MSI 2022 roundtable: Most exciting matchups, players to watch and more
MSI 2022 will take place in Busan, South Korea
MSI 2022 will take place in Busan, South Korea

MSI 2022 roundtable: Most exciting matchups, players to watch and more

The event starts on May 10 as11 of the world's best teams duke it out

The prestigious Mid-Season Invitational 2022 beckons in the distance as champions from their regional leagues make their way to Busan, South Korea to do battle and take home spots for Worlds, glory and of course, international League of Legends bragging rights.

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With the CIS’ League of Legends Continental League missing out due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, MSI will see 11 teams clash in the tournament of champions. Royal Never Give Up, from China’s LoL Pro League, are the defending champions. They will have to fend off extremely fierce competition coming from the likes of T1, G2 Esports and Evil Geniuses. But other than the well-known names, what other teams or players could excite at MSI?

Upcomer rounded up the writing crew to put their heads together and talk about the groups, teams and players we are most excited to see.

Which group are you most excited to watch and why?

T1 heads to Busan, South Korea to prepare for MSI 2022
T1 heads to Busan, South Korea to prepare for MSI 2022. | Photo by T1 Twitter

Warren Younger: It’s Group C. While we will get to see some awesome international matches in the Rumble stage, Group C is the only group where we get to see two major regions clash it out before then. G2 and Evil Geniuses are coming into MSI red hot and it really feels that the battle of NA vs EU is back. Looking forward to those matches.

Kenny Utama: Definitely Group C. I think it’s the most competitive group by far. Not just North America and Europe, but also Oceania. While it might seem like the battle of the major regions, Oceania have always been a strong contender and could find a way to beat out any of the other teams in the group. Fans will also get the battle between North America and Europe at some point, which social media will have a field day with. Definitely the most exciting group.

E.G “Megalodontus” Kant: I’m going to go against the grain here and say Group B. Not because I’m being different on purpose but due to a few interesting matchups there. Brazil vs Turkey is always a big spectacle on the Rift as well as on social media, and Brazil were 2-0 over them last MSI.

PSG Talon in this group means the Istanbul Wildcats can potentially get their revenge on them for last MSI, too. RNG are a no-brainer and, as the person who was mostly responsible for writing about the Church of Xiaohu this spring, I want to see them play against everyone.

Rashidat Jimoh: For me, it’s Group C because I think it’s the most unpredictable group overall. While some G2 members have the most international experience and are MSI winners, you can’t count EG out. The team will be eager to make their mark in their first MSI and can rely on the experience of Jeong “Impact” Eon-yeong.

Besides, who doesn’t like a classic North America versus Europe rivalry? Moreover, Oceania can also take games off major regions as they have constantly shown in previous years.

Aykut “Kots” Sapaz: While the rivalry of the West reigns dominantly over Group C, no doubt, I think Group A has more excitement packed in those four teams. A Vietnamese team returning to the stage after two years has to face up against the next up-and-comer minor region of Japan, all in the presence of the undefeated LCK conquerors T1. What is there not to be hyped about?

Which minor region team could most likely cause big upsets?

Younger: My heart is still with DetonatioN FocusMe. While they don’t have their superstar mid laner Lee “Aria” Ga-eul anymore, DFM showed last year that they are more than just a mid laner and four wards. This team is still very good and I think they are still the best wild card region team at MSI.

Utama: The typical answer would be ORDER, but I’m going to believe in DetonatioN FocusMe like Warren did. They were the surprise at last year’s Worlds and I think they will be the second team out of the group along with T1. The team has consistently performed at Worlds, even getting into the group stage last year. Excited to see how they will perform for MSI.

Megalodontus: It would be easy to say ORDER like some of my colleagues. They are grouped with an NA team. However, my pick is Saigon Buffalo.

I know, they’re the second seed from Vietnam and we haven’t seen them play in international arenas. However, I am very partial to teams who are very bloody, chaotic and aggressive — and these rampaging buffaloes have that in spades. I think teams are not going to expect their level of aggression and will be caught off-guard by it. Mess with the bull and you get the horns!

