Shy, a former League of Legends player, spoke about moving to Wild Rift and his expectations ahead of the mobile game’s first world championship.
Being the first seeds from Southeast Asia (SEA), Team Flash are carrying a region’s hope in the League of Legends: Wild Rift Icons Global Championship 2022. Esports.gg got the chance to interview the team’s Baron laner, Nguyễn “Shy” Chí Khanh, about his expectations from the tournament, his journey into Wild Rift, Chinese teams, and more.
The Icons 2022 is taking place from June 14th to July 19th at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Center in Singapore. The competition was initially supposed to be played in Madrid but was moved to the Southeast Asian country due to visa issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Team Flash, having won the Wild Rift Champions SEA (WCS) Finals, have progressed directly into the Icons group stage, which will commence on June 21.
Shy’s journey into Wild Rift: From PC to mobile
Shy told Esports.gg that he was originally a League of Legends player, playing mostly out of cafes. When the pandemic hit, however, these cafes were shut down and Shy had to find another game to keep him entertained. It was around this time that Riot released Wild Rift, the mobile version of its hit MOBA title, and Shy got hooked to it.
"I have been a huge fan of esports games. I've played League of Legends and other mobile MOBA games like AoV [Arena of Valor] and when the COVID exploded all over the world, I couldn't go to the internet cafes to play League of Legends, which I have a huge love for. This is when Wild Rift came out and I started to play it on the mobile because I couldn't go to any cafes."
He later joined Team Flash in mid-2021, but had a mediocre first season with them, having placed fourth in Vietnam and finishing 11th to 12th at the SEA Championship 2021. With some roster changes ahead of the 2022 season, Team Flash have completely turned their fortunes around. They have won the WCS Vietnam, WCS Finals, and also brought in a gold medal for their country at the 31st SEA Games this year.
“[After the loss last year] we brought in some new members who played the missing piece [in our lineup]. With the old members, after intensive training, all of us have got a huge improvement which led us to the success we are having now in 2022."
Expectations from Icons: Eyes on the trophy but wary of Chinese and Korean teams
Fans have a lot of expectations from the team in the Icons 2022. Southeast Asia is known as being a mobile-first market, and Team Flash are the first seeds from the region.
Shy said that this sentiment is also within the team and that they have their eyes set on the trophy. With that being said, the player admitted that the journey will be really tough especially because of the Chinese and Korean teams in the Icons.
“Heading to Icons, of course we are heading for the championship but it will be really tough because there are Chinese teams, there are Korean teams. They are both the most developed esports countries and we would love to learn more about their professionalism and how they create a team.”
China could be the region to look out for in Icons 2022
In the Horizon Cup 2021, which was the first global esports competition for Wild Rift, China absolutely dominated. The region’s sole two representatives, Da Kun Gaming and ThunderTalk Gaming, cruised past the competition to finish in first and second place, respectively.
Shy believes that the Chinese teams will continue to be a force to be reckoned with at Icons as well. This time, China is being represented by FunPlus Phoenix, JD Gaming, and Nova Esports.
Shy said that they’ve been scrimmaging against Chinese teams a lot ahead of Icons and that they've been losing and winning these matches. Nonetheless, he was confident that the Chinese teams would put up a good show at Icons.
“So we've been training a lot with Chinese teams preparing for the Icons Global and we can clearly see that they are way ahead of the meta compared to the other teams we’ve faced in the past. They have impressive interpersonal skills. Of course, we have some wins and we have some losses against them but [it's] undeniable that they are going to be putting up impressive performances at Icons.”
Team Flash was excited to travel to Europe, but competing in Singapore has its advantages too
Riot had initially announced that the Wild Rift Icons 2022 will be held in Madrid, Spain. Later, the competition had to be moved to Singapore, however, due to visa complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
When asked about what the team felt about this move, Shy said that they were all really excited to travel to Europe for the first time. He added that they were in the middle of the visa application process when they received the news about Icons moving to Singapore.
“It's just a coincidence. Icons was supposed to be in Madrid and we were all so excited for the first Europe trip ever. When we knew it is being hosted in Singapore, it was a little bit like...you know...okay. Because we were expecting it to be in Rome and we were in the middle of the visa application process.
Even though they may not be able to go to Europe this time, Shy said that there were some positives in competing from Singapore, one of which is that they will not have to face any jetlag. Additionally, Team Flash is headquartered in Singapore so they will also receive the vital support of the organization’s CEO, Mark Chew, at Icons.
When it went back to Singapore, we said okay and it might be a good chance as we don't have to suffer from any jetlag and our big boss, Mark Chew, is in Singapore. Maybe if we need anything, he will be right there to help us which would be much better than if we were in Madrid where we would only have ourselves.”
Team Flash’s journey will begin on June 21
Team Flash have been drawn into Group A alongside the Wild Rift Open Latin America (WOL) champions, Leviatán. Two more teams will join the group based on the results of the play-ins.