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DGW KIA overcame MAD Lions in a tight five-game series to move onto the Mid-Season Invitational finals on May 22. The Korean team opened the series with a win, but fell behind 1-2 as MAD’s bot lane pushed their DWG KIA counterparts into disadvantageous fights. But, DWG KIA forced a fifth game and took the series thanks to their impeccable team fighting, while their mid and jungle duo took over the early game. DWG KIA battle Royal Never Give Up Sunday, May 23 to decide the 2021 MSI champion.

The bot lane battle

The bot lane matchup in each game decided the early tempo for the series as a whole. The MAD duo of Matyáš “Carzzy” Orság and Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser constantly pressured and challenged Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun and Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee. The two duos went back and forth in each game, diving and fighting each other with and without backup from their junglers. Carzzy and Kaiser won many of the early skirmishes, which translated into early leads for their team.

Both Ghost and BeryL looked outmatched at times, taking unnecessary fights or losing even fights against their opponents. DWG KIA kept games close thanks to their macro and overall team fighting, but in Game 2 and 3, the early deficits were too much to overcome. In both games DWG KIA held strong in team fights and stole objectives away from the Europeans, but one lost skirmish meant the game.

MAD took both Game 2 and 3 off of individual picks after won or lost team fights. As the respawn timers staggered thanks to the constant fighting in the mid game, MAD were able to close out both games in a timely fashion. Both MAD wins did not go over 35 minutes, but each averaged about one kill a minute.

Showmaker and Canyon awaken in Game 4 and 5

As the series became more reliant on the bot lane, DWG KIA’s mid and jungle duo turned their attention to getting themselves ahead as their teammates continued to lose in their own lane. Heo “ShowMaker” Su went away from the more lane focused Jayce and passive Viktor picks from Games 2 and 3 with Sylas and Zoe in the final two games. The two mages are powerful in the current meta, especially in skirmishes and team fights, and give the mid laner the ability to roam more often. Paired with Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu’s Rumble, the two took fights around the map and helped the other laners gain early leads.

“Canyon’s Triple Kill secures @DWGKIA the win in Game 1! #MSI2021,” tweeted the LoL Esports account.

Even if those early fights did not go their way, DWG KIA still managed to claw the gold lead back and punished MAD if they overstepped. Showmaker made a mark on the MSI stage as he ran through MAD in the final two games. He finished Game 4 with a 7/1/14 Kill/Death/Assist score line and did the same in Game 5 ending at 1/1/12. Canyon was not far behind him with 5/1/10 and 3/0/9 score lines in both games.

MAD Lions attempted to fight back against the duo, but every misstep turned into a quick punish as DWG KIA ran over their counterparts in the early game. In all three DWG KIA wins, the Koreans took the games in under 26 minutes. The final game ended in about 23 minutes and DWG KIA secured an over 10,000 gold lead before they destroyed the enemy nexus.

On to MSI finals

MAD walk away from the series on a sour note, losing both chances to close out the series and continue to the 2021 MSI finals. But, the team fought hard against the Korean representatives. At least the team can come away knowing their bot lane is superior in the laning phase.

DWG KIA, on the other hand, earned their way to the 2021 MSI finals and will take on the Chinese representative RNG Sunday May 23. This will be the Korean organizations first trip to the MSI finals and RNG’s second. RNG won the tournament in 2018 and bowed out in third-fourth in 2016.