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Photos of Team Liquid LoL as they play in Vietnam for the Mid Season Invitational. Team Liquid represented North America in this international competition for League of Legends and placed 4th in the group stage.
NEWS

The 2019 Mid-Season Invitational Shakeup

May 162019

In League of Legends esports, the Mid-Season Invitational is the first international event of the year. A competition where the best of the best battle it out to see who will be deemed the favorite going into Worlds in just a few months’ time. Outside of that international notoriety factor, however, MSI has historically held very different meanings for each region that attends.

For Korea, MSI was a stepping stone on the way to Worlds — simply more trophies to line the shelves behind the Summoner’s Cups they brought in. For China, MSI was a way to beat Korea amid their dynastic rule over Summoner’s Rift. A hard-fought victory for a region that was then often shut out of Korea/Korea finals at Worlds. For Europe, MSI was an opportunity to show that they truly were a region that deserves praise. The region having only failed to make it to semis once in 2016.

But for North America, it’s different. For NA, MSI has been both a blessing and a curse. MSI was once the place where NA managed to make it to their first ever Finals at an international competition back in 2016. Sadly, 2016’s MSI was a nonreplicable success. Since then NA teams have routinely not withstood the test of competition. That is, until now.

Due to their somewhat lackluster performance at last year’s MSI, Team Liquid was forced to play through the MSI play-ins stage finals in order to qualify for the group stage — that was the easy part. They beat the hometown team in an easy 3-0 allowed Liquid to qualify for groups with little fuss.

 

Groups, however, was where it became tough. Liquid’s group stage competition included the reigning World Champions, the team universally considered to be the best Western team in the world, and the Dynastic Gods of League of Legends with their Demon King still reigning over his dominion in the mid lane. Even the two Wild Card teams were still champions of their regions who were not to be underestimated.

 

Despite having a late start and some tough matchups, Team Liquid did the unthinkable. They broke the week 2 curse. With their destiny firmly in their own hands Liquid beat the so-called “Best in the West” and landed themselves in the final qualifying spot, 4th place.

 

 

What was once a curse had become a blessing. By placing 4th in groups, Team Liquid had become the 4th ever NA team to make it to the semi-finals round of an international competition. It also just so happened to have been the 4th time an NA team made it to the semi-finals round of an international competition. While 4th place is familiar to Team Liquid, it’s not enough.

 

Doublelift said so himself despite finally breaking his curse and helping both the team and the region making it out of groups,

 

“Your region will never be happy with you, your fans will never be happy with you, if you just make it out of groups. It’s not enough, it’s never enough. No one remembers 4th place.”

 

The tables have completely turned this MSI. But not just for North America, MSI no longer means what it used to for any of the top regions. This time Korea is looking to claw themselves back into the international conversation with their first international trophy in over a year. Conversely, China is looking to keep their stranglehold on all international competition by bringing home their third consecutive international title. Europe is looking to show that their second-place finish at Worlds last year was not a fluke. And NA is looking to show that they are finally a region that’s ready to tango in the big leagues.

 

Team Liquid has found their footing. And though their semi-finals opponent is very likely the strongest team in the world, they will fight. They will fight with the knowledge that curses have been broken. That the future is limitless. That they’ve finally made NA proud.

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