How to watch MSI 2021: schedule & results, all teams, streams, Mid-Season Invitational groups - Dexerto
League of Legends

Royal Never Give Up claim second MSI title: final placements & recap

Published: 23/May/2021 19:11 Updated: 25/May/2021 7:30

by Isaac McIntyre

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Royal Never Give Up took down DWG KIA 3-2 in a pulsating series, capping off a thrilling Mid-Season Invitational across the board. Here’s how MSI 2021 unfolded. 


  • RNG claim their second MSI title, defeating DK in the final.
  • LEC champions MAD Lions leave with their heads held high, placing 3-4th.
  • But questions to be asked of Cloud9 and LCS after early exit.

The annual mid-year League of Legends international event returned after a season off due to ongoing travel restrictions, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

RNG ran out as the victors, with GALA establishing himself as the perfect heir to Uzi. Xiaohu’s role swap to top lane was another masterstroke, as he dominated proceedings with a range of both carries and tanks.

But questions will be asked of Cloud9, who faltered in the rumble stage after scraping through groups, with top lane Fudge the bright spark in an otherwise disappointing showing. In contrast, MAD Lions’ showing, highlighted by taking DK to five games in the semis, will do the reputation of the LEC no harm.

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MSI 2021 Schedule & Results


Groups Day 1 (Thursday, May 6)

DAMWON and RNG open with statement performances

Match Local (GMT) PST ET AEST
DWG KIA 1-0 Cloud9 1PM 6AM 9AM 11PM
Infinity Esports 1-0 DetonatioN FocusMe 2PM 7AM 10AM 12AM
PentanetGG 0-1 RNG 3PM 8AM 11AM 1AM
PentanetGG 0-1 Unicorns of Love 4PM 9AM 12PM 2AM
paiN Gaming 1-0 Istanbul Wildcats 5PM 10AM 1PM 3AM
PSG Talon 0-1 MAD Lions 6PM 11AM 2PM 4AM

The opening day of play in Reykjavík was dominated by LoL heavyweights.

Defending world champs DWG KIA flexed their muscles early in a blockbuster opener against Cloud9, crushing the LCS representatives in just 27 minutes. The game was close for most of the clash, but the Korean superstars dialled up the heat when it mattered to move to a 1-0 record.

Royal Never Give Up and MAD Lions followed suit later in the day, rolling over PentanetGG and PSG Talon respectively to chalk up 1-0 starts in Iceland.

Groups Day 2 (Friday, May 7)

Cloud9 upset by Japan’s DFM

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Match Local (GMT) PST ET AEST
PentanetGG 01 RNG 1PM 6AM 9AM 11PM
Unicorns of Love 01 RNG 2PM 7AM 10AM 12AM
Infinity Esports 0-1 DWG KIA 3PM 8AM 11AM 1AM
DetonatioN FocusMe 1-0 Cloud9 4PM 9AM 12PM 2AM
Istanbul Wildcats 0-1 MAD Lions 5PM 10AM 1PM 3AM
paiN Gaming 0-1 PSG Talon 6PM 11AM 2PM 4AM

Cloud9’s MSI 2021 campaign has gone from bad to worse after the squad looked shambolic in their shock upset against Japan’s Detonation FocusMe. They now sit on the bottom of Group C without a win.

Across the other groups, RNG continued their dominance in Group A with two very handy victories against PentanetGG and Unicorns of Love. PSG Talon, MAD Lions, and DWG KIA also picked up wins.

Groups Day 3 (Saturday, May 8)

Cloud9 show signs of life, barely

Match Local (GMT) PST ET AEST
Unicorns of Love 0-1 RNG 1PM 6AM 9AM 11PM
PentanetGG 1-0 Unicorns of Love 2PM 7AM 10AM 12AM
DetonatioN FocusMe 0-1 DWG KIA 3PM 8AM 11AM 1AM
Infinity Esports 0-1 Cloud9 4PM 9AM 12PM 2AM
paiN Gaming 0-1 MAD Lions 5PM 10AM 1PM 3AM
Istanbul Wildcats 0-1 PSG Talon 6PM 11AM 2PM 4AM

While RNG cruised to a 4-0 record in Group A, it took teams like Cloud9 and PentanetGG until Day 3 to record their first MSI 2021 win. Even though C9 only gave up three towers to Infinity Esports, it took the NA org 33 minutes to finally knock down the Nexus.

