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The first-ever League of Legends: Wild Rift Icons Global Championship is kicking off today (14 June), with 24 of the best Wild Rift teams from across the globe battling to become the game's inaugural world champions and take home the lion's share of a US$2 million prize pool.
While this is the first Wild Rift Icons, the game itself already had its first international esports event with the Horizon Cup last year, which was won by Chinese team Da Kun Gaming.
Yahoo Esports SEA spoke to Wild Rift casters Bryan “Autolose” Quiazon, Leonard “OMO” Loh, and Grandon “Grandon / Gamernissem” Oh to get their thoughts on the Southeast Asian teams in Icons and what we can expect from them in the tournament.
Here’s what they’ve shared with us.
Where would you rank Southeast Asia as a region against the other regions in Icons?
Grandon: Second, like a clear second! Very unanimous!
Autolose: I mean, I understand the Korean League is on a very different level, but on mobile? Not so much.
Grandon: They have one good team! That’s it, they have like one good team.
Autolose: They have a bigger player base, you know, talking about China’s mobile gaming scene. I know in SEA we have a very big mobile scene, but in China, multiply it by two, three, or four times.
And when have a bigger player base, you have more players that are competing at a higher level, the chances of you finding very good, very mechanical players will be a lot better. It wouldn’t surprise me if those four teams [representing SEA] qualify for Top 8 easily.
OMO: I want to add, I think [the Chinese teams] would definitely qualify for top eight, I think qualifying into top four that’s where it gets exciting, I think that’s where we are going to start seeing regions team killing or whatever.
Back to the point I think [SEA] is a clear second like, as to why that is, like you guys said, Korea is a one team region. I just want to say that all the Western teams are absolutely terrible. They’re sh*t. So it’s WRL (Wild Rift League/China), WCS (Wild Rift Champions SEA), and Wild Rift Champions Korea (WCK).
What do you think are the strengths of each WCS representative: Team Flash, Flash Wolves, Rex Regum Qeon (RRQ), Buriram United (BRU)?
On Team Flash:
Grandon: I think Team Flash’s flexibility in the mid lane and top side. Beyond that, their teamfighting is amazing, they do an amazing job of mitigating losses.
OMO: I just want to mention: their jungler’s cracked, their baron laner’s cracked, their mid laner’s cracked, and the bot laners are alright. Their top three players can make a dent against the best teams in the world.
Autolose: It’s plain as day that Team Flash is the best team in Southeast Asia — not only are they the WCS winners, but they’re also the SEA Games Gold medalists this year.
On Flash Wolves:
Autolose: They have the best support system in their organization since League of Legends. So their support system will be “up there”. They keep their emotions in check so they don’t get too excited nor do they get tilted and that’s actually a very big factor.
Because, again, talking about the other players, they already have the mechanics, but when it comes to the mental side of things, you know, being able to perform at the optimum level, at any given day I think that’s Flash Wolves.
Grandon: They will never lose against a team that’s worse than them. They are, by definition, the benchmark to test everything against. But they’re also unlikely to win against a team that is just generally better than them.
OMO: I think their supports are really good, I think their mid is really good. Chan "Cookie" Yun-Shang’s pretty good. Chiu "Bruce" Chih-Chun and Yin "Eason" Yi-Shen as well.
OMO: their mid jungle is really good! Eric "Exosen" Gubatan in some of the engage supports as well.
Autolose: Same, it’s their mid jungle. I think their jungler, Charles "Chaazz" Esguerra, has been voted as one of the best Newcomers in the WCS Finals. That’s the reason why they called him the “Chazz Experience” cause whenever you’re watching this guy, you have to ready the “ooohs and aahs” because he would just make plays left, right and center.
Grandon: I think against any other team in the world, there’s always a chance that they could beat them. But in situations against fundamentally solid teams which are going to be the best teams in Icons, they would need to kind of step it up.
It’s really this idea of how well their performance is on a day-to-day basis. They could go from being one of the teams that beats the best teams in the world in a best-of-seven series, to a team that could lose against plain teams on a bad day.
On Buriram United:
Grandon: BRU is interesting as a team. They’re not the youngest players, they’re generally a little bit older, they recognize that they’re not the most mechanically gifted, so they kind of take a stance that they have to be smarter about the game.
We see a lot from BRU that’s pretty innovative, that they are quite ahead of the meta, they’re following what’s happening across the world, and they’re also trying to push their own stuff into a style that fits them well.
We want to see Metis "NoeL" Wongchoosee stand out, he does really well like a staple in lane, but he really has to pop off if he wants his team to get ahead. I also think Soragit "Whatthejes" Buranathanasin is instrumental as a playmaker for BRU.
OMO: The very obvious strength of BRU is Whatthejes as a strong roaming support.
But I do want to point another reason this team did so well in Thailand and regionally was when Pongsatorn "Coldenfeet" Kornrat had really good jungle champions, when the jungle champion would fit his style, that’s something I talked about more in detail in a podcast with TJ.
But the main thing is we need to see how the meta shakes up, if Coldenfeet has a good champion pool the meta favours what he likes to play: Jax, Riven, then maybe he and Whatthejes will have a good time playing 2v2s.
Autolose: I think Whatthejes is the best player in Thailand by a mile. I would say it’s a double-edged sword because they don’t play the Senna lane well because it basically removes the roaming potential and catch potential of WhattheJes in the bot lane.
