Eyes on Worlds: Midbeast fills you in on LPL and LCK
One of the best things about any esports title is international tournaments. All the regions coming together, the styles, the pride, the best-of-the-best, all clashing in one arena… it’s both competition and celebration, and nothing showcases that better than Worlds. League of Legends’ biggest event is already pretty exciting, but in 2022 it’s set to come back to North America for the first time in six years, bringing with it a return to live crowds. It’s so hype that by the time it rolls around, you’ll probably have forgotten your 4th place blues.
You may have also forgotten just what’s gone on in the wider world of League. In a circuit where there are only two big international events every year, it can be pretty hard to keep up. Never fear, though, because there’s nobody more primed to get you all caught up than Midbeast, especially when it comes to the LPL and LCK. He could have been a Calvin Klein model or a pro footballer, but instead he dissects League of Legends gameplay from the perspective of someone who’s actually played at the top (solo queue) level of different regional servers, including Korea, China, and EU West.
Not a lot of English-speaking content creators have done the kind of gritty, on-the-ground investigative legwork that Midbeast has. Lucky for us, then, that he’s in the Liquid+ spotlight this month and he sat down with us to give a quick rundown of what you need to know about the major players heading into Worlds. Who’s the best mid laner in the world? Will the LPL or LCK stand victorious this year? What chances do EU and NA have in such rough groups? All that and more, straight from the man himself.
I know that you as a content creator are pretty focused on Korea and China. Plain and simple, what makes LPL and LCK so elite in terms of their relative strength?
I think they just have so much depth. In regions like the LCS, there's a couple of good players in each individual role, but in the LCK and LPL, there's just way more depth, and you get way better competition.
The main thing is that the top teams [in the LCK and LPL] still get good practice against the lower ranked teams, whilst in the LCS, it’s pretty much useless for the top teams to scrim the bottom teams. You only have a certain number of teams worth scrimming. But in the LPL, they have 20 different teams who are all pretty elite.
Are you anticipating that one of those two regions is going to win Worlds again? Or do you think maybe another region is a serious contender?
I think NA will definitely win this year.
… yeah, no, I think Gen.G will win. I think they look really strong at the moment, and Chovy is probably my favorite player. Best mid laner in the world. I think he's gonna lead the way, and hopefully it's a mid lane meta with the Worlds patch coming up, so they should look pretty good.
Based on your experience playing in Korea and China solo queue, who would you say are the players to watch from either of those regions?
In the LCK, you definitely have players like Chovy, as I mentioned. You've got Peanut, who's playing so well in the jungle - I think he's definitely a top 10 player at Worlds. You obviously can't look past someone like Faker, even though going into it T1 definitely aren’t favorites. You just can't really overlook Faker going into Worlds - he has another level he can switch to.
When it comes to the LPL, you’ve got players like Knight and JackeyLove who are really mechanically gifted players for Top Esports. I generally look at the mid laners - Yagao is a mid laner to look out for, probably top 3 or top 4 in the world. A lot of people underrate him but I think he’s going to have a pretty good performance.
Since you’ve been playing ranked in Korea, China, and EU West, what are the main stylistic differences you’ve picked up on between those regions? How much do you think that extends into pro play?
Korea is really good. It's very mechanics intensive. It just comes down to your laning and how good you are mechanically, if you can match people. It’s even more heightened when I play on the Chinese super server. It's just pure mechanics, every fight - they just slug it out to see who wins.
Meanwhile, in EU, it feels like the mechanics are a little bit less important, but they're very macro intensive. If there’s an optimal way, that’s the way [EU] will play it, whilst in Korea, a lot of the time, every fight is just, “we're going to take that fight to test that [players’s] mechanics, and if we lose I'm going to leave the game or sell my items”. They tend to throw little temper tantrums in Korea and China if they lose, because they don't want to play a losing game
So, for a person who doesn’t know anything about pro League of Legends, which region would you say is a “must know” going into Worlds 2022?
LPL for sure. You just have to know it. Whilst Korea look good, I think that pound for pound, the top of LPL is probably better than the top of Korea. But, yeah, Korea and China are heavy favorites going into Worlds, EU are the underdogs and - I'm not gonna shit on NA too much, but, you know, it's gonna take a miracle.