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Cloud9 are slowly waking up in time for the second Round Robin phase. Conversely, 2020 World Champions DWG KIA haven’t skipped a beat with their bid for a perfect record in Group C. In Group B, MAD Lions and PSG Talon also earned a couple of wins, making them favorites to move on.

Groups Day 4 (Sunday, May 9)

RNG, PGG first teams to qualify for ‘Rumble’ stage

Match Local (GMT) PST ET AEST
Unicorns of Love 0-1 RNG 1PM 6AM 9AM 11PM
PentanetGG 0-1 Unicorns of Love 2PM 7AM 10AM 12AM
PentanetGG 0-1 RNG 3PM 8AM 11AM 1AM
Unicorns of Love 0-1 RNG 4PM 9AM 12PM 2AM
PentanetGG 1-0 Unicorns of Love 5PM 10AM 1PM 3AM
PentanetGG 0-1 RNG 6PM 11AM 2PM 4AM

Royal Never Give Up (8-0) and Pentanet.GG (3-6 after tiebreakers) have become the first League of Legends champions to qualify for the “Rumble” stage.

The Chinese titans rolled through Group A basically unopposed, winning eight straight to book their top-seed spot in Stage 2. PGG had a harder road, however, having to battle through a faux best-of-five against Russian representatives Unicorns of Love across the opening three days.

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The Aussie stars managed to pull off the historic upset, and became the first Oceanic team to make it out of a LoL group stage at MSI or Worlds.

Groups Day 5 (Monday, May 10)

MAD Lions, PSG Talon advance to the ‘Rumble’ stage

Match Local (GMT) PST ET AEST
Istanbul Wildcats 1-0 MAD Lions 1PM 6AM 9AM 11PM
paiN Gaming 0-1 PSG Talon 2PM 7AM 10AM 12AM
Istanbul Wildcats 0-1 PSG Talon 3PM 8AM 11AM 1AM
paiN Gaming 0-1 MAD Lions 4PM 9AM 12PM 2AM
paiN Gaming 1-0 Istanbul Wildcats 5PM 10AM 1PM 3AM
PSG Talon 0-1 MAD Lions 6PM 11AM 2PM 4AM

LEC representatives MAD Lions and PCS’s PSG Talon have punched their ticket to the Rumble stage. MAD only dropped one game throughout groups, and admittedly expected a stronger performance.

PSG Talon, led by Huang ‘Maple’ Yi-Tang in the mid lane, proved to be stronger than paiN Gaming and Istanbul Wildcats. The bottom of the group eventually turned into a lively Turkey vs Brazil affair, since PSG and MAD had already qualified.

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Groups Day 6 (Tuesday, May 11)

Cloud9 activates, DWG KIA advances to Rumble Stage

Match Local (GMT) PST ET AEST
DWG KIA 0-1 Cloud9 1PM 6AM 9AM 11PM
Infinity Esports 0-1 DetonatioN FocusMe 2PM 7AM 10AM 12AM
Infinity Esports 0-1 DWG KIA 3PM 8AM 11AM 1AM
DetonatioN FocusMe 0-1 Cloud9 4PM 9AM 12PM 2AM
DetonatioN FocusMe 0-1 DWG KIA 5PM 10AM 1PM 3AM
Infinity Esports 0-1 Cloud9 6PM 11AM 2PM 4AM

In no surprising fashion, 2020 World Champions DWG KIA advanced to the next stage at MSI 2021. However, C9 managed to turn it on at the right moment; they beat Damwon with composure then systematically took apart Infinity and DFM.

While the LJL reps DFM didn’t make it through, their MSI 2021 was impeccable and international fans are already looking forward to seeing them at Worlds. Infinity Esports were also eliminated in the wake of Day 6. But LATAM didn’t go quietly into the night, giving C9 and DFM fun games before their exit.

