Group A finished up their MSI Group Stage, who is moving on?
After three days of mix-matched competition at MSI 2021, today was the day Group A got to steal the show. With interesting matchups across the board, this was a very top-heavy group with Royal Never Give Up (“RNG”), so all eyes were on Unicorns of Love (“UOL”) and Pentanet.GG (“PGG”). Could one of them take a game off of the LPL kings and get an edge in the standings over the other? Or would they have to brawl it between themselves out for the opportunity to advance? Six exciting games answered all these questions and more!
Unicorns of Love vs Royal Never Give Up
To kick off the day, UOL had the monumental task of taking on RNG. Everyone expected UOL to topple over under the weight of the LPL champions, but that wasn't necessarily the case. Though it did start off rough for UOL. First off, Cryin secured First Blood onto Nomanz with a very early solo kill. Then, after multiple members collapsed on the mid lane, a long skirmish broke out, where RNG went two-for-one overall. Two more picks came out after that, meaning RNG looked like they had a solid hold on the game.
However, UOL wasn't ready to admit defeat. Cryin emboldened them by being too aggressive and getting himself killed in the enemy jungle. Shortly after that, a messy team fight erupted in the bot lane, where UOL actually turned the tide and won it, going up five-for-two in kills. This was huge for the underdogs who successfully capitalized on RNG over-aggression. Unfortunately for UOL, RNG wouldn't keep the antics up forever.
Figuring out they were playing a tad too loose, RNG shored up their play, for the most part. They began to play the map to out-rotate UOL and secure towers and dragons for themselves. Even though RNG did get punished for trying to take a team fight after rushing the Baron, it only stalled the inevitable. At 24 minutes, RNG found their first opening, killing three UOL members in a team fight, leading to a mid lane Inhibitor take. From here, all RNG needed was one more team fight to Ace UOL and bring down their Nexus.
- Time: 28:24
- Kills: 15-23
- Turrets: 2-7
- Gold: 46.2k-59.1k
- Dragons: 1-3
- Barons: 0-1
Unicorns of Love vs Pentanet.GG
As UOL and PGG took to the stage, both knew that this match could prove pivotal in the race to advance out of the Group Stage. And it was UOL, even after their defeat just minutes ago, who came off on a hot start. At only three minutes, Boss and Ahahacik dove BioPanther under his tower to get First Blood, but did have to trade a kill back for it. During the next few minutes, PGG did manage to claim two drakes, but UOL was pushing the pace of the game with Rift Herald uses and skirmishes around the mid lane, where they ended up slightly ahead in kills.
Moving into the mid game, PGG still looked unable to match UOL's pressure. As a result, it was fairly easily for UOL to find and kill Pabu, then Praedyth too. This just cemented their lead and set them up for the game-breaking moment. It came at 20 minutes, where a beautiful flank from Santas set up a perfect team fight for UOL. In a matter of moments, three PGG members lie on death timer. Afterward, UOL slew the Ocean Dragon, as well as the coveted Baron Nashor.
Empowered with the Baron buff, UOL began their push. PGG was utterly powerless at this point and was crushed underfoot in one final team fight, where UOL killed four, and ultimately, the PGG Nexus.
- Time: 23:45
- Kills: 13-3
- Turrets: 8-1
- Gold: 44.0k-35.5k
- Dragons: 1-2
- Barons: 1-0
Royal Never Give Up vs Pentanet.GG
RNG continued to continue their undefeated streak in their match against PGG, and though many thought it'd be another quick, clean sweep, it was anything but. PGG had nothing to lose and threw it all on the table. That showed early on, when they drafted Qiyana for Chazz, and despite him getting bullied early on, he came up with a brilliant solo kill onto Cryin for First Blood. This is the action fans wanted to see and it never stopped.
No, really, the action never stopped. It was absolute chaos. PGG was forcing literally every play they could, throwing bodies at RNG in the hopes of getting kills, even in bad circumstances. RNG seemed to brush it off at first, but when it became clear how ludicrously PGG was playing, they decided to join in on the fun. No matter the place, no matter the time, both teams slugged it out as much as they could. At just 19 minutes, there were over 30 kills! These kills went over to both teams every minute, though as expected, RNG had the gold lead.
Surprisingly, PGG did find the opportunity to claim a Baron buff, and after a couple of decent fights, clawed back the gold deficit they found themselves in. It ended up not being enough though, and when RNG became a little more serious, they grouped and cut down PGG. RNG won the game, but PGG won fans' hearts by delivering an insane game that ended up with nearly 60 kills.
- Time: 31:28
- Kills: 36-21
- Turrets: 8-2
- Gold: 63.8k-55.2k
- Dragons: 2-2
- Barons: 0-1
Royal Never Give Up vs Unicorns of Love
The duality of RNG. After seeing a “for fun” game from them last match, RNG flipped gears and went for utter domination. UOL was hoping to take an upset win, but after essentially trolling draft by giving over both Rumble and Lucian, it wasn't realistic. When Wei's Rumble Flashed over the raptor pit to kill Nomanz for First Blood, UOL soon realized why every other team bans Rumble. With just a single kill, Wei instantly took over the entire game.
