The spring splits have finished, and now, it's time for an international tournament. With most of the major teams sweeping in the finals of each region, the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational will likely be a fierce battle filled with highlights through the bracket stage.
As to who will shine in the stacked tournament, here's the five players to watch for the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational.
1. İrfan "Armut" Berk Tükek
As the Asian teams look to be the overall favorites for MSI, Turkish top laner, Armut of MAD Lions, will be one of the most exciting players to watch. He recently had break-out performances for the LEC with his Wukong and Gnar picks that led to MAD sweeping Rogue, 3-0, in the spring playoffs. If he can continue his solid play through the tournament, the West may have a chance against the East.
2. Kim "Khan" Dong-ha
Following an MVP-winning performance against his former team, FunPlus Phoenix, Khan is looking to continue his legacy as one of the best top laners professional League of Legends has seen. Although Khan has been away from the SK Telecom for over a year now, DAMWON Gaming's coaching staff of previous SKT fame has been with him in trying to further advance his long career in South Korea. The 25-year-old is now chasing after Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok's domestic title count before a possible retirement to join South Korea's military after this year.
3. Huang "Maple" Yi-tang -
If a dark horse region could be manifested into a single player, his name would be Maple. Through many years of post-season appearances, Maple is here yet again to try and secure a victory on the international stage. After sweeping Beyond Gaming in the Pacific Championship Series, 3-0, a Maple-led Paris Saint-Germain Talons team will likely win its group stage. However, the real threat are the teams that come after. Maple will continue his consistency in the tournament, but the question is whether or not he will overcome the Chinese and South Korean powerhouses.
4. Wei "GALA" Chen - Royal Never Give up
Filling in Jian "Uzi" Zi-hao's shoes is arguably the hardest to do, especially when Royal Never Give Up is the nation's pride of the League of Legends Pro League. However, GALA has proven that he is worthy of filling the void Uzi has left. With RNG on his back, GALA led the team to a 3-1 victory against FunPlus Phoenix in the LPL Spring finals while also securing a pentakill in game three. It should come as no shock that RNG will probably advance to the knockout stage with an even easier group stage following Vietnam's GIGABYTE Marines unable to participate due to travel restrictions related to COVID-19. He is the best AD carry to look out for in the whole tournament.
5. Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu - DAMWON Gaming
Although the League Champions Korea circuit has many threats for each team, DAMWON Gaming's best weapon is having the best jungler in the world right now. Canyon has a formidable champion pool, typically playing with Graves, Nidalee or Udyr, and doesn't intend to stop dominating early with them either. The 19-year-old will lead the favorites of the tournament with a group stage that should be easy to win as DAMWON Gaming seeks a consecutive international title.
Though the tournament is just a few days away, the Vietnam Championship Series representatives, GIGABYTE Marines, will not be attending due to "national travel restrictions related to COVID-19," via a blog post from Tom Martell, director of operations for Riot Esports. MSI will begin on May 6 until May 23 in Reykjavik, Iceland.