The Highlights

  • The first major international League tournament of the year is starting soon.
  • On Thursday and Friday, eight regional champs compete against each other for the tournament’s two final spots.
  • Data for these teams is almost nonexistent, so our writer watched 116 League games to gather all the statistics in this piece.

The first major international tournament of the year — the Mid Season Invitational (MSI) — is almost upon us, and most of the fans will be drawn to the established teams, such as Fnatic, Team Liquid, and Royal Never Give Up. In attendance, though, will be a few relatively unknown teams from smaller regions, and they deserve our attention, especially now, since before the 2018 MSI begins these teams go through a play-in process, fighting each other at the EU LCS Studio in Berlin for the right to compete on the big stage.

Here’s something that’s very important: No one else has the information in this article.

Data for the smaller regions is hard to find — in many cases, it just doesn’t exist — so I went back and reviewed every game these teams have played all year to get the statistics for this article. In other words, most of the numbers in this piece are exclusive to The Action Network — and they are predictive of what is likely to happen in the play-in matchups.

If you’re new to eSports, that’s not a problem: Check out my League of Legends introduction. While this piece is focused primarily on League betting, it has relevance to daily fantasy as well. For some evergreen insight specifically related to League DFS, take a look at my piece on the three biggest eSports DFS mistakes and how to avoid them.

Here are my breakdowns and picks for the eight teams participating in the MSI Play-In.

Group A

Rainbow7

  • Region: Latin America North
  • Regular Season Record: 10-2 (1st)
  • Finals Result: 3-1 over Infinity
  • First Blood %: 68%
  • Dragon %: 70%
  • Game Time per Win: 36.4 minutes
  • Game Time per Loss: 39.3 minutes
  • Kills per Win: 19.4
  • Deaths per Loss: 11.6

Roster (most played champion)

  • Top: Jirall (Camille/Cho)
  • Jungle: Oddie (Sejuani)
  • Mid: seiya (Azir)
  • ADC: WhiteLotus (Varus)
  • Support: Genthix (Braum)

This is a good team that plays the kind of comps I like in this particular event. R7 leans towards compositions that are good in the later game, which will likely serve them well since many of the play-in teams haven’t been tested and forced to play late on a regular basis. Rather, they have simply steamrolled their domestic opponents with early-game compositions that rarely work against tougher competition. R7 wasn’t particularly impressive in their regional playoffs, but they are still a team with a lot of chemistry and history and some good mechanical players. If Gambit plays disrespectful team compositions that rely on snowballing, R7 should be able to take advantage of that and win this group.

Gambit Esports

  • Region: CIS
  • Regular Season Record: 12-2 (Tied First)
  • Finals Results: 3-0 over RoX
  • First Blood %: 52%
  • Dragon %: 69%
  • Game Time per Win: 33.5 minutes
  • Game Time per Loss: 40 minutes
  • Kills per Win: 15.4
  • Deaths per Loss: 20.3

Roster (most played champion)

  • Top: PvPStejos (Sion)
  • Jungle: DiamondProx (Khazix/Sejuani)
  • Mid: Kira (Anivia)
  • ADC: Lodik (Ezreal/Caitlyn)
  • Support: Edward (Tahm)

The key for Gambit is Kira. He has looked like a legitimate star, better than any of the other mid-laners in this group. If Gambit wins it will be through Kira and good coaching. If they draft well and lean toward Caitlyn/Sejuani compositions that can play well throughout the game, then they will be my favorite to win the group. The problem is that ATRemains (the Gambit coach) can be a little arrogant in the draft phase. If Gambit opts for early-game compositions built around Ezreal and Khazix, then they could have a tough showing.

