What you need to know about Icons 2022
It's going to be Iconic.
Folks. The first ever Wild Rift Worlds is here. Except under no circumstances are you to call it Wild Rift Worlds. Icons is an unrelated month long international tournament featuring the best teams from around the world, and the Play-In’s stage starts on the 14th. Here’s your cheat sheet for the first two days of competition.
Teams were seeded into Icons based on their performance in their home leagues. Different regions got to send more or fewer teams. North America’s WNS sent their top two. China’s WRL sent their top four.
The very best teams from each region, the ones that won their home leagues, got to skip the first phase of play. They’re waiting in the Group Stage. Everyone else needs to play in the Play-Ins, where they’ve been split into four brackets with four teams in them.
Play-Ins are done GSL style which means that each of the four brackets is it’s own little mini-tournament. The teams are assigned a first match, and the winners of those openers play each other. The winner of that winners match is advanced immediately to the Group Stage. On the opposite side, the two teams that lost their first match play each other as well. The loser of the losers is eliminated from the tournament. That’s how you speedrun to the airport.
The remaining two teams then play each other in a final match of the bracket. The winner advances to Groups, the loser is eliminated. All matches in Play-Ins will be best of three. In total two teams will advance from each Play-In bracket and two will be eliminated. If all of that is too complicated, watch this video, or just remember that your favorite team needs to win twice to advance to groups. If they lose twice, they are eliminated.
Watch these games in order to have a good time.
Omo and I ran through each bracket with step by step predictions in the latest episode of Out Of Hand. I’m going to assume you aren’t a nerd who already follows these teams though.
Here is a cheat sheet, the best matches during the first two days of play.
Tuesday June 14th, Game 2: RRQ vs USG
RRQ are from the WCS, a sort of SEA super tournament. They finished third, and represent the Philippines. It’s the second time a Filipino team has gotten out of WCS, Team Secret reached the semi-finals of the Horizon Cup last year. Like Team Secret, they’re exciting to watch. The Philippines seems to produce teams confident enough to play to their own strengths, and good enough to pull off shirking the meta.
It’s an important win as well for a region that has been underrepresented in global esports. The Philippines doesn’t have the same mobile esports legacy as Vietnam yet, despite the popularity of titles like AoV and Mobile Legends in the country. If RRQ can pull away from the pack in Play-Ins, they’ll earn the PPGL a reputation for producing global contenders in Wild Rift.
The same weight hangs over USG. While Japan does have a significant playerbase for mobile esports, they have yet to prove themselves as a esports region. Sengoku’s performance at the Horizon Cup was stellar, but the returning Japanese champions are lead by two Korean mobile esports veterans. If Unsold Stuff Gaming can beat RRQ it’ll be an upset, and one that puts Japan on the map at Icons. It would prove that the scene is more than one team with imports.
They’re a slower team than RRQ, preferring the hyper late game. That means the challenge for USG will be lasting until their bottom lane comes online. RRQ would do best to end the game quickly. It’ll be a race against the clock with both league’s reputations on the line.
LANE TO WATCH
Tatuki vs Helios (Mid)
The rest of day one
Is a little lame to be honest. There are some exciting previews of top teams, but they’re all playing teams outside of striking distance. Jteam and T1 are both worth watching as we don’t have a good sense of how strong they are. Jteam are the fifth best chinese team, subbing in for the fourth place OMG who couldn’t attend. If they wipe the floor with Play-Ins it bodes poorly for anyone playing against the WRL.
Wednesday June 15th, Game 1: BRU vs KDF
But we start day two off with a banger. Buriram United are one of the biggest Thai esports organizations and football clubs. The Kwangdong Freecs are an ancient korean esports organization, founded in 2015.
This match is perfect. Both teams share a love for late game team fights. Their ideal games are 20 minutes long and have exactly five kills. When you put two teams like that together, it’s a recipe for disaster.
This is also our first preview of what will be one of the defining regional competitions all tournament. Korea’s WCK vs SEA’s WCS. Many western players are Korean stans, but I think the region plays too slowly to handle the top teams out of China and Vietnam. One thing’s for sure: That theory won’t be tested by BRU. This will be a matchup for the farming simulator esports hall of fame. At least, until things start going wrong.
LANE TO WATCH
BRU WhatTheJess(Support) vs KDF Acrobat(Dragon)
WhatTheJess is one of the most exciting support players in the world. He popularized full AP Yuumii. Sometimes he spends the whole game on the Baron side of the map. This time he’ll be playing into Acrobat, the Varus King of Korea. Acrobat’s enduring super power is survival. He’ll play lane so quietly you forget he’s there, and then land every piercing arrow in a teamfight for 20k damage. WhatTheJess is going to have to dig him out, or abandon VVV and make an impact elsewhere.
Wednesday June 15th, Game 4: LBR vs SEN
Sentinels are the second seat out of North America, and my admitted favorites. Lead by three Arena of Valor veterans, and bolstered by some hand-picked zoomer firepower; Sentinels don’t play like anyone else.
Their dragon laner Rest defined the WNS finals meta with his Lux AP-Carry, good enough to be permanently banned against him all tournament, but looked weak on more traditional ADC picks. When they can get a flat teamfight, Sentinels excel. They’re more organized in fights than any other western roster. That doesn’t help them in skirmishes though. They were taken apart in 2v2s and 1v1s by Immortals in the WNS finals and now need to battle out of groups.
Opposite them, from Brazil, is North America’s prime competition in the battle for the west. Wild Tour is the best region, no one is talking about. What Liberty lack in calculated Korean macro play, they make up for with innovative drafts, builds, and insanely fast paced teamfights. If any team can shake Sentinels out of their white collar teamfighting, it’s one lead by ManoFrizer, who’s aggression defined his Arena of Valor career.
Sentinels have a lot to prove on behalf of North American fans after Tribe Gaming’s well documented collapse at the Horizon Cup. Liberty are the third seat out of Brazil, but the most likely to get out of Play-Ins. If they start their run with a win over Sentinels it’ll flag the Wild Tour as the best region in the west.
LANE TO WATCH
Freaks vs MTS (Baron Lane)
Freaks is a Brazilian top laner; he likes his duelists. He’ll play Jax, and Camille, and anything else to avoid tank jail. MTS is one of the best top laners in the world. He competed in Korea in Honor of Kings, won lanes versus the best international players in Arena of Valor. He’s the sort of player who never loses lane, but lately he’s also been the sort of player who’s stuck on Garen. If Freaks can pull out a Jax and take him apart or even just scale out of lane, it’ll win the game for Liberty.
Where to find out more:
As aforementioned, Lenord “omo” Loh and I worked out the entire play-ins stage in the latest episode of our podcast. Find it at podcast.esportsTj.com.
You can also find the interview I did with SEN Rest about his trip to Icons and his journey as a player.
The official site has an up to date schedule that will present itself in your local time zone. That’s WildRiftEsports.com.