The eight best teams in South East Asia (SEA) will clash at the first Globe Conquerors Manila in Pasay, Philippines this week for a slot at the League of Legends World Championships in South Korea and a $250,000 prize pool.
The tournament -- regional LoL publisher Garena's conclusion to the inaugural SEA Tour -- will feature two teams from the Philippines (Mineski and ArkAngel), Thailand (Ascension Gaming and MEGA) and Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur Hunters and Team Anything), as well as a single representative from Singapore (Resurgence) and Indonesia (Bigetron Esports). A round-robin group stage kicks off the action from Aug. 13-17, with the top four proceeding to the live finals at the Mall of Asia Arena on Aug. 18-19.
While 2017's Worlds SEA qualifier at the Garena Pro League (GPL) Summer 2017 went lopsidedly in Vietnam's favor, the country's promotion to a standalone region makes the race much closer this time around. Each team competing has a legitimate shot at representing the region on the international stage, making for an exciting tournament to watch. Nonetheless, the top three seeds from GPL Spring 2018 remain frontrunners to take it all.
The big three
After missing out on Worlds last year by just one game, Ascension Gaming is back and better than ever. As the champion of GPL Spring 2018 and SEA's representative to the Mid-Season Invitational, all eyes are on the Thai powerhouse to succeed especially now that Vietnam is out of the picture.
Keep in mind however, that the Ascension Gaming attending Conquerors is not the one most fans are used to. Following a disappointing 1-3 record finish at Rift Rivals in early-July, the team imported Russian ADC Valentin "Niksars" Zimakov and shifted Juckkirsts "Lloyd" Kongubon to the jungle. Thankfully, this gamble seems to have paid off as shown in the team's perfect run in the Thai National Qualifiers.
Expect Ascension to make a deep run no matter what.
Kuala Lumpur Hunters
Fresh off a victory at Hyperplay Singapore earlier this month, the Kuala Lumpur Hunters is the only team at Conquerors who has played an official game as of late. While this does mean that momentum is on the side of Hunters, it also places a target on their backs and puts them at risk of being read by the competition in advance.
KLH is one of the more flexible teams in the mix. Opponents will have to consider mid laner Chan "ArrHedge" Roong Han's devastating carry potential, which he fully demonstrated by securing MVP honors at the Hyperplay finals. After that's dealt with, there remains the the threat of its dynamic botlane. The recent return of support Calvin "SOUPerior" Vern after a two-year hiatus has allowed Poon "OzoraVeki" Kok Sing to assume the ADC role -- his ability to play mages in addition to the standard marksmen makes the team difficult to draft against.
Will Mineski finally make it back to Worlds after five long years? That question, as well whether or not it was worth it to recruit Korean imports Bae "Gari" Yong-jun and Kwon "Jjun" Jun-seok, will be answered in a week's time. While it fell short of qualifying for the Mid Seasonal Invitational in March, its near-spotless record at Rift Rivals paints them as the best in the region heading into Conquerors.
Under the guidance of ex-EU Challenger Series coach JM "3Finger" Dualan, Mineski showed total dominance over the Philippine scene throughout 2018 with its aggressive, rotation-focused playstyle. It's inevitable that the bulk of its games will be fast-paced slugfests full of teamfights and in some cases, tense split push situations at the hands of top laner Lance "Kaigu" Hernandez. Prepare to hear lots of noise from the home crowd.
The rest of the pack
The top seeds will naturally be taking most of the spotlight, but that doesn't mean the rest of the pack can't contend. Each of the other five competitors has something going for them that, on a good day, could result in an upset or two.
Resurgence and ArkAngel in particular are dark horses that should not be counted out. The former has been on the upswing after bringing in Tan "Shinsekai" Yew Ming and Charles "Kra" Teo from rival Sovereign, essentially consolidating the country's best under one banner. The latter on the other hand, is an evolution of the iconic Manila Eagles roster that finished 4th at GPL Summer 2017 with star mid laner Robert "Trebor" Mansilungan still front and center.
SEA LoL Historian Peter Tingson contributed to the statistics and player database used in this report.