Kaos Latin Gamers

  • Region: Latin America South
  • Regular Season Record: 16-5 (2nd)
  • Finals Results: 3-2 over Rebirth Esports
  • First Blood %: 72%
  • Dragon %: 70%
  • Game Time per Win: 30.8 minutes
  • Game Time per Loss: 36 minutes
  • Kills per Win: 16
  • Deaths per Loss: 14.8

Roster (most played champion)

  • Top: Nate (Sion)
  • Jungle: Tierwulf (Olaf)
  • Mid: Plugo (Ryze)
  • ADC: Fix (Caitlyn)
  • Support: Slow (Braum)

Kaos is the kind of team that continually puts up strong performances in a middling region but has never really amounted to much on the international stage. There’s no obvious reason that should change now. Rebirth Esports took them to Game 5 and probably should’ve beaten them in their finals series. The teams in this group are going to be tougher than Rebirth, and I don’t expect to see Kaos fighting for a win.

Ascension Gaming

  • Region: Southeast Asia
  • Regular Season Record: 13-1 (1st)
  • Finals Results: 3-1 over Kuala Lumpur Hunters
  • First Blood %: 69%
  • Dragon %: 75%
  • Game Time per Win: 27.7 minutes
  • Game Time per Loss: 33.5 minutes
  • Kills per Win: 15.9
  • Deaths per Loss: 17.5

Roster (most played champion)

  • Top: Rockky (Camille)
  • Jungle: InTreso (Sejuani)
  • Mid: G4 (Ryze)
  • ADC: Lloyd (Varus)
  • Support: Rich (Braum)

Ascension is a fun team to watch, and they make for a plucky underdog in Group A, but unfortunately they are likelier to get plucked than to do the plucking. They are generally the most aggressive team in the group, but more than any other unit they are also used to snowballing their opponents, and they will struggle to do that here. If they are to win a game, I expect it will be their first, before their opponents have had time to adjust to their reckless style.

Group B

KaBuM! Esports

  • Region: Brazil
  • Regular Season Record: 6-1 (1st)
  • Finals Results: 3-2 over Vivo Keyd
  • First Blood %: 56%
  • Dragon %: 58%
  • Game Time per Win: 31.5 minutes
  • Game Time per Loss: 36.2 minutes
  • Kills per Win: 12.5
  • Deaths per Loss: 14

Roster (most played champion)

  • Top: Zantins (Vladimir)
  • Jungle: Freire (KhaZix)
  • Mid: Atlanta (Azir)
  • ADC: Titan (Tristana)
  • Support:  Riyev (Braum)

KaBuM is the dark horse of Group B. SuperMassive is a huge favorite on every betting site, but KaBuM tends to use the type of late-game composition that I think really plays well in these events. SuperMassive gives up more first bloods than any other team in the tournament and also commonly drafts Ezreal and Janna, two champions who don’t tend to play well in the late game. This gives SuperMassive a very small window to beat a team like KaBuM, which is likely to get a small early-game lead after drafting champions suited to the late game. If KaBuM doesn’t win Group B, it will probably be due to raw skill, because they should have the strategic advantage over the Turkish powerhouse.

SuperMassive Esports

  • Region: Turkey
  • Regular Season Record: 26-2 (1st)
  • Finals Results: 3-1 over Royal Bandits
  • First Blood %: 46%
  • Dragon %: 74%
  • Game Time per Win: 31.1 minutes
  • Game Time per Loss: 37 minutes
  • Kills per Win: 15.9
  • Deaths per Loss: 17.5

Roster (most played champion)

  • Top: fabFabulous (Ornn)
  • Jungle: Stomaged (Sejuani)
  • Mid: GBM (Vladimir)
  • ADC: Zeitnot (Ezreal)
  • Support: Snowflower (Janna)

Of all the play-in teams, these guys are easily the favorites based on the opinions of analysts and the lines set by betting sites, but they have an exploitable weakness that too many people are probably discounting: In drafting, SM leans toward champions who don’t play nearly as well in the late game. Although they absolutely dominated their region, they will find tougher competition here. If a team in Group B — probably not Dire Wolves and PENTAGRAM but maybe KaBuM — is able to string the game along, SM may find themselves ill-equipped to compete as the game progresses. They will be relying on pure individual skill to try and pick up a win against their main competition here.

