Worlds 2020 Play-In Team Preview: Breaking Down V3 Esports

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

We look at V3 Esports, their path to Worlds 2020, and how they might fare in the play-in stage.

As Worlds 2020 prepares to kick off on September 25, we need to preview some of the teams that fans of professional League of Legends might be a bit less familiar with. Today, we look at one of the play-in teams, V3 Esports.

Hailing from Japan’s LJL, V3 Esports overtook long-time Japanese overlords DetonatioN FocusMe (“DFM”) en route to their first LJL title and Worlds appearance. Now that they’ve made it to Worlds 2020, let’s take a look at who they are, how they got here, and how far they might go.

The Season

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V3 Esports has a history of being the bridesmaid, rather than the bride, in the LJL to DFM. After finishing in the runner-up spot to DFM in 2019 Summer, V3 came out in spring of 2020 to place third during the regular season before losing to the eventual runners-up in the semi-finals, DFM. It was Sengoku Gaming, the second seed out of the regular season, who came out atop the LJL in spring.

In the summer, though, things finally started to click for V3 Esports as they put together their best regular season in organization history. With a 12-2 record, V3 Esports entered the Summer Split Playoffs as the number one seed, passing directly through to the Second Round.

There, they handily beat the Spring Split champions, Sengoku Gaming, in four games before another rematch with DFM in the championship. In a tightly-contested championship series, it was V3 Esports who emerged victorious in a deciding fifth game on the back of strong play out of their jungler and ADC.

The Roster

Top Lane – Shirou “Paz” Sasaki

Paz has been much more of a stabilizing force than a carry threat for V3 Esports in 2020, with Ornn being his most-picked champion by far. In the LJL playoffs, though, he began to shift towards playing more Sion, with some solid results. In the finals against DFM he played Sion in two of their wins including the decisive Game 5.

Jungle – Lee “Bugi” Seong-yeop

Bugi might be the best jungler that no one else has heard of. He’s dominated the LJL by consistently getting massive leads and averaged a 9.35 KDA along with over 80% kill participation in the Summer Split. He’s most comfortable on carry picks like Nidalee, Graves, Lee Sin, and even Ekko, but in the playoffs he started to pull out a new pick in Lillia that we should expect to see at Worlds 2020.

Mid – Kotoji “Ace” Mugita

While Ace has been one of the more productive mid laners in terms of stats (he also averaged a KDA over 9.00 in the Summer Split), his champion pool is far more limited than Bugi’s. In 23 games between the regular season and playoffs, Bugi had 8 games on Leblanc and another 5 on Galio. Expect for that champ pool to get pinched by smarter teams in the play-in round.

ADC – Lee “Archer” Keun-hee

Lana. Lana. Lanaaaaaaaaaaa. Sorry, I had to do it.

Jokes aside, though, Archer is probably V3 Esports’ most important player after Bugi. He carries most of the load in terms of damage output (he averaged 600 DPM and 30.3% damage share in the regular season this summer) and has been the team’s best laner. The biggest issue that Archer has is that his champion pool is extremely limited. He’s basically an Aphelios one-trick, even though he has pulled out the Ashe and Kalista picks, with mixed results.

Support – Shin “Raina” Okubo

Raina is solid in terms of his KDA and kill participation, but one area where he really struggles is in vision control. His 2.47 VSPM is among the worst at Worlds and he is going to struggle to keep up with some of the better supports he’ll be facing in the play-in stage, like Mark and SaNTaS. With a champion pool primarily of engage supports and brawlers like Thresh, Nautilus, and Pantheon, we’ll see if Raina can step up to help V3 Esports to shock some teams.

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90/50/10 Predictions

90% odds that…V3 will not make it out of the play-in stage. As strong as I do think Bugi and Archer are, the rest of the line-up is considerably weak and they have a tough group of opponents that includes the LPL’s fourth seed and the Unicorns of Love.

50% odds that…V3 Esports will be the worst team in Group B of Worlds 2020 play-ins. Honestly, it’s between them and Rainbow7 and, while I’d lean Rainbow7 to end last, in a best-of-one format for groups it’s certainly possible that this team will flub a game or Rainbow7 will get lucky.

10% odds that…they win a round in the knockout stage. Honestly, that is their ceiling, unfortunately. In a best-case scenario, V3 would face PSG Talon in the first knock-out round and lose before getting trounced by whoever finished second in Group A (likely TL or MAD Lions).