Many pundits were writing PSG Talon off at Worlds 2020 after they were forced to bring in three subs due to visa issues. However, they’ve shown class above their supposed experience, taking down Rainbow7 and LGD Gaming on Day 1 despite the handicap.
PSG Talon are the definite winners of Worlds Day 1. Their expectations were lower than anyone else’s, after having their Play-In run handicapped by the weight of three substitutes across jungle, mid lane, and bot lane.
With Kim “River” Dong-woo, Park “Tank” Dan-won, and Wong “Unified” Chun Kit out of action due to quarantine, it was up to Ahq stars Hsiao “Kongyu” Jen-Tso and Chen “Uniboy” Chang-Chu, as well as Machi Esports coach and former pro Chen “Dee” Chun-Dee to step up to the plate.
And step up they did.
The three substitutes were the stars of the show as PSG Talon managed to qualify for the Play-Ins Knockout Stage at the very least with wins over Rainbow7 and LGD Gaming.
While they were favoured for the former, Talon still made a statement with the victory. Kongyue’s Ekko was all over the map, first shutting down the bot lane of the LLA representatives after a failed dive, then rolling over Aloned’s Zoe in mid lane.
Then, against LGD, with the stakes higher than ever, it was Kongyue’s Ahq teammate Uniboy who stood up to the plate. His Orianna, alongside Ling “Kaiwing” Kai Wing’s Rakan, were key factors in helping Talon stay in the game early, and then decimate the LPL hopefuls late.
Despite having power picks like Lillia and Lucian in their arsenal, Uniboy’s Shockwaves would single-handedly turn fights, while Kaiwing’s Rakan engages — and disengages — kept LGD at bay. It was a clinical performance — one most never expected to see from a team filled with substitutes — although Kaiwing stated that victory was always on their mind.
“Personally, I’m very happy with the victory, although I was pretty nervous considering it was my first game at Worlds 2020. Our jungle, mid laner, and bot laner might not be part of our starting roster, but we’re all very happy,” he said in the post-game interview.
It helps that Kongyue and Uniboy are teammates on Ahq. Mid-jungle synergy is often touted as one of the most important aspects of League of Legends, and across both games, it showed with the Taiwanese duo.
However, for Dee, the learning curve was a bit steeper. The Machi Esports coach retired from pro play in 2019, having never attended Worlds even during his peak. However, the bot laner still had it in him, it just took some time to get used to playing with Kaiwing.
“Kongyue and Uniboy are actually teammates, so we already have good mid-jungle synergy with them. For Dee, it’s my first time playing with him, so during scrims we’d chat about how we both play in the laning phase,” he said.
“We tried to focus with our own synergy and combining with the rest of the team — that’s why we’re showing good results.”
The goal of PSG Talon isn’t just to win a couple of Play-Ins games and be done with Worlds. They came to Shanghai with a reason. The PCS, formerly known as the LMS, has had a rough run at international events ever since Taipei Assassin’s triumph in Season 2.
Talon, alongside Machi, are looking to change that this year, and the first step forward for Kaiwing and the rest of his team is to make it to Groups.
“With everything in perspective, with three new members, if we can make it to the Group Stage, that’ll be a good result. We’re expecting to make it there though,” he said.
For PSG Talon, their teammates aren’t too far away from getting out of quarantine. Unified will be available for their final game of Play-In Groups against Japan’s V3 Gaming on Sunday, while River and Tank will be making their return if PSG make it to Groups.