Dire Wolves

  • Region: Oceania
  • Regular Season Record: 10-0 (1st)
  • Finals Results: 3-2 over Chiefs Esports Club
  • First Blood %: 50%
  • Dragon %: 65.7%
  • Game Time per Win: 33 minutes
  • Game Time per Loss: 38 minutes
  • Kills per Win: 14.3
  • Deaths per Loss: 11.7

Roster (most played champion)

  • Top: Chippys (Gangplank)
  • Jungle: Shernfire (KhaZix)
  • Mid: Triple (Taliyah)
  • ADC: k1ng (Ezreal)
  • Support: Cupcake (Alistair)

Dire Wolves are similar to Kaos: The team has been around in one iteration or another since pretty much the beginning of competitive play in Oceania, and more often than not they have been the top team Down Under. In international play, though, they haven’t found much success against even other wildcard teams, and they come from one of the weakest regions in the world. Even though they have an impressive regular season record, they (along with PENTAGRAM) will likely be at the bottom of the Group B standings by the end of the play-in process. I do, though, think that they are a full step ahead of their Japanese opponents in PENTAGRAM and expect them to win that head-to-head matchup.

PENTAGRAM

  • Region: Japan
  • Regular Season Record: 6-4 (2nd)
  • Finals Results: 3-0 over Detonation FocusME
  • First Blood %: 51%
  • Dragon %: 79%
  • Game Time per Win: 35.5 minutes
  • Game Time per Loss: 34.7 minutes
  • Kills per Win: 13.2
  • Deaths per Loss: 12

Roster (most played champion)

  • Top: Paz (Sion)
  • Jungle: Once (Sejuani)
  • Mid: Ramune (Azir)
  • ADC: YutoriMoyasi (Xayah)
  • Support: Gaeng (Braum)

Japan is only beginning to dip its toes into competitive League on a large scale. Coming from a weak region, PENTAGRAM could struggle in international play, especially since they are probably just the second-best team in their region, behind the dominant Detonation FocusMe. Throughout the season Detonation went undefeated and looked poised to take the title, but PENTAGRAM showed some real teamwork in a 3-0 finals victory that basically no one anticipated. While they pulled off the upset in regional play, international play is a different type of animal. PENTAGRAM are unlikely to win a game here, but it is exciting to see Japan developing as a League region.

Group A Predictions

  1. Gambit
  2. Rainbow7
  3. Kaos
  4. Ascension

Group B Predictions

  1. KaBuM
  2. SuperMassive
  3. Dire Wolves
  4. PENTAGRAM

My Bets

Here are the bets I’m planning to make as of writing. Of course, given the round-robin style of the play-in tournament, my thoughts on the later wagers may change once we see the current form of teams in this metagame. As my perspectives change I’ll update my prospective picks in this article and will also highlight on Twitter the matchups I’ve pivoted on.

  • Gambit -165 vs. Kaos +115 (Thu. 5/3, 7:00 am ET): Gambit
  • Rainbow7 -550 vs. Ascension +325 (Thu. 5/3, 8:00 am ET): Ascension
  • Gambit -225 vs. Ascension +150 (Thu. 5/3, 9:00 am ET): Gambit
  • Rainbow7 -240 vs. Gambit +160 (Thu. 5/3, noon ET): Gambit
  • KaBuM -250 vs. Dire Wolves +170 (Fri. 5/4, 10:00 am ET): KaBuM
  • Dire Wolves -165 vs. PENTAGRAM +115 (Fri. 5/4, 11:00 am ET): Dire Wolves
  • SuperMassive -310 vs. KaBuM +200 (Fri. 5/4, noon am ET): KaBuM

UPDATE

  • Ascension -165 vs. Kaos +115 (Thu. 5/3, 11:15 am ET): Ascension

I hope you have a great time watching these young teams compete against each other for the right to participate in the main event, which should be fantastic and full of value for betters. Until then, good luck . . . and I’ll see you on the rift.