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RNG, Mad Lions start strong in MSI Rumble stage

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The Rumble stage of the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational kicked off on Friday with Royal Never Give Up (2-0) and MAD Lions (2-0) climbing to the top of the standings.

The first match of the day saw RNG take down defending world champions, the LCK’s DWG KIA (1-1). DWG KIA drafted a difficult team composition to execute, whereas RNG had a much simpler win condition laid out for them in the draft. RNG played exceptionally well, led by mid laner turned top laner Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao’s Gragas. RNG fought well into the late game, converting an early lead into a fast 28-minute win.

RNG then went on to beat the LCS’ Cloud9 (0-2) in a wild game. RNG got ahead early thanks again to Xiaohu, this time playing Lucian. Xiaohu snowballed his nearly 50 CS (Creep Score) lead into the mid and bottom lane, giving RNG a 5,000 gold lead at 20 minutes. C9 would fight back, though, taking kills while RNG took towers.

At 25 minutes, Cloud9 looked to even things out with a 5-for-0 ace out of nowhere at 25 minutes, but then disaster struck for the North American representatives. Cloud9 started a Baron Nashor attempt at 29 minutes, but RNG was ready and backdoored their Nexus to steal what would’ve been a massive upset in 29 minutes.

Cloud9’s day would get worse when they faced the MAD Lions. Cloud9 dropped the ball in a big way early on, losing an early skirmish at four minutes 3-for-0 that all but sealed the game for MAD. By the six minute mark, MAD jungler Javier “Elyoya” Prades Batalla’s Udyr had picked up five kills, leading to a 7,000 gold lead for MAD Lions at 13 minutes. Try as Cloud9 might to make proactive plays, they were simply too far behind to do anything as MAD took this game in 26 minutes.

MAD Lions finished Day 1 with a 2-0 record after taking out Cloud9 and beating Pentanet.GG (0-2) in a 26-minute stomp. In other Rumble stage action, DWG KIA got on the board with a win over PSG Talon (1-1). PSG Talon picked up their first win against Pentanet.GG in a lopsided 22-minute win.

The 11-team Mid-Season Invitational, which runs through May 23, is being held between the first and second splits of all regions. Teams were drawn into three groups based on seeding, and the top two teams from each group advanced to Stage 2.

Stage 2, the “Rumble Round,” consists of a double round robin from which the top four teams will make the knockout round. As in Stage 1, all Stage 2 matches are best-of-one.

The knockout round will consist of single-elimination semifinals and the final, with all three matches best-of-five. The championship team will receive 30 percent of the prize pool, which will be a minimum of $250,000.

League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational standings:
T1. MAD Lions, 2-0
T1. Royal Never Give Up, 2-0
T3. DWG KIA, 1-1
T3. PSG Talon, 1-1
T5. Pentanet.GG, 0-2
T5. Cloud9, 0-2

–Noah Waltzer, Field Level Media

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