League of Legends

No Uzi, No Problem - RNG Wins MSI 2021

Royal Never Give Up of China are the 2021 League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational Winners. | Photo by LoL Esports, Riot Games
Royal Never Give Up of China are the 2021 League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational Winners. | Photo by LoL Esports, Riot Games

China's Royal Never Give Up have defeated DAMWON KIA at the 2021 League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational. This is the organization's first international victory since since 2018, where they won MSI, as well, against Kingzone DragonX, now renamed to DRX in Korea.

After years of disappointing postseason appearances with their aging former star player, Jian "Uzi" Zi-hao, finally RNG has found a suitable AD carry who can fill the large void that Uzi left when left the team. Chen "Gala" Wei is a suitable replacement similar with the same scrappiness t that Uzi once provided for RNG. Aside from filling in big shoes, GALA also was also the final's MVP with his stellar contribution playing only Kai'Sa and often carrying the team.

In popular Chinese fashion, though the solo lanes were expected to be the focus of the matches, the bot lane of GALA and Shi "Ming" Sen-ming were the key towards taking the victory in the finals. From the games won, GALA went 11/2/6, 8/0/5 and 11/1/9 against a very formidable bot lane of AD carry Jang "Ghost" Yong-jun and support Cho "BeryL" Geon-hee.

The games went tit-for-tat each taking a game off of each other in dominating fashion. DK's early game weaknesses were looking to be improved on, but RNG taking scrappy fights against the Koreans were the reason for RNG to take the tournament. Both bot lane duos were constantly showing each other what they were made of and took control of every game in the series.

The first game had RNG relying on GALA and Ming as they were trying to shut down the scaling of Ghost's Tristana. Mid laner Heo "ShowMaker" Su did his best in trying to capitalize on kills early on in the game, however, jungler Yan "Wei" Yang-wei on Udyr killed most of the momentum that DK had going for them in the fights. A fully-stacked Elder Dragon steal in the later stages of the game coupled with a bold Baron play solidified RNG's victory in the first game after a bloodbath between the two teams, setting the stage of what this final would be.

Game two was much more of a thinking game as DK had a better picks against RNG, who defaulted on going of a more aggressive composition of top Jayce, jungle Udyr, mid Orianna, ADC Kai'Sa and support Rell. ShowMaker on Xerath and jungler Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu on Morgna seemed to be enough to poke out the blood-thirsty Wei on Udyr. Despite losing earlier on, DK took the small advantages they could in each fight and converted it into a win.

In the third game, DK tried to ride its momentum from the second game and were able to secure an early kill on Ming and carried on to show dominance in the early game. However, it went south for the Koreans when they were trying to obtain the third Drake and RNG were there to contest it. DK found RNG in a bad position around the Drake pit and excellent play from long-time member, Li "Xiaohu" Yuan-hao on Gnar caught three members of DK in a stun that instantly turned the fight around. GALA and Wei were able to secure crucial kills and snuck a Baron play after the fight. RNG took their advantages with the Baron buff and GALA fully sent in the last fight, taking out DK's only hope in Ghost where they promptly won the match soon after.

Despite a heavy loss, DK's mentality did not falter in the fourth game. Canyon and top lane Kim "Khan" Dong-ha found an early kill in the jungle of RNG, but the plan did not go according to plan, with RNG able to counter the following jungle invade, securing two kills on DK. DK slowly turned it around with some crucial kills before the 20-minute mark, and continued their gold lead to slowly bleed the Chinese team on match point. The game was over when RNG looked for a desperate Baron play off of the little advantages they had. Ghost then proceeded to secure a pentakill after the failed Baron attempt, and it was game over soon after.

After Silver Scrapes was played, DK were looking back to their World Championships form, and RNG were losing games that DK won by advantages on objectives alone. However, RNG did not give upand exposed DK's early game weaknesses yet again. An early kill on Ghost from a gank in the bot lane by Wei, showing their hand in that GALA is the one that will carry this team to victory. Soon after, a three-man gank in the mid lane to ShowMaker was essential to pressing their advantages slowly. RNG shut down ShowMaker and rendered DK's only hope useless. RNG took the game in dominating fashion winning 27 kills to DK's mere 9 kills with an almost 12,000 gold gap between the two teams. Match, Royal Never Give Up.

During the entire tournament, RNG's first meeting with DK have been all but friendly, as it looked that DK were the favorites of their tournament after winning the World Championship in 2020. Had DK won MSI, it would have been the organization's first back-to-back international wins in the postseason after winning the World Championship in 2020. Since Uzi's retirement in February, this is the organization's first win with a newer and younger AD carry despite Uzi being RNG fan's favorite star. GALA stepped in Uzi's shoes and did not disappoint. But, the biggest story is for Xiaohu, previously the team's mid laner years ago since the team's inception, after years of loyalty in RNG, he has now become the first player to win an international title in two different roles.