Rumble Day 1 (Friday, May 14)

Strong starts for RNG and MAD

Match Local (GMT) PST ET AEST
DWG KIA 0-1 RNG 1PM 6AM 9AM 11PM
MAD Lions 1-0 PentanetGG 2PM 7AM 10AM 12AM
PSG Talon 0-1 DWG KIA 3PM 8AM 11AM 1AM
RNG 1-0 Cloud9 4PM 9AM 12PM 2AM
PSG Talon 1-0 PentanetGG 5PM 10AM 1PM 3AM
Cloud9 0-1 MAD Lions 6PM 11AM 2PM 4AM

Royal Never Give Up and MAD Lions were the winners from day one of the Rumble stage, with both teams taking 2-0 records heading into the second day.

Royal’s game against DWG KIA was tipped to be the contest of the round, but some drafting missteps from the LCK champions helped RNG take a 28 minute victory. A clever backdoor in a close game against Cloud9 then gave RNG their second win of the day.

MAD took an easy victory over OCE’s PentanetGG. But what was supposed to be a close game against Cloud9 was virtually over after three minutes, as a skirmish in topside river saw MAD take three kills for nothing.

Rumble Day 2 (Saturday, May 15)

RNG are 4-0 in Rumble while Cloud9 can’t get a win

Match Local (GMT) PST ET AEST
PentanetGG 0-1 Royal Never Give Up 1PM 6AM 9AM 11PM
DWG KIA 1-0 Cloud9 2PM 7AM 10AM 12AM
MAD Lions 0-1 Royal Never Give Up 3PM 8AM 11AM 1AM
Cloud9 0-1 PSG Talon 4PM 9AM 12PM 2AM
PentanetGG 0-1 DWG KIA 5PM 10AM 1PM 3AM
MAD Lions 1-0 PSG Talon 6PM 11AM 2PM 4AM

Royal Never Give Up have yet to drop a game at MSI 2021. The LPL reps are outclassing opponents down the stretch and aren’t showing signs of slowing down.

Meanwhile teams like C9 and Pentanet have yet to pick up a win in the Rumble Stage with only three days left to go. MAD Lions and DWG KIA are separating themselves from the rest of the pack, which will make the fourth seed held by PSG Talon highly contested.

Rumble Day 3 (Sunday, May 16)

Cloud9’s hopes in the balance after PSG score RNG upset

Match Local (GMT) PST ET AEST
Cloud9 1-0 PentanetGG 1PM 6AM 9AM 11PM
Royal Never Give Up 0-1 PSG Talon 2PM 7AM 10AM 12AM
DWG KIA 1-0 MAD Lions 3PM 8AM 11AM 1AM
Royal Never Give Up 1-0 PentanetGG 4PM 9AM 12PM 2AM
Cloud9 0-1 DWG KIA 5PM 10AM 1PM 3AM
PSG Talon 1-0 MAD Lions 6PM 11AM 2PM 4AM

Cloud9’s chances in Reykjavík hang in the balance after a plucky upset victory for PSG Talon over tournament faves RNG widened the gap in the standings.

The NA representatives will now have to win basically all their remaining games against MAD (3-3), PSG (4-2), and PGG (0-6) to survive. MAD also face a stiff battle for third/fourth, after they fell to Talon in the last match of the day.

RNG and DWG lead the way heading into Day 4. Each boasts a 5-1 record. PGG are one more loss away from a confirmed early Iceland exit.

Rumble Day 4 (Monday, May 17)

Pentanet’s first Rumble win could spoil Cloud9’s playoff hopes

Match Local (GMT) PST ET AEST
PSG Talon 0-1 Royal Never Give Up 1PM 6AM 9AM 11PM
MAD Lions 0-1 DWG KIA 2PM 7AM 10AM 12AM
Cloud9 1-0 Royal Never Give Up 3PM 8AM 11AM 1AM
PentanetGG 0-1 MAD Lions 4PM 9AM 12PM 2AM
DWG KIA 1-0 PSG Talon 5PM 10AM 1PM 3AM
PentanetGG 1-0 Cloud9 6PM 11AM 2PM 4AM

C9 aren’t yet eliminated from MSI playoff contention, but Pentanet’s first win in the Rumble stage makes their chances more bleak. Cloud9 now have to go through a tiebreaker scenario to make it to playoffs, though against who remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, DWG KIA steamrolled through Day 4, as the LCK reps and RNG are poised to make it to the MSI playoffs. PSG Talon and MAD Lions are in the mix for the third and fourth seed.

