Worlds 2020: Top 10 Players from Wildcard Regions to Watch

Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games.
Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games. /

With Worlds 2020 approaching, we look at some less-known players from wildcard regions that could make a splash at the tournament.

Worlds 2020 nears with the group draws scheduled for September 15. Before we can even get into predicting who will end up atop each group and who is likely to get out of the group stage, we have the play-ins. Though the format is slightly different this year (two groups of five teams rather than the traditional four groups of four), this will be our first action of Worlds featuring wildcard teams going up against the bottom-tier teams from the major regions.

Though fans may write off these teams as easy wins for the major region teams, every year there are a few teams and players who shine in their appearance on the world stage. Last year, fans saw players like Closer, Fofo, and Destiny turn a strong performance into contracts in a major region the following year. Here are ten players from wildcard regions who could shock fans and make a new for themselves at Worlds!

1. Lee “Bugi” Seong-yeop (Jungle, V3 Esports)

In analyzing the stats and VODs of players we would see from wildcard regions at Worlds 2020, Bugi jumped off the page immediately. Coming from Japan’s V3 Esports, the team defeated long-time LJL giants DetonatioN FocusMe to earn their spot at Worlds 2020 largely on the back of their jungler.

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Bugi is a ridiculously talented jungler who averaged over 80% kill participation in the LJL regular season and playoffs and is one of only three junglers in the world to have an adjusted GPM over 400. He’s also currently almost 800 LP Challenger on the Korean server and, according to TrackingthePros, he plays most of the meta junglers. Expect to see him make a big splash at Worlds and be a highly-sought free agent.

2. Lev “Nomanz” Yakshin (Mid Lane, Unicorns of Love)

I was high on the Nomanz hype train last year and both he and his team were impressive, managing to push Splyce to the brink of elimination in the play-in round before losing in five games. Nomanz has a very wide champion pool and he can play almost every mid lane champion at a high level, but his most deadly pick this year has probably been his Azir. He also hit over 700 LP Challenger on EUW this year.

3. Aleksandr “SaNTaS” Lifashin (Support, Unicorns of Love)

Joining his teammate Nomanz on this list is SaNTaS, who was one of the strongest laning supports in the LCL region along with his lane partner Gadget. SaNTas seems to have an affinity for engage supports like Nautilus and Thresh, but he’s also known to onto defensive tanks like Tahm Kench and Taric.

4. Jonah “Isles” Rosario (Support, Legacy Esports)

The first player on this list from Oceania, Isles was one of the best supports coming out of the OPL this season. He has a very diverse champion pool, with 12 different champions played during the 21-game season, and posting some of the best KDA numbers (including averaging over 9 assists per game) of all supports regardless of region.

5. Lee “Archer” Keun-hee (ADC, V3 Esports)

The main carry for V3 Esports (though he’s not necessarily their best player) is their ADC Archer, who posted a ridiculous 600 damage per minute and 30.3% damage share during the regular season. Archer is a bit atypical for his champion pool among ADCs at Worlds 2020 in that he has continued to play Aphelios in the LJL summer season and playoffs even as the champion was nerfed and fell out of the meta. It makes sense, though, as it’s clearly one of his best champions.

6. No “SnowFlower” Hoi-jong (Support, Papara SuperMassive)

SuperMassive is a team that is stacked with veteran talent, including names like KaKAO and TCL legends Armut, Bolulu, and Zeitnot, but among them all the former KT Rolster support has stood out. Not only has he been solid in terms of laning and vision control, but SnowFlower is tops among supports in terms of gold counts. Like SaNTaS, he is a bit limited in terms of being limited to engage supports in his champion pool, but he has shown the ability to move to new supports by picking up Sett and Pantheon this season.

7. Quin “Raes” Korebrits (ADC, Legacy Esports)

Certainly benefitting from his strong bot lane partner, Raes has been a strong contributor in his own right as Legacy’s main carry. He’s shown a great flexibility in his champion pool, able to pick up meta supports like Caitlyn and Ashe but also being able to play some off-meta picks like Ziggs bot.

8. Kim “Topoon” Ji-hoon (Top, Legacy Esports)

A man with a veritable champion ocean (he played 11 unique champions in 21 games in the OPL and only one had a KDA under 2.00), Topoon is going to be a player to watch out for in the play-in stage. Although his KDA and damage stats aren’t very flashy, he is one of the best laners we might see from the wildcard regions. He averaged over 1100 gold, 800 experience, and 18 CS advantages at 15 minutes in the OPL, dominating other top laners.

9. Facundo “Shadow” Cuello (Support, Rainbow7)

Although he might confuse some casters if Rainbow7 draws into the same group as MAD Lions, as he shares a name with their star jungler, this Shadow has proven to be more-than-capable at making a name for himself. The young Argentinian is one of the strongest-laning supports in the LLA and has particularly excelled on enchanters like Karma and Bard (but he can pull out the Thresh or Nautilus if he wants).

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10. Ilya “Gadget” Makavchuk (ADC, Unicorns of Love)

The other half of the bot lane duo with SaNTaS, Gadget has made his mark in the CIS region based on his deep champion pool, playing nine champions in 12 games during the summer. Gadget is making his first appearance at Worlds, but I expect that he will be one of the standouts of the play-in stage.