The first international League of Legends tournament of 2022 is finally here. After a Spring Split that practically flew by, regional champions (and one runner-up, thanks to conflicting schedules) will compete in South Korea for one of pro League’s most prestigious championships, the Mid-Season Invitational.
Compared to our last global power rankings from the preseason, only two familiar faces, T1 and Royal Never Give Up, are back in the mix, largely because MSI is a tournament that features more teams from minor regions than major regions. For the second straight season, though, MSI will feature 11 teams instead of its usual 12. After the VCS (who is sending a representative to an international League event for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic) wasn’t able to attend last year’s event, the CIS region, the LCL, will not participate in this year’s tournament due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
As the first international gauntlet of the 2022 season looms, we asked our team of League writers to rank the 11 teams attending MSI. Here are Dot Esports’ official power rankings ahead of MSI.
|2)||Royal Never Give Up||LPL|
11) Team Aze
Teams from the LLA have posted a combined record of 3-14 in international games dating back to Worlds 2020. Team Aze, whose roster sports four players who have never attended an international event, are lined up to be outclassed at MSI 2022.
10) Saigon Buffalo
The VCS is finally back at an international event for the first time since Worlds 2019. But the league’s Spring 2022 champions, GAM Esports (formerly known as Gigabyte Marines), will compete in a conflicting tournament, the Southeast Asia Games, while MSI takes place. In their stead, Saigon Buffalo will represent Vietnam at MSI. While the early stages of international events lend themselves to upsets and could make way for Saigon Buffalo to sneak a berth into the Rumble Stage, we don’t have too much faith in the only runners-up at a tournament with 10 other regional champions.
9) Istanbul Wildcats
Istanbul Wildcats are back at MSI for the second year in a row with the same roster. The strength of the Turkish champions is undeniable—just ask the 2020 MAD Lions roster that fell at the hands of the TCL’s SuperMassive Esports in the Worlds play-in stage. But outside of that Worlds 2020 run by SuperMassive, results have been relatively underwhelming for a region that has unearthed players like Closer, Broken Blade, Armut, Abbedagge, and others. This is especially true when considering that as a “Pool Three” region, the TCL’s representatives have failed to consistently finish better than Brazilian and Australian teams, both of whom are in Pool Four.
On the bright side, the Wildcats have had the same roster together for three splits in a row, and international experience is important. If Istanbul Wildcats want to remind the world why the TCL deserves notoriety, they’ll have to do so on continuity and learning from the mistakes they made when they were in the same tournament last year.
The Oceania League scene touched the hearts of the world last year. Between its passionate players, Pentanet.GG’s comedic social media presence, and PEACE’s run through the Worlds play-in stage, the LCO received newfound appreciation from fans that had never seen a regular season of the league.
This time around, ORDER will be taking the place as the LCO representatives at MSI 2022. The team, despite ending the regular season in fourth place, pulled off what many are referring to as a miracle run through the Spring Playoffs, winning it all by taking down teams like Pentanet and Chiefs Esports Club that had bested them so many times before. This will be the first time ORDER appear at an international event, though they bring with them a handful of players that have global experience. Getting through their Group C opponents in the LCS’ Evil Geniuses and LEC’s G2 Esports won’t be an easy task, but this team is used to miracles.
7) RED Canids
RED Canids became just the third CBLOL team to win back-to-back splits, and the first to accomplish the feat across two different calendar years. Similar to the Istanbul Wildcats, RED are running back the same roster for the third consecutive split and their second international event. PaiN Gaming punched above their weight last MSI as the Brazilian representatives thanks in part to the international experience that roster had. Going into Worlds last year, all that a young RED roster had was a six-man roster, the best bottom lane and jungler in Brazil, and vibes. It got them within a game of facing Cloud9 for a spot in the Worlds group stage. RED hit a mid-season slump this past split and bounced back through a lot of mental adversity. And if these same six players can maintain the momentum that carried them through four straight best-of-fives (shades of G2 and EG, anyone?) and build on the experience they accrued at Worlds last year, RED should at minimum make the case that CBLOL deserves a spot in Pool Three. At maximum, they have an (admittedly very unlikely) outside shot to get out of a brutal Group B.
6) DetonatioN FocusMe
Last year, the LJL’s DetonatioN FocusMe became the first team from the region to qualify for the main stage of Worlds. By taking down LCS behemoth C9, DFM topped their group, heading straight into the main group stage to prove the LJL was done watching other teams take the spotlight. While their run fell short here, they nevertheless made history for the region and gained numerous fans in the process.
