There were more twists and turns on the last day of the Group Stage at the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational, as the EU LCS studios in Berlin played host to their final showdowns before the tournament migrates to Paris for the knockout stage.
The previous day of competition had seen the table-toppers, Taiwan's Flash Wolves, finally falter in the face of Fnatic and RNG, while an upswing in the form of Team Liquid ensured that the race for the knockout spots would still be hotly-contested.
KingZone DragonX 1 - 0 Fnatic
A neck-and-neck affair suddenly snowballed heavily in the Koreans' favour at around twenty-three minutes, when Martin "Rekkles" Larsson compounded a lacklustre showing at MSI up to that point by getting caught farming in the mid lane. That catch snowballed to all five members of Fnatic dying as KingZone secured the baron.
What followed was a lesson in closing out the game, as Fnatic's base was systematically taken apart by a calculated and relentless assault on the towers, inhibitors, and champions.
Royal Never Give Up 1 - 0 EVOS Esports
It turns out that Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao is pretty good at AD carry - who knew? Put on Ezreal alongside Shi Shi "Ming" Sen-MingSen-Ming's Karma, the harass-heavy lane ensure that the duo had the tools to cement lane priority. The pair also took advantage of Lê Lê "RonOP" Thiên Hàn Thiên Hàn, who has looked like EVOS' weak link at the tournament thus far.
Despite EVOS remaining proactive and carving plenty of openings for themselves, RNG always seemed to be getting the better of every trade, ensuring that the Chinese squad were able to blow up the nexus in thirty minutes.
Team Liquid 1 - 0 Flash Wolves
Fighting back from a 0-4 start at the tournament with three wins from their next four games, who better for TL to prove themselves against than the first-placed Flash Wolves? And, of course, in true North American tradition, the underdogs maintained the truly counter logic spirit of the country and took down the Taiwanese titans.
The stories of the day are all themed around the Marksman position, and this game was no exception. With a CC-heavy team set up around him, Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng popped off in his first professional game on Kai'Sa, finishing with a tremendous score of 11/0/4.
EVOS Esports 1 - 0 Fnatic
Remember KaBum? Europe does. And while EVOS came in to the tournament carrying a lot more respect than the Brazilian side all those years ago, both played spoiler to European dreams of progression - although EVOS's victory was not enough to immediately rule out chances of Fnatic's qualification to Paris.
A back-and-forth affair saw EVOS outfight Fnatic, putting the side in trouble in the standings after suffering a thirty-four-minute loss.
Flash Wolves 1 - 0 KingZone DragonX
Clean macro that pulls the enemy team away from the fights that they want to take is a staple of the LCK diet, but if you turned off the name tags, it was Flash Wolves who played in the Korean style in this return to form against KingZone.
An unusual Ashe pick and a strong counter-jungling strategy from the Flash Wolves meant that Moon "Cuzz" Woo-chan was always seen on the map, and the advantage gained was thoroughly pushed to close out a crisp 26-minute victory against the LCK's best team.
Royal Never Give Up 1 - 0 Team Liquid
The last game of the Group Stage proper needed a win from TL to secure them an unlikely spot in the MSI semifinals, but they ran into an RNG who was hungry for kills. Playing an old favourite - a protect-the-Uzi kind of team composition - the AD carry star finished with a 8/1/4 score in thirty-three minutes, setting us up for two tiebreakers.
(Tiebreaker) Royal Never Give Up 1 - 0 Flash Wolves
After the Flash Wolves had held the spot of first throughout MSI - unwavering since the first day - RNG stole the position from them at the last opportunity, with Uzi, their AD Carry, putting on an Ezreal masterclass once again. The result ensured that RNG would have the first choice of which 2rd-4th team to go up against in the tournament's semifinals.
(Tiebreaker) Fnatic - Team Liquid
Heartbreak eventually caught up to Team Liquid, as they were knocked out of the tournament by Fnatic, who finally picked a winning bot lane (Xayah and Rakan) to face up against Doublelift with. And, despite Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau's Gangplank getting hard focussed throughout the game, the strength of Rekless and Zdravets "Hylissang" Galabov, who finished with a combined score of 10-2-12, signalled a warning sign to the teams that await Fnatic in the quarterfinals: don't understimate Rekkles.
Teams that will progress:
The 2018 Mid-Season Invitational Semifinals are set! #MSI2018Royal Never Give Up vs @FNATIC - May 18 at 3AM PDT / 12PM CEST@flashwolves2013 vs @KINGZONEDX - May 19 at 3AM PDT / 12PM CEST pic.twitter.com/9nAVAU0sK8— lolesports (@lolesports) May 15, 2018