Chinese powerhouse Royal Never Give Up (RNG) outlasted the reigning League of Legends (LoL) world champions, Korean squad DAMWON Gaming, in an intense five-game series to become the champions of the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) on Monday (24 May) in Reykjavík, Iceland.
RNG and DAMWON outlasted the best teams from nine of the other regions of the global LoL esports circuit across 19 days of competition in the three stages of the MSI to meet in the finals.
RNG and DAMWON topped groups A and C, respectively, in the Group Stage to advance to the Rumble Stage alongside Pentanet.GG from Oceania, Cloud9 from North America, MAD Lions from Europe, and PSG Talon from Southeast Asia.
DAMWON then dominated the double round-robin Rumble Stage with an 8-2 record, though their two losses notably came at the hands of RNG who finished second with a 7-3 record. PSG Talon and MAD Lions joined them in the four-team Knockout Stage, the final phase of the MSI.
The path to the grand finals ended up being very different for the 2021 MSI finalists. While RNG was able to dispatch PSG Talon in a 3-1 gentleman's sweep, DAMWON looked vulnerable as they were pushed to full five games by MAD Lions.
RNG started the finals strong, outlasting a seemingly shaken DAMWON in a 39-minute opener to take a 1-0 lead in the series. While DAMWON was quickly able to bounce back in game two, RNG took a commanding 2-1 lead after 34 minutes of action in game three.
With their backs against the wall, the defending world champions finished game four in just under 30 minutes to force the finals to a do-or-die game five for the 2021 MSI championship.
RNG looked bloodthirsty in game five, as they dominated the world champions in the quickest game of the finals at 27 minutes to claim the 3-2 series victory and the title of 2021 MSI champions.
With their victory, RNG claimed the lion's share of US$75,000 out of the 2021 MSI's US$250,000 prize pool while AD carry Chen "GALA" Wei bagged the tournament MVP award.
This also marks RNG's second MSI championship as an organisation, with their first coming from the 2018 MSI in Paris, France.
Meanwhile, DAMWON take home US$50,000 in consolation and will surely be looking ahead to defending their title in this year's world championship tournament, which will be held in Shenzen, China in November.
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