League of Legends Trails
Every year, Riot hosts two important events for League of Legends: the Mid-Season Invitational and the World Championship. This year, the MSI event took place between May 1st and May 19th in Vietnam and Taiwan. It featured teams from several different regions across the world. In many ways, it is a precursor to the World Championship that happens in the fall. Accompanying MSI this year was an in-client event called League of Legends Trials which enabled players to earn rewards. Rewards are an integral part of League of Legends, and better understanding them will enable more loot to be gained down the line.
What is League of Legends Trials?
- In-client event between May 2nd and June 2nd
- Rewards for members of winning house
- Only available in PvP game modes
League of Legends Trials was an event that took place within the game’s client between May 2nd and June 2nd. The event was thematically connected to Harry Potter wherein you chose a house to compete and cheer for. On a weekly basis, the house standings were updated and points were handed out to members of the leading house. At the end of the event, all players enrolled in the winning house received exclusive rewards such as emotes and icons.
Rewards could be obtained by completing a specific number of missions. The missions available changed weekly. Missions could only be completed in PvP game modes, excluding bot games. Furthermore, the missions did not expire, meaning any week’s missions could be completed until the event finished, allowing players to catch up.
The bronze mission required a total of 5 missions to be completed, silverrequired 10, and gold required 20. An MSI 2019 orb could also be obtained by earning 350 kills throughout the event in combination with 250,000 gold. Completion of missions also granted tokens that could be crafted into other items. However, only 300 tokens could be obtained by completing all missions. Obtaining more than 300 tokens required spending money and purchasing the Trials Pass.
What else accompanied MSI 2019?
- Conqueror Alistar
- 25% of skin sales contribute to the prize pool
- Team icons for sale
Every year the MSI event is supported by the sales of skins. This year featured theConqueror Alistar skin. As is the case with previous years, 25% of the total sales from the skin contribute to the overall prize pool for the competing teams. He was available to be purchased for 975 RP with a larger bundle also being available that included a loading screen border and ward alongside the skin for 1845 RP. On top of the Alistar skin, icons for the competing teams were also available for purchase with 50% of the revenue going directly to the teams. In the past, Riot was criticized for not doing more to financially support the teams, so this is a small step in the right direction.
What about the MSI event itself?
- International event after spring split
- Play-in stage
- North America, Taiwan, and Vietnam emerged
The Mid-Season Invitational is an international event that takes place after the spring split has ended in each region. It consists of a play-in stage, which is then followed by the group stage and playoffs. Teams from wildcard regions compete in the play-in stage, and are generally minor teams from lesser-known regions. One of the exceptions to this rule this year was Team Liquid, representing North America. Due to North America’s poor performance at international events in previous years, they were forced to begin this tournament at the play-in stage. Thankfully, they only had to play in one best-of-five series.
The three teams who emerged from the play-in stage this year were Team Liquid from North America, Flash Wolves from Taiwan, and Phong Vu Buffalo from Vietnam, who interestingly enough hosted part of the tournament. Phong Vu, emerging from the play-in stage, created an interesting story that lasted throughout the tournament. Despite almost losing two best-of-five series to reach the group stage, Phong Vu proved to be a formidable opponent throughout the tournament, demonstrating a strong early game and thorough understanding of the meta.
What were the preconceptions going into the tournament?
- Invictus Gaming favored to win
- Korea on the downswing
- Hope for western teams
Going into the tournament, Invictus Gaming, hailing from China, was the heavy favorite having won the 2018 World Championship and having maintained the same roster going into MSI 2019. SK Telecom T1 was the obvious team to compete with IG considering how much prestige the organization has had throughout its history. However, there were concerns about Korea as a whole, considering the region’s poor performance during the 2018 World Championship. Fans and analysts were worried League of Legends had become too fast-paced for the slow Korean play style.
Unlike previous years, there was legitimate hope for the western teams present, Team Liquid and G2 Esports. Team Liquid had replaced its weak links from the previous year and G2 Esports had an especially strong spring split that showed clear dominance in its region. Flash Wolves and Phong Vu Buffalo were generally considered the weakest of the teams and the tournament bore out those predictions well over the course of the group stage.
What actually happened?
- Strong initial showing by IG
- IG upset by Team Liquid
- G2 Esports beat SKT T1 in a five-game series
IG had a very strong showing prior to the semi-finals, going 9-1 during the group stage, with the only loss coming at the hands of SK Telecom T1. SKT T1 finished in second place, G2 Esports in third, and Team Liquid in fourth. Being the 1st seeded team, IG had the privilege of choosing its opponent and chose Team Liquid, who appeared to be the weakest of the four teams going into the group stage.
MSI was particularly exciting this year because past the group stage, it defied all expectations, creating strong narratives for a viewing experience. Team Liquid defeated Invictus Gaming, in what was arguably the biggest upset in League of Legends history. G2 Esports beat SKT T1 in an exciting five-game series, where Faker and company made a questionable Baron attempt, and were routed, with Game 5 ending quickly thereafter. In the final, Europe rolled over North America en route to a convincing MSI victory.
The most exciting time of the year during the League of Legends calendar is during the international events. Not only are the events themselves exciting as evidenced by the unlikely outcome of this year’s MSI, the events are usually accompanied by other fanfare. While the Conqueror Alistar provided a way for fans to give back to the teams they support, the true highlight was the League of Legends Trials event. It appealed to the multitude of Harry Potter fans throughout the world, and encouraged more and more games to be played, which gives players an added to incentive to play. More in-client events like this welcome in the future. Seeing as League of Legends continues to plug along year after year, they seem more and more likely.