The long-awaited MSI 2019 is only a few weeks away, where we will get to see the six strongest League of Legends teams from all over the world competing for the title of 2019 MSI champions. However, before the main event starts, we still need to get three more participants who will join G2, Invictus and SKT1 on the main stage. Those teams will be decided in the 2019 MSI Play-In, which will take place from May 1st until May 7th at GG Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
The tournament will be played in two rounds. The first round or simply the Group stage of the tournament will feature eight teams, which will be split into two groups of four teams. Matches will be played in a double round-robin Bo1 format, which will result in each team playing six matches. When all is set and done, only the winners of each group will get a ticket into the second round, where they will fight for promotion into the main event. The teams and groups are as follows:
- 1907 Fenerbahçe
- Phong Vũ Buffalo
- Vega Squadron
- DetonatioN FM
- INTZ e-Sports
- Isurus Gaming
The second and the last round in the MIS 2019 Play-In will feature the winners of their groups facing off against Team Liquid and Flash Wolves for a chance to appear in the main event. The way that the format works will put the winner of group A against Team Liquid and the winner of group B against Flash Wolves.
Unlike the group stages, the round two matches will be played in a Bo5 format, with the winners advancing into the main event. The defeated teams will, however, get another chance to prove themselves in a H2H match against each other. The winner of the lower bracket match will as well get a ticket to the main event, which means the 2019 MSI play-In offer 3 spots for the main event for the teams to grab.
Now that we know how the tournament will work, the main question is how those teams will perform. To answer that, we need to check out the two groups, which to be fair are quite disappointing in a way. The biggest issue I have with the MSI 2019 play-in is the group draw, which put three of the strongest teams in group A, while group B consists of mediocre teams, who will struggle to get themselves into the main event.
To start off group A, we have 1907 Fenerbahçe and Phong Vũ Buffalo, two of the strongest teams in the MSI play-in, but due to the way the tournament format works, only one of them will get a chance to advance into the main event. Putting the two teams side-by-side, it's Phong Vũ Buffalo who are arguably the better team. Furthermore, I feel comfortable saying they are even better than Flash Wolves and could be a real threat to Team Liquid, which is why I believe they should end up advancing into the main event. Bear in mind, Phong Vũ Buffalo managed to win two games in 2018 Worlds with the same team they possess now. Not only do they have better historical results compared to any other team in the group stage, but Phong Vũ Buffalo have also played very well this season and should look to finish the group A victorious.
While it's more or less clear which team will end up at the top of group A, group B seems a bit trickier to predict. There is simply no team that stands out. While I could argue MEGA are the underdogs, the remaining three teams seem fairly equally matched. Picking out a clear favourite here is something that we cannot do, however putting teams side-by-side, it's DetonatioN FM who do seem to be the most dangerous to end up victorious. Just like Phong Vũ Buffalo, DetonatioN FM had a fairly successful campaign in the 2018 Worlds, when they put up a great fight against Cloud9. Additionally, the team cruised through their regular season with a 20-1 record, which was only icing on the cake of their dominance in the LJL.
Due to possible chaos in group B, where we have three teams who could all potentially advance into the next stage, we will only bet on the group A. As mentioned before I fancy Phong Vũ Buffalo to show their strength once more and advance out of the group. While I believe they can potentially go all the way and get themselves into the MSI main event, we will only bet on them to finish the group victorious.
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