Oceanic champions PentanetGG have jetted off to Iceland for their first international League of Legends campaign, representing the LCO at the Mid-Season Invitational in Reykjavík.
The LCO was drawn into Group A at the new-look event.
That means Oceania was originally slated to face the LPL, LCL, and VCS representatives in early May. The top two would move into a six-team group, reminiscent of past MSI tournaments, before cutting again into a single elimination top-four bracket.
Since the original group draw, however, things have changed dramatically.
Not only did PGG lock in their place as our champions, but Vietnamese heavyweights GAM Esports — and their famous jungler Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh — will be unable to attend the Iceland tourney due to travel restrictions. Because of this, Group A has shrunk to three teams, and PGG will face their two opponents a whopping four times across the opening stage.
Here’s everything you need to know about our LCL and LPL rivals.
Unicorns of Love (LCL) — “Revenge for Mammoth”
Representing the LoL Continental League will be the Unicorns of Love.
The four-time defending CIS champions defeated CrowCrowd in a 3–1 regional final, after beating out early favourites Gambit by the same scoreline in the semifinals.
The Unicorns are well known to Oceanic loyalists; back in 2019, Mammoth came face to face with the former EU LCS team in Group A in Play Ins, beating them twice before a heartbreaking loss in the qualifier’s tiebreaker match.
UOL have kept most of their Worlds 2020 lineup together this year. Only Stanislav “Lodik” Kornelyuk is a new face in the Russian squad.
The Unicorns play a fast, aggressive style, but keep it standard when they need to. Tank top, burst or battle mages in the mid lane, and engage/disengage supports are pretty typical for the LCL champions. They snowball leads, but struggle to close out their advantages, with their matches often stretching out into the late game.
If PGG wants to take victory over the Unicorns, look for an early-game composition against the pink squad. Once it goes late, UOL may be in their comfort zone on the Rift.
Royal Never Give Up (LPL) — “Life Beyond Uzi”
The LPL represenatives, Royal Never Give Up, are back in a big way.
After failing to even qualify for Summer playoffs, and the subsequent regional finals in 2020, the MSI 2018 champions retooled in the break. Long term mid laner Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao shifted to the top lane with great success, while several players were swapped in and out of the roster.
The gamble paid off: RNG enjoyed a 14-2 regular season, netting them first seed in playoffs, and a berth in the second round of the double-elim bracket.
The team did slip in the upper bracket battle, ousted by FunPlus Phoenix in three, but victories over TOP Esports and Edward Gaming — both five-game classics, we might add, and the latter a reverse sweep — saw them return to the grand final.
There, they polished off a stellar season with a 3-1 revenge win over FPX, in what turned out to be Chen “GALA” Wei’s true arrival announcement; the RNG ADC dominated games three and four in classic Uzi style to wrap the series.
RNG is the definition of a bloodthirsty LPL team.
Basically, Pentanet are going to have to be ready “fight first, fight hard, fight often”: skirmishes and team-pitched battles are the name of the game in China, and Royal Never Give Up are masters of their non-stop craft.
They truly are a formidable opponent, and as early favourites to win it all, the organisation may well be lifting a second MSI trophy come late May.
What this means for Pentanet in Iceland
I think this group should be an interesting one. The recent change to four games in a round robin will see eight games played for Pentanet against two of the biggest names in international League of Legends. That should give them valuable time to adapt.
I’m not worried about them crashing out early.
Pentanet’s chances should be good in the three-way duel in Group A. Oceania has already proven they can take down the Unicorns of Love, and there’s no reason it can’t be done again, especially with so many chances. And, honestly, we could even see a Royal Never Give Up upset too; the Uzi-less roster is not the Chinese titan it once was.
Are you in? Because I sure as hell am.
The Mid-Season Invitational’s first stage begins at 11PM AEST, May 6. PGG starts their Icelandic campaign at 1AM, on May 7, with back-to-back games against RNG and UOL.