Top 4 Storylines at MSI MGA 2016
I feel like the more I do these, the more it seems I miss seeing myself on the front page of the subreddit. But anyway, we have four teams, so let’s explore the top 4 storylines for MSI MGA 2016.
1. Rise Nation Pledge Your Allegiance
Rise Nation has been bubbling under the radar for quite a while now. Their run through the North American qualifiers is more than enough to inject them into the conversation of contenders for the even, but questions on their consistency still remain. Since qualifying by storming through Cloud 9 and Team Liquid, Rise has failed to find success in subsequent NA tournaments, placing 5th at Carbon Masters and the second October Alienware and placing 3rd at the Route 66 cup. This tournament features stout competition, which will be the first real international challenge for Rise on the big stage. A strong performance and solid victories over any of the other teams would silence critics who oppose Rise’s invitation to the NA regional at MLG Vegas in the next week and a half. Keep an eye out for Retzi and Spirit to lead the strike head first.
NiP came out as the net losers after DreamHack Winter. Despite NiP’s strong group performance, their inability to adapt immediately to the meta crippled their performance against Fnatic in the semifinals. As an era of hitscan DPS character enters, the tank centric meta seems to require some calibration on the side of the Finnish squad. If Mafu can pick up D.va and if Zappis can start to work in a strong hitscan pool into the rotation, NiP should be able to patch up the weaknesses exposed at Dreamhack. They will be hard pressed to do so, as they will be fighting against Fnatic (again), Kongdoo Panthera, and a strong Rise Nation. A victory here would mean wonders in terms of stabilizing the team’s ranking in the evolving European scene (if there even is one anymore).
The problem with sister teams: if they perform much better than you on stream, no one really knows who you are. With Uncia’s strong performance at APEX destroying Lunatic Hai 3–0 in the knockout stage, Panthera seems to be flying under the radar. However, Korean pundits have expressed Panthera might indeed be the strongest of the two team after all. Their victory in the qualifier over their sister team, augmented by stellar performances in the Nexus Cup (dropping a grand total of zero games), makes them a force to be reckoned with. If their online performances can transition into an offline environment, Kongdoo Panthera is the team to win this event. Evermore, Butcher, and Rascal are part of an explosive core, which will carry Panthera through the event.
A victory for Panthera should trigger warning signs for the west. While EnVyUs did take home the victory at APEX, other western teams have not had the success against the Korean threats. Panthera is a strong team, but definitely come into London as an under discussed team. If Panthera is able to decisive plow through their opposition, it will open a very wide discussion on how deep the Korean talent pool actually is.
4. NA’s Wild Wild Ride
So the last few days have been quite the adventure. With the Rogue/Misfits/LG shuffle in the books, the rest of the North American scene is busy aligning where they rank on the new scoreboard. Fnatic, oddly enough, is the hardest team to judge. While they did not leave Jonkoping with the title, their dethroning of NiP was more than enough to leave with positive results. Fnatic’s DPS threats are almost assuredly the highlight of this team and will be the key tool to compete with some of the other threats present in London. However, the lack of match data may actually lead to inaccurate estimates of the team’s total power level. This might turn out to be good news in terms of hiding new strategies from their scouting opponents. We do not know how comfortable Hafficool has gotten on D.va, nor if they will be bringing in pocket picks to specifically take advantage of how little other teams know about them. Fnatic showcasing another strong tournament performance will only elevate the team’s standing in the North American scene and may be crucial given the quick string of tournaments in the coming weeks.
What are your storylines for MSI MGA? Do you agree with what I have outlined? Regardless, let me know what you think in the comments below!