MSI is just around the corner as we take a look at one of the hottest groups of the tournament.
Group B is one of the most interesting ones on paper. From the LEC we have MAD Lions, the unlikely representation of the region that currently holds the MSI title. Seed two comes from the PCS as PSG.Talon looks to cause an upset against the inexperienced European side. Turkey sends fastPay Wildcats, and as a region that has always shown up at international events, Wildcats will be looking carry on that tradition. Lastly, fourth seed paiN Gaming is coming in from Brazil. Probably one of the better fourth seed sides, paiN will be looking to cause an upset in a group that looks ripe for the picking.
Also read: Everything You Need To Know About MSI 2021
Pool One: MAD Lions (LEC)
- Top: İrfan Berk "Armut" Tükek
- Jungle: Javier "Elyoya" Prades Batalla
- Mid: Marek "Humanoid" Brázda
- ADC: Matyáš "Carzzy" Orság
- Support: Norman "Kaiser" Kaiser
MAD Lions will go into the group as favorites on paper, however, their lack of international experience might see the other sides in their group viewing them as easy targets. MAD Lions did have a good showing in the LEC, after all, you don’t win an LEC title for free. While they might not have been the side many expected to progress from Europe, the MAD Lions’ style of play could be a breath of fresh air for a European audience. With the pressure of being the region of the reigning champions, it’s a pressure that MAD Lions’ roster is yet to be tested against.
One thing that will give MAD Lions an edge is their explosive roster. With rookies Armut and Elyoya, MAD Lions has injected an already solid side with yet more talent. The three that stuck around from 2020 have gained huge experience in the past 12 months and now look like some of the best in their roles in the LEC. One major advantage for MAD is that top laner Armut was at Worlds 2020, meaning the side has a fair amount of experience at international events, despite the roster being relatively inexperienced in general. MAD Lions will want to put Worlds 2020 behind them and build on what they did in Europe. They’ll have a lot of pressure to live up to, and will need to learn quickly against the world’s best rosters.
Predicted finish - 1st: MAD Lions should be fine to get through the group, and while first might be a little steep, on paper they are the strongest roster.
Pool Two: PSG.Talon (PCS)
- Top: Su "Hanabi" Chia-Hsiang
- Jungle: Kim "River" Dong-woo
- Mid: Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang
- ADC: Wong "Unified" Chun Kit
- Support: Ling "Kaiwing" Kai Wing
From the PCS region, we see PSG.Talon enter MSI. Most recently the roster had a good showing at Worlds, and certainly proved they have what it takes. Talon’s showing at MSI proves they’re made of stern stuff and they’ll be expected to qualify top two. The top two spots will likely be a fight between Talon and MAD Lions, though if one side manages to 2-0 the other, it could allow one of the other two sides to sneak in.
For PSG.Talon, they made just one starting roster change ahead of the 2021 Spring Split. Mid laner Maple joined the side after spending the past two years in China. The move saw former mid laner Park “Tank” Dan-won depart. Elsewhere, Talon has looked to tie down the contracts of top laner Hanabi and support Kaiwing as they look to cement their team going forward. Perhaps most importantly, all of these players have played on the international stage before, and this experience is always invaluable. The roster looks strong, and their familiarity with one another will go a long way to seeing them succeed at MSI.
Predicted finish - 2nd: As mentioned earlier, Talon’s placement is going to come down to how they handle MAD Lions, with the pair likely to fight it out for the top spot.
fastPay Wildcats (TCL)
- Top: Soner "StarScreen" Kaya
- Jungle: Hakan "Ferret" Mert Çakmak
- Mid: Tolga "Serin" Ölmez
- ADC: Anıl "HolyPhoenix" Işık
- Support: Berk "Farfetch" Badur
Wildcats come from Turkey, a region that’s always caused teams a problem at international events. Wildcats lack international experience as a roster, however, that’s often never been an issue for the region in the past, and likely won't be for Wildcats. Any team outside the bottom two is going to need to beat the teams below them, and for the Wildcats, that’s going to be paiN. They’ll need to take down paiN, and then look to scalp one of the teams above, ideally whatever one loses between the two.
The Wildcats are in a similar position to MAD Lions. The majority of the roster has been around for at least a year, with just the bot lane coming in for 2021. ADC HolyPheonix and support Farfetch joined after the roster ended the TCL Summer Split in 3rd-4th, after winning the regular split. It obviously had the desired effect, with Wildcats ending the split in second place, before winning the Grand Final 3-1 against Worlds 2020 attendee 1907 Fenerbahçe Esports. Jungler Ferret is the one to watch here, after being awarded the regular season MVP, a title that was hotly contested. Ferret was joined by top laner StarScreen, and support Farfetch in the league’s All Pro Team.
Predicted Finish - 4th: Despite Wildcats likely being a side that can cause an upset, the fourth seed side, paiN will likely prove too much of a thorn in the side of Wildcats.
Pool Four: paiN Gaming (CBLOL)
- Top: Leonardo "Robo" Souza
- Jungle: Marcos "Cariok" Santos de Oliveira Junior
- Mid: Thiago "tinowns" Sartori
- ADC: Felipe "brTT" Gonçalves
- Support: Han "Luci" Chang-hoon
If the Wildcats and the Turkish region are a wildcard to fear, Brazil, and in this case, paiN, is even more likely to cause an upset. Brazil is a region that knows how to spring an upset, and paiN will know that. Like MAD Lions, paiN did not end their Spring Split in first place, however, a mammoth showing in Playoffs saw them win the Brazilian playoffs. While not an organization with much international experience, paiN is an old organization with years of experience to pull from. They’ll be a tough nut to crack, and likely cause a lot of pain to those seeded higher.
Much like Talon, paiN made just one change with the signing of Korean support Luci. The rest of the roster has been around for a while, with mid laner tinowns having joined the roster in 2017. In addition, paiN comes to MSI with a roster that’s comfortable playing together, a togetherness they’ll need in Group B. The player to watch is definitely CarioK. The jungler was the MVP of the playoffs. The aforementioned mid laner, tinowns, was the second-place MVP in the regular split, and considering paiN’s fifth-place finish, he’s worth keeping an eye on.
Predicted finish - 3rd: It’ll be close for sure, but paiN should just have what it takes to take down Wildcats and take the higher seeding. Regardless, thanks to the new MSI format, both sides that finish in 3rd & 4th will get another shot at the playoffs. paiN will be looking to take down a scalp, especially in the first match of their series with MAD Lions and PSG.Talon.