7 minor region stars to watch at MSI 2022
Want to show some love to the minor regions at MSI 2022? Here are seven minor region stars to keep an eye on throughout the tournament, highlighted by experts across the world of competitive League.
Worlds 2020. September 29. MAD Lions, the LEC’s third seed at the championship, faced off against the TCL’s SuperMassive Esports for the final qualification spot of the play-in stage.
MAD’s Worlds 2020 experience had been rough. As a major region team competing against minor regions, they’d looked uncharacteristically shaky — but they were still considered the favorites heading into their matchup with SuperMassive.
This made it all the more shocking when SuperMassive eliminated MAD Lions from the tournament, making them only the second major region team in history to fail to qualify from the play-in stage.
MAD Lions become the first LEC & only 2nd ever Major Region team to fail to advance past play ins.
Only HKA in 2017 were eliminated in the play in stage previously.
SuperMassive also become the first TCL team to ever win a Bo5 vs a Major region, CONGRATS!#Worlds2020
— Isaac CB (@AzaelOfficial) September 29, 2020
In the 2020 postseason, SuperMassive’s top laner, İrfan Berk ‘Armut’ Tükek, joined MAD Lions. He’d been given a chance to prove himself on the international stage, and he had taken that chance and run with it.
International tournaments offer a unique opportunity for players like Armut to showcase their worth on the international stage. Whether that be in the hope of an offer to play for a major region team, or simply to show up on one of the biggest platforms of their careers.
Teams like SuperMassive can take games off some of the best in the world, and not just for the sake of one of their players hopefully being picked up by a major region team. Minor regions can achieve on their own terms, for their own reasons, and with the pride of their own fanbases behind them.
- Read more: Who should you support at MSI 2022?
But who can we expect to see shine at MSI 2022? As the first international tournament of the year, it gives international fans a chance to see how the minor regions shape up against League’s four heavyweights.
Here are our minor region players to watch at MSI 2022, brought to you by regional experts from across the world of competitive League.
RED Canids AD Carry Alexandre ‘TitaN’ Lima dos Santos
The CBLoL’s English casting team describes TitaN as the flashiest player on the RED Canids, and with good reason. He achieved the only pentakill of the CBLoL playoffs, mowing his way through KaBuM! Esports on Jinx while they sat powerless in their own base.
He’s a hard-carry AD Carry in the most traditional sense of the term. CBLoL caster Ryan ‘RandomMinionCaster’ Teo explained how as the team’s most experienced player, he would “probably be given the bulk of the kills, and the opportunities to pull off these highlight plays”.
He had the highest damage per minute of all the AD Carries in the CBLoL spring playoffs, and did a mammoth 29.7 percent of RED’s overall damage. His most-played champions in the spring were Jinx and Aphelios, but he also boasts a 100% win rate on Miss Fortune — a champion who’s slowly rising back into the meta after an extended absence.
Team Aze jungler Juan Dimitry ‘Dimitry’ Hernández González
LLA caster Camila ‘Chunilda’ Benavildes describes 19-year-old Dimitry as the “face” of Team Aze. He’s a young prodigy who’s risen from almost being relegated from the LLA to qualifying for MSI in only a year.
“He was very young,” explained Chunilda, “and came from a pretty terrible team. Not a lot of people had faith in him, but he’s grown into a really impressive player.” He was one of the breakout stars of the LCS’s Champion’s Queue this year, finishing just outside of the top 50 in spring.
"Todos los equipos saben ganar… En MSI todo lo que importa es quién esta más preparado para poder jugar con la presión". – @Dimitrylol
— AztecaEsports (@TVAztecaEsports) May 8, 2022
Impressive is right on the money. He had the highest damage per minute of any jungler in the LLA playoffs — preferring bruisers like Lee Sin, Xin Zhao, and Trundle. And, according to LLA caster Abdiel ‘Tyrone’ Estrada, he’s got “nothing to lose” at MSI this year.
“He has no experience at a competition of this level. Facing up against champion teams from other regions will be difficult for him, but his greatest strengths will be his mechanics and his ability to facilitate communication for the rest of his team.”
Saigon Buffalo support Đinh ‘Taki’ Anh Tài
The international stage has been lacking a certain VCS flair for the past two years, with the region unable to attend international events due to ongoing travel restrictions. But now they’re back, and they’re bringing that same unpredictability that helped the region go 2-0 up against G2 Esports in the group stage of MSI 2019.
And nothing says flair like Saigon Buffalo’s support, Taki. GAM Esports analyst Huỳnh ‘HanKay’ Tấn Đạt describes him as an aggressive playmaker who can “pick whatever he wants”.
He is fearlessness personified — he can play just about every champion under the sun, and the only direction he knows is forwards, at all times, in all situations.
VCS English caster Tom ‘Carix’ Newing describes it pretty simply. “They pick crazy support sh*t, and [mid laner] Froggy is basically a jungler trapped in the mid lane.”
