Can Both SuperMassive eSports And Gigabyte Marines Reach The MSI Group Stages?

After four days of play, the two finalists to move on from the first stage of the Mid-Season Invitational Play In Tournament have been decided. Turkey’s SuperMassive eSports and Vietnamese outfit Gigabyte Marines proved to be the top team in their respective groups, and will now move on to face Taiwan’s Flash Wolves and North America’s Team SoloMid in where three of the four teams will advance. While neither team seems likely to win their first round match-up, the winner of a best-of-five between Gigabyte and SuperMassive could easily be either team.

Turkey’s SuperMassive eSports emerged victorious from a  difficult Group A where they had to overcome another top team, and the hometown favorites, Brazil’s RED Canids. Behind the play of star mid-laner Koray “Naru” Bıçak, SuperMassive proved they possess a superior macro understanding of the game than the rest of their Group A opponents, and were able to go equal or on top in terms of individual skill. Naru made many highlight plays throughout the two days, but he also overstepped multiple times with mistakes that could easily be disastrous in their upcoming match against the Flash Wolves. 

Source: Riot Games Flickr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a team, SuperMassive brought to MSI what was comparatively a very controlled style, clearly demonstrated in their first (and only serious) match against the RED Canids, where they gained an early advantage and never looked back. Naru would start the game with first blood, and SuperMassive would ride that momentum to a victory that only fell short of being a perfect game due to a tower that was taken in the top lane by the Canids (the kills were 7-0).  They would end the group stage with a 5-1 record, but still showed some early game weaknesses and questionable decision making that may be exploited.

A relative unknown on the international stage, few would have recognized any of the names on the Gigabyte Marines roster, outside of perhaps support Minh “Archie” Nhựt Tran. After an undefeated run through their regional playoffs and the Garena Premier League where they failed to lose a series, they carried that momentum with them to MSI where they would finish with a 5-1 record that included a 2-0 sweep of the second-place Lyon Gaming.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

 

 

 

The Gigabyte Marines are an exciting team to watch, and also bring flexible drafts that can keep their opponents on their toes. Mid laner Văn “Optimus” Cường Tran is highly regarded for his play on assassins, and it showed in their decisive match against Lyon where he dominated on a flexed Fizz pick.  Gigabyte found great success in their cross map decision making, including five-man dives on the bot lane and heavy roaming plays by Optimus. While all-star jungler Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh struggled in some moments during the group stage, he was clearly one of the best players in the group and was able to make the highlight of the group stage with his dragon steal on Lee Sin.

With Flash Wolves and Team SoloMid looming, it is likely that the Gigabyte Marines have the better chance of advancing on the initial best of five alone. Flash Wolves look to be one of the best teams in the World at the moment, and despite winning their group do not be surprised if SuperMassive fail to win a game against them. Team SoloMid have looked slightly more vulnerable during the season, but the real opportunity for Gigabyte lies in their aggressive and creative playstyle. When matched against what is supposed to be a “superior” team, as an underdog you must be aggressive and take risks to emerge victorious. If Gigabyte can create an early edge that puts TSM on the back foot, they could possibly ride early series momentum to a victory. Still, in reality do not expect TSM to drop more than a game to Gigabyte.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

When the likely scenario of SuperMassive and Gigabyte playing each other in a best of five for the final spot occurs, the series could go either way. Currently, their play in the group stage could hint at Gigabyte having the advantage, as SuperMassive has shown early weaknesses that could easily be exploited by Gigabyte. For SuperMassive, a controlled game flow will be a key to victory through limiting the roaming potential of the Gigabyte line-up and instead forcing them to react to SuperMassive’s playstyle.


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