Giant Slayer


The Road to Worlds: Iannogueira Player Profile

During last week's spotlight, we took a look at Random7HS, a lone wolf Deep aficionado whose success is usually tied to the viability of the decks he enjoys playing. Random was the runner up at the most recent seasonal, Empires of the Ascended. This week, we’re looking at someone who might run in contrast to every tag we’ve attached to Random; the Cosmic Creation seasonal runner up, Iannogueira. We once again look to last summer for the humble beginnings of the player who would go on to list “LoR player” as their profession on their seasonal player card. While Iannogueira didn’t have any breakout wins that put them on the map, they did perform consistently across the bevy of grassroots tournaments that were happening at the time, and got really good at something more important than winning: the power of friendship.

If you’ve ever been on a TCG team yourself, you’ve almost certainly been asked by one of your non-card game friends what the purpose of being on a team is if you’re playing a 1 vs 1 game. The general rule of thumb is that those are your testing partners so you have a group of people who can help you improve your play, or keep the spicy deck you’re testing under wraps while you hone it against the meta. Teams in card games are an important part of community building, but they also do a great job at honing individual talent for players who thrive in an environment like that. And so in April of 2020 some of Brazil’s very best players - and Nolagold - formed Team IQ. During the time period that Team IQ was active, nearly every player on it was in contention for the subjective title of “best player in Brazil”, and many still are today. The team had an absolutely star studded roster of household names like 4LW, Yangzera, TheBlackBoss, Sudrakon, and others. In August Iannogueira would go on to claim a Fight Night title over BBG and then 3 short days later, win another tournament the night Call of the Mountain was released. While his lineup of Leona/Asol/Bilgewater, Swain/Trundle, and Lulu/Shen wouldn’t necessarily go on to define the meta, Ian was a central point for tournament analysts like myself in landscaping the opening weekend meta.

But not everything is built to last, and when Team IQ disbanded, Iannogueira would find a new home on Team Sultans. While I’m not as well versed in the history of the Sultans, I can tell you for certain that they are the best LoR team in Brazil. Just this week the team picked up their 3rd consecutive Liga Brasileira de Legends of Runeterra (LBR) title, a 10 team league that runs over the course of a few weeks, culminating in a playoff of the top 4 teams. After falling to Team Hydra in the finals of LBR 3, the Sultans have won back to back to back LBRs, taking down powerhouse competition like Team Haze, The Madmen, and most recently Team Mafia in each respective finals. And while it is a team event, Iannogueira has been awarded the League MVP award in the past for his contribution to the team’s point total and overall success. He’s constantly one of the players Sultans sends not only into the finals, but into their semi-finals matches as well (each team is 10 players but only fields 4 players for the semis/finals). Individually, he has been having a stellar performance throughout the grassroot scene as well, plus qualifying for the World Championship with his 2nd place finish in the Cosmic Creation seasonal.

So how does a player not only earn the trust of his teammates, but continue to live up to the expectations? Part of it is certainly Ian’s deck flexibility. While there’s a near 100% chance you’ll find Draven/Ezreal in any given Iannogueira lineup, he tends to switch between aggro and midrange decks pretty freely. Given the way that Runeterra meta’s play out there tends to be a lot of these to choose from in order to spike out the rest of the meta, and even lately Ian has been able to continuously find success with Draven/Ezreal + 2. While there’s still a ways to go before Worlds, Ian’s signature deck is one that's been around at relatively the same power level for quite some time, and doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere between now and then. Of course even if it does, Ian has put up results with over 10 different decks this year alone, giving him plenty to choose from should he need to make a replacement. While Iannogueira is currently the only player from Brazil that is qualified, it’s a matter of ‘when’ and ‘how many’ of his countrymen will be joining him, not ‘if’. Come September I feel bad for anyone whose playoff chances require beating a member of Team Brazil, as almost nothing in all of Runeterra is as scary as a team with Iannogueira on it.

Tagged: esports
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