Behind Enemy Lines — PCS Playoffs 2023: Split 2

Six APAC teams stand between OCE and tickets to Seoul.

LCO reps The Chiefs and Team Bliss have their eyes on the world stage once more. In previous years, these two teams would have been fighting for a single spot in the League of Legends Worlds Play-In stage. However, this year is different. 

The LCO, and by extension, Oceania as a whole, has been folded into the Asia-Pacific region via the Pacific Championship Series, and our hopefuls must now face up against six of APAC’s best in the PCS playoffs for a chance at the two spots available.

Chiefs and Bliss have been seeded into the upper bracket’s first round against the PCS’s third and fourth seeds to start their long journey to Worlds. From there, dependent on results, the two squads will face off against potentially any six of the PCS qualifiers, with the hope that one—or even both teams—will face off in the grand finals on September 9th and secure a glorious ticket to Seoul.

But who are these teams that Bliss and The Chiefs will face? Join Snowball as we go behind enemy lines.

The playoff bracket—and the road to Worlds—for our OCE reps.
Photo via LoL Esports PCS.

The first line of defence

Beyond Gaming (3rd in PCS, 14-4 record)

Oceania as a region should be very familiar with Bliss’ first opponent. Having been the runners-up for PCS Summer in 2022, the team qualified for the Worlds playoffs and took down our Chiefs along the way in what was a decisive victory. Its a new look Beyond today, however, as only one player from that team—toplaner Liao “LIKAI” Li-Kai—is still on the lineup today.

At the spring split playoffs for PCS, The Chiefs faced off against Beyond in the lower bracket, falling to the PCS squad in a competitive 3-1 series, which on any other day would have likely gone to all five games. Today, it is Bliss’ turn to take on the OCE killers and their new-look botside.

Read more: Chiefs claim third-straight LCO title, first seed to PCS

The mid season break saw beyond gaming acquire bot laner Lu “Betty” Yu-Hung from Anyone’s Legend of LPL and support Law “Keres” Chi Kit from SEM9 WPE in the PCS. These acquisitions have been successful in seeing Beyond move up the ladder from five to a very close third place: only one game behind second-place J Team and two games behind first-place PSG Talon, who they split the regular season series with.

Deep Cross Gaming (4th in PCS, 10-8)

The Chiefs will take on Deep Cross Gaming in their opening contest on Saturday. Deep Cross faced off against Bliss in the spring split playoffs lower bracket and took a dominating 3-0 victory in the series.

The Chiefs will not want to repeat this fate when they face this well-balanced line-up. Deep Cross made just a single change in the mid-season break with mid laner Chen “Mission” Hsiao-Hsien coming across from Impunity, while Hsu “Nestea” Chia-Lun moved to the bench.

Deep Cross does not have a prominent main carry on the lineup, allowing more flexibility in roster composition and allowing them to take turns being the main star.

The challengers for the two tickets to Worlds

The final standings for the PCS summer split regular season.
Photo via LoL Esports PCS.

PSG Talon (1st in PCS, 16-2)

The ever-high-flying PSG Talon will come into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed. Having won the title in the spring split, Talon will rightfully have their eyes on going back-to-back and continuing their reign of dominance over the Asia-Pacific region.

Having fallen 3-0 against North America’s Golden Guardians in the Play-Ins match at MSI, Talon will be looking to qualify for the Swiss stage of the World Championship—but only after qualifying from the PCS first. 

The team strengthened its already stacked lineup with the return of Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang. The mid-laner was a member of the PSG Talon team that made the semi-finals of MSI 2021 and has returned to his home region after an 18-month excursion; first to China, joining Anyone’s Legend for the 2022 Spring split, before moving to North America, linking up with TSM.

This team is nearly unstoppable. With only one heavy loss all split to Beyond Gaming, and a close loss to J Team in the final week when their record as minor premiers was already unbeatable, they are the true juggernaut of the region and will be a tough opponent for anyone who has to face them in the bracket.

J Team (2nd in PCS, 15-3)

The biggest ladder climber this split was J Team. Having finished seventh in spring with an 8-10 record, they reacquired top laner Shen “Driver” Tsung-Hua, who had spent a split with Team Impunity and has since become a more dominant line-up.

J Team is another one of the league’s balanced rosters. Carry focus does not fall onto anyone player, which plays into the team’s favour when it comes to the draft and choosing which part of the map they will prioritise.

With seven more wins to their name in Split 2, and only a single game behind the also dominant PSG Talon line-up, J Team will also be one of the big dogs when it comes to the PCS and will be set up making the plane for Korea also.

CTBC Flying Oyster (5th in PCS, 9-9)

The Oyster will be looking to return to the world stage.
Photo by Lance Skundrich via Riot Games.

The 2022 PCS Summer Champions have taken a half-step back in this split. Having finished with a 12-7 regular season record in spring and third place in the Playoffs, they slipped to a 9-9 record and a fifth-placed finish in the summer, therefore having to start their campaign in the lower bracket. It’s far from what they expected when the summer split began. 

The team will be looking to take a step forward when the playoffs. The team will want to make it back-to-back Worlds appearances, and if they play at their peak, they very well might do it.

Frank Esports (6th in PCS, 9-10)

The spring split runner-up Frank Esports has also seen their form slip in the summer split. Having finished second only to PSG Talon in both the regular season and the playoffs just a couple of months ago, the full Hong Kong-native lineup now sees themselves as one of the last teams in the bracket.

This doesn’t mean they are pushovers. The core of the lineup, with the exception of new starting jungler Chan “KennyChan” Chi Yung who had moved from the LPL’s Weibo Gaming during the midseason, came ever-so-close to their first international tournament last split and will go to any length—including a full lower bracket run—to secure it this time around.

Can our LCO teams make it to Worlds?

To be honest, I am not super keen on Oceania’s chances of making the Worlds Play-In stages. Winning three or four best-of-fives against these teams will be a tough ask for both Team Bliss and The Chiefs. I am expecting a better showing for both rosters compared to their last PCS outing, however.

They are more experienced and have gelled together far better than their last trip to Taiwan and will have more time to adapt to the playstyle of their PCS opponents, with the scheduling guaranteeing this time they cannot be knocked out within the first weekend.

Regional pride is on the line and seeing an Oceanic representative back on the world stage, even though the guaranteed path is gone, will be an achievement both Bliss and Chiefs will be looking to obtain.

The PCS playoffs start today at 7pm AEST with Team Bliss taking on Beyond Gaming, before The Chiefs face Deep Cross Gaming on Saturday.

The games will be broadcast on both the LoL Pacific and LCO channels.

Harry Taylor

Resident Snowballer Harry Taylor is waist deep into many aspects of the esports industry. When he's not focused on esports, Harry can be found memeing, complaining about something (probably tech or the NBN), or playing League very poorly.

Harry Taylor
Harry Taylor
Resident Snowballer Harry Taylor is waist deep into many aspects of the esports industry. When he's not focused on esports, Harry can be found memeing, complaining about something (probably tech or the NBN), or playing League very poorly.



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