Inven Global Awards: The best minor region players of 2021 (nominees)

 

Worlds 2021 has been a literal record-breaking year for minor region teams. Between Detonation FocusMe’s run to the Worlds Group Stage and PSG Talon’s semifinal MSI finish, it’s been a great year for minor region players. However, there are a few players that stand above the rest.

 

Today, we look at the five players nominated for the "Best minor region player" (a.k.a. any player not from the LEC, LCS, LCK, or LPL) for the Inven Global Awards. Fans can also vote for the player who they think deserves it the most, and the player with the most votes will receive the IGA Community Award.

Lee "Aria" Ga-eul

Aria’s the only player on this list who didn’t touch PSG Talon this year, nor was he on a team that made semifinals. That said, he really stood out. While other Detonation FocusMe members like Evi and Yutapon had their moments, Aria’s performance almost single-handedly carried DFM’s international matches this year. Especially at Worlds.

It’s really hard to top solo killing Faker as a relatively unknown minor region player. Additionally, Aria’s playstyle is almost the polar opposite of Maple’s. Aria usually sticks to long-range control and burst mages that can carry late game with high damage output from a distance. Aria rarely died, even in the games where the rest of DFM got stomped. Aria was head and shoulders above anyone else in Japan, and, considering KT Rolster just signed him for their 2022 roster, Aria has a bright future ahead of him.

Chiu "Doggo" Tzu-Chuan

Doggo first entered the spotlight as a question mark for PSG Talon. He started MSI as an unproven replacement for Wong “Unified” Chun Kit, PSG’s starting ADC, and left Iceland as one of the most surprising players in the tournament. Even as a loaned-out player, he carried PSG Talon through the late game.

 

A mix of strong lane presence, good farm, and impeccable positioning made Doggo such a massive problem for any team he was against. Doggo boasted a 6.11 KDA at MSI and a 5.46 KDA at Worlds despite the Maoan match-fixing scandal gutting Beyond Gaming. KDA isn’t everything, but it’s a stat that reflects just how much impact Doggo has on the map as well as how difficult he is to deal with. Hopefully, he moves on to bigger and better things in 2022.

Ling "Kaiwing" Kai Wing

It’s relatively rare for support players to stand out the way Kaiwing has, but he well and truly earned his spot. Kaiwing was able to easily match the 2021 meta of fast rotations, and adapt to Worlds-specific flavor picks like Yuumi and Braum. He doesn’t hesitate to commit everything he has if there’s a fight to be had. He’s quick on his feet, and his aggressive playstyle set the pace in almost all of PSG Talon’s matches.

 

While mechanics aren’t necessarily the most relevant skill when it comes to playing support Champions, Kaiwing had enough faith in his mechanics to go for plays most other supports may not have. It’s rare to see so many Leona ults go out with next to no setup, but Kaiwing is the kind of player who would rather try to find an engagement and fail than walk away with nothing at all. Truly a world-class support player.

Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang

Maple is a minor region player in the same way Rekkles is now. He may be in a minor region now, but he’s proven himself to be a good player on the Chinese teams Suning (2019) and LNG (2020). While he wasn’t able to find his footing in the LPL (despite solid individual performance), his transition to the PCS made him a mid lane star. PSG Talon was the minor region dream team that could elevate Maple to new heights, and he’s never had as much success as he had with PSG this year.

 

Because of how rotation-focused the rest of PSG is, Maple can get away with acting like a star player. He excels on mobile, close-range champions like Sylas, Akali, and Leblanc. Maple isn’t the sort of player that will remain passive and look for farm leads, he’s going to look for the smallest mistakes from the enemy and capitalize on them. His playstyle is fun to watch, and the results don’t lie. Maple is better than most mid laners, even in major regions.

Kim "River" Dong-woo

PSG Talon often won games off the back of their strong teamfighting and rotations, and River was always an active participant when there was a fight on the map. From his affinity for the short-lived MSI meta junglers like Morgana and Rumble to running Teleport/Smite Talon at Worlds, River found a way to make his playstyle shine through despite rapid meta changes. 

 

While it’s rare that River finds a big farm advantage, he wins by playing off of the advantage he gets for his team. This playstyle often allowed River to punch up and win games against junglers with better macro play by getting his team so far ahead that his inferior farm didn’t matter. River’s recent acquisition by Dignitas should give him an environment that allows him to hone and refine his already effective teamfight playstyle.

Honorable mention: Wong "Unified" Chun Kit

Unified didn't quite make the list, but he's surely worth a mention. He was a big contributor to PSG Talon's 18-0 regular season record, and his late-game focused playstyle helped close out the games Maple didn't carry. He's a strong player, and one of many examples of PCS talent.

 

More from the Inven Global Awards

Best top laner
Best jungler
Best mid laner 
Best ADC 
Best support
Best rookie 
Best minor region player
Player of the year (Dec. 13)
Best coaching staff (Dec. 14)
Best play-by-play caster (Dec. 15)
Best color caster (Dec. 16)
Best story of the year (Dec. 17)
Biggest controversy of the year (Dec. 18)
Best in-game moment (Dec. 19)
Best content piece or series (Dec. 20)
Off-season winner (Dec. 21)

 

Awards announcement: Player categories (Dec. 29)
Awards announcement: Caster and community categories (Dec. 30)


Inven Global Awards panelists:

Nick Geracie /// @NickGeracie
Daniel "Quest" Kwon /// @LoLQuestKR
David "Viion" Jang /// @David_Viion
John "OddBall" Popko /// @OddballCreator
Kim "Haao" Byung-ho /// @Inven_Haao
Jang "Irro" Min-young
Carver Fisher /// @Carver_Fisher
Josh Tyler /// @joshtyler
Andre Gonzalez Rodriguez /// @Vulv_
Tom Matthiesen /// @TomMatthiesen
Adel Chouadria /// @AdelChouadria
Yohan Markov /// @Esports_Person

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