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Thailand's Buriram United Esports (BRU) bowed out of the League of Legends: Wild Rift Icons Global Championship on Friday (24 June) after losing to fellow Southeast Asian representatives Flash Wolves 2-1 in their Group Stage elimination match.
While their run at Icons ended in the Group Stage, BRU looked dominant during the Play-Ins.
The Thai squad swept through Korea's Kwangdong Freecs, North America's Sentinels, and Brazil's Liberty to secure a clean 4-0 record that qualified them for the second stage of Icons.
In the Group Stage, BRU team struggled in Group C, which was coined as the Icons 'Group of Death'.
The Thai team first went against top Brazilian team Omegha Esports, who swept them 0-2 in the opening match.
BRU were then pit against Flash Wolves in their group's elimination match, where they threw a few curve balls that allowed them to take a game, though they still lost the best-of-three series.
Shortly after their elimination, Yahoo Esports SEA spoke with BRU star support, Soragit "Whatthejes" Buranathanasin, about his team's journey at Icons.
Despite their run at Icons ending in the Group Stage, Whatthejes said that his experience in the tournament was "really great", because he felt that they were really taken care of, and “the atmosphere in the tournament was really good.”
With that said, Whatthejes noted that BRU didn't get to showcase their best performance at Icons.
He mentioned that one of the challenges the team faced was that their drafting wasn’t too good in the past few matches.
“It’s not what we have prepared, but in the end, the composition didn’t go well together, and we don’t have a clear objective in each game,” said Whatthejes.
That said, he also shared some of the positives for him in the competition, labelling his Thresh play at the Baron one of "his standout moments".
"Because everybody said that it was exciting," he said with laugh while recalling the moment.
In their first game at the Play-ins against Kwangdong Freecs, Whatthejes stole the show when his Thresh pick jumped into the Baron pit alone, stalling the South Koreans from finishing off the Baron.
Whatthejes barely survived the encounter, but this allowed his teammates to arrive and steal the Baron right on time from under their opponents' noses.
In another Play-Ins match against Liberty Esports, BRU were perfectly coordinated, with Whatthejes' signature Yuumi pick timely hopping on and off his team’s carries as they expertly wove in and out of team fights.
In the same series, Liberty almost took one of the games through the backdoor, but Whatthejes and Pongsatorn "Coldenfeet" Kornrat were able to return to base and clear the way and take Liberty out.
BRU still ended up winning the game, which allowed them to be the first seed of Group D at the Play-ins Stage.
The Soraka pick
BRU may have struggled against Flash Wolves, who were back to their original and full roster for the first time in the tournament, but the Thai team were still able to throw a curveball Soraka pick for Whatthejes in the second game of their elimination match.
The casters and analysts all mentioned that they disliked the pick for various reasons, but BRU proved them wrong in the game.
“Because I play a lot of Soraka, I know that her laning phase can punish some of the champions like Morgana, Senna, Nasus, Galio, even Ziggs," Whatthejes told Yahoo.
"That’s why we decided to pick her it worked out really well because my team like to play around me and they protect me well.”
With a tanky Singed mid pick for Nutchanon “Archeny” Yailuang taking in some of the damage for his team, a formidable high-damage Corki carry for Weeravat “VVV” Baolorphet, and Whatthejes’ Soraka topping everybody up with heals and shields, the team were able to stay longer in team fights and steal some kills and objectives.
And after a pentakill from Coldenfeet, BRU took the second game from Flash Wolves.
— Wild Rift Esports (@WildRiftEsports) June 24, 2022
Whatthejes said that in retrospect, Soraka didn’t work in game three even if they “prepared her specifically for Senna-Nasus” because “the team did not have enough damage” to follow through and close out team fights.
“I think in the third game, the laning phase was the same [as the second game], but the whole team fighting was a different story,” said Whatthejes.
A learning experience
Even with all the ups and downs for Whatthejes and BRU in the tournament, he believes that he and his team learned a lot from all the other teams in the tournament.
“I learned a lot from every team so far, like the way they play, their drafting. We learned a lot from this tournament,” said Whatthejes.
BRU bow out of Icons in 13th-16th place, taking home US$40,000 in consolation.
The rest of the Southeast Asian teams remaining in Icons, namely Team Flash, Flash Wolves, and Rex Regum Qeon, will continue to compete on the last day of the Group Stage on Saturday (25 June) to fight for a spot at the Knockout Stage.
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.