)
With the group stage in Vietnam behind us, everything was ready for the knockout stage in Taipei, where only the best four teams would play. SKT (7-3) and G2 (5-5), were drawn into the second semifinal and into an odd situation. The team coming in as the lower seed, G2, held a 2-0 record in the head to head against SKT in the group stage. Not only had they won both times they had previously met, but they'd done it decisively.
So with the teams already having played on stage, the question was what kind of SKT would show up on the day. A team that had shown they can evolve during the season, and had arguably already started that process during group stage itself, had to find the answer to G2's more aggressive and carefree style of league; a team not bound to the rules that other teams found themselves adhering to.
This was also the battle between two "superteams", hungry for international success, where top tier individual skill is not only required but expected. A fan-favorite galore, we were in for a treat, as the series would go the distance, delighting both die-hard fans and neutrals alike.
The teams traded blows, both unable to get two wins in a row, as the series was dominated by blue side. And with G2 on red side for the final game, it appeared as though the universe was sending G2 a sign that their MSI run would end here. However, G2 weren't about to listen to the universe now. So they mustered up the most G2 pick-ban phase yet, with a second rotation Pyke and then a Syndra in the bot lane. This is the G2 style, When the pressure is on, they thrive.
To all those believers in the effects of positive thinking and those who converted after this series, we salute you! G2 punched their ticket to the final where an EU vs NA final awaited.
MSI - Team Liquid vs Invictus Gaming (Game 4)
When IG (9-1) chose TL (4-6) as their rival for the semifinal, nobody was surprised. The Chinese powerhouse was expected to run over the LCS representative. Even though TL had been picking up steam in the later parts of the group stage, and their games against IG (0-2) didn't seem hopeless, only the most optimistic of analysts predicted a close series. But this is what makes international events so great; anything can happen on a given day. That day, Team Liquid, and especially CoreJJ, showed their best face.
The NA squad came out of the gate swinging and was able to get the first two wins very comfortably on the rift. IG pulling ahead in the early stages of the game didn't rattle TL, and they stuck to their win conditions, even in the face of IG's growing strength. Finally, in Game 3, it seemed as though the beast had awakened, and on the back of a great performance from Rookie on Leblanc, IG got their first win on the board.
With the ball in the American team's court once again, it was time to seal the door to the reverse sweep. It was time to calm their nerves and stabilize, and with this roster full of experienced veterans, TL was able to do precisely that. By displaying the team play they were truly capable of, they knocked the current World Champions out of the tournament, completing the miracle 3 to 1.
After overcoming this gigantic hurdle, it remained to be seen who their opponent in the final would be, and how they would fare against them. NA loyalists would be allowed to dream for a couple of days before they fell in the finals. But the sense of accomplishment after this excellent showing is something that will surely fuel the TL players (and their fans) in the future.
MSI - Invictus Gaming vs Phong Vu Buffalo
It was Day One of the MSI Main Event. The group stage kicked off with a few exciting international clashes, such as the long-awaited G2 vs SKT. Within the six matches that made up the day, however, there was one that many fans were expecting to be quite one-sided: Phong Vũ Buffalo vs Invictus Gaming.
The Buffaloes, the local representative, had barely scraped by in the play-in stage, where they had to take down Russia's representatives, Vega Squadron to advance to the group stages. Their playstyle was fairly aggressive, as they put a lot of focus on the first few minutes of the game. Once time passed, however, they did not always manage to utilize their advantages to close out the games properly.
On the other side, Invictus Gaming were the current League of Legends world champions. Coming from China's LPL, they played like almost every team in their region: raw, unfettered aggression. In this, they were similar to the Buffaloes, as they also enjoyed controlling the early stages of the games. When two teams with the same overall style clash, however, it is usually the better one that wins.
In this case, that was undoubtedly iG. First, they knew how to translate advantages into objectives and, ultimately, the Nexus much more efficiently. Moreover, the individual level of their team members was clearly above the Vietnamese's. No matter how promising Phạm "Zeros" Minh Lộc looked, Kang "TheShy" Seung-lok was always going to be one step ahead when it came to mechanics. Unfortunately for the Buffaloes, that mismatch appeared in almost every lane.
Going into the game, thus, Invictus was expected to take an easy victory over a struggling Phong Vũ and go on with their lives. Well, they did indeed take the victory in the end, but easy is definitely not the appropriate word to describe how the match went for the Chinese team. With Bùi Hoàng "XuHao" Sơn Vương stepping in for Hoàng "Meliodas" Tiến Nhật in the jungle, the Buffaloes put up a fight in the early game that iG's players were not prepared for.
Maybe it was their draft, which featured a whole lot of poke, roaming, and dive capacity with picks such as Jayce, Zoe and Kai'Sa. Or maybe it was XuHao's intimidating global presence, but Phong Vũ Buffalo managed to amass a meaningful advantage over the Chinese side, who struggled to come out victorious in the various skirmishes that occurred throughout the map at almost every moment.
In the end, and after a disastrous Baron take, Invictus managed to come back with a spectacular team fight which finally put an end to the locals' hopes. iG, however, did not look good in their first match of MSI, but rather lost and confused. Phong Vũ Buffalo, after all, did not reach their goal, which was taking down the World Champions. What they did, though, was remind everyone that they weren't there to make up the numbers and in doing so, delighting fans all over the world with one of the most fun LoL games of the whole year. All in all, an absolute must-watch.