It's been a long and winding road up until this point, but the end of MSI 2017 is now in sight. After the Flash Wolves' victory over Team SoloMid during the tiebreakers we finally have a complete picture of what four teams will be moving on from the group stage. Next week we'll get to see the four teams battle it out until we end up with a victor come Sunday, and for the first time in the last year it seems up in the air as to who that eventual champion will be. While most bets are on SK Telecom T1, with good reason, it's hard to ignore that 2 of their three opponents have already taken games off them earlier in the tuornament. This may seems like a cut and dry playoff, but I assure you that it is anything but.
That's enough fanfare, though. Let's get into the meat of things. Please welcome your 2017 MSI Semifinalists.
First Seed: SK Telecom T1
There's precious little to say about SK Telecom T1 that hasn't been said before. They're the best team in the world, they have the best players in the world, and they're the obvious favorites to win MSI 2017. Only a fool or a true fan would be against SK Telecom at this point, as they're easily the most dominant team to ever exist in the history of League of Legends. While they aren't undefeated in this tournament, they're still quite a bit closer than any other team that made it to the playoffs, and betting on either the Flash Wolves or G2 Esports taking them down is a longshot at best.
Still, no dynasty lasts forever. One day, SK Telecom will lose their throne, and it may be next weekend that they finally do. Their first match is against the Flash Wolves, who have proven to be the strongest international competition for SKT over the last few years. While the two have never met in a best of five like they will on Friday, they have met for countless best of ones in the past, and the two share a rather split record. The road to the title isn't going to be an easy one for SKT this time around, but that always seems to be the case, and they always seem to rise to the occasion anyways.
Second Seed: Team WE
The LPL is back in force for the 2017 MSI, and Team WE has done an excellent job of living up to the outstanding performance that Royal Never Give Up put up last year on the same stage. While they didn't win the group stage like their predecessors did, they managed to split games against SKT T1 just like RNG did, and considering their easy path to the finals, that's all the really matters. When they do eventually meet SKT T1 in the finals, as seems certain considering their 2-0 record over their first opponents, G2 Esports, it will be a battle that hearkens back to the one that SKT T1 had against RNG last year. Despite being known as the premier late game team in the LPL, Team WE have actually earned themselves a reputation for being the strongest early game team during the Mid-Season Invitational largely off the back of their jungler, Condi, who is in the form of his life. While they certainly aren't the favorites to topple SKT T1 by any stretch of the imagination, they're already guaranteed to do as well as RNG did last year, and have an excellent chance of actually advancing further into the MSI playoffs that their predecessors.
Third Seed: G2 Esports
G2 Esports comes into the playoffs as the third seed, and yet they are also the team that has the least expectations hanging upon them. In simply making it to the group stage they've already accomplished what they set out to do and redeemed themselves after their horrific performance in MSI 2016. Their efforts have already earned the EU LCS it's first seed back, and no one expects them to accomplish any more than that. They're the only challenger to SKT T1 in the playoffs that didn't manage to beat the Korean juggernauts, and while their opening games against them was close, it also demonstrated just how large the gap between the two teams is, as SKT T1 recovered from a horrible early game instantly when given the chance. It's safe to say that if the two teams meet again, they won't get lucky and find Faker in a bush at level 1, and if they can't win the game even with that advantage, it's hard to imagine them doing so without it.
Furthermore, to even get that far they first must take down Team WE, the LPL team that has, so far, soundly crushed them every time the two have met. It would be pretty amazing if G2 managed to fight their way into the finals, but not impossible. Hopefully for EU fans, they manage to do just that in the same way that Counter Logic Gaming did last year, but I wouldn't put money on it.
Fourth Seed: Flash Wolves
For years the Flash Wolves have managed to do one thing on the international stage. Beat Korean teams. Their record against every other region is quite poor, but somehow the Flash Wolves always come out on top when they're faced with the SKT T1s of the world, and only fall short when it comes time to beat some sense into upstarts like Team SoloMid. Now, however, the Flash Wolves have found themselves in the position they've been looking for over the last two years. At long last, they have the opportunity to take down a Korean team in a best of five, and the eyes and hopes of half the League of Legends world are on them. This is the moment for the Flash Wolves to put their money where their mouth is and shut SKT T1 out of the finals of a major tournament for the first time in years.
Can they do it? Doubtful. Betty and MMD are so woefully outclassed that it's hard to imagine them not simply getting rolled over by Bang and Huni enough to give SKT T1 the victory by default. Still, Karsa and Maple have always had Fakers number, and the duo have already led their team to victory over the Korean overlords once this tournament. Who knows, maybe they can manage to do it three more times?