The long-awaited international League of Legends tournament MSI 2021 (Mid Season Invitational) has finally begun. With the 2020 tournament being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic the excitement is through the roof for the infamous League of Legends event. The best 11 teams from their respective regions around the world battle it out for 2 and a half weeks. The opening games on an incredible set in Reykjavik, Iceland brought some great moments so let’s look at the main talking points from Day 1.

The same old meta, or is it?

Many of the games on Day 1 saw the same meta champions that have saturated pro play for months. Hecarim vs Udyr faced off in the jungle yet again. Kai’Sa and Rell looked once again to be the go-to bottom lane combination. Gnar and Renekton continued to be priority picks for many teams in the top lane. And Sylas appeared over and over again in the mid-lane as the versatile magic damage carry. It looked to be the same old meta we had seen for so many months or is it?

RNG vs PPG draft at MSI 2021

RNG vs PPG saw an exciting draft that may signal a new meta. (Courtesy of Riot Games.)

Royal Never Give Up (RNG) vs Pentanet.GG (PGG) saw two exciting drafts battle it out in an absolute blood bath 20-4 in RNG’s favour. Lee Sin vs Nocturne in the mid lane was a refreshing match up. However, it was RNG Wei on Rumble that stole the show, a quadra kill in the bottom lane at 18 minutes is paving the way for this exciting new jungle meta.

The newly buffed Rumble can do so much damage with his area of effect abilities that he can be a key champion for every composition he is in. Although we may not see him much as many teams will look to ban him early. Top lane also saw some variety throughout the day with Urgot, Darius, Sett, Akali and Gangplank all featuring. The pool of meta champions looks to be a lot bigger than expected. It’s unclear what the optimal team composition is currently and that is going to bring a lot of uncertainty to these dramatic games.

Are Damwon Kia the team to beat?

Korea’s Damwon Kia (DK) looked unstoppable on Day 1 as they swept aside America’s Cloud 9 (C9). The reigning world champions and League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) DWG are looking to add another trophy to their already impressive collection. The draft looked to heavily favour the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) champions C9 but DK had other ideas.

The game didn’t have many kills ending 10-7 in DK’s favour but Korea’s reigning champions had great map control. They took down 9 turrets in their 28-minute win whereas C9 didn’t take a single turret. C9’s exciting new addition Perkz has brought them an exciting new dynamic which helped them win the LCS earlier in the year. However, it could be Korea’s year once again with DK looking so strong on Day 1. It is a long tournament with many games to come but I think most fans expect DK to make the finals.

One less team eases pressure on group A

Gigabyte Marines (GAM) were the only team not able to attend this year’s MSI despite qualifying. 2021’s Vietnam Championship Series (VCS) winners were not allowed to travel to Iceland due to COVID-19 restrictions. It’s a real shame that the tournament won’t have a full roster. Although having one less team in the tournament does ease a lot of pressure on Group A. Only 1 team Group A will be knocked out in Stage 1. With 2 losses on Day 1 that is surely going to be PPG from Oceania. Royal Never Give Up (RNG) and Unicorns of Love (UOL) can rest easy knowing they are almost certainly through. These teams in Group A have a big advantage over the other groups but I don’t think there can be many complaints. Riot Games have done a great job at organising what is set to be a brilliant tournament in very difficult circumstances.

League of Legends MSI 2021 Groups

11 teams compete in 3 groups for the greatly coveted MSI 2021 Trophy. (Courtesy of Riot Games.)

Finally, no League of Legends tournament would be complete without the technical difficulties that featured throughout the day. The production team and the presenters dealt with the issues very well as they always do. Hopefully, the production team can fix their technical gremlins overnight for a cleaner Day 2.

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