lay-in Teams and Impending Success - International events
International events always have a way of drawing out the best in teams. Everyone wants to show that they are the best in their region, as well as the best in the world. However, there are some developing leagues and regions that still have yet to prove themselves, and are still seen as weaker than the primary regions, such as the LCS, LEC, and LCK.
Contrary to popular belief, the gap between the bottom teams and the top teams has slowly been closing recently. At the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) Play-In Stage, we got to see some of the best of the smaller regions duke it out, and two titans were able to show their worth. However, that doesn’t mean that all was lost for the smaller regions once again. Here are the best takeaways from the MSI 2019 Play-in stage.
SMALL NO MORE
Most years, the League of Legends professional scene has been dominated by five major regions. These were the LPL, LEC, LCK, LCS, and LMS. There have been a number of wildcard regions as they have slowly been started and growing, but none have had the level of impact of the top five for many years.
However, this year was different. Before the tournament, there were quite a few teams the analysts of the desk had to talk about, namely Phon Vu Buffalo from the VCS, and 1907 Fenerbahce Esports from the TCL. Although both were seeded into the same group, these two teams showed that the gap was definitely closing, with Phong Vu Buffalo being touted as on par with Team Liquid from the LCS.
Indeed, although Phong Vu Buffalo fell to Team Liquid in the Qualifier for the group stage 3-0, the games were anything but pretty, with the bloodbath raging for both sides. In that same token, Vega Squadron was even able to take a game off of Flash Wolves from the LMS, but were eliminated from MSI by the Phong Vu Buffalo in a close 3-2.
However, Phong Vu Buffalo would then go on to only win 2 of their 10 games in the group stage of MSI, only taking games off of G2, the eventual champions of MSI 2019.
Even though Phong Vu Buffalo fell in such a harsh way, their dominance throughout the play-in stage and Qualifier were nothing short of breathtaking, showing that the wildcard regions are truly wildcards.
Although we talked heavily about the Phong Vu Buffalo team, as well as Vega Squadron, it is not to be forgotten that there are plenty of other teams that could have made it as well. 1907 Fenerbahce Esports were representatives at Worlds 2018 from the Wildcard regions, and DetonatioN FocusMe also made their international debut during the wildcard stages of the 2018 Worlds stage. Both teams held strong, going 4-2 in their group stages.
With that, it is safe to say that there can be much stronger teams coming into the tournaments going forward.
This can also be attributed to many local players from smaller regions finding success in international regions. One such player is Brokenblade, who made his debut for Team Solo Mid in the LCS. He had played for the TCL from 2016 to 2018, and was picked up after his stellar performance at Rift Rivals while being on SuperMassive.
With more international spotlight being shown on these players in smaller regions, they are also developing the game sense and knowledge as the top regions, allowing these teams to adapt to ever-changing metas, as well as individual playstyles.
So, what does this mean for teams all around? Does this mean we will see a rise in wildcard teams overtaking primary teams? Will we see the old guards be taken down by the up and comers?
Honestly, it is difficult to say. With the movement of players and current teams being offered positions in leagues, there is a chance that these smaller regions can flourish as the power from regions like the LCK and LPL sway through players migrating to regions like the LCS and LEC. With not many players transferring to regions like the VCS and TCL, this means that the wildcard regions are fully able to solidify and nurture their players for many years, cementing a foundation for a team to grow together.
However, that does not mean all of the top powerhouses will be faltering. Indeed, it is purely the fact that the lower regions are getting to the level of the major regions through constant competition and practice, since the LCS, LEC, LCK, and LPL will always be top contenders. As long as teams like SKT, IG, and G2 are around, there will never be a shortage of kings reigning at the top.
But, that just means there are more thrones to destroy when the time comes when the Wildcards come knocking on the gates.