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Player Spotlight: Kochua

If you tuned into the Beyond the Bandlewood Seasonal broadcast or checked out the Giant Slayer power rankings prior to the event, you may have noticed that Legends of Runeterra caster extraordinaire Blevins did a great job on both counts. Just excellent work. You also may have heard him mention through either medium that I slid into his DMs the week leading into the top 32 to tell him about Kochua, a player that I was hyping up to just about anyone who would listen to me. While he didn’t win that Seasonal like I told everyone he would, he did get 2nd place in a finale that will go down in history as one of the most hotly talked about turns in all of Legends of Runeterra.

I’ve written quite a few of these spotlights at this point, But up until recently, I was always writing about players who were qualified for Worlds already, meaning I caught them after their success. Kochua was one of the first players I got to witness the rise of first hand as he made his competitive debut at the Online League Series #29 in July. He came into the event with a lineup not meant to turn any heads with Lee Sin, Sivir Ionia, and Discard Aggro. While it wasn’t quite a standard lineup with Discard seemingly out of place, it didn’t really raise any eyebrows either. Mr eMOEtional went on to steal the show at the Seasonal so I didn’t get to check on where Kochua finished (if he even played), but as soon as the Seasonal was over Kochua was back at the OLS with another 2nd place finish during the opening weekend of Beyond the Bandlewood. He continued to impress and stayed at the top of the OLS scene leading into the Seasonal where he would of course fight his way to a 2nd place finish. While he’s played a variety of decks over his short time in Runeterra, he seems to have taken a particular liking to Sivir/Akshan, piloting the Ionia version in his debut and continuing with the Demacia version after the nerfs. Recently, he’s double-downed on the Demacia side of things and has consistently brought multiple rally decks in most of his lineups.

His quick rise to fame isn’t totally out of left field either. While a lot of the Runeterra crowd is on the younger side and may not have much in the way of a competitive background, Kochua is a member of Team Aretuza as a Gwent competitor, a game in which he became the Wild Hunt #2 Champion. Team Aretuza has a number of strong LoR players on its roster as well, and Sergi2Vamos seems to be the one Kochua tests with the most often. Before his 2nd place run at the Beyond the Bandlewood Seasonal, Sergi had taken the same lineup to a top 8 finish in the EU event. Sergi is undoubtedly one of the best players in Europe, and with Kochua quickly rising through the ranks in AM, it appears the duo is on its way to taking over the LoR scene completely. Of course, we’re still a little early in Kochua’s career, but there haven’t been many more explosive starts.

While I’ve called attention to him in the past and he’s already achieved a level of success that some people dream of, Kochua is still very much a star on the rise. Consistency is a major factor in having staying power within a CCG, and one 2nd place finish at a Seasonal does not a legacy make. With very little social media presence to speak of, it’s going to take consistent large results to give him staying power in the mind of your average Runeterra viewer. While I’m sure he’s got a bright future ahead of him, his time in LoR is as short-lived as Sivir’s dominance in the meta. Given that nearly all of his tops contained Sivir somewhere in the lineup, I am rather curious what he’ll land on when the deck eventually falls out of favor. Will he continue to lean into rallys, or simply whatever is best at the time? Will we finally get some insight into the kinds of decks he prefers? There are so many questions surrounding him still, and I for one am excited to simply sit back and watch what he accomplishes (and what he accomplishes it with) in 2022.

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