Since you singled out LPL, how would you describe the meta and playstyle going on in China right now compared to the rest of the world?
Each team has a different style - like, EDG are a much slower team. So is RNG. Not too much of that “in your face” fighting style, whilst teams like Top are just the epitome of pure lane. They’re just gonna fight everything with mechanics, throw everything at you and see what happens. I think EDG and RNG are a little bit more [traditional] Korean style, a little more calculated. So it's gonna be interesting to see how they match up against Korea.
One interesting thing about Worlds this year is that the NA and EU teams are not going to be bootcamping in South Korea in the lead up to Worlds, so there's some speculation that when NA and EU scrim each other and when Korea and China scrim each other, they're going to form separate scrim metas. What are your thoughts on that, and what stylistic differences do you think will potentially surface?
A lot of the Chinese and Korean teams are probably gonna leave last minute to go to NA, because they don't want to go to NA for the bootcamp. If they can stay in Korea and China and get the best scrims, they're going to form their own metas and improve.
I know that they're planning on having Champions queue opened up to all the bootcampers, so even when everyone goes over to NA, they'll be playing in Champions queue, not in solo queue. I definitely think that's going to be exciting, because we're going to get some really cool matchups pre-Worlds. I'll be trying to spectate some games and cast them over my stream, which will be cool. But, I mean, who knows what's going to happen? I couldn’t tell you.
Moving on to Worlds specifically, we saw the group draw recently. What are your first thoughts on each of the matchups that we see in the main stage groups?
Group A - you got C9, T1 and EDG. That's going to be great. You got Jensen versus Faker. Jensen, way back, said “I'm going to clap Faker”, and then I think he got a little bit embarrassed, right? He got solo killed. And then you've got EDG. That's probably the strongest pool when it comes to AD carries. You’ve got Berserker, Gumayusi, and Viper. That's going to be the AD carry group.
cant wait to clap faker :D— Nicolaj Jensen (@Jensen) September 10, 2016
Group B - JDG, G2 and DAMWON. Oh, that's a group of death for G2. I don't know. It's gonna be rough.
Group C - Rogue, Top, GAM.... I have no idea how GAM are doing, actually. I always underestimate the Southeast Asia region and they usually show up. I would say this is probably the easiest group.
Group D - Gen.G, CFO and 100 Thieves. That's going to be such a free group for Chovy. Just gonna be watching Chovy body all those mid laners. But, you know, it seems like probably the most stacked Worlds we've had for a while now. And then we'll see who comes up through the play-in stage, right? Hopefully Oceania. The Chiefs.
The NA copium recently is that some people are saying Cloud9 has a chance to get out of their group off the back of Berserker, versus EDG and T1. What do you make of that?
Who is saying that? Look, I think it looks pretty grim, if I'm honest. I just don't see them making it. I mean, they're an org that usually finds a way somehow to make it out of groups. It's such a stacked Worlds and I don't know who knows what's gonna happen, but I would say it's very unlikely. I give them a 10-15% chance, depending on who comes out of the play-ins.
So it’s more like if T1 and EDG dropped all their spaghetti, right?
Yeah. A lot of spaghetti would have to be dropped..
When it comes to the tournament - not taking into account groups or anything, just purely based on the teams that are in it so far - which matchup between two teams or two regions do you most want to see?
I just want to see mid lane matchups. I want to see Chovy versus Knight, Caps versus Chovy versus Faker versus Yagao versus Showmaker… like, I just want to see these top mids go head to head. I don't necessarily care about the rest of the map, if I'm honest. I just want to see what these mid laners can do.
I want to see a bit of confidence. We've been really lacking in solo kills in the mid lane these days. A lot of players are just Azir farming and going for late game. It’s boring. I want to see some crazy pick come out in the mid lane, like Yasuo, Irelia… I don't know. Just do something crazy! That's what I would do if I was in their shoes.
So, you mentioned earlier that you think Gen.G will win the whole thing. What makes them the frontrunner, in your opinion?
They're just so clean. If you've just watched the LCK this year, you know they're in top form. Every single one of their players is performing, the meta just seems to fit their style, Ruler and Chovy, I mean, come on. They're just insane. I definitely think they're going to be heavy favorites. But you never know.