View of the stage from the side of Istanbul Wildcats at MSI League of Legends tournament with RNG on the other sideView of the stage from the side of Istanbul Wildcats at MSI League of Legends tournament with RNG on the other side

RNG’s opponents saw MSI match replays as chance to play extra game vs. one of the best

by Sage Datuin

League of Legends Pro League representatives, Royal Never Give Up, entered May 13 with a perfect 3-0 record as they looked to solidify their spot in the 2022 Mid-Season Invitational rumble stage with an undefeated 6-0 record. Instead, they and the rest of the teams at MSI were made aware that their previous three games would be replayed due to “ping issues” during the first few days.

All teams competing at MSI are in Busan, South Korea, except Royal Never Give Up who are playing in Shanghai due to COVID-related travel and schedule issues. To accommodate RNG playing remotely, Riot Games declared the tournament would be played at 35 ping for all participants. When an investigation by Riot found discrepancies in ping for teams playing in Busan during the first few days of the tournament, this led Riot to issue the replay ruling.

This prompted Royal Never Give Up head coach Ken Zhu to voice his own opinion on the ruling through Royal Never Give Up’s Twitter account. TLDR: he thought it was unjust and a penalty for the team.

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For teams playing alongside Royal Never Give Up, it was a mix of different emotions in regards to the replays and how the news and “ping issues” affected them.

“I think all the matches that we played before this super day had a lot of lag,” Red Canids top laner Guilherme "Guigo" Ruiz shared. “The monitor said that it was 35 ping, but it never felt like 35. It felt more like 70 or 80 ping.”

According to Guigo, Brazil plays on a city server and is accustomed to playing on eight or nine ping which is a stark contrast from the 35 and alleged 70 or 80 ping he felt they were playing on for their matches against Royal Never Give Up during MSI.

While the high ping was a detriment, it was one that Guigo was understanding of in order for Royal Never Give Up to play at MSI. However, it was the unequal playing field that did not sit well with him.

“Every day mostly felt the same, but knowing that they [Royal Never Give Up] were not playing on the same ping as us was a very big surprise to us,” Guigo said. “It wasn’t right.”

Photo credit: Riot Games

This discrepancy is why Riot declared the matches would be replayed.

Ultimately, the extra matches for Royal Never Give Up were just another opportunity to assert their dominance as the LPL representatives extended their original 6-0 group stage record to an unofficial 9-0 record.

For some, the day could be viewed as an extension of an outcome that seemed predestined before the replays, but for other teams in the group, the opportunity to play one more game on the international stage was an invaluable experience.

After their first three games, Red Canids stood tied for second place alongside the Istanbul Wildcats and PSG Talon with a 1-2 record. Once the Royal Never Give Up ruling was revealed, they entered what was supposed to be their final day with a 1-1 record and a shot to qualify for the rumble stage.

Even though they didn’t qualify for the rumble stage, Guigo was grateful for the opportunity to play an extra match.

“Every match was do-or-die for us,” Guigo said. “There was no in between. We either win or we lose, and the only thing we could do is our best and take things one step at a time. Even if we got the tiebreaker or if we just get eliminated against RNG, we know that we at least were able to test out more about ourselves with the extra match. For that, I am grateful.”

Photo credit: Riot Games

PSG Talon’s Su "Hanabi" Chia-Hsiang had similar feelings about replaying a match against RNG.

“I am happy the first RNG game got removed, not because of the ping, but because they are a really strong team,” Hanabi said. “It is a good opportunity for us to learn more from them.”

This was something that Istanbul Wildcats top laner Soner “StarScreen” Kaya felt as well.

“It was really nice that we were able to play one more match on the professional stage at MSI,” StarScreen said when asked about the replays. “It is a game that does not change our outcome, but still we tried our best to win the game because we know how much playing against the top teams helps us improve in the future.”

The Istanbul Wildcats qualified for the Mid-Season Invitational in 2021 but were unable to achieve the results that they had hoped for when they exited their first international tournament with a 1-5 record. One year later and the outcome is the same once again as they exit MSI 2022 with another 1-5 record.

Photo credit: Riot Games

Yet, even with the same record as last year, StarScreen felt he was able to better pick up on the Wildcats’ weaknesses internationally compared to their domestic play.

“I noticed that our communication is not as strong as we thought. We make some bad judgments during the games,” StarScreen said. “RNG put us in really tough spots where we had to make decisions that we never came across in Turkey, so it will be good to look back at those games.”

Eager to get back and figure out how they can work through their communication issues and decision-making, the Istanbul Wildcats know that before they can jump back to practice, they need to reset.

“We will need to rest for some time in the offseason because we've been playing a lot of games and studying for quite some time,” StarScreen said about his offseason plans. “Last year after MSI, we were burnt out, and that caused us to miss out on Worlds, so this year, we are going to enjoy that time off so we can come back an even stronger team in the summer split.”

Photo credit: Riot Games

For both the Istanbul Wildcats and Red Canids, their 2022 Mid-Season Invitational run ends in the group stages. As for Royal Never Give Up and PSG Talon, they will join G2 Esports and Evil Geniuses in the rumble stage, where six teams will compete in double-round-robin play beginning May 20.

For now, these four qualified teams will await the results of the final games in Group A, where T1 and Saigon Buffalo are first and second in their group. Group A’s final games will take place beginning Sunday at 2 a.m. ET.

Lead photo credit: Riot Games

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