A Curious Journey Open Rounds Top 10 Players to Watch by @CasterBoulevard
Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of the Top 10 Players to Watch going into the Open Rounds! Blevins is away this time around so I, Boulevard, am going to be taking over for this one. Normally Blevins kicks these things off with inductions into his personal hall of fame, a hallowed ground I dare not tread into on my first top 10 list, but I do want to recap the names on that list so you don’t get confused when they’re not on mine; MajiinBae, eMOEtional, XxWhatAmIxX, Aikado, jtamonda, TheBlackBoss. As always this list is at least somewhat subjective, so if you feel like I missed someone, feel free to yell at Blevins on Twitter for putting me in charge!
If someone with more authority were here, there’s a good chance Lazyguga would have missed this list and made his way into the hall of fame instead. The Magic Misadventure Seasonal runner up is the most consistent Seasonal player on the America’s shard outside of the Big Three (Majiin, WhatAmI, BlackBoss) having 4 Seasonal tops to his name. One prediction I’ve made time and time again as we approach this Seasonal is that at least 3 decks that I have never seen before will make the top cut, and Lazy’s history leads me to believe he may just be the creator of one of those decks. The only reason he’s so low on this list is that he hasn’t shown up to many grassroots tournaments this season, which is a little odd to me given Lazy’s track record of being one of the more active competitors. If anyone’s earned a season of rest it’s him, but his ladder rank all but securing a 7-2 spot leads me to believe he’s aiming to maintain his hot streak of top 32s. You can find out more about Lazyguga in his player spotlight.
While we’re on the topic of long-standing Brazil legends, let’s talk Fight Night: Legend Trivo. Your memories from the beginning of this season may be a little hazy because it’s been going on since February, but in March Trivo was able to secure 4 consecutive invites to Fight Night: Legends Brazil. When he finally failed to requalify with a 3rd place finish, he moved over to the America’s Fight Night and promptly won the tournament. On top of that one metric, I’ve been watching closely are the Mastering Runeterra Road to Seasonal tournaments that started with patch 3.6 and have been running daily, a tournament series where Trivo boasts a 2nd and 3rd place finish. With a 7-2 record secured, Trivo’s a pretty safe bet for the weekend.
You may recognize team NNT as the home of the Magic Misadventure Seasonal trophy thanks to Elder Senior, and Nikejo has been doing everything they can as of late to prove they’re cut from the same cloth. While they’re the first person mentioned so far who will have to make a deep run with an 8-1 record, they’ve been getting a lot of practice lately in the South American grassroots scene, claiming 3 wins, a 2nd, and a 3rd place finish recently at various events. If they can make it this weekend it will be their first Seasonal top 32, but they’ve been putting in the work to make it happen. For the last month, they seem to have been sticking to the same lineup of Taliyah/Ziggs, Sun Disc, and Sivir/Akshan, so we’ll see if the power of the vast Shuriman desert is ready to repay them for their loyalty this weekend.
Our #1 prospect from the Magic Misadventure top 10 players to watch makes their return at #7, mostly due to a very quiet season out of 4LW compared to the last. 4LW was on an absolute tear leading into the previous event, and this season has a few scattered top cuts across various events, most recently a MR Road to Seasonal event. Again, I want to reiterate that I’m expecting multiple never before seen decks to top this weekend, and 4LW’s Midas touch is second to none. While he’s clung to his love of Shadow Isles Ezreal with Sentinel Control and is still rocking his latest creative success in Aphelios/Lux, 4LW’s latest showing rounded out his lineup with Akshan/Nasus Shadow Isles. Whether he’s going to run that back at the Seasonal or make something entirely new is a mystery to me, but you can read more about 4LW’s history in his player spotlight.
If you’re GrandpaRoji and you’re reading this and wondering why your deck isn’t Taliyah/Malphite, let me explain: for starters, I know you’re going to bring Taliyah, but if you choose the Ziggs route over Malphite I’m gonna look silly. Also you did this to yourself ‘cause Sun Disc is what I inspected off your ladder profile, so, yeah. It’s no secret that Roji has an affinity for both Taliyah and Pantheon, both of which are very well suited in the current metagame, which can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. I’m not sure how much the matchup charts of Taliyah/Malphite and Taliyah/Ziggs overlap, but there’s a chance that Roji’s affinity for these decks backfires as the general field looks to counter them. This paired with not having a 7-2 seeding means this could just be an unfortunate Seasonal for the pseudo-one trick, but I believe in Roji’s knowledge of his favorite decks enough to include him on this list and cheer him on as he shoots for his first Seasonal top.
