A spot in the 2023 League of Legends World Championship Swiss Stage is within PSG Talon’s grasp following their victory over LOUD in Play-Ins. Crossing paths once again after initially facing off in MSI, LOUD opened the series on equal footing with their adversaries, but as the tie transpired, it was the reigning PCS champions who flexed their muscles, going on to close the series 2-0 and advance to the knockout phase of Play-Ins. It is there where they must play and win a single best-of-five series to advance to the Swiss Stage.
Following PSG’s victory over LOUD, BLIX talked to mid-laner Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang about how the team manufactured the result, how he looks back on his time playing for TSM in North America, where he views the level of PCS compared to other regions and more.
Pedro Romero, BLIX: First off, congrats on that series win against LOUD. I want to cover your thoughts on facing LOUD given that it's a team you guys are familiar with back in MSI.
Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang: Although I didn't join PSG when the teams faced each other in MSI, I did watch their VODs and as long as we can play our own game, it's not hard for us to beat them.
BLIX: There was a bit of a struggle in Game 1 before the series snowballed to your favor. What kind of difficulties that you and the team experience from LOUD in that series in particular?
Maple: I think there were two issues we faced in Game 1. First, we failed to protect our Gnar and let him die. He got doved on in level three so that put him behind and left him having a rough early game. The second difficulty we faced was when the second Rift Heralded respawned. Me and my jungler got smacked by their top laner, so we failed to control the second Rift Herald so our early-game tempo was stopped by them.
BLIX: Despite the struggles that you encountered, you guys were able to to overcome them and are within one series went away from progressing to the Swiss Stage. You have a few days to wait before you find out who the team you'll face. Who do you view as your likely opponent for the chance to advance to the Swiss Stage on the line?
Maple: I think BDS is seen as the strongest opponent, in my opinion. Although they lost to Team Whales and showed that they had some troubles or something they need to improve on, I still think they are strong opponents, and I think we will face them in the knockout stage.
Looking back on TSM
BLIX: Taking a look at yourself, you rejoined PSG Talon in the middle of the year after playing with TSM for the first half of the season. How has it been for you to readjust to playing back in the PCS after spending some time in TSM and being in North America?
Maple: As long as there's no language barrier, I think I can fit into every team, so there weren't too many problems. Also, JunJia [Yu Chun-Chia] and I used to duo-queue Korean solo-queue, so we were quite familiar with each other.
BLIX: Sticking with your time in North America, now that you’ve been able to spend some time playing with your new team, what do you think was the biggest takeaway that you've had from that experience that you've now put into use with PSG at this moment in time?
Maple: I learned a lot of things from my experience in North America. First of all, my English improved a lot. I couldn't listen or understand any of the English before I went to NA and right now, I think I'm quite okay in terms of English. And also, I had a really fun time when I was in TSM and all of my teammates were very nice people.
Comparing the PCS with other regions
BLIX: It's because of that you've been able to gain a unique perspective regarding the play in NA compared to the PCS. How do you view the difference right now in terms of gameplay and the like between the LCS and PCS?
Maple: In terms of play style, there are a lot of level one or early-game shenanigans in LCS, but for the PCS, we just learned from the LCK and LPL and just try to copy them and learn from them.
BLIX: Taking another crack at your career, you were previously with PSG two years ago in Worlds. I'm curious to know how you have viewed the level of progression of the PCS relative to other regions from that point up to now. Has it grown, has it stayed the same, has it regressed? Where do you see that?
Maple: Compared to 2021, I think the strong teams in PCS (like BYG, J-Team and us) improved a lot because of the joining of players like Betty [Lu Yu-Hung] and ShiauC [Liu Chia-Hao] from the LPL. They really help the region become better. But for the latter teams, like the ninth and tenth-placed teams, they're still the same, and they're still not very good.
BLIX: That said, how do you see the gap between the PCS and the major leagues such as LPL and LCK?
Maple: As I said earlier, I think the PCS learned from the LCK and LPL a lot, but the major difference between us and them was, individual-wise, we can't help but make a lot of mistakes, but in the other leagues, that doesn't happen so once the mistakes stop happening, the game slows down and the snowball stops rolling so that's a major difference between us PCS and them.
BLIX: One final question. It's similar to the previous one, but for this time, how do you view the difference between the PCS and the Western teams in LCS and LEC?
Maple: The LEC is a very unpredictable region. They have a lot of cards to show in the draft and they also have a lot of different strategies so it's hard to predict and hard to adjust facing them. For LCS teams, their second and first-place teams are really strong individually and as a team. Their playstyle is a little bit close to the LCK teams and we have scrimmed with an LCS team recently and I think they're really good.