With Worlds 2021 on the horizon, the Pacific Championship Series’ champions, PSG Talon, are one of 22 teams from across the globe that are gearing up for their biggest and most important event of the year. The 2021 League of Legends World Championship will feature each region’s best players, all fighting toward one goal: to stand atop the mountain and hoist the Season 11 Summoner’s Cup.
As champions from the PCS, and with an MSI 2021 top-four finish on their resume, PSG Talon arrive in Reykjavík, Iceland to continue what they started. The traditional powerhouses from China, Korea and Europe have long been discussed as tournament favorites, and PSG are coming in to challenge that hegemony. They will be looking to better their results from Worlds last year and finally show the world the PCS means business. Also, The PCS champions do not only represent the PCS, but they are also representing Vietnam and South-East Asia by wearing the Vietnam Championship Series’ badge on their jerseys for Worlds 2021.
A small gesture for our VCS brothers who cannot attend Worlds this year 😭
— PSG TALON (@PSG_Talon) September 30, 2021
PSG Talon (PCS) Worlds 2021 starting roster breakdown:-
Top: Su “Hanabi” Chia-Hsiang | Signed by Talon Esports in January 2020, stayed on after PSG Talon merger on June 2020
Jungler: Kim “River” Dong-woo | Signed by Talon Esports in January 2020, stayed on after PSG Talon merger on June 2020
Mid: Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang | Signed in by PSG Talon in December 2020
Bot: Wong “Unified” Chun Kit | Signed by Talon Esports in January 2020, stayed on after PSG Talon merger on June 2020
Support: Ling “Kaiwing” Kai Wing | Signed by Talon Esports in January 2020, stayed on after PSG Talon merger on June 2020
Coach: Kwon “Helper” Yeong-jae | Signed in by PSG Talon in December 2020
Coach: Park “Winged” Tae-jin | Signed in by PSG Talon in December 2020
How PSG Talon got here
Ever since Riot Games announced the PCS, PSG Talon (technically Talon Esports before the merger), established themselves as one of the region’s powerhouses. They won the inaugural season of the PCS in 2020 spring and finished second in summer after forming a partnership with French giants Paris Saint-Germain. For 2021, they brought in Taiwanese star mid laner Maple to complete the last piece of the puzzle and have not looked back since.
Their dominance and presence echoes back to the Flash Wolves of old, a dominant force from the League of Legends Master Series and a consistent feature on the international stage. This roster gave hope to fans who hold on to that memory of making top-four at the Mid-Season Invitational 2021, with a substitute bot laner in Chiu “Doggo” Tzu-Chuan from Mega Bank Beyond Gaming, no less. They returned as heroes, proving that they can take the best teams in the world to the brink.
— LoL Esports (@lolesports) May 21, 2021
Despite the PCS’ extended break before the season began due to COVID, PCS caster Frank “Nit3Star” Peng said PSG were well prepared compared to other teams and came out swinging.
“Our top teams did come out very strong as expected, but a lot of the middle of the pack and lower teams really struggled just to find themselves just to find that play style,” Nit3Star said. “Most of the time you would not see teams even prepared to take on PSG.”
And sure enough, PSG went on a record breaking 18-0 regular season in summer, a spotless slate of matches going into playoffs. The only game PSG almost lost was against BOOM Esports in Week 3, but even with big advantages in that game, Nit3star still “didn’t think PSG were going to go down”. The only true test for this team lied in the playoffs.
PSG ran through J Team 3-0 in the first round, business as usual, and continued on their unbeaten streak. But on the next hurdle, they stumbled unexpectedly.
Beyond Gaming, home of the bot laner Doggo, brought the PCS titans to earth with a stunning 3-2 victory. It was a sobering moment for the spring champions. But like all great champions, they didn’t let defeat bring them down.
Instead, PSG used the loss to temper their spirits and made a resilient lower bracket run to the finals, 3-0’ing J Team again and pushing Beyond Gaming all the way to five games to clinch the PCS title.
Nit3star cites PSG’s incredible ability to adapt and the many curveballs up their sleeves as the reason for their success in the rematch against Beyond Gaming.
“The first time around, PSG started off with a couple of weaker lanes and it was more about out-rotating Beyond Gaming. But the second time around, it was clear from the start that it was going to be a lane focus series,” he said. “Along with that, they were also able to throw in a couple of curveballs, like the Xerath pick in Game 3, which schematically was just really, really beautiful to see.”
While some might point out that PSG enter Worlds 2021 after potentially being exposed by rivals Beyond Gaming, Beyond Gaming also made PSG evolve.
Players to watch
PSG has an all-star lineup by PCS standards and proved it during MSI 2021. Now that bot laner Unified has been cleared to travel with no issues (unlike Worlds 2020), having their natural fifth player alongside them could very well factor into the team’s overall morale.