Jimoh: I think it will be OCE’s ORDER, but I won’t rule out the Istanbul Wildcats. Even though Turkey has not done well in recent international events, I still believe the region can do so much better. Moreover, I’m optimistic someone will take a game off RNG in Group B.

Kots: If anyone has the chance to upset everyone this year, it’s ORDER. We saw what happened last year in a three-teamed group with OCE. Part of how that happened might have been RNG’s decisive domination, which I don’t expect from neither G2 or EG, but ORDER seem to have a fighting chance. If not them, it’s Istanbul Wildcats in a group very reminiscent of last year. This might be their year of upsets and redemption.

Which players are you keeping an on at MSI 2022?

Younger: For the NA fans, all eyes must be on Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki and Joseph Joon “jojopyun” Pyun. As the two newest hopes for NA, if both of these youngsters can excel on the international stage, then NA has a lot to be excited about when it comes to the future of NA talent.

Utama: I will be with the rest of the North American fans watching Danny and jojopyun. Much has been touted about North American domestic talent at international events and it will be interesting to see how these two young players shine at MSI. Or maybe they don’t shine and crash. Either way it makes for great esports.

Megalodontus: I’d say all of Saigon Buffalo, just because we’ve not seen Vietnamese teams on the international stage. But, specifically, I suppose, I want to see if Rasmus “caPs” Borregaard Winther and Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski will terrorize MSI and remind the world of their 2019 win.

Since I’m the main propagator for the Church of Xiaohu, I’m very excited to see RNG play. Not just Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao but their bot lane of Chen “GALA” Wei and Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming. They had many incredible performances in the LPL playoffs and in last MSI, too, so I’m keen to see if they maintain or surpass that form.

Jimoh: The first two are Victor “Flakked” Lilora and Raphaël “Targamas Crabbé. The G2 bot lane duo have no international experience and it will be interesting to see how they approach the game on a different patch. Also, Team Aze’s bot laner, Park “5kid” Jeong-hyeon as well as DFM’s Lee “Yaharong’ Chan-ju.

Kots: Berk “Farfetch” Badur has let down many of his and Istanbul Wildcats’ fans last year with his lackluster performance. While they were more dominant in TCL this year, people including me expect him to either show up or return home in disgrace as a two-time loser. I’m also excited to see Danny and jojopyun’s first international event as the brand new North American talent.

Which potential matchup are you most excited to see in group stage and the Rumble Stage?

G2 Esports heads to MSI 2022 as the LEC champions
G2 vs EG will no doubt excite with the EU vs NA rivalry narrative in Group C | Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games

Younger: G2 versus EG is the best matchup we will see in the group stage, but Saigon Buffalo versus DetonatioN FocusMe is also a matchup spectators need to keep an eye on. With the VCS being the old holders of the top classic wild card region before the pandemic, the LJL stepped up to claim that title last year. So, this will be a test on which wild card region can claim that title.

Utama: I will be looking forward to G2 and EG in the group stages, I think that will be the match that most western fans will be excited about. In the Rumble stage, I would like to see T1 and RNG face-off, as I think they are the two best teams at the event and to see them face-off is the whole reason we love MSI as fans.

Megalodontus: There’s no two ways about it — G2 vs EG is the match to watch for groups. It’s NA vs EU. It’s a classic. As they say, ’nuff said.

For Rumble, of course, T1 vs RNG is most certainly a mouth-watering matchup, but I’m actually looking forward to RNG vs G2. It’s time for the big rematch from Worlds 2018 and even though it’s missing some big names, I’m preparing popcorn on the side to watch it.

Jimoh: In the group stage I’m most excited for G2 versus EG. The mix of veterans and young talent as well the clean sweeps in playoffs make both teams similar.

For Rumble, I’m eager to watch the series between T1 and G2 or T1 and RNG. I feel like both series are going to be either completely intense or surprisingly one-sided.

Kots: For the group stage, it’s Turkey versus Brazil with EU versus NA lurking closely. You have to love it when international rivalries have a chance to further their histories with either upsets or clean sweeps. For the Rumble stage, anyone versus T1. Let us see if the Korean legends are as undefeatable on the international stage as they were on home soil.