I’d have to have a very good reason not to include the current rank 1 player (at the time of writing anyway, he’s only rank 1 by 1lp) and I certainly don’t have one this time around. While I’d like to believe that Kevor will be the savior of Targon Lee Sin’s 100% top rate at the Seasonals, it’s not looking likely as the Mastering Runeterra Pro Team’s anchor has been on his A-game lately and spearheading the success of Afaelios instead. Now it might seem strange that he couldn’t crack the top 3, but deja-vu wouldn’t let me put him any higher. Last season Kevor finished rank 1 while being the poster boy for Ahri/Kennen Go Hard, but couldn’t crack into the top 32. This season he’s poised for a rank 1 finish while again being something of a poster boy for arguably the best deck. It’s not that I don’t believe in him, it’s just, you know, fool me once. The difference this time though, as mentioned in a recent player spotlight about Kevor, is that he’s been full force from the start of the season.
“I feel like a lot of people see me as a good player but not one of the best” were the words Floppy chose to say to the world during his Magic Misadventure top 32 interview, and since then he’s done a lot to prove he’s one of the best. Fresh off of a Seasonal top 4 Floppy went on to break a few Fight Night records earlier this season, now boasting the title of “most winningest Fight Night player” with 6 1st place finishes. And even on the nights he didn’t win, he was nabbing 2nd places for his invite back, letting him play in every Fight Night that happened during patch 3.4. Now Floppy’s been pretty quiet since the start of April, likely hard at work testing, a not uncommon routine for him that you can read more about in his player profile from last year.
Here in my player to watch article Prodigy finally gets to steal rank 3 from Floppy, though admittedly Prodigy was a snap top 5 pick for me before I found out their ladder rank. I mentioned the close eye I’m keeping on the MR Road to Seasonal tournaments, and it was there that Prodigy caught my eye with a 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place finish all with an ever-evolving Shurima Viego list. Now today when I went and checked the stats Shurima Veigo had taken over as the most played ladder deck with nearly 2000 more games played than the #2 deck, Taliyah/Ziggs. While the Road to Seasonals tournament has had a few “flavor of the day” decks that had a solid 48-hour run, Shurima Viego and Prodigy have proven they’re not a fluke. With a mastery of the most popular ladder deck and a 7-2 seeding at his disposal, Prodigy is looking to claim his 3rd top cut of the Bandlewood cycle.
Last Season you may remember team Ninetails as “those players who took up 10% of the top cut and won the event”, and one of those players was Maitri. Much like Prodigy, Matiri has an affinity for Viego and used it to win back-to-back iterations of the Online League Series last month with Kindred/Viego Ionia each time. Maitri has proven themselves to be one of the best control players on the market, and when we look at the at the sea of 1-ofs that keep topping each grassroots event we’re seeing a lot of different control decks floating around, giving Maitri a lot of decks in their arsenal to choose from. But just because Maitri’s good with control doesn’t mean they’re pigeonholed to it; not only did they top the Magic Misadventure Seasonal with Yordles in Arms and Lee Sin (ok, and Viego), but they’ve been climbing the ladder with Teemo/Tristana Fae. While it’s a bit of a mystery whether or not they’ll end the season with 7-2 seeding, one thing that’s not being called into question is their preparation, as Maitri boasts 5 different tournament wins over the last month. If you’re a control fanatic, this is your champion.
My #1 pick, unsurprisingly, is a member of Team Hydra. While Maitri’s 5 tournament wins are impressive, it’s a feat that’s slightly outdone by Dudu De Nunu’s 6 recent victories. 2 iterations of the Mystic Shot Podcast tournament, Jornado Do Sazonal, MR Road to Seasonals, and 2 Runescola Open Series have all fallen before Team Hydra’s chosen hero to exact revenge on Team Ninetails. As far as deck and play style choices, my #1 pick contrasts my #2 quite heavily by being a rather Demacia-oriented player. While Dudu is very likely to bring Pantheon along with hundreds of other players, it’s likely he’ll take any chance he can to slip a Petricite Broadwing deck into the lineup as well. With well known innovators like 4LW and Lazyguga backing this younger talent, it’s not out of the question to get our HDR vs NNT runback.
And that’s it for the Top Players to Watch this time around. Make sure to tune in to twitch.tv/Giantslayerlor this weekend to catch all of the action of the Open Rounds and follow our Twitter for all of the stuff we’re doing in LoR. I’ll see you all again for the Top 32 Power Rankings next week!