Only a short time remains before the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational Play-In stage. Yesterday we covered the first four teams in the stage, and today we move on to the final four teams to discuss why they rank so high. As a quick reminder before we begin, this list does not include power five region teams, so no Team Liquid or Flash Wolves.
4. Isurus Gaming (LAT, LLA Champions)
- Top: Mateo “Buggax” Aroztegui
- Jungle: Sebastián “Oddie” Niño
- Mid: Édgar “Seiya” Bracamontes
- ADC: Fabián “Warangelus” Llanos
- Support: Eduardo “Slow” Garcés
After a merger brought together the LAS and LAN leagues, a lot of skepticism arose around the new LLA. Those skeptics were soon surprised, however, as the LLA produced possibly the strongest league Latin America has ever seen. Isurus managed to upset the top-seeded All Knights before toppling the 9-time champions Rainbow7.
Sporting a veteran-filled roster that includes the likes of 7-time champion Seiya, Oddie, and Slow, they are likely the most well-rounded team in the MSI Play-Ins. However, that could come back to bite them in a meta that favors star players in the solo lanes. With this on top of the recent string of second place group finishes from the LLN, Isurus find themselves at number four.
3. Vega Squadron (CIS, LCL Champions)
- Top: Vladislav “BOSS” Fomin
- Jungle: Kirill “AHaHaCiK” Skvortsov
- Mid: Lev “Nomanz” Yakshin
- ADC: Ilya “Gadget” Makavchuk
- Support: Aleksandr “SaNTaS” Lifashin
Vega Squadron in international play? It’s true! Vega took down both the reigning champions Gambit and the first seeded Elements Pro Gaming on their way to their first LCL title. They focus strongly on their hypercarry mid Nomanz and the flexibility of Gadget’s mage heavy champion pool.
The LCL has historically been one of the stronger wildcard regions, from Gambit to the legendary Albus Nox. Vega is by no means the second coming of the latter squad, but they won one of the strongest regions against the two best teams. With their top-three placing, they are the favorite to win the weaker group B, but it is not a lock whatsoever.
2. 1907 Fenerbahçe Esports (Turkey, TCL Champions)
- Top: Kim “Ruin” Hyeong-min
- Jungle: Thomas “Kirei” Yuen
- Mid: Onur “Bolulu” Can Demirol
- ADC: Volkan “Hades” Dinçer
- Support: Bahadır “Japone” Çolak
There is a lot of debate as to whether 1907 Fenerbahçe are the strongest or second strongest team in the MSI Play-In stage. They were the dominant force in the TCL, only challenged by their rivals in Supermassive. They toppled the reigning champions in a deceptively close 3-0, where each game could have gone either way. With an almost completely fresh roster from years past showcasing the likes of Ruin and Kirei, people are touting this as the strongest Turkish roster of all time.
The reason they are number two on this list is simple: Turkey hasn’t beaten a VCS team since a Play-In stage was added to international play. Both times the Turks were outclassed by their Vietnamese counterparts, leaving 1907 Fenerbahçe at number two.
1. Phong Vũ Buffalo (Vietnam, VCS Champions)
- Top: Phạm “Zeros” Minh Lộc
- Jungle: Hoàng “Meliodas” Tiến Nhật
- Mid: Võ “Naul” Thành Luân
- ADC: Đặng “BigKoro” Ngọc Tài
- Support: Nguyễn “Palette” Hải Trung
At the number one spot, to the surprise of some, is the reigning VCS champion Phong Vũ Buffalo. Vietnam has proved time and time again that they are the dominant wildcard region, at times even scaring power five region teams. They feature the best top laner in the Play-In stage, Zeros, who earned international attention against the likes of Wunder, Hanabi, and Kiin. The rest of PVB are no slouches either, with every player being among the best in Vietnam.
Even with this, though, the strategy of Phong Vũ Buffalo revolves around Zeros and his carry potential. The team has been criticized for occasionally questionable macro and over-reliance on Zeros, but until events indicate otherwise, Phong Vũ Buffalo takes the top spot on the list of teams in the MSI Play-In stage.
There you have it: the second half of the Mid-Season Invitational Play-In team rankings. Make sure you check out the first half of our rankings, and tune in tomorrow for when the MSI begins on May 1.