Image credit: LoL Esports
The Pacific Championship Series’ (PCS) second-seed representatives, Paris Saint-Germain Talon Esports, are the first team to qualify to the 2020 League of Legends World Championship's group stage.
PSG Talon secured their ticket to the main event at 15:02 CET with a victory over League of Legends Continental League (LCL) representatives Unicorns of Love in Group B’s tiebreaker for first place. In doing so, they advanced ahead of other major region teams in the play-ins, as LGD Gaming are playing for fourth place, and as Team Liquid and MAD Lions play on Sept. 28.
PSG did so with the assistance of ahq eSports Club’s jungler and mid laner, Hsiao "Kongyue" Jen-Tso and Chen "Uniboy" Chang-Chu; as their starters, Kim "River" Dong-woo and Park "Tank" Dan-won, are still in quarantine due to late visa renewal procedures. During their first two days (2-1), before starting AD carry Wong "Unified" Chun-kit’s quarantine period ended, they used Chen "Dee" Chun-Dee, who had transitioned into a coaching role within Machi Esports a year ago.
The PCS team’s composition required scaling as it included four damage threats: Gangplank, Lillia, Orianna and Senna. As such, the Unicorns of Love’s primary game plan was to thwart them before the game reached a point of no return. Although UoL were on the driver seat for the first 20 minutes of the game, their attempts at negating a lane entirely proved fruitless as their opponents patiently mitigated their losses and bided their time.
Indeed, the Unicorns of Love successfully claimed three kills and the outer towers of all three lanes. At the 4:55 mark, Aleksandr "Santas" Lifashin (Bard)’s roam towards the mid lane allowed Lev "Nomanz" Yakshin (Ziggs) to pocket an early kill in a mid lane countergank. Later on, they broke the outer top turret at the 9-minute mark through Rift Herald usage, before swapping to the bottom lane for a kill on Unified's Senna at the 13-minute mark, claiming the bot tower by minute 15, and the mid tower at the 18-minute mark.
However, PSG Talon’s resilience was in full display as they stalled the game from that point, with a focus on farming minions. Their approach paid off: by the 25-minute mark, their champions reached their two-item power spikes and were ready to rumble.
Thus began PSG’s ascent and UoL’s fall: a 26-minute teamfight culminated into four kills, Baron Nashor, then two other kills as UoL contested their move. Then, a Ling "Kaiwing" Kai Wing (Rakan) team fight initiation broke UoL’s hopes and propelled the PCS’s #2 representative to the group stage with a 5-0 ace.
PSG Talon’s qualification to the group stage marks the end of Kongyue and Uniboy’s tenure within the team, as they joined PSG as emergency substitutes as allowed by Riot Games due to the exceptional circumstances introduced by COVID-19 on international travel. However, the two players displayed their prowess to the world and may have become coveted assets abroad, especially considering how the LPL has imported LMS talent in the past.
As for the Unicorns of Love, their chances of advancing to the group stage are uncertain. With MAD Lions in play for a third or fourth-place finish in Group A, they might face in the decider in a repeat of 2019’s Splyce vs. Unicorns of Love thriller. In that scenario, Marek "Humanoid" Brazda would be the sole returning member on Splyce/MAD Lions’ side, whereas UoL front three members of the lineup that barely fell short: Vladislav "BOSS" Fomin, Kirill "AHaHaCiK" Skvortsov and Nomanz.