5-game thriller sends DWG KIA to MSI 2021 final, MAD Lions out

By Christian Vejvad


May 22, 2021

Reading time: 4 min

World champion DWG KIA has secured the last spot in the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational final after beating MAD Lions in an intense five-game seriesames. 

To defend the MSI trophy for Europe, MAD Lions had to take out the reigning world champion DWG KIA in the last semifinal of the tournament. After facing off twice during the rumble stage, it was clear that DWG KIA would enter as the clear favorites but with a slight chance of an upset. MAD Lions had to play their best series ever, which they did. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to tackle DWG KIA who kept calm until the very end and took victory 3-2. This puts DWG KIA in the grand final where Royal Never Give Up is waiting. 

It was clear from the start that MAD Lions had planned to control the early game. To defeat DWG KIA, an early snowball has to get rolling to avoid the world champions’ controlled playstyle. Putting all eggs in the early-game basket, MAD Lions opted into a Jayce in the top lane with jungler Javier “Elyoya” Batalla on Udyr. 

The draft automatically put MAD Lions on a timer, but the LEC champions have previously shown that the aggressive playstyle suits them best. This was also the case in this game, where both Elyoya and top laner İrfan “Armut” Tükek got a solid lead as planned during the laning phase. Unfortunately for MAD Lions, DWG KIA wasn’t choked by an early-game deficit. Instead, they waited patiently for the team fights to erupt and were rewarded. Even though MAD Lions tried to bite back, there was nothing their composition could do to keep DWG KIA from the Nexus.  

With the early-game strategy failing in game one, MAD Lions had to find other ways to tame DWG KIA. MAD Lions went for a bit more scaling this time around while putting Armut on Lee Sin, a champion that he has looked great on so far.

In the attempt to bounce back, MAD Lions threw all insecurities away and kept forcing skirmishes right from the first minutes. This resulted in a lot of action back and forth but also created enough chaos for MAD Lions to get a much-needed lead. Even though DWG KIA was close to turning the whole game around, bot laner Matyáš “Carzzy” Orság kept his head cool and led MAD Lions to the victory with an incredible performance on Xayah.   

All tied up 1-1 meant that anything could still happen. MAD Lions kept going at a high tempo by getting lots of kills, while DWG KIA tried to keep the gold even by going for cross-map objectives. In a match where the teams had completely different approaches, it looked like MAD Lions would get out ahead until they went for a risky Baron that was punished.

Out of nowhere, the game was dead even again and everything came down to late-game execution. Against most expectations, MAD Lions was the one to play the best. With an Infernal Soul and Baron Buff in the bag, MAD Lions pushed its way to match point after an intense ending. 

Taking DWG KIA to match point isn’t easy, but will also spark a fire in the Korean champions. In game four, there was no doubt who the better team was as DWG KIA made a statement. It only took 22 minutes for Heo “ShowMaker” Su and the rest of DWG KIA to end the game and force a fifth. 

Everything had to be decided in one final game, with lots of pressure on both squads. After getting a big boost of momentum in game four, DWG KIA entered Summoner’s Rift with confidence. It also showed in the early game, where jungler Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu got to make many plays on Rumble. 

It put MAD Lions under heavy pressure right from the laning phase, ruining the plan of playing aggressively like in games two and three. A gold lead of 2,000 after 10 minutes put DWG KIA so close to a final, with MAD Lions looking for mistakes to punish. Sadly for all the European fans, DWG KIA didn’t give away anything and closed out the series after 23 minutes. 

DWG KIA and RNG to face off at MSI 2021 final

Even though the semifinals were closer than expected, the final will be between the two pre-tournament favorites. RNG has had an extra day to prepare for DWG KIA, giving them a tiny edge already. Furthermore, RNG has already beat DWG KIA twice this tournament which means that the world champions might enter the match as slightly underdogs. 

The anticipated final takes place tomorrow on May 23.


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