Given the timezone differences, we're guessing you might have missed the live Play-In Draw Show hosted by Dash and Jatt this week, but no matter, because not only did we watch it for you, but we've dug out the VOD for you to check out below and pulled out some analysis of the teams Dire Wolves will face when they take to the Rift at the Mid-Season Invitational.
So the TL;DR on the Play-In Draw is as follows:
For more details on the whole MSI Play-In setup, make sure you check out our previous MSI explainer where we cover the tournament format in detail.
Shernfire and the boys will need to beat Brazil's Red Canids, Japan's Rampage and either Supermassive or Crew eSports from Turkey if they want to progress to Round 2 of the Play-In and face the raid bosses who lie in wait.
Red Canids are probably favourites for this group. Essentially a super team built for the express purpose of dominating CBLOL, they have a seven-player roster that they rotate to suit whichever strategy they want to deploy. That has helped them rise from the second tier of competitive play in Brazil to the very top of the table. They only dropped one series in the regular season this year and took revenge on the team that beat them, Keyd Stars, in a one-sided 3-0 Finals sweep. Red Canids' line-up includes Felipe "brTT" Gonçalves at ADC, one of the region's best-known talents and a formidable Draven player, and with the Canids playing on home soil São Paulo, they will have an inspirational home crowd to boost their chances along with their tactical flexibility, domestic momentum and experience.
Should they qualify, Turkey's Supermassive could be dark horses for the group as well. Supermassive looked dominant in the TCL this split, losing just twice in 14 series as they wrapped up the regular season in an unassailable first place, before 3-0'ing Fenerbahçe in the semifinals. If names like FabFabulous and Dumbledoge ring bells, that's because Supermassive have been in this situation before, too, having made it to MSI 2016 in Shanghai. They finished dead last there, but the tournament was absolutely stacked so there was no shame in that, and in any case they still managed to take a game off eventual finalists CLG. Dire Wolves may prefer their TCL Finals opponent Crew eSports to qualify instead, and if they do then the group could be a lot more open.
Japan's Rampage are perhaps a little more of an unknown quantity. They 3-0'd DetonatioN Focus Me in the LoL Japan League Finals, but this is still a relatively young region in League of Legends terms and it's hard to gauge their international potential. Outsiders have surprised more established teams at these tournaments before, and Rampage has some decent players, but Dire Wolves should be looking to take two wins against their Japanese opponents.
Can Dire Wolves win this group? In theory anyone can win, of course, and if Oceania's representatives can catch Red Canids off-balance in front of a roaring home crowd in the very first match of the tournament, anything is possible. Canids and Supermassive could win and lose against each other in the round robin, and if the Wolfpack can beat each of them once then that could be enough to give them a superior W/L record. The rewards for doing so are tantalising, of course, because the winner of Group A will play the North American LCS champions: either Cloud9 or TSM...
Dire Wolves avoided Lyon Gaming and Virtus Pro in the draw, which may be good news. Lyon Gaming absolutely tore up the LLN and came within a whisker of making it to Worlds in 2016, so they will want to maximise their chances of going one step further this year. Virtus Pro, meanwhile, achieved something of an upset by beating M19, who were formerly Albus NoX Luna, the charismatic team that managed to beat CLG, G2 Esports and ROX Tigers at Worlds in North America last October.
The other two teams in Group B are the Gigabyte Marines from Southeast Asia (PC hardware fans will presumably enjoy the spectacle of Gigabyte competing in MSI) and Isurus Gaming from Latin America South. Gigabyte won the Vietnamese Championship and the Garena Premier League without dropping a series, but they will likely struggle against more experienced opposition, while Isurus certainly have that experience but will probably need to punch above their usual weight to make it past Lyon and VP.
The key question, of course, is simply when Oceania's representatives will be in action. Well, thanks to the luck of the draw, Dire Wolves will take on home favourites Red Canids in the first game of the MSI 2017 Play-In. The show kicks off in São Paulo at 3:00 PM BRT on April 28th, which is 4:00 AM AEST on April 29th for us. Get the coffee brewing and give the boys your support!