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The action-packed first day of the League of Legends 2021 Mid-Season Invitational is officially on the books and the results so far left little room for surprises. In a day filled with iconic regional matchups, technical audio antics and plenty of exciting champion picks, the favorites reigned supreme and the underdogs went home hungry for their first wins.

The major regions did everything we expected from them. Both RNG and DWG KIA came out swinging in statement wins over both Cloud9 (who, to their credit, put up a good fight until the end) and Pentanet.GG to establish themselves as frontrunners to win it all. Europe’s MAD Lions barely even flinched in their opener against PSG Talon. In this first entry of Upcomer’s daily journal for MSI, we’ll be summing up the most important takeaways from Day One of the 2021 MSI Group Stage. 

DWG KIA is good. Like, ACTUALLY good 

Cloud9 woke up early on May 6 to the beautiful weather in Reykjavik, Iceland ready to prove themselves. This was their first time attending MSI as an organization, and since COVID-19 ruined their chances to attend in 2020, today marked the beginning of what could turn out to be a historic dark horse run at the event. The best team North America has ever produced against the reigning world champs; the stakes were way too high for this not to be a hype match. And it was… for about 15 minutes until DWK decided to smash them. 

 There’s no shame in losing to the best team in the world, but it wouldn’t be entirely truthful to say C9 didn’t have us all aboard the NA hype train for at least a couple of minutes. After a clutch first blood onto ADC Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and a few well-played skirmishes, things were looking great for C9. After an unfortunate drake steal and failed teamfights in their own jungle, however, it started to become apparent just how difficult of an opponent they were up against.

The verdict? DWK is the real deal. Between Kim “Khan” Dong-ha’s forward-thinking and tactical playmaking on Gnar, and Heo “ShowMaker” Su’s pinpoint accuracy with his Zoe skill shots, the difference between the two teams became glaringly apparent in no time. DWK wrapped things up in just over 27 minutes and probably made it back to their hotels before mealtime. Good for them, they deserve it. 

Brazil 1, Turkey 0

One of the biggest rivalries in LoL esports international history is fueled by two of the scene’s most passionate fanbases. The Turkish Championship League and Campeonato Brasileiro de League of Legends are two regions out for blood against one another. On the world stage, their teams are usually competing over a spot out of play-ins to qualify for the main event; the last time they met at Worlds 2020, Turkey did put up a much better showing. In today’s match between the TCL’s fastPay Wildcats and CBLoL’s paiN Gaming, however, Brazil was standing tall and proud at the end of the day.

This match was easily the closest series of the day. Despite being down 10-3 at one point, paiN Gaming mounted a comeback off the back of Leonardo “Robo” Souza’s cold-blooded Darius play. Brazil may have won the day, but things are just starting to heat up at MSI. These two teams will definitely be the ones to watch in Group B going forward. Check out our interview with Wildcats ADC Anıl “HolyPhoenix” Işık to hear his perspective of the day:

[brid video=”777906″ player=”25910″ title=”HolyPhoenix%20Interview%202021%20MSI%20Day%201″ duration=”189″ description=”Yinsu Collins interviews Istanbul Wild Cats Anıl “HolyPhoenix” Işık on Day 1 of the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational following their loss against paiN.” uploaddate=”2021-05-06″ thumbnailurl=”//cdn.brid.tv/live/partners/19254/thumb/777906_t_1620328928.png” contentUrl=”//cdn.brid.tv/live/partners/19254/sd/777906.mp4″]

Shake it off, Pentanet.GG

While a weaker region in terms of historical results, Oceania typically delivers fun and interesting games. From the looks of things so far, they’re on track to live up to that reputation in MSI 2021.  Pentanet.GG showed plenty of champion diversity with picks like Lee Sin mid and Fiddlesticks jungle, and were able to bump heads with their opponents RNG and UoL, but couldn’t take home a single win. Fans of the League of Legends Circuit Oceania might be quick to panic with this 0-2 start, especially given how intense the schedule in Group A is compared to its counterparts since there are only three teams in the group.

That’s not to say the comeback will be easy, though. The other underdog in the group, UoL got off to a great start with their showing over Pentanet today. See what UoL jungler Kirill “AHaHaCiK” Skvortsov had to say about the team’s debut match:

[brid video=”777893″ player=”25910″ title=”AhAhAcik%20Interview%20MSI%202021%20Day%201″ duration=”236″ description=”Parkes Ousley interviews Unicorns of Love’s Kirill “AHaHaCiK” Skvortsov on Day 1 of the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational following their victory against Pentanet.GG” uploaddate=”2021-05-06″ thumbnailurl=”//cdn.brid.tv/live/partners/19254/thumb/777893_t_1620328953.png” contentUrl=”//cdn.brid.tv/live/partners/19254/sd/777893.mp4″]

The furious, absolutely livid MAD Lions

Yeah, MAD Lions don’t want to drop out of an international tournament early again, that’s for sure. As the kings of a new era in Europe, the question heading into MSI for MAD was whether or not two new players was enough for the young cubs to redeem themselves from their early exit in Worlds 2020. We quickly learned the answer is yes, and then some. Just look at those scorelines: both İrfan Berk “Armut”  Tükek and Javier “Elyoya” Prades Batalla were deathless on Lee Sin top (5/0/9) and Udyr jungler (3/0/15) respectively. Marek “Humanoid” Brázda’s Ryze was 6/1/8 and Matyáš “Carzzy” Orság’s Tristana ended the game 9/1/9. The MAD Lions are indeed MAD, and they’re also likely to run away with Group B in first place. 

 Tune in to Day Two of the 2021 MSI Group Stage on May 7 at 6 a.m. PST with RNG vs. Pentanet.GG as the opener.

2021 MSI standings as of May 6:

  • DWK KIA (1-0).
  • Infinity Esports (1-0).
  • MAD Lions (1-0).
  • paiN Gaming (1-0).
  • Unicorns of Love (1-0).
  • RNG (1-0).
  • Cloud9 (0-1).
  • DetonatioN FocusMe (0-1).
  • fastPay Wildcats (0-1).
  • Pentanet.GG (0-2).
  • PSG Talon (0-1).

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