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League of Legends: Wild Rift only officially launched last year (and this year, in certain regions), but already the game is looking to be a worthy successor to its PC counterpart and a must-watch title in the mobile esports scene.
Yahoo Esports Southeast Asia recently talked to Leonard “OMO” Loh, Singaporean coach and caster for both League of Legends (LoL) and Wild Rift, about Wild Rift’s first year as an esport and what he thought was in store for the game's future.
Among other things, he predicted that China's dominance in Wild Rift's first competitive esports year isn't stopping any time soon.
“I think the next year will still be Chinese-team dominated. It’s probably going to take a year or two for that gap to close,” said OMO.
Chinese teams Da Kun Gaming (DKG) and Thunder Talk Gaming (TT) dominated the Horizon Cup, Wild Rift's first competitive international esports tournament, which was held in Singapore.
Both Chinese squads nearly swept all their opponents in the group stage and ended up as the finalists, with DKG beating TT 4-2 to win the Horizon Cup in November.
OMO added that China as a region holds an edge over other regions in terms of infrastructure and how much more experienced teams there are not just in MOBAs, but esports as a whole.
When asked about what other regions can do to catch with the Chinese, OMO’s advice was simple.
“Keep doing what they’re doing, especially the teams in the SEA region. Don’t try to copy another team’s style and try hitting them with a curveball. Maybe you can steal a match; maybe you can steal your way into the Grand Finals.”
OMO gave a special mention to the Philippines' Team Secret, who he saw had an idea of how they wanted to play during the Horizon Cup, and thought they should continue doing just that.
“When you think Team Secret don’t have a chance, they will come in and put on really good matches,” OMO said of the Filipino powerhouse. “It shows the amount of talent that we have in Southeast Asia.”
Team Secret was one of the stand-out teams in Wild Rift's first year, finishing second in the Wild Rift SEA Championship in October and 3rd-4th in the Horizon Cup.
In the Wild Rift SEA Championship, Team Secret earned the moniker of “Comeback Kings” for taking the long road to the finals.
After losing in the upper bracket semi-finals, they tore through the lower bracket to face SBTC Esports in the Grand Finals, where they lost 4-1 and became Southeast Asia’s second seed for the Horizon Cup.
Secret stumbled in their first match of the Horizon Cup Group Stage then bounced back with three-straight sweeps over South America’s eBro Gaming, Europe’s Team Queso, and Japan’s Sengoku Gaming. The Filipinos then swept SBTC in the Playoff quarterfinals to meet DKG in the semis.
Secret's run finally ended with a loss to the eventual champions, but not before handing the Chinese powerhouse their first loss in the tournament.
OMO attributed Secret's success to their unique drafts that complemented their roster, Heri “Tatsurii” Garcia, Caster “Chewy” Dela Cruz, and Robert “Trebor” Mansilungan, players who could do well if given the opportunity.
“The very memorable one for me was the Vayne-Lulu-Braum comp, so it was set up to allow the AD Carry to succeed,” he said. “[Team Secret] are individually flashy, but they’re good as a team.”
James “Hamezz” Santos notably took the MVP award for the entire SEA Championship series, while Tatsurii also earned three MVP nods during the Horizon Cup Playoffs, tied for first with DKG's Muchuang "You" You and KT Rolster's Kim "Isaac" Eun-soo.
Even as China looks to be the dominant region in Wild Rift for the foreseeable future, the future for Southeast Asia in the scene remains bright with teams like Secret leading the way.
OMO has been a LoL coach and caster for almost five years, coaching teams in Southeast Asia, Oceania, and the Pacific regions. Most recently, he coached ORDER, a team from Oceania. In the middle of 2021, he was invited to be a caster and analyst for Wild Rift Esports, attending events like the Southeast Asia ICON Series, the Southeast Asia Championship 2021, and the first Wild Rift Horizon Cup series. OMO is also a caster for Dota 2.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.