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With the 2022 League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational on the horizon, the Vietnam Championship Series’ Saigon Buffalo are one of 11 regional representatives from around the world that are getting ready for the biggest international event of the spring. While MSI 2022 isn’t the final stop for the season, the tournament is key for seeing where each region stands in the global hierarchy.

Although they didn’t win the 2022 VCS spring season, Saigon Buffalo are still heading to MSI as the Vietnam representatives in the VCS’s first international appearance since 2019 with a completely new team.

T1 (LCK) MSI 2022 starting roster breakdown:

  • Top: Lâm “Hasmed” Huỳnh Gia Huy | Signed in 2018.
  • Jungle: Trần “Bean J” Văn Chính | Signed in November 2020.
  • Mid: Bùi “Froggy” Văn Minh Hải| Signed in May 2020.
  • Bot: Nguyễn “Shogun” Văn Huy | Signed in May 2021.
  • Support: Đinh “Taki” Anh Tài | Signed in November 2020.

How they got here

This Buffalo team is a lot different than their 2019 version, back when they still carried the Phong Vũ Buffalo name. Now a couple of years removed from their MSI 2019 campaign, where they famously beat G2 twice, this version of the team has a completely different roster.

All five of these players have only played for Saigon Buffalo and no other organization. The first outing with all of these players competing together came during the 2021 VCS Winter split, where the team failed to reach the playoffs after finishing 6-8. However, with Saigon Buffalo in the playoff race until the final week of the regular season, the organization decided to run the same roster back in the 2022 VCS spring split.

With the roster finally getting time to mesh together, SGB played much better in the spring season. They hovered in the top three for a majority of the season and finished the regular season with a 9-5 record, which was good enough for the second seed entering playoffs.

The team that finished first was GAM Esports, who finished with a perfect 14-0 record in series and a 28-2 game record. After beating Team Secret in the semifinals 3-2, SGB found themselves against GAM in the VCS final. SGB showed GAM could bleed by taking a game, but ultimately GAM won the series 3-1, which ended SGB’s successful spring split.

However, thanks to GAM winning the Vietnam qualifier for the SEA Games, they forfeited their spot at MSI 2022 due to their obligations to compete in that event instead. Their MSI 2022 spot went to the 2022 VCS spring runner-ups, which happen to be SGB.

Players to watch

In a metagame were the carry is in the bot or mid lane, SGB’s main carry lies in the jungle. BeanJ sat at the top of the MVP standings with 10 player of the game honors, which is nearly half of SGB’s total game wins. According to Oracleselixer.com, BeanJ led all junglers in kill share percentage and had a kill total of 166. The next closest jungler had only 143. His three most played junglers in the 2022 VCS spring split were Lee Sin, Viego and Hecarim who are all carry style junglers.

The other main carry on the team is their bot laner, Shogun — though he is more like a shotgun with a lot of kickback. Shogun led all players in the VCS in kills with 196, but he was also in the top three bot laners in deaths with 101. He also led all bot laners in damage per minute. Shogun plays loose and can spiral out of control either in a good or bad way.

Both of these players, BeanJ and Shogun, are vital to SGB’s chances at MSI 2022.

How Saigon Buffalo can succeed at MSI 2022

In 2019, the VCS was seen as one of, if not the best wild card region. However, a lot has changed since the pandemic started.

Saigon Buffalo’s group at MSI 2022 is scary. Not only must they face arguably the best version of T1 ever, they also have to play against DetonatioN FocusMe, the new wild card region darling. Saigon Buffalo have their work cut out for them if they even want to get out of the group.

For SGB to have a successful MSI, they are going to have to win multiple times against DFM. That isn’t impossible, but this team of young unproven players are going to have to play like veterans to do so. If SGB can rise up to the occasion, and if DFM falters, SGB could put the VCS right back on the map as the premier wild card region.