The 2021 Mid-Season Invitational has had its first casualty at the hands of COVID-19 as Vietnam (VCS) has had to pull out.
After exploring numerous solutions to the situation, Riot Games has today confirmed that the VCS region won’t attend MSI in Iceland. Riot Games has chosen not to replace the region’s spot in Group A, which will see the group play out as normal with one fewer team.
GAM Esports having won the 2021 VCS Spring Split would have been the team attending MSI. The team was last represented at Worlds 2019 under its current name, though under GIGABYTE Marines had been to Worlds 2017 and MSI 2017. A 6th place finish at MSI 2017 is the organization's best showing at an international event thus far.
Despite not attending the event, the VCS representative will be awarded their full share of the prize pool.
The stage is set
Group A, which features LPL (China), LCL (CIS), and LCO (Oceania) will go ahead as normal. The top two teams will advance to the main event as planned. The third-place team will then move into Stage 2, where they’ll be joined by the other bottom two teams from Group B & C. Group B and Group C will be unaffected by the changes.
While ultimately a terrible situation with just weeks to go before we head to MSI, Riot Games has probably done the only reasonable thing given the short timeframe. Given a longer run-up, assuming the situation couldn’t be resolved second-place sides from each region could have had a chance to attend.
With the EU Masters taking place before MSI, and MSI taking place in Iceland, the EU Master winner being given the final spot wouldn’t seem like a terrible idea. Though logistically any changes now would be nearly impossible to pull off.
For full details of the MSI format, teams, and changes for 2021, check out the full breakdown here.