Kelsey Moser breaks down every Day 1 game at MSI

by Kelsey Moser May 8 2015
Thumbnail image courtesy of Robert Paul / theScore eSports

Sometimes you don't notice everything (and sometimes you do), but what you do notice overtakes your perception of wins and losses. The Mid-Season Invitational is fraught with both smart and not-so-smart plays that have the ability to decide a game's outcome in five minutes.

In other words, everyone has an opinion on the eight MSI matches that took place yesterday, so here's mine.

Team SoloMid vs Fnatic

The most obvious mistake that has been pointed out is in regards to Team SoloMid’s failure to lane swap. It's no secret that TSM love lane swaps. They hide low pressure, support style junglers, and if both top-laners are hurting, Dyrus’ troubles are minimized. In a situation where Cassiopeia counters Gnar, and Urgot and Nautilus are known lane smashers, a lane swap especially seems like a non-issue in decision-making.

Sivir actually does decently well against Urgot. The Spellshield can counter the Nautilus engage or Urgot’s Acid Hunter. Besides, have you seen that hitbox? Open season on Boomerang Blade. In theory, TSM could have strong matchups in all lanes but Dyrus’ (who cares, am I right?) and free up their jungler to take advantage of mid lane ganks.

Fnatic moved faster. They knew which top laners to ban against Dyrus and how to punish a classic TSM weakness. With a dive and engage composition and more proactive play from Reignover, they've got an advantage in a mid matchup that should be a loss and got Huni ridiculously ahead. They then actually did the due diligence of securing objectives on kills (which is big for them sometimes) and closed out the game.

TSM’s strengths are still in playing around minion waves, and they stayed in it a little longer than they probably should have by manipulating gaps in vision. One play in particular showed promise. After spotting YellOwStaR in the bottom-lane, TSM moved Dyrus through the top side jungle, waited for the minions, and took top tower for free after rotating their wave clear to the bottom side to stall Fnatic’s advance. Plays like that tell me TSM is probably still the better team, but they might be reliant on lane swaps to come back from a first game deficit and beat Fnatic in the standings.

Besiktas vs SK Telecom T1

Everyone will roll their eyes at me here, but Besiktas’ big mistake was a failure to freeze top properly. The pushed the gold into Marin, and he then got a lot of early kills. Despite a clever dive onto Faker, Besiktas wouldn’t come back.

Edward Gaming vs AHQ

Why bother learning Kalista when you can play teams with four Frozen Hearts? Edward Gaming has struggled with early game decision-making since Clearlove put down the Lee Sin and could surprise from lane to lane, but the chain crowd control team fighting coming out of EDG has been unreal.

Edward Gaming got their advantage when splitting pressure for a free dragon. The fact that Koro1 could manipulate the Teleport-Homeguard combination to get back into the fight and follow up Clearlove’s ultimate gave Edward Gaming a massive fight win.

From there, they manipulated terrain in their fights. Edward Gaming understands where to pick fights and how to play to their draft. Excellent play around top side of the map caught Westdoor out repeatedly. Edward Gaming is the team fighting team at MSI.

Team SoloMid vs Besiktas

When someone picks Ziggs, it’s going to be a long game.

Bjergsen farmed hard on Ziggs, beating the 10 CS per minute benchmark in style. Besiktas slowly got strangled out on the map and severely misplayed their lane swap.

Lustboy’s ability to roam gave support to Dyrus when he’s usually left on his own. A team fight misplay in the mid lane resulted from over-dives, and Team SoloMid returned to their slow, strangling play for a win.

Edward Gaming vs SK Telecom T1

Aaron said on the broadcast that pawN and Deft wanted to test a conservative strategy where they played Lulu and a late game AD Carry — so they did. Edward Gaming played an ultra safe strategy.

Afterward, Clearlove said they’ll never play that way again. It didn’t work.

The biggest problem with Edward Gaming’s picks, however, was that they didn’t have any mid game answer, and Kalista’s massive two item power spike walked over them.

As for the Tristana, you pick Tristana to stay safe from Annie, but it’s not ideal. They didn’t want an immobile pick, and Corki doesn’t have as much late game power. Corki probably would have been better here. The passive play style also didn’t do them any favors. They failed to get an early lane swap, got first blood, and tried to rotate away from the 2v2. When Bang and Wolf read them, Deft just fell further behind, and little overall support hurt his ability to come back.

He also had a moment where he went full Uzi into five people.

The team fighting was also — not Edward Gaming. SKT made better trades, and EDG players tunneled onto single targets instead of shoring up their defenses.

Perhaps we’ll see a different EDG today — or we won’t, and their track record of poor performances internationally will continue.

Besiktas vs AHQ

Jinx seriously needs to be picked more at this tournament. Otherwise, both teams played the way they’ve been playing: plenty of fighting. AHQ is just better at it than Besiktas. This was a race off a cliff, and AHQ pulled back at the last moment while they watch Besiktas arc off the edge and tumble grace-lessly below.


The first pick Urgot forced Team SoloMid to counter pick themselves, lest they allow SKT to pick both Urgot and Kalista.

Though they picked their own poison, it did nothing to stop the bleeding in the top lane, and Rek’Sai continued to drive forward on the war path.

The true hero of this matchup was Wolf, whose roams and Headbutt denial cut off TSM at every turn. Faker found subtle advantages that made Bjergsen a moot point, and both Bengi and Wolf set up the rest of the team for success.

Add a little salt, leave Faker to marinate. The rest was all just in the outplay. That's the difference between the SKT lineup with Faker and why Faker is a better choice against TSM, but the slowness of the Easyhoon lineup will force EDG to fumble and bang their fists futiley for a comeback that never shows.

Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for the Score eSports. You can follow her on Twitter where she will rant unabashedly about MSI Group Stages.