The tight race can make Day 5 one of the most contested days in MSI yet.

Rumble Day 5 (Tuesday, May 18)

DWG KIA top Rumble stage and immediately picks MAD Lions

Match Local (GMT) PST ET AEST
Royal Never Give Up 1-0 DWG KIA 1PM 6AM 9AM 11PM
PentanetGG 0-1 PSG Talon 2PM 7AM 10AM 12AM
Royal Never Give Up 0-1 MAD Lions 3PM 8AM 11AM 1AM
PSG Talon 1-0 Cloud9 4PM 9AM 12PM 2AM
DWG KIA 1-0 PentanetGG 5PM 10AM 1PM 3AM
MAD Lions 0-1 Cloud9 6PM 11AM 2PM 4AM

DWG KIA were permitted a window of time to pick the team they wanted in the MSI Knockout Stage best-of-5 semifinals, but quickly picked MAD Lions. After C9’s consolation win against MAD, Damwon immediately announced they wanted the EU champions as their opponents.

Meanwhile, Royal Never Give Up will face off against PSG Talon on the other side of the bracket. RNG and PSG split their Rumble matchups 1-1, and will come down to the Bo5 between the LPL and PCS reps to see who comes out on top.

Coming into the day, NA’s hopes of seeing Cloud9 through to the playoffs were completely out of their hands. They needed MAD or PSG to struggle on Day 5, but that didn’t happen. The potential is high with C9, but they’ll have to wait until Worlds to prove what they can do.

OCE left MSI with their heads held high after Pentanet GG’s run all the way through the Rumble Stage. When the cards were down, OCE managed to get one less win than NA could muster in a stacked field. For a team that didn’t expect much going into MSI, they provided a ton of entertainment value for an international audience.

C9 and Pentanet end their MSI runs in 5th and 6th, respectively, and both orgs take home $17,500 each.

Knockout Stage Day 1 (Friday, May 21)

RNG claw past PSG Talon into finals

Semifinals Local (GMT) PST ET AEST
Royal Never Give Up 3-1 PSG Talon 1PM 6AM 9AM 11PM

Royal Never Give Up survived a brief scare against PSG Talon, who will head back to Taiwan with their heads held high.

In what was expected to be a clean sweep for RNG, no eyebrows were raised when the LPL champs took game one with ease. But a buster Tristana performance from stand-in ADC Doggo helped PSG secure a surprise game two victory.

But unfortunately for PSG, Doggo’s opposite number GALA showed up with two more world-class Kai’Sa performances, grabbing 18 kills across games three and four to fire the 2018 champions into the finals.

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Knockout Stage Day 2 (Saturday, May 22)

DWG KIA edge out MAD Lions in thriller

Semifinals Local (GMT) PST ET AEST
DWG KIA 3-2 MAD Lions 1PM 6AM 9AM 11PM

In a pulsating series, it just wasn’t meant to be for LEC representatives MAD Lions as DWG KIA took their place in the MSI finals.

DWG edged out MAD in game one, before two devastating botlane performances from MAD duo Carzzy and Kaiser spearheaded consecutive victories to take the series to game point.

But it wasn’t meant to be for the Europeans, as DWG punished their over-aggression to take the final two games to clinch the series 3-2. DWG will need a better performance from support BeryL if they’re to have any chance of beating RNG in the final.

Knockout Stage Day 3 (Sunday, May 23)

RNG claim second MSI title

Grand Finals Local (GMT) PST ET AEST
Royal Never Give Up 3-2 DWG KIA 1PM 6AM 9AM 11PM

This was a final for the ages, with RNG claiming their second MSI title with a stunning display.

For all the good performances, this final will be remembered for its AD carries. GALA showed up yet again, dominating on Kai’Sa in all five games, while opposite number Ghost will have his game four Tristana pentakill go down in LoL history.

There were also some innovative pocket picks on display, with ShowMaker’s Xerath and Cryin’s Nocturne highlighting two teams willing to take risks even on the biggest stage of all.