It truly was a demonstration of jungle difference. Wei was everywhere, and while to their credit his team did enable him, Wei was the primary carry. He found kills and assists all over the map and was an unstoppable force. From solo killing opposing jungler Ahahacik, to diving top, to setting up equalizers in skirmishes, Wei's Rumble was impossible for UOL to deal with. Indeed, at only 16 minutes, he was 6/0/5 with 100% KP.
Honestly, UOL was bleeding out, and every time they tried to claim a bit of farm, RNG found them and slaughtered them. Because of this, RNG was sieging UOL's base as early as 17 minutes. Without even the Baron, RNG knocked down towers and Inhibitors, looking for an early end. Of course, RNG engaged one final team fight, which they won five-for-zero, and claimed yet another Nexus.
- Time: 19:31
- Kills: 19-3
- Turrets: 9-0
- Gold: 43.5k-29.3k
- Dragons: 3-0
- Barons: 0-0
Pentanet.GG vs Unicorns of Love
The fate of the group was on the line here. PGG had to win this game to stay in contention to advance. Though UOL did just receive a thrashing against RNG, they had good previous showings versus PGG, so they were the expected winners.
But expectations be damned. PGG came out swinging in this important game with all early game picks and they executed on the early game very well. Firstly, they sent four members bot to dive the tower and secure First Blood. From here, the squad began to collect dragons and skirmish all around the map. In addition to kills, they slew a couple of Rift Heralds and demolished multiple towers.
The real deciding moment in the match happened at 18 minutes, where a team fight around the dragon resulted in five kills to PGG, following an incredible BioPanther Sett engage. Badly beaten, UOL's mental seemed shattered. PGG continued to run them down, eventually snagging the Ocean Soul and a Baron buff to boot. With so many advantages, PPG had an easy time diving into the UOL base, obliterating four UOL champions, and finishing UOL's Nexus.
- Time: 29:39
- Kills: 23-5
- Turrets: 9-2
- Gold: 60.0k-44.1k
- Dragons: 4-0
- Barons: 1-0
Pentanet.GG vs Royal Never Give Up
Pentanet.GG was high off of a win against UOL just before, but RNG, even with a couple of role swaps, was ready to knock them back down a peg. Unlike their previous matchup, however, RNG played a much cleaner game, starting off with an aggressive bot lane play at four minutes. What started as a simple Wei gank turned into multiple Teleports and members turning up in the bot lane. Here, RNG outfought PGG and went up four kills to two. Crucially, three of the kills went to Xiaohu's Ryze, who proceeded to take over the game.
Establishing such an early lead made it hard for PGG to fight back against RNG, but they tried nonetheless. It worked out for them a couple of times, as they found some picks, but the multi-man fights always went in the favor of RNG. Because of this, RNG was always a step ahead in objectives, expanding their gold lead further.
Funnily enough, the game ended up accelerating so quickly that by 18 minutes, RNG was once again sieging their opponents' base. They couldn't quite finish in one fell swoop like in the match versus UOL but that was fine. It simply took them one more engage mid to find four kills, push through the UOL base, grab a couple more kills, and end the game. Consequently, this put PGG and UOL tied in the standings, meaning a tiebreaker was next on the docket.
- Time: 22:30
- Kills: 8-22
- Turrets: 0-8
- Gold: 34.2k-46.4k
- Dragons: 0-3
- Barons: 0-0
Tiebreaker: Unicorns of Love vs Pentanet.GG
This is what it all came down to. UOL vs PGG, only one team could advance to the Rumble Stage of MSI 2021. And, unlike some of the games today, it was a pretty close one all things considered. In the beginning, it was UOL who secured First Blood as Ahahacik ganked top. A minute later, the action zoomed to the bot side for a one-for-one trade, then quickly back top where PGG's Pabu ganked and killed Boss to even it up up there.
The next 10 or so minutes showcased two evenly matched squads. UOL found themselves in a decent position when they killed Chazz and secured a Herald, but PGG struck back by diving and killing the UOL bot lane to secure an in towards dragon. Overall, it was everything a tiebreaker should be, as the teams went blow for blow.
Finally, the game blew wide open. At 20 minutes, a hectic team fight erupted in the top lane, where PGG claimed three kills, and subsequently, a Baron. With this, PGG picked up the pace and swiftly set about dismantling UOL. As early as 24 minutes, PGG was threatening the UOL Nexus, but UOL managed to mount one desperate defense. In the end, this valiance didn't matter though, as PGG snagged themselves an Infernal Soul, forced one last fight to kill all five UOL members and blast their Nexus to send them home.
And just like that, PGG made history for the Oceanic region by being the first team to advance past the group stage in an international competition. They'll take on the rest of the tournament with RNG in the upcoming Rumble Stage.
- Time: 27:45
- Kills: 9-19
- Turrets: 2-10
- Gold: 47.0k-55.1k
- Dragons: 0-4
- Barons: 0-1