The first international tournament of the 2022 League of Legends season, the Mid-Season Invitational, begins on May 10. Made up of the spring champions from around the world, the 11 attendees will make the latest attempt at asserting dominance over every other League of Legends region.
While there are new faces in the mix this year, others are returning after campaigns of varying success from MSI 2021. Moreover, some previously successful teams fell short of a repeat appearance. And how better to understand what lies ahead than by learning from the past? Let’s take a look at each MSI 2021 participant and see whether their tale went well or not before the tournament’s next iteration kicks off.
China (LPL): Royal Never Give Up
Among all 11 MSI 2021 participants, RNG are one of four to return to the tournament this year, having won the League of Legend Pro League’s spring split two years in a row.
After winning MSI last year, RNG faced problems caused by burnout and quarantine, so they were eliminated early in the 2021 summer split playoffs. However, they surged back during the regional final to grab a ticket to the 2021 League of Legends World Championship. They advanced out of their group easily but lost 3-2 to eventual Worlds champions, Edward Gaming.
Now, with star player Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao back in the mid lane, they picked up former Worlds-finalist top laner Chen “Bin” Ze-Bin and took down Top Esports in the 2022 LPL spring final to return as the incumbent champions.
Korea (LCK): DWG KIA
After losing a five game series to RNG during the MSI 2021 final, DK went on to dominate the 2021 LCK summer split and destroy everyone on their path to Worlds. Only EDG could stop them during the grand final. Despite falling short of their ultimate goal, DWG KIA had a spectacular year. But afterward, the organization made enough changes across the top and bottom lanes to look like a new team in 2022.
With a new bot lane duo and two additional top laners, this roster did not reach the level of success as its predecessor. They lost 3-2 to Gen.G during the spring playoffs and finished third for the season. They have since re-signed their old top laner, Jang “Nuguri” Ha, signaling the potential return of the Worlds-winning and LCK-dominating DK roster.
Europe (LEC): MAD Lions
The underdogs of Europe looked as strong as they could have during MSI 2021 — taking the previous world champions DK to five games and showing everyone that what happened at Worlds 2020 would not happen in Worlds 2021. Unfortunately for them, the gap between MAD and the powerhouse that was DWG KIA only widened during the summer split, despite them lifting the LEC trophy at summer split playoffs. They did not reach further than the quarterfinals.
During the first split of 2022, the loss of their veteran mid laner Marek “Humanoid” Brázda and bot laner Matyáš “Carrzy” Orság hit them hard. Even though new additions William “UNFORGIVEN” Nieminen and Steven “Reeker” Chen showed they are worth their salt, they did not even have a chance to prove their best-of-5 excellence. They finished seventh in the regular split and did not reach playoffs.
North America (LCS): Cloud9
Unable to qualify for the semifinals at MSI 2021, Cloud9 went home a bit earlier than expected. However, after a 28-17 finish during the regular splits, they managed to snatch the last ticket to Worlds given to North America.
Working their way up from the play-ins, Cloud 9 had the luck of landing in a group with two former Worlds champions: DK and FPX. No one thought they would go any further given the legacies of their opponents and North America’s historic lack of achievement on the international stage. Yet, surprising everyone, they managed to escape their group. Gen.G swiftly swept them aside in the quarterfinals, but they still achieved more than any other NA team at the tournament.
Aside from dropping their head coach weeks into the 2022 spring season, a semifinal finish in the Lock In tournament and a fourth place finish in playoffs (both off 0-3 losses to Evil Geniuses) made for a decent season. However, Cloud9 missed their chance to attend MSI 2022.
Still, the organization has a long history of falling behind and coming back to the top, so who knows what they will do in summer?
Pacific (PCS): PSG Talon
Alongside other Asian representatives, PSG had an impressive run, qualifying past the Rumble Stage over League Championship Series representatives Cloud9. After being beaten by the champions, RNG, they pulled off a flawless 18-0 summer season in the PCS only to get knocked into the playoff lower bracket by Beyond Gaming. However, they took their revenge later on and qualified for Worlds in a higher pool than NA. Unfortunately for them, they were knocked out by RNG (their former international opponents) and Hanwha Life Esports (who climbed their way out of play-in matches).
Again, they had an amazing regular split this spring but were knocked down right before the playoff finals by CTBC Flying Oyster. They managed to rise up and prevail against them in the finals, 3-2, just as they did last summer against BG. Now, they return as one of the MSI 2021 participants to continue their streak of success and maybe get revenge on RNG, who knocked them out.
Oceania (LCO): Pentanet.GG
PGG’s previous top laner, Brandon “Biopanther” Jeremy, is the only member of his former team returning to MSI this year as part of ORDER.