MSI 2021: Final Placements

Place Team Prize Money
1 Royal Never Give Up $75,000
2 DWG KIA $50,000
3-4 PSG Talon $25,000
MAD Lions
5-6 Cloud9 $17,500
Pentanet.GG
7-9 Unicorns Of Love $8,325
paiN Gaming
Detonation FocusMe
10-11 Istanbul Wildcats $5,000
Infinity Esports

MSI 2021 Stage 2 (Rumble): Standings

Place Team Record  
1 DWG KIA 8-2
2 Royal Never Give Up 7-3
3 MAD Lions 6-4
3 PSG Talon 5-5
5 Cloud9 3-7
6 Pentanet.GG 1-9

Stage 1 (Groups): Standings

Group A

Place Team Record  
1 Royal Never Give Up 8-0
2 Pentanet.GG 3-6
3 Unicorns of Love 2-7

Group B

Place Team Record  
1 MAD Lions 5-1
2 PSG Talon⁠⁠ 4-2
3
paiN Gaming
2-4
4 İstanbul Wildcats 1-5

Group C

Place Team Record  
1 DWG KIA 5-1
2 Cloud9 4-2
3 DetonatioN FocusMe 2-4
4 Infinity Esports 1-5

MSI 2021: Format & Details

The Mid-Season Invitational sees the 12 top regional teams from around the League of Legends world come together to battle for international glory.

This time around, Riot Games tweaked the format slightly.

In the past, developing regions like Turkey, Brazil, and Oceania were made to battle through a “Play-In” qualifier. The top four regions — China, Korea, Europe, and North America — were seeded straight into the main stage.

In 2021, all twelve qualifying teams played from the word “go”. The event began with three four-team groups, before splitting into Stage 2 and eventually into squeezing into the best-of-five knockout bracket in late May.

Event Information

  • Location: Laugardalshöll Sport Center, Reykjavik
  • Prize Pool: TBA
  • Stage 1 (Groups)
    • Teams drawn into three groups based on seeding
    • Double Round Robin
    • Matches are best of one
    • Top two teams from each group advance to Stage 2
  • Stage 2 (Rumble)
    • Double Round Robin
    • Matches are best of one
    • Top four teams advance to Stage 3
  • Stage 3 (Knockout)
    • Single elimination bracket
    • Matches are best of five
    • The first-place team of Rumble Stage will choose to face either the third or fourth-place team
MSI Update group stage draw The Mid-Season Invitational 2021 updated group draw.

Extra Worlds spot on the line

Perhaps the most mouthwatering part of Riot’s latest announcement was confirmation the MSI winners would earn their region an extra Worlds qualification spot through victory.

“This year, the MSI champion’s league will receive an additional regional team spot at Worlds,” the organizers wrote.

“After MSI concludes, the final global power rankings will be calculated. The highest-ranking league will get an additional slot, unless that region also won MSI. In that case, the slot would pass down to the second-ranked league.”

With RNG’s victory, the LPL has earned an extra qualifying berth for the 2021 World Championships. As it was already ranked 1st, however, another berth will be given to the LCK.

All qualified MSI 2021 teams

Region Team Pool Date Finals Result
China
⁠⁠Royal Never Give Up 1 April 18 FunPlus Phoenix 1-3 Royal Never Give Up
Europe
⁠⁠MAD Lions 1 April 11 MAD Lions 3-2 Rogue
Korea
⁠⁠DWG KIA 1 April 10 Damwon Gaming 3-0 Gen.G
North America
⁠⁠Cloud9 2 April 11 Cloud9 3-2 Team Liquid
PCS
⁠⁠PSG Talon 2 April 18 PSG Talon 3-0 Beyond Gaming
Vietnam
⁠⁠GAM Esports 2 April 18 Saigon Buffalo 1-3 GAM Esports
CIS
⁠⁠Unicorns of Love 3 April 17 Unicorns of Love 3-1 CrowCrowd
Latin America
⁠⁠Infinity Esports 3 April 10 Infinity Esports 3-2 Furious Gaming
Turkey
⁠⁠İstanbul Wildcats 3 April 17 1907 Fenerbahçe 1-3 İstanbul Wildcats
Brazil
⁠⁠paiN Gaming 4 April 18 paiN Gaming 3-1  Vorax
Japan
⁠⁠DetonatioN FocusMe 4 April 11 DetonatioN FocusMe 3-1 V3 Esports
Oceania
⁠⁠PentanetGG 4 April 10 PentanetGG 3-1 Peace