DFM return to international competition with this year’s MSI, following a near-perfect 19-2 run through the LJL Spring Split. The roster of Evi, Steal, Yaharong, Yutapon, and Harp steamrolled through their Japanese competition in the Spring Split, falling only twice to third-place Rascal Jester. DFM secured the lowest average game time of all of the LJL at 27.7 minutes during the regular season, according to Oracle’s Elixir. Historically, the LJL, often represented by DFM, have wavered in the early stages of MSI, failing to advance outside of the group stage. This time around, the world supporting DFM after Worlds 2021 seems to have propelled them through the Spring Split, all the while creating a team that the top four regions can no longer gloss over.
5) PSG Talon
PSG Talon put the competitive League scene on notice last year when they shocked the world by qualifying for the knockout stage at MSI 2021. The PCS superteam picked up wins against major region representatives like the LPL’s Royal Never Give Up, the LEC’s MAD Lions, and the LCS’ C9, and showed their confident, aggressive playstyle could keep up with the big dogs of the tournament.
The big problem heading into international play, however, is the team has become more reliant on their bottom lane’s successes. Last year, Maple and River were a lot stronger than Bay and Juhan in the opening moments of their matches, according to early-game stats. PSG’s bottom duo is still putting up the same massive numbers, but the top side hasn’t seen the same production as before, which could be an issue if Unified and Kaiwing can’t excel through the first 15 minutes of the match.
4) Evil Geniuses
A major shift has finally come to the North American League scene with EG taking home the LCS trophy for the 2022 Spring Split. The organization’s trust in the youth movement has finally paid off, and now, one of the youngest rosters at MSI will battle against the best teams in the world.
With up-and-coming stars like Danny and Jojopyun looking to build their legacies, the only issue lies in their lack of international experience. This bottom lane-centric playstyle was great in the LCS, but could be countered by the various strategies drafted up by the other teams gathering from around the globe. Inspired, Vulcan, and Impact must help lead them through the many pressure-filled situations that MSI will bring, as they jump head-first into the toughest event of their career so far.
3) G2 Esports
G2 reclaimed the European throne after an eye-watering 12-0 run in the 2022 LEC Spring Split playoffs since losing to Fnatic in the opening match. This G2 lineup consists of veteran blood mixed with up-and-coming talent, and the latter has already shown it can perform incredibly under pressure. In the latest playoffs, Flakked and Targamas dominated the competition by having the highest KDA ratio overall, with them boasting an 8.2 and 5.8 ratio, respectively.
At MSI, however, there are higher stakes, which may be difficult to handle for G2’s young bottom lane. With two MSI champions, though, they surely have the guidance needed to withstand the nerves on the international tournaments. What’s more, G2’s top side have showcased admirable levels as of late; Caps, Jankos, and Broken Blade were among the top-eight players in the 2022 LEC Spring Split playoffs in KDA. If they maintain it, the LEC representatives are surely one of the top teams in Busan, and it wouldn’t surprise us if they pull off another upset or two, which is in their DNA.
2) Royal Never Give Up
Royal Never Give Up hoisted the Silver Dragon Cup at the Spring Split of the LPL this year, and they were stunning throughout the tournament. They will be looking to re-establish the LPL glory on the international stage, and the Chinese team will be defending their MSI title in Busan. When the current world champions couldn’t finish top six in the 2022 LPL spring split, that tells you about the fierce competition in the region. Despite that pressure, RNG have always remained one of the most consistent teams. Their excellence comes from cohesive team play and incredible late-game adaptability. The team made critical changes, bringing Bin in the top lane and Xiaohu going back to his traditional mid lane role. With young carries like Wei and GALA, the team has what it takes to win the tournament. They had the second-highest KD in the 2022 LPL Spring Split, highlighting their efficiency in kill trading.
Living up to their name, RNG are the team to clutch those close best-of-fives by adapting themselves through the games. They will be facing some tough competition at MSI 2022 but will surely be the team to beat.
By hosting this MSI in South Korea, Riot brought teams worthy of challenging the gods of competitive League. T1 dominated this LCK Spring Split, smiting their opponents as if they descended from Olympus and establishing the record of being the first team to complete a split without losing a single match.
Both in Korea and around the world, T1 has been associated with the Unkillable Demon King, Faker, and even though his performance was divine during the Spring Split, he was not the only player that ascended to their ultimate form. Gumayusi, Oner, Zeus, and Keria all stepped up, with the first two claiming their spot at the top of the rankings for highest KDA in the Spring Playoffs, according to Oracle’s Elixir.
This year, few teams have succeeded in putting T1 on the ropes and even fewer can say they have won a game against them, but so far no one has brought T1 down. During MSI, regional kings from all over the world will collide in Busan to try and take the title from the hands of the home team.