While Evil Geniuses' semifinals match against Royal Never Give Up at the 2022 Mid-Season Invitational was far more entertaining than the 3-0 win for RNG would indicate, it's undeniable that the more exciting semifinal is on the other side of the bracket.
G2 Esports and T1 will face off against one another in a best-of-five series for the first time since the 2019 World Championship, and at the rivalry's apex are the mid laners of each team: Rasmus "caPs" Winther and Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok.
Let's break down why the mid lane matchup between G2 Esports and T1 is the most fascinating aspect of the MSI 2022 semifinals bout to see who will face Royal Never Give Up in the finals.
Since his LEC debut in the 2017 EU LCS Spring Split, caPs has been a star. The G2 mid laner has never been considered below top three in Europe at his position, and the one time it came into question in the 2022 LEC Spring Split, he responded by tearing up the competition in the LEC Spring Playoffs and has been the best performing mid laner at MSI 2022 thus far.
What somehow bares more weight than his current excellent form is caPs' career record against Faker, the latter of whom is considered the best League of Legends esports player of all time with no feasible arguments refuting that fact. caPs boasts the best career record against of any mid laner who has played against Faker at least 10 times at 9-4, good for a 69% win rate against the "Unkillable Demon King."
Not even Heo "PawN" Won-seo, known as the "Faker-killer" throughout the prime era of his career, can boast a lifetime win rate above 50% against the GOAT.
Both Faker and caPs are, obviously, incredibly accomplished mid laners relative to the rest of the LoL Esports scene, but their identities within the context of the current rosters of their teams could not be different. G2 Esports relies on caPs to be the primary conduit for jungler Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski to conquer the rest of the map.
This isn't to say that G2 Esports doesn't have other points of strength, such as top laner Sergen "Broken Blade" Çelik. But the main factor in caPs' difference from Faker in their relative teams' style is that caPs is far more directly involved in what leads to a G2 victory. This is reinforced by the difference in statistics for both mid laners at MSI 2022 — caPs has more kills and assists than Faker, but he also has more deaths and, by extension, a lower KDA than the T1 mid laner.
In addition, caPs spends a lot more time activating the rest of the map for G2 than Faker does for T1. Despite maintaining an 8.4 CSPM, which is .2 ahead of Faker's, caPs boasts a higher kill participation of 67.2% to Faker's 54.2% while Faker's 6.1 CS differential at 10 minutes is the best at MSI 2022 by a wide margin. Ultimately, caPs will be part of more action while a lot of T1's best-laid plans begin with jungler Moon "Oner" Hyeon-joon playing towards top laner Choi "Zeus" Woo-je.
G2 Esports and T1 are the most decorated organizations in their respective regions of Europe and South Korea, but MSI is a particularly monumental part of their dynasties. T1 has the most MSI titles of any South Korean organization with two in 2016 and 2017, while G2 Esports is the only Western team to ever win the Mid-Season Invitational by doing so in 2019.
Should G2 defeat T1 and qualify for the finals of MSI 2022, they will face off against the defending champions of Royal Never Give Up and look to become the first 2-time Western champion of the event, in addition to the only Western team who has ever won it. This would tie them with T1 and RNG in most MSI titles secured by a single organization in League of Legends esports.
If T1, wins, the stakes are arguably higher. T1 and RNG would face off in the finals of MSI 2022 to see who would become the first three-time Mid-Season Invitational champion just after RNG lifted the trophy for the second time in 2021.
All statistics courtesy of: Oracle's Elixir