“I think these teams are going to be tougher for sure,” Biopanther said of his MSI 2022 competitors. “EU and NA are big regions that are expected to make it out of the group, but we’re here to turn faces and surprise everyone for sure.”
After the merging of OCE and NA, many lost faith in the remains of League of Legends Circuit Oceania. However, PGG surprised everyone last year by taking down LCL representatives Unicorns of Love and making it to the Rumble stage.
Returning home, they took first place with their unchanged roster in the summer split regular season but lost to PEACE, who ran through the lower bracket to sweep them in the final.
At the start of 2022, PGG changed four players, with their bot laner Mark “Praedyth” Lewis remaining as the sole player from the 2021 roster. Finishing third in the regular season, they took down PEACE with a clean sweep only to be eliminated by ORDER, who ran through the lower bracket to represent Oceania in this MSI.
“I want to do better than last year, and I get this chance again to make that happen. Upsetting major regions would be a great feeling,” Biopanther said. “I know a lot of the international community supports us as a region ever since last year, so I want to do them proud.”
Japan (LJL): Detonation FocusMe
In the absence of Vietnam, Japan proved to be the best minor region in this era of League of Legends. Being stuck in a group with DK and C9, Detonation FocusMe did their best at challenging major regions but ultimately finished third in their group.
Winning domestically once again, they came to Worlds 2021 and haunted C9, who had knocked them out at MSI. Finishing first in play-ins, they qualified to the group stage of Worlds, a stunning accomplishment for LJL and DFM, putting them above other minor regions of the time.
They went 0-6 against EDG, T1 and 100T, but the fact that they were able to make it that far is a testament to Japan’s growth as a region throughout the years.
Despite the loss of their mid laner Lee “Aria” Ga-eul, DFM claimed another LJL title this spring and are looking forward to proving once again that they are not to be underestimated. As one of the few MSI 2021 participants that return this year, they are ready to show the strength of LJL.
Brazil (CBLOL): paiN Gaming
Last year at MSI, paiN Gaming might not have succeeded in getting out of groups, but they got something that might be worth even more — the upper hand in their rivalry against Turkey.
Returning home as victors, they went 14-4 and finished first in the summer split but lost to Rensga Esports in the semifinals. Just like PGG, paiN fully changed their roster except for their jungler, Marcos “CarioK” Santos de Oliveira Junior. With their new squad, they won two best of five series in the spring playoffs but lost to RED Canids, who were also the winners of the 2021 CBLOL summer split. Now, they must trust in RED to keep the upper hand in their rivalry against Turkey and to represent the power of Brazil internationally.
CIS (LCL): Unicorns of Love
Unicorns of Love’s story is the shortest one due to reasons out of their control. After not making it out of groups at MSI 2021, UoL returned home soon after, surprising and disappointing their fans. However, they finished first in both the summer regular season and playoffs, giving their fans hope of international success again.
Those hopes didn’t last long, as UoL were knocked out of the play-ins at the bottom of their group. With the cancellation of LCL due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, no CIS teams got a chance to represent their region at MSI 2022.
Turkey (TCL): fastPay Wildcats
Lacking international success during the last few years, Turkey’s fastPay Wildcats returned home as the bottom team in their group after losing to Brazil. They did not have a good summer split either, closing their 2021 season in seventh place of the Turkish Championship League.
Yet at the start of this year, something changed for the Wildcats, as they began eating their opponents for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Having taken absolute control of the league by the third week, Wildcats finished 14-4 before destroying everyone in their path throughout the playoffs. Lifting the trophy was not just a domestic title for them – it was a chance to return to MSI as one of 2021 participants and show they have improved since last year.
Their group this year is very similar to last year, with the exception of RNG. According to veteran bot laner Anıl “Holyphoenix” Işık, their goal is to advance by taking second place over PSG Talon and RED Canids
“As we are the same roster as last year, we want to learn from our mistakes and show a better IW to the world.” Holyphoenix said.
This is a chance for them to reignite the minor region rivalry on their side and prove Turkey is not bound by the lack of their past success.
Latin America (LLA): INFINITY
Finishing last in their group of DK, C9 and DFM, INFINITY returned home with a hunger for success. Taking their hunger out on Liga Latinoamérica, they finished first in both phases of the closing split and won the final against Estral Esports 3-2 to qualify for Worlds play-ins.
Once they got there, they finished last in their group of HLE and LNG and returned home without a win. This year, they were knocked down to the lower bracket of opening split playoffs by Team Aze, who went on to win their first LLA split.