In their Mid-Season Invitational Play-In Tournament series against Turkey’s SuperMassive eSports, the LMS’ Flash Wolves made it clear they were a class above, with a 3-0 rout of the wildcard team. With all three of their games ending before thirty minutes, Flash Wolves were able to develop early and mid game advantages that were quickly transitioned into game winning macro plays. At the centre of these advantages, was their star jungler Hung “Karsa” Hau-Hsuan.
Coming into the tournament, Karsa was already known around the world as one of the best junglers in League of Legends, and possibly one of the top few players across all of the roles. He was clearly the best player in the Taiwanese LMS this split, earning 12 MVP honors, a third more than any other player. At the IEM World Championship in Katowice he was matched against the best junglers Europe had to offer…and came out on top every time.
In the series against SuperMassive, it was much of the same story against opposing jungler Furkan “Stomaged” Güngör. After an early trade blew SUP support Mustafa Kemal “Dumbledoge” Gökseloğlu’s flash in the first two minutes of the game, Karsa would immediately path bottom to secure first blood and set the tone for the series. In two out of the three games he would secure first blood for himself, and at 10 minutes into the games, he was an average of 16 CS ahead of Stomaged. It was obvious there was a distinct skill disparity between the two junglers.
For 10 minutes into the game, 16 CS is a massive advantage (essentially a full kills worth of gold) and to average that lead over three games shows that not only is Karsa creating efficient routes for jungle farming, he is also exerting control over Stomaged’s jungle and stealing away camps… not that he didn’t find time to set up ganks either.
Factor in that Karsa was involved in five kills compared to Stomaged’s two by 10 minutes and you find that not only is Karsa farming much better, but he is also providing more pressure and having a larger influence on the lanes as well. His combined KDA of 15/4/32 over the three-game series attests to just how dominant Karsa was. His 72% kill participation for the series indicates just how much presence and pressure he was able to provide on the map while still maintaining sizeable CS advantages over his opponent.
Flash Wolves are a team who will need to continue to create early and mid game leads to have a chance at claiming the MSI crown, and those advantages will all be centred around the play of Karsa. There may be no player who is more impactful on the tournament as a whole, and he will need to continue to his stellar play throughout the competition. As the carry of the team, he should continue to play his traditional power picks such as Lee Sin, Rengar, and Elise to stamp his mark on MSI 2017.
Already a veteran of international events, the Flash Wolves should feel confident putting their faith in Karsa. A team who 2-0’d SKT at last season’s MSI, coming into this tournament the Flash Wolves may be in their strongest form yet. With stellar performances throughout the LMS and at IEM Katowice already this year, Karsa has already begun to show he will once again deliver on stage for the Wolves and propel them into contention for the Mid-Season Invitational crown.
With the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational set to kick off, CLICKON eSports predicts where each team will finish.
DNQ: SuperMassive eSports
After overcoming the hometown RED Canids to finish on top of Group A, SuperMassive will not make it to the final stage of MSI. While their expected match-up against the Gigabyte Marines could go either way, early mistakes that showed throughout the group stage could create advantages for Gigabyte that SuperMassive will not be able to overcome.
6th: Gigabyte Marines
The GPL Champion Gigabyte Marines advanced from group B with two solid days of work that proved they were the clear best team. With aggresive shotcalling and creative cross map playmaking, Gigabyte should be able to take down SuperMassive in a very close series to earn a trip to the final stage at MSI. Once there unfortunately, it will be hard for the Vietnamese squad to make a splash, and they could very likely fail to win a single match.
5th: G2 eSports
Its hard to trust the EU LCS Champions after their history of horrid performances against international competition (G2-8). While they are undoubtedly the best team in Europe, G2 will need mid laner PerkZ to step up in a big way against a stacked international talent pool. Look for Expect in the top lane to be a possible weakness for a team that must perform well to salvage Europe's and their own reputation. Their will be no matches more important than those against TSM, as the winner will likely advance to the playoff and earn the preferential seeding at Worlds.
3rd/4th: Team SoloMid
The NA LCS Champions arrive to Brazil after an extremely close series that came down to the final teamfight. After falling flat at Worlds, TSM are searching for redemption at MSI and to establish themselves - and NA - as a region to pay attention to. The big question for this team will be the performance of their bot lane, but if they are able to hold, the stars for TSM in the top and Mid lane should be able to create advantages the team can ride to multiple victories at this tournament. Look forward to their matches against G2, as the NA vs EU rivalry will likely decide the final playoff spot.
3rd/4th: Team WE
Team World Elite asserted their dominance in the LPL with a 3-0 victory over Royal Never Give Up in the LPL Finals. On a roster that features an underrated ADC in Mystic and one of the best junglers in Condi, do not be surprised if WE finished in the top two of this tournament. If there is a weakness, it may be mid laner Xiye, who has struggled in lane at times and may be exploited by the other top mids such as Faker and Maple.
2nd: Flash Wolves
If there is a team that could challenge SKT, it is likely to be the LMS' Flash Wolves. Led by star mid laner Maple and jungler Karsa, Flash Wolves looked dominant in their run at IEM Katowice and within their region, as they lost only one regular season game. Their macro understanding and individual talent level will be able to carry them to the top of the standings, and possible concerns about their bot and top lane have continued to be eased as the season has progressed. With a likely meeting between Flash Wolves and SKT in the Finals, can the "Korean Killers" strike again?
1st: SK Telecom T1
The clear tournament favorites, Korea's SKT enter the tournament after a dominant 3-0 sweep of KT Rolster in the LCK finals. With a roster that has continued to improve as the season has progressed, there is little reason to believe anyone will be able to stop SKT. Led by the most famous player in League of Legends, Faker will add to his growing list of championships with another MSI crown.