Yagao became the latest mid laner to play Nautilus at MSI 2023.

In dominant fashion, LPL's Bilibili Gaming ran over LLA's Movistar R7. One of the surprising stars of the series was BLG's Zeng "Yagao" Qi. Not because Yagao isn't a great player, because he is, it was because the superstar mid-laner was playing Nautilus in game one. Following his impressive performance over R7, Yagao sat down with esports.gg for an exclusive interview.

Yagao has focussed on his teams play rather than the opposition

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 03: Bilibili Gaming poses backstage at the League of Legends - Mid-Season Invitational Play-Ins Stage on May 3, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 03: Bilibili Gaming poses backstage at the League of Legends - Mid-Season Invitational Play-Ins Stage on May 3, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

While teams from the minor regions need to be shown some respect, a top team from the LPL can be forgiven for having their sights set further into the tournament against 'stronger' opposition. This best-of-three was not a close one.

And while game two was not as clean as game one from the side of BLG, the Chinese second seed got the job done. In our interview, Yagao admitted he was not too familiar with today's opponents, or many of the play-in squads for that matter. Believing in his own squad's ability to get the job done.

"To be honest, we are not that familiar with our opponents at this stage. So I just tell them, like we really need to focus on our own games content, try to have a good game and try to keep on a high note, keep our momentum. If we can do that, the Play-In stage is not a big problem for us."

Yagao weighs in on Nautilus in the mid lane

One surprise to many at the start of the 2023 Mid-Season Invitational was the introduction of Nautilus in the mid-lane. Yagao's victory marked the third win of the tournament for the champion, the other two being played by Rasmus "Caps" Borregaard Winther. Overall the champion has a presence percentage of 75% across the opening two days of play at MSI according to gol.gg and we expect to see Nautilus many more times before the tournament concludes.

We asked Yagao his thoughts on Nautilus mid: "We have tried this champion in scrims, so we would like to give this champion a try on stage in the real tournament. I think the main reason why Nautilus is so strong is that other mid-lane champions are too weak [laughs]. Also, we have so many very strong jungle champions in this meta as well, and Nautilus can be a very good flex pick. So that’s why it can be a very good choice."

One of Yagao's best traits across his career thus far has been away from the mid-lane as he roams around the map helping his team secure leads elsewhere. This is why for BLG Nautilus is seen as the ideal champion for Yagao, a champion that can facilitate the rest of his team.

"It really feels like this meta suits our team’s playstyle so well because our jungler Xun can really play carry junglers so well. Also, I can have some utility champions to play with him and make shotcalls around the map."

"I want to go to the very end of this tournament" - BLG Yagao

The LPL at MSI is a completely different monster. Three of the last four winners of the Mid-Season Invitational have been from China, with G2 Esports the only other squad to hoist the famous golden trophy.

Despite having a deep Worlds run under his belt, Yagao made his MSI debut this year in his series against R7. Yagao is looking to put what was a poor Worlds semi-finals appearance behind him as he looks to turn a fresh page in his career. Direct and to the point, this is what Yagao said about his tournament aspirations: "I want to go to the very end of this tournament".

With the LPL squads expected to make a deep run in this international event, we asked Yagao if he is feeling any pressure to replicate past results the LPL have had in this tournament:

"In terms of the pressure, I feel it’s okay, it’s acceptable. Also, this is my first MSI, and for some of my teammates, it’s even their first international journey. So we would like to just try to enjoy the game, have fun, and at the same time play our game."

Yagao and BLG return to MSI action tomorrow when they face off against North America's Golden Guardians. The winner of that best-of-three will earn qualification to the bracket stage.

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