This week in Shanghai, China, Riot Games kicks off the Mid-Season Invitational. The six major competitive regions from around the world have finished their regular spring esports season and have crowned their champions. Now the best team from each region will compete, head-to-head, to see who reigns supreme.
Korea’s SKTelecom T1 are expected the win the entire tournament. The Korean teams have achieved mythological status among esports competitors, and the much-hyped Faker remains a god-like star player on the team.
Meanwhile, the frontrunner for this year’s MSI is as predictable as the underdog, Turkey’s SuperMassive, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore these matches. In fact, the best game’s to watch this week are the ones in which we expect a blowout. Here are five reasons you should root for SuperMassive, the underdogs of the MSI.
They Have Nothing to Lose
Let’s face it. SuperMassive knows exactly what they’re up against. The team came in from the International Wild Card tournament, beating out some great opponents, but they’re not from a particularly competitive region. They know their chances of moving past the group stage is slim at best. This is actually a good thing. It means SuperMassive are unhindered by high expectations. They can afford to make risky decisions. Expect to see some strange picks during the ban phase in an attempt to disrupt their opponents. If you’re looking to watch weird matches of League of Legends, don’t miss a SuperMassive game.
They Will Adapt
One of the reasons Korea consistently reigns supreme not just at League of Legends, but across many other esports, is the region’s high level of competition. Korean teams are consistently battling against other fantastic teams. In other words, the best get a lot of good practice. At this year’s MSI, SuperMassive will play against teams they’ve never encountered before, with tactics that could prove alien to the Turkish team. SuperMassive will have to adapt – and quickly. Looking to improve your own skill? Pay attention as SuperMassive abruptly adapts between, and even during, each match.
They’re Actually Pretty Good
Now that we’ve lowered our expectations, let’s not forget how SuperMassive got here in the first place. The team came first in Turkey’s playoff games, soundly beating Team Beşiktaş.OyunHizmetleri three games to one. Their Top Laner Thaldrin has been playing League of Legends competitively since 2013, and his experience is matched in Naru, the team’s Mid Laner. This is the best team we’ve seen out of the region, so even if they struggle against SKT1 (and who doesn’t), you’re still in for an exquisite performance from an excellent team.
Anything Can Happen
Esports is not so different than traditional sports. We can make all the predictions we want, but on “any given Sunday,” upsets can and will happen. Who can forget when KaBuM esports, the Wild Card underdogs of the 2014 World Championships, dominated Alliance, the top-seeded team from Europe. SuperMassive players, previously under the BJK banner, were able to take a kill off Faker himself, a feat impressive enough to get roaring applause from the crowd. Yes, defeating SKT1 is almost impossible… but it could happen.
The Energy Is Real
Above all else, you should root for SuperMassive this week because you won’t be the only one. Fans across the world know they’re the underdogs, which makes every small victory an achievement. If SuperMassive takes a win, or even a kill, against SKT1, or any other team for that matter, you can expect the crowd to go wild. If they can get past the group stage, you’ll also see the players give a thrilling celebration themselves.
The games kick off tonight at 10:30PM PST with SuperMassive against — you guessed it — SKTelecom. You can watch it live, right here.