Not to mention they have a very underrated midlaner in Nutchanon "Archeny" Yailuang, having watched the SEA games, opened my eyes to the stability that Archenny brings to the table for his team.
What were the stellar moments for these teams from the WCS Finals?
OMO: Junglers have been very standout out for me. I think for RRQ and Team Flash, it’s Nguyễn "Zysu" Phat and Chazz, they’ve had really pop-off performances.
Chazz specifically on Irelia, and Zysu is going to be a monster on Icons, his Kha’zix moments were the standouts for me.
Grandon: Flash Wolves evolved a lot, from when they would have Bruce hypercarry every single game, and they try to give him more utility options they try to have him on different types of roles so he’s not just going for a single play.
For me, Flash Wolves demonstrated an ability to play for the other lanes and the Masters region being quite proactive as opposed to just chilling for like 30 minutes or so.
Autolose: The stellar moment for me is that [the WCS Finals] was like a story and in the end everyone is happy… I hope.
Now SEA is playing as one, I do understand that they’re different teams but we’re going to root for them, for Team Flash, for Buriram, for RRQ — especially for RRQ — and Flash Wolves in the upcoming Icons.
What could each team improve on going into the Icons?
OMO: Flash Wolves, like Grandon said, too passive, they don’t do anything. They’re too reliant on jungle and support to carry, they’re too reliant on Bruce to carry. Wang "Ysera" Tsung-Chih’s champion pool is like three champions.
Coming in as the second seed from WCS is going to be a lot of expectations on them, they’re not going to lose against teams that are worse than them, which technically there are a lot of teams worse than them, but they’re not going to beat a top Chinese team.
Beyond that, for RRQ I think consistency is my main concern; tilting. They look really good when they would win, they look sh*t when they lose. I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes but I hope that’s something I hope they figure that out.
For BRU, over-reliant on Whatthejes, too meta-reliant as well. I think this is one of the teams who we’re going to see a coin-flip going into Icons, whether the meta is going to be good for them, whether they figure things out on the patch.
When they look good, keep in mind that this is the only team that dropped Team Flash to five games. When they look bad, they lose all three games to RRQ.
What’s the last team? Team Flash, ah, no weaknesses, they’re cracked.
Autolose: For Team Flash, it was a surprise to me when we did the post-game interview when they said that they would rank themselves for the upcoming Icons, they said that they would be number four. That actually did not sit well with me.
I do understand that China is on a different level, but when you’re facing the best of the best, if you surrender the title already before the tournament starts, that’s very alarming for me.
For BRU, same with Omo, very heavily reliant on engages by Whatthejes that actually mitigates their ability to play the Senna-Nasus, Senna-Galio bot lane.
For RRQ, it's consistency, especially for Keith "DevilJ" Gonzales. DevilJ has to step it up, he was exposed heavily by Ysera. If you require your jungler to help you on the top side, it makes the map more readable for your opponents. And that’s why if DevilJ surrenders his lane that bad, it’s not going to sit well for RRQ.
Flash Wolves, I agree with OMO, they're being passive at times. But that’s basically textbook play. When we are talking about the playstyle of Flash Wolves, it kind of reminds me of the Korean meta.
They will only fight whenever there’s a big objective to fight for. I remember the seven-minute elder dragon dance that happened, yeah it was more on being decisive or just pull the trigger when finding the right moment.
Grandon: I’ll say this as well. For me strengths and weaknesses are relative.
You can be a bad teamfighter but if everyone else is worse, it doesn’t matter, you’ll still win your teamfights. Looking at the groups that we have and we’ve drawn for the Group Stage, it’s actually looking pretty decent for our teams.
A lot of their weaknesses are covered because of the fact that they don’t really punish those particular faults, I look at RRQ, we’re talking about how they might be a coin flip.
JD Gaming I think is going to be tough for them but between STMN and Unsold Stuff Gaming, like they like to fight as much as RRQ does.
So RRQ can have very likely have a point where they can show off even more against these teams because of a relatively good matchup. I think that’s the case for basically all our teams going into the Play-ins, they have really good matchups.
Grandon/Gamernissem is an Esports Broadcaster for League of Legends and Wild Rift. After taking a break for National Service in Singapore, he was a caster for Wild Rift SEA Champs 2021 and Horizon Cup 2021, and recently for the WCS Finals 2022. He’s been playing League of Legends since Season 3 and transitioned into Wild Rift since the beta started. His favourite champion is Vayne. Grandon will be a caster at the Wild Rift Icons 2022.
Autolose is an Esports Broadcaster and Analyst since 2021, mostly for Wild Rift Esports. He was a Filipino caster at the 2021 SEA Horizon Cup, and was recently a panelist and an English caster at the WCS Philippines and Finals 2022. He’s also a game streamer for Auto Battlers. Autolose has been playing League of Legends since Season 2, and Wild Rift since it first came out. His favourite Wild Rift Champion is Singed.
OMO has been League of Legends since Season 2, and was a a LoL coach and caster for almost five years. Most recently, he coached ORDER, a team from Oceania. He was a caster and analyst for Southeast Asia ICON Series, the Southeast Asia Championship 2021, and the first Wild Rift Horizon Cup series. He is also a caster and panelist at the Wild Rift Champions Southeast Asia Finals 2022. OMO is also a caster for Dota 2. His favourite LoL champion is Ryze, and in Wild Rift, his favourite is Lee Sin. OMO will be a caster at the Wild Rift Icons 2022.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.