Taki doesn’t just keep his crazy picks to the bot lane — he shares them with the rest of the map, roaming with Froggy to surprise the unsuspecting enemy top laner. Sure, AD Carry Nguyễn ‘Shogun’ Văn Huy may have to lane solo sometimes. But that’s what it takes to let Taki roam free, and it’s what makes the team an unpredictable and formidable opponent.
PSG Talon top laner Su ‘Hanabi’ Chia-Hsiang
Hanabi is no stranger to the pressures of the international stage. He’s been to six of the last seven international tournaments in League of Legends, as the top laner for the historic LMS Flash Wolves roster, and more recently as the top laner for PSG Talon.
According to PCS analyst Frank ‘Nit3star’ Peng, he was the main carry that got PSG through their MSI 2022 qualification run. He’s a tried and tested force both domestically and internationally, and he’s the levelheaded veteran of this PSG roster.
His most-played champions in the PCS Spring split were Gnar, Gangplank, and Gwen, with Graves and Gragas following up behind (we’re not sure if the alliteration was intentional). He had the most kills of any player in the PCS Spring playoffs at 46, and according to Nit3star, he’s “the best top laner in his group, and probably one of the top three top laners at the tournament”.
Those are fighting words, as he’ll be up against RNG top laner Chen ‘Bin’ Zebin, a 2020 Worlds finalist with Suning Gaming. Bin is a notoriously aggressive laner, famous for picks like Fiora and Camille. He’s no pushover, that’s for sure, and his matchup against Hanabi promises to be one of the most exciting top lane matchups of the group stage.
ORDER jungler Shane ‘Kevy’ Allen
If you like AP junglers, then you’ll love Kevy. He’s the only player to have picked Evelynn (and had a 100% win rate on it) in an MSI-qualifying league in Spring 2022, and that’s only dipping a toe into his champion pool.
He’s the kind of jungler you don’t see all that often on the international stage. A hard carry in the truest sense of the word, he had the joint-highest KDA of the LCO playoffs at 6.7, averaging 5.7 kills per game throughout 14 games.
His most-played champions so far in 2022 are Diana and Hecarim, but it’s on full-damage carries like Graves and Evelynn that he’s truly shone. He has a 100% win rate on both champions, and given an inch, he will take a mile.
On the Evelynn pick, LCO caster Zack ‘Rusty’ Pye said that “I do think a team will disrespect it” by allowing it through picks and bans. One of the key ways in which minor region teams have been able to take games off the big four is through creativity and adaptation in the drafting phase, and a pocket pick Evelynn could be just what ORDER need to set MSI off with a bang.
“He’s definitely the centerpiece of ORDER,” explained Rusty, “and he does a lot with the support and focus that’s given to him by the rest of the team. Expect supported full clears and jungle-focused gameplay from ORDER to allow their star to shine.”
fastPay Wildcats AD Carry Anıl “HolyPhoenix” Işık
He’s one of the most experienced players in the TCL, but this will be only the second international appearance for the Wildcats’ AD Carry, HolyPhoenix. He’s played in the region since 2014, but his first international appearance representing the TCL was at MSI 2021.
But according to TCL caster Can ‘Scarlet’ Çaldıran, after nearly ten years in the scene, HolyPhoenix “just might be in his best shape ever”. He was the KDA king of the TCL Winter playoffs with a KDA of 11.6, second only in the league to his mid laner, Tolga ‘Serin’ Ölmez (11.8).
Scarlet describes him as a “super aggressive” player who is not afraid to take fights wherever they are available.
“He almost always takes a fight or dive opportunity,” Scarlet explained, “and along with [support] Farfetch he’s great at capitalizing on the smallest of mistakes and turning those tiny advantages into something more.”
Although he’s more than confident on the Aphelios and Jinx picks that have dominated the recent support meta, the TCL playoffs saw him switch to more aggressive champions like Lucian, Kalista, and Samira. He didn’t lose a single game in the TCL playoffs, and racked up impressive KDAs on all three champions. Expect him to shake up the AD Carry meta at MSI this year.
DetonatioN FocusMe’s Yuta ‘Yutapon’ Sugiura
LJL Unofficial host Alex ‘MaskedSwan’ Swan describes the LJL’s bot lane as the region’s “most competitive role”, with half of the region’s AD Carries being Korean imports. And Yutapon is up there competing with the best of them.
He had the second-highest KDA of the LJL Spring split at 8.8, second only to his own mid laner, Lee ‘Yaharong’ Chanju. So far in 2022, he has a 90.9% win rate on Jinx with a KDA of 10.3, one of the highest Jinx win rates in an MSI-qualifying league.
And with her strength in the current meta, that Jinx prowess will certainly see him draw some bans at MSI.
This MSI will be Yutapon’s sixth international tournament over a nine-year stint in the LJL. LJL unofficial caster Sam ‘Initialise’ Hapgood describes him and top laner Shunsuke ‘Evi’ Murase as “the two best and most veteran Japanese players” who are “just leagues ahead of everyone else” in the region.
And the best thing about Yutapon? He’s not just an AD Carry. He’s also an off-role top laner, and has played top lane multiple times in the LJL. In fact, he’s already gone top lane twice so far this year, with one domestic game each on Renekton and Tryndamere.