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Day 4 of the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational looked like it would be the most boring day of the entire event. However, the storylines coming out of the Group A finale turned into a pleasant surprise. Pentanet.GG stole the show and the second seed away from Unicorns of Love, Royal Never Give Up made a shocking roster swap and pocket picks galore made up the best of the day.

Pentanet, against all odds, advance in international competition for the first time in OCE history

Oceania: a region abandoned by Riot and ripped apart by players jumping off the sinking ship. Pentanet.GG: the representatives of the newly formed League of Legends Circuit Oceania. These underdogs came into MSI with huge chips on their shoulders. However, Pentanet.GG embraced the meme side of things and never took themselves seriously. Ironically, the world has to take them seriously now.

After a makeshift best of five series against the CIS representatives, Unicorns of Love, Pentanet stunned the world as they proved memes do come true. Pentanet pulled off the upset behind pocket picks and decisive decision making. They ended up beating UOL in a winner-take-all tiebreaker, pushing themselves to the second round of international play for the first time in history.

Sunday’s schedule was grueling for the Group A teams. Pentanet and the other two teams in the group were slated to play four games total  all against the other two teams in their group twice. With the League of Legends Pro League’s RNG already being a virtual lock, the only two games that actually mattered were the two games between PGG and UOL, as both teams came into the final day of the group stage tied. Pentanet struggled during the first game against UOL on Sunday. The Russian reps dismantled PGG in 23 minutes pushing them to the brink of elimination. However, PGG were unphased by the pressure.

Despite their theme song being Drake’s “Hold on, were coming home,” PGG were not ready to fly all the way back to Australia just yet. But to avoid the early trip back, PGG had to win their final game against UOL and then beat them again in a winner-take-all tiebreaker. With their tournament lives on the line, PGG decided to break out the comfort picks. Jesse “Chazz” Mahoney locked in Zed, Brandon “BioPanther” Alexander locked in Sett and Mark “Praedyth” Lewis locked in Samira.

The three carries of PGG had spectacular games as they combined for 15 of the teams 23 kills. The two other players picked the perfect game to break out as well. Daniel “Decoy” Ealam went 0/0/18 on Galio and the eccentric jungler of the team, Jackson “Pabu” Pavone, had a dominating game on Nidalee, going 8/1/9 to force the game five tiebreaker.

Game five was another game with game defining off-meta picks — the most notable being Pabu’s Karthus in the jungle. Although the team played just as well in game five as they did in game four, it was the Karthus pick that really paid off for PGG. Pabu played a fantastic game, setting up Praedyth’s Xayah for success while also making UOL’s jungler Kirill “AHaHaCiK”  Skvortsov a non factor. PGG dismantled UOL in 28 minutes to take the makeshift series 3-2 to give the OCE region their first ever second round birth in history.

The Oceania region might not have funding from Riot, they might have lost their best players to North America, but what they do have is their best international performance to date despite it all.

RNG are just having fun before the real test starts

Heading into the second half of the quadruple round-robin on Day 4 of MSI, RNG were playing for nothing. In their first four games, RNG’s closest game was a 25 minute stomp. Simply put, UOL and PGG were no match for RNG and neither team really had any shot at beating them. On Sunday, RNG decided to let loose and have some fun.

In their first match of the day, RNG let the game go past the 25 minute mark but still ended the game before 30 minutes. UOL didn’t look terrible against RNG either. If looking at the kills, UOL seemed to put up a good fight, as they only lost in that department 15 to 23. However, looking at the gold graph shows an entirely different story. RNG still ended the game with a 13,000 gold lead. RNG Mid laner Yuan “Cryin” Cheng-Wei in particular had a monster game on Sylas, going 11/3/8.

In their second match of the day against PGG, RNG decided to play loose once again. This time around, the game lasted more than 30 minutes for the first time all tournament for RNG. In the 31 minute game, RNG decided to do what they do best: take fights anytime and anywhere. RNG averaged way more than a kill per minute as they ended up with 36 of them. Even though the kills show the game was a slugfest (PGG racked up 21 kills and only lost by 8000 gold), the game was never out of RNG’s control.  However, in the final two games of of the group stage and with their ticket to the Rumble stage already punched, RNG decided to get a little serious for a moment.

In their second match against UOL, RNG showed no mercy. From minute one, the LPL champions silenced any small fear they were getting worse. Despite Yan “Wei” Yang-Wei showing that teams cannot give him access to Rumble, UOL let him have it. In return, Wei let UOL have it. Wei ended up with a near 100% kill participation as he went 7/0/11.  RNG destroyed UOL in 19 minutes, the quickest game so far at MSI.

In their final game of the group stage, RNG decided to put in their back up top laner, Yang “Xiaobai” Zhong-He. More importantly, Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao moved back to the mid lane for old times sake. Despite not playing in the mid lane role in six months, Xiaohu did not miss a step. In fact, he had his best game of the tournament so far, as he went 13/0/3 on Ryze. RNG wrapped up their group stage with a 22 minute stomp over PGG. RNG finished the group stage with a perfect 8-0 record.

Heading into the Rumble stage, RNG are relaxed and are ready to face anyone in their way. If no team can put up a fight, perhaps Xiaohu might make another surprise appearance in the mid Lane.