Nit3star said as much, since it is the team’s overall synergy (as well as their micro synergies like mid-jungle and bot lane) which plays a key factor into PSG’s overall playstyle and success. He did, however, mention support Kaiwing as PSG’s primary linchpin. No other support in the PCS could quite match up to his caliber of play.
“He hasn’t necessarily needed to showcase all of his talents in the PCS, but I think on the international stage, that’s where you get to see him shine,” Nit3star said. “I think a lot of teams are going to be forced to try and throw bans at him, picks like his Bard or Thresh, just because of how big of a playmaker he is when it comes to those later game teamfights and how he sets up the team.”
— LoL Esports (@lolesports) July 11, 2021
Unified, on the other hand, has had a monstrous season in terms of how well he plays his role within PSG. He is number one on the Kill/Death/Assists ratio board for both regular season (15.9) and playoffs (7.3) across all players, top three in statistics like experience difference and Creep Score difference at 10 minutes, damage per minute and so forth (per Oracle’s Elixir).
He plays most meta bot laners, like Ezreal or, more recently, Ziggs, but it is his Aphelios that is truly nutty. From PCS 2020 spring till now, Unified has played Aphelios 35 times. He has only lost twice. He remains undefeated on this champion in 2021. Nite3star says Unified’s style contrasts greatly to Doggo but PSG plays with full trust in his ability to carry.
“Doggo really sticks it to you and is in your face, he’s constantly looking for kills. Unified and Kaiwing’s focus are not nearly as hard on the lane,” he said. “Kaiwing would look to leave a lot earlier, looking make plays across map and open up River or Maple, while Unified’s job is really just to get as much farm as possible so when he gets to that first team fight, he’s just an absolute juggernaut.”
— PSG TALON (@PSG_Talon) July 17, 2021
The mid-jungle duo of Maple and River is also one to keep an eye on, since Maple favors roaming a lot to unlock his lanes or make cross map plays.
His aforementioned Xerath pocket pick was a welcome surprise, but his LeBlanc has been consistently banned out, and sometimes Zoe too. River has proven he can carry with his aggressive playstyle when given the resources on his favored champions, like Lee Sin or Diana, and his Viego has been a thing of terror as well. As a duo, Maple and River will be looking to take it to the best peers Worlds has to offer, just like at MSI.
How PSG Talon can succeed at Worlds 2021
At this point, the groups have already been drawn. PSG Talon, seeded into Pool 1 due to their great run of results this year, have been put in Group C with the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) second seed Fnatic and the LoL Pro League (LPL) third seed and MSI 2021 champions, Royal Never Give Up. PSG will no doubt relish the chance to face RNG again after they knocked them out in MSI, 3-1 in the semifinals. If Hanwha Life Esports makes it out of Play-Ins, they can only be drawn into Group C, too, which could complicate things.
— LoL Esports (@lolesports) September 22, 2021
While the narrative of a Taiwanese team hoisting the Summoner’s Cup is not unthinkable, that hasn’t happened since Season 2, almost a lifetime in esports years. Statistically speaking, PCS teams have never made the Knockout Stage, and the last time the old LMS had teams making it out of groups was in 2015 in the form of Flash Wolves and ahq eSports Club. To break this cycle in 2021, where PSG Talon have been in fine form, would be a monumental milestone for the region as a whole.
Nit3star believes PSG will continue on playing to their strengths as they did the finals where they’ve traditionally been very strong in overloading one side of the map, and is not worried due to how often they are put in high pressure situations.
“It comes down to making sure they get strong lanes, setting themselves up to be able to still make plays without sacrificing too much and adding a couple of curveball picks that Maple likes to do when it comes to international events. That’s the key to success for me,” Nit3star said. “This is a team that has been battle tested time and time again on the international stage. I feel like this could be the year that we see them take that next step and go beyond that first round of the bracket stage and hopefully, into the semifinals.”
Semifinals would be a dream for the team and the PCS as a whole, considering how many powerhouses are present in comparison to MSI 2021, such as the LPL and the LCK both sending four seeds each.
But the PCS is still a region that has a lot of growth ahead of it, especially with the pandemic still ongoing. For fans who might still not be sold on the PSG, Nite3tar leaves a final word for them.
“We have shown that we can compete with the best of the best from the major regions, and the international results speak for themselves here,” he said. “The fact that we were able to almost take it to RNG, who made it to the finals and whatnot, I think makes a lot of sense to put PSG Talon as a Pool 1 seed. Hopefully, they perform to standards and really live up to that Pool 1 seed, but I mean, you can’t possibly get worse than 0-6 TSM right?”
This article is part of an ongoing preview series of all 22 teams competing at Worlds 2021. For our complete release schedule and more information on the other 21 teams attending Worlds, check out Upcomer’s Worlds 2021 Outlook Series hub.