Everything you need to know about the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational: New format, schedule, prize

The Mid-Season Invitational is back after a year hiatus. But this time, there’s more than just glory on the line for the best teams in League of Legends.

On March 30, Riot Games introduced a new format for this year’s event, giving teams more of an incentive to perform on the international stage.

The event has often provided fans with a good indication of the strongest region leading up to the World Championship in September. But Worlds has always been the game’s premier tournament, writing the best headlines, awarding the biggest prize pools, and offering the most speculator venues.

In the past, some teams haven’t taken MSI as seriously as other events. European giants G2 Esports notoriously went on “vacation” instead of preparing for MSI in 2016. The team dropped out of the tournament with a 2-8 record, resulting in backlash from the community. 

This year in Reykjavík, Iceland, there’s no excuse. Riot’s new format and prize structure make sure of that.

Format

Riot is doing away with the play-in stage this year and splitting all 12 regions into four tiers based on the results of the last two years of international tournaments.

1: China (LPL), Europe (LEC), Korea (LCK)

2: North America (LCS), Vietnam (VCS), Southeast Asia (PCS)

3: Turkey (TCL), CIS (LCL), LATAM (LLA)

4: Japan (LJL), Brazil (CBLOL), Oceania (LCO)

The result is three groups, which Riot’s global director of operations Tom Martell drew “utilizing software to ‘randomly’” assign the teams. The qualifying team from each region will be based on results from the regular season playoffs. 

Image via Riot Games

The event will be split into three separate stages this year. In the group stage, the top two teams from each group will proceed following a best-of-one double round-robin. In the “rumble” stage, the top four teams will advance after another best-of-one double round-robin. And finally, in the knockout stage, the winner will be decided after a single-elimination, best-of-five series semifinals, and grand finals. 

Schedule

Once the final teams are determined in April, they will meet in Reykjavík, Iceland, for the first day of the event on May 6. MSI will run over the course of a two-week period, ending with the finals on May 22.

Prize

This year, the winner’s league will receive an additional regional team spot at Worlds.

After the event concludes in May, the final “global power rankings” for the 2021 season will be calculated based on a number of variables. The highest-ranking league will then get an additional slot (unless that region has also won MSI). In that scenario, the slot will then pass down to the second-highest-ranking league in the power rankings.

Season 9 MSI Season 9 Worlds Season 10 Worlds Total points
LCS 2 0 0 2
LEC 4 12 12 28
LPL 1 20 28 49
LCK 1 8 40 49

As it currently stands, according to the point system Riot introduced in 2017, the LPL and LCK are tied for first place with 49 points apiece. This year’s MSI will award eight points to the winners, four for the runner-up, and two to each of the semifinalists.

This means, if the LPL qualifies for the semifinals, the region will be guaranteed an extra slot at Worlds. If either the LCK or the LPL wins the tournament, though, the LCK will get another slot. The LCS or LEC (or any other region for that matter) will have to win MSI to ensure a fourth spot at Worlds.


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