2022 LPL Spring champion Royal Never Give Up came into the Mid-Season Invitational as the defending champions of the tournament, and so far, have delivered on any hype that might have accompanied to the event. RNG stands tall as the 1st place team in Group B with a record of 3-0 before the start of the second round-robin of the group stage of MSI 2022.
After Royal Never Give Up's second victory of MSI 2022, mid laner Li "Xiaohu" Yuan-Hao spoke to Inven Global with the help of translator Wendi Shi about his team's performance at the tournament thus far, what he learned as a top laner in 2021, and who he thinks round out the top 3 teams at MSI alongside RNG and LCK champion T1.
RNG is one of the few undefeated teams at MSI as of now. How are you feeling about your team's play on the international stage thus far?
I think that in the group stage, the competitiveness may not be that high, but overall, it feels like our whole team is on a high note. We have very good momentum.
Your match against PSG Talon featured Huang "Azhi" Shang-Chi starting in the top lane instead of their usual starter Su "Hanabi" Chia-Hsiang. Did you expect this substitution, and how did it change your approach against this opponent?
To be honest, we didn't expect the opponent to make this change because we felt Hanabi played really well in the PCS Spring Playoffs. However, I don't think it changed a lot for us in terms of ban/pick or in the game. I don't think we were affected by it.
This is your first international tournament after swapping back to the mid lane. Do you think playing top lane in 2021 helped you improve as a player or gain a different perspective on competitive play now that you've returned to your original role?
I must say that last year was a very exciting and new experience for me. I really learned a lot as a top laner and I think I may have adopted some new playstyles based on that. I have learned some of the angles to make hard engages for teamfights in those games, so I think that experience can really help me make improvements as a mid laner throughout this year.
The general consensus is that T1 and RNG are the two best teams at MSI 2022. Who would you say is the next closest team that would round out the top 3?
*Laughs* In favor of the rule of equality and fairness, I'd choose G2. I think they have performed decently.
Do you feel any extra pressure to perform at this tournament given the fact that RNG are the defending champions at MSI?
I played with the team as a top laner last year. This year, I switched back to mid lane, so I don't feel much pressure on my shoulders. I think I have a very good understanding of mid lane and mastery of the champions that can be good picks in the current meta. Because of these factors, I can have a very confident mindset going into every single game. I'm looking forward to playing more games at MSI 2022.
How do you compare RNG from last year to this year?
Last year, especially the spring season when I just made the change to top lane, I didn't have much experience with the laning details. Our junger needed to help me a lot, like making more top ganks to allow us to open the situation. However, this year, every laner can be quite dominant in the laning phase, so Wei can have more choices in the actual game depending on our draft, playstyle or in-game situation. Thus, we can be a multi-carry team this year.
Thanks for the interview, Xiaohu. Is there anything you want to say to the RNG fans?
As the captain of RNG, I really appreciate all of the support from the overseas fans. I must say that I'm especially excited to see the Western fans in the future because they have a passionate audience and have shown us that passion before based on my previous competitive experience. I would really like a chance in the future to play in the studio and experience the calls and yelling from the Western audience. Thank you all.
All images by: Riot Games