The best League of Legends team from Japan is coming to America to hone their skills ahead of the upcoming International Wild Card Invitational in Istanbul, Turkey on April 24. It’s the first chance Japan has ever had to compete on the international stage in League, and they’re taking it seriously.
The region features the newest professional league for the game. It doesn’t have its own local server, though one is on the way in 2015. Japanese players must often play on the American server with 120 ping or higher, since you can’t get an account in Korea without an identification number.
It seems unlikely that a Japanese team could compete with regions like Brazil and Turkey, who both made a splash as wild cards during the 2014 World Championships. But Japan’s top team, DetonatioN FocusMe, which won the League of Legends Japan League (LJL) after posting an 8-2 record in the regular season, is a dark horse to advance.
They’ll bolster their chances with a trip to North America where they’ll stay at the Logitech headquarters in Silicon Valley and practice against top American squad Cloud9, a team also sponsored by Logitech. Both teams will be in-house on the company’s campus, giving them the ability to get valuable face-to-face practice.
The practice session will be held behind closed doors, though the team plans to release some of it in a production with LJL caster “eyes”.
Four of the Japanese players will make the trip. Top laner Keisuka “Bonzin” Oda, jungler Yuta “Astarore” Hiratsuka, mid laner Kyohei “Ceros” Yoshida, and support Kazuta “KazuXD” Suzuki will fly to the U.S. alongside manager Nobuyuki “LGraN” Umezaki. But the LJL season 1 MVP, Yuta “Yutapon” Sugiura, will stay in Japan until the wild card tournament in order to continue attending classes at college.
Japanese teams play a very AD carry centric style and no squad does it better than Detonation FocusMe with Yutapon, so his absence may make practice a little bit more difficult. But the players are used to playing with high pings due to often training on the American server. Yutapon himself has more recently tried his hand in Korea, somewhat difficult to do due to restrictions on acquiring accounts, where he’s reached Master rank.
Even with Yutapon staying home, a chance to play against top teams like Cloud9 and potentially Team SoloMid, who Detonation is currently courting as another scrim partner, will certainly boost their chances at the International Wild Card event.
The move is another step forward for a rapidly growing Japanese scene, which introduced its first pro-gaming house in Nov. 2014.
Just one team will advance from the Wild Card tournament and play at the Midseason Invitational in Tallahassee, Florida on May 7, where they will face the best team from each of Korea, China, North America, Europe, and Taiwan at the Midseason Invitational.
The favorites will likely be Brazil’s entrant, either Keyd Stars with their two imported Korean weapons Kang “DayDream” Kyung-min and Kim “Emperor” Jin-hyun, or INTZ e-Sports, who beat Keyd Stars in a tiebreaker to take top seed. The two play in 10 days to decide who will head to Turkey and face Japanese qualifiers Detonation FocusMe, Turkish qualifiers Beşiktaş e-Sports Club, and the winning team from each of Southeast Asia, Latin America, Oceania, and the CIS regions.
Screengrab via LJ League Official/YouTube