With the Play-In around the corner, the top teams of many smaller regions will take on the representatives of the big 4 regions - make sure you check these six out!
The Play-In is starting next week, bringing some of the most explosive League of Legends teams in the worlds to Mexico as Worlds 2022 kicks off. While many fans are justifiably hyped to see famous players like Li "Xiaohu" Yuan-Hao, Kim "Deft" Hyuk-kyu or Marek "Humanoid" Brázda, the tournament will also be our chance to see some of the the star players of minor regions like the VCS or the PCS that often go under the radar. So, here are some players that we think you should keep an eye on:
6. Diego "Brance" Amaral - LOUD
The CBLOL not had many glory moments lately, but it remains one of the minor regions that can often trip up favorites. After Red Canids nearly made an upset at the MSI where they were one win away from forcing a tiebreaker with PSG Talon, we expected to see them again in the summer. Instead, LOUD smashed them in the opening stage of the CBLOL playoffs before going on to win the tournament in a dramatic fashion - losing 2-3 in the winner’s bracket semifinal before coming back for a 3-0 revenge. In the playoffs, their young ADC proved himself to be a rising star, racking up several MVP choices and taking down several of the region’s iconic ADCs. LLL are in a group without an LPL or LCK team, but Brance will still be facing several top-tier bot lanes. Perhaps he will surprise them.
5. Shunsuke "Evi" Murase - Detonation FocusMe
Detonation FocusMe managed to upend the play-in groups once in 2021 and while they don´t have the mid-lane prodigy Lee "Aria" Ga-eul, it’s not the first time the LJL has surprised us. Even without Aria, DFM went on a rampage in the LJL and stomped their closest rivals Sengoku Gaming in two series to secure the cup. Evi played a total of six champions in seven games, busting out picks like Vladimir and Lillia and showing his chops on them. Can he spice up the top lane matches in the Play-In and lead DFM to another big upset?
4. Lu "Minji" Po-Wei - Beyond Gaming
Beyond ended the PCS summer season in a deceivingly low sixth place, just three wins behind first seed PSG Talon. In the playoffs, however, the team showed their mettle by defeating the top three seeds to earn a Worlds seed. A lot of the praise went to their mid laner Lu "Minji" Po-Wei, whose clutch performances were integral in the victory against J-Team. His command of both assassins and control mages can be crucial in Beyond’s efforts to get out of the Play-In stage and join their rivals CTBC Flying Oyster on the group stage. Is it time for a changing of the Guard in the PCS?
3. Nguyễn "Shogun" Văn Huy - Saigon Buffalo
After the Vietnamese teams missed several international events, they return this year with a vengeance. We saw Saigon Buffalo at MSI, where they made the group stage and took wins off G2 and PSG Talon, and their bot laner Nguyễn "Shogun" Văn Huy was clutch for their victories. After the visa drama was resolved, Shogun is back for Worlds with the extra experience from a hotly contested playoff series and we expect him to be key for Saigon Buffalo’s efforts of getting out of a very top-heavy Play-In group B.
2. Đỗ "Levi"Duy Khánh - GAM Esports
It’s been far too long since we have seen GAM Esports' jungler, and it’s our loss. The pandemic which caused Vietnam last year’s international events obscured the absolute dominance of the team since Levi’s return from his LPL stint. GAM has won three out of the last four VCS playoffs. The team missed MSI to represent its country in the Southeast Asian Games, giving runners-up Saigon Buffalo a chance to show us what the Vietnamese teams is about. Well, the Buffaloes did quite well, but we want to see what the VCS’ best jungler has to offer.
1. Hsu "Rest" Shih-Chieh - CTBC Flying Oyster
CTBC Flying Oyster came in the PCS summer playoffs as a promising fourth seed, but few people expected them to take down the first seed and spring champions PSG Talon. The team then defeated the second seed Beyond Gming twice - in the upper bracket semifinal and then in the finals. Their top laner Hsu "Rest" Shih-Chieh was the clutch player to send them to Worlds, delivering standout performances and getting an impressive eight game MVP recognitions in eight of CFO´s twelve playoff games. At Worlds, he will be facing off against Gen.G’s Choi "Doran" Hyeon-joon and 100 Thieves’ Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho. We can’t wait to see how he does against them.
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