Worlds 2022 diamonds in the rough: Wild card region players to watch

by Nick Geracie

Throughout the history of League of Legends esports, teams from the ecosystem’s wild card regions have faced overwhelming odds to try and bring competitive glory to their home countries at international competitions. The wild card regions at Worlds 2022 are Oceania (LCO), Latin America (LLA), Turkey (TCL), Japan (LJL) and Brazil (CBLoL). These are regions outside the major regions of Korea, China, Europe and North America, and they don't include Southeast Asia and Vietnam, whose teams are a cut below the major regions but typically more competitive than the wild card teams.

Not every wild card region team can match the incredible run of League of Legends Continental League (LCL) representative Albus NoX Luna at the 2016 world championship -- the only time a wild card team has made it to the knockout stage of an international event. Each year, however, players from wild card region teams have a chance to stand out and prove themselves as world-class talents on the international stage.

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In addition to taking pride in a strong performance, it can also land those players a major region gig. Brandon Joel “Josedeodo” Villegas’ strong performance at Worlds 2020 with Liga Latinoamérica (LLA) representative Rainbow7 landed him the starting jungler job on FlyQuest in North America’s League Championship Series.

Teams from wild card regions at Worlds 2022 have less global reputation than the six regions above them, but each of them boast talent that is certainly worth a watch on LoL esports’ premier international stage.

Quin "Raes" Korebrits

Chiefs Esports Club (LCO)

Photo credit: Tina Jo/Riot Games via ESPAT

Unlike many players competing at Worlds 2022 on a wild card region team, Raes actually boasts major region experience. In the 2021 LCS season, Raes was the starting AD carry on Immortals, as he reunited with his former support Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw from his first stint on Chiefs.

Read more: Worlds 2022: C9, 100 Thieves, Evil Geniuses carry North America’s hope

Raes was passed over come 2022 in favor of Jason “WildTurtle” Tran, but joined a dominant Chiefs squad that went 21-0 in the League of Legends Circuit Oceania Summer Split and only lost two regular season games in spring. After returning to his home region and qualifying for his second career Worlds, Raes will look to reach new heights in his eight-year competitive career.

Édgar Ali "Seiya" Bracamontes Munguía

Isurus Gaming (LLA)

Photo credit: Riot Games

Seiya has often been called the Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg of Latin America -- and for good reason. As of September 2022, Seiya has won a staggering 15 domestic titles, the most of any pro League of Legends player in history.

Seiya has shown the skills to match his accolades, but has not always performed to expectations on the international stage. Deep into the 10th year of his career, Seiya could be looking at his last international competition and should be hungrier than ever to surpass his previous international performances at his third world championship.

Anıl "HolyPhoenix” Işık

Istanbul Wildcats (TCL)

Photo credit: Riot Games

No player in the Turkish Championship League looms quite as large as HolyPhoenix. The veteran AD carry has won more domestic titles than any other player in TCL history, and despite a competitive career spanning close to a decade, he might be heading to Worlds 2022 in the best form of his career.

Read more: After another MSI appearance, Istanbul Wildcats veteran HolyPhoenix focused on return to Worlds

In the 2022 TCL summer split, HolyPhoenix led all starting AD carries in most kills, least deaths, highest KDA, best gold differential at 10 minutes and best experience differential at 10 minutes. In eight games played throughout the TCL summer playoffs, he only died seven times. His 12.4 postseason KDA dwarfed the next closest mark (5.7), and his damage per minute of 644 was the highest of any player aside from his own mid laner Tolga "Serin" Ölmez.

How well the Wildcats can do at Worlds 2022 is a question mark, but what is not in question is HolyPhoenix’s status as a bona fide world-class talent.

Shunsuke "Evi" Murase

DetonatioN FocusMe (LJL)

Photo credit: Riot Games

Since the inception of the League of Legends Japan League, DetonatioN FocusMe have been its representative at nearly every international competition. Many familiar faces have returned to the international stage time and time again in DFM jerseys, but the squad’s longtime top laner stands out among the rest of the squad heading into Worlds 2022.

Read more: League of Legends Worlds 2022: All qualified teams

Evi, like jungler Mun "Steal" Geon-yeong, joined DFM ahead of the 2018 season, and the top laner has solidified himself as a reliable second threat alongside franchise AD carry Yuta "Yutapon" Sugiura, who has played with the team since April 2013. This summer, however, Evi took things to another level and absolutely dominated the rest of the LJL top laners on a rarely seen level in any domestic league. In the 2022 LJL summer split, Evi’s KDA of 7.1 was almost two points higher than the next top laner, and his CS differential at 10 minutes was nearly five points higher than the next top laner.

DetonatioN FocusMe have slowly become a more powerful force at international tournaments over the years, and in what is expected to be a bottom lane focused meta at Worlds 2022, Yutapon’s reliability will be key for DFM to be competitive. However, for the team to surpass any previous international performances, Evi’s ability to seamlessly translate his domestic play this summer to the Worlds 2022 stage will be paramount.

Thiago “tinowns” Sartori

LOUD (CBLoL)

Photo credit: Riot Games

Brazilian mid laner tinowns qualified for his first international competition with KaBuM! e-Sports at the 2014 world championship. He was vital in securing the first win on an international stage for a wild card region team in a shocking upset over European first seed Alliance.

Since then, tinowns has only competed at one international event -- the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational as the starting mid laner of paiN Gaming. After joining LOUD with paiN’s top laner Leonardo "Robo" Souza in 2022, it looked as if a repeat international appearance could be tough. LOUD finished seventh in Split 1 of the 2022 Campeonato Brasileiro de League of Legends season, but qualified for the Split 2 playoffs as the fourth seed and upset paiN Gaming in the final to win the title. In his first trip back to the Worlds stage in eight years, tinowns will face the steepest competition of his career in what should be the most competitive play-in stage in world championship history.

All statistics in this article are courtesy of Oracle’s Elixir.

Lead photo credit: Riot Games

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