After finishing second in their group and making it out of the Worlds 2020 Play-Ins group stage, Oceanic Pro League (OPL) representatives Legacy Esports bowed out of the competition after dropping the qualification series to LGD Gaming 0-3.

Even though many League of Legends esports fans were rooting for the underdog, and were eager to see the first OPL team in Groups, Legacy Esports’ run this year is still a historic one. They made Worlds history by being the first OPL team to beat a major region, and truly showcased talent the region has to offer.

It’s been a great year for Legacy Esports. They won both OPL Split 1 and Split 2, and would have represented the region at the Mid-Season Invitational if not for the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Leading the team is head coach James “Denian” Goddard, who has been with the squad since December 2018. Going up against LGD, the fourth seed from the League of Legends Pro League (LPL), was no easy feat. The Chinese team is, after all, headlined by former SKT Worlds finalist and superstar jungler, Han “Peanut” Wang-ho.

Legacy’s jungler, Leo “Babip” Romer, shared many of the same comfort champions — Nidalee, Lillia, and Graves — so banning out Peanut was not an option for the team because they “feel a lot less comfortable” otherwise, Denian shared with ONE Esports.

Complementary to that decision was the fact that James “Tally” Shute liked playing certain champions in mid lane that did not do well into Orianna and Syndra, which explained why Legacy consistently invested two early mid lane bans throughout the series.

Despite drafting conditions that gave them the highest chances of winning, execution in-game did not go as planned. Nonetheless, Legacy kept up their mental strength throughout the series. “We ended up getting into a fight without Galio because Galio was recalling. It’s easy for us to mentally be resilient when it’s miscommunication… let’s just focus down and do better next time,” said Denian about game one.

Game two was much closer, and Legacy almost had it in the bag. They boldly put their AD carry, Quin “Raes” Korebrits, on Draven, with a team composition that had pick and team fighting potential. From mid to late game they made a comeback by winning team fights against LGD and securing important objectives.

Unfortunately, hyper late-game kicked in, and LGD with Kassadin wiped out Legacy at Baron. “You executed on a lot of these opportunities… all we gotta do is start these things a bit sooner, be confident that we can do it. We’re winning the 5v5s, we just got to get there,” Denian had encouraged the team after.

Competing at Worlds 2020 on the biggest international stage of the year has been an arduous journey for Legacy Esports, who face many of the same challenges as other minor region teams.

“I think every team that comes from Oceania says this, but you get here and everything that you’ve learned for the entire year, like everything — you’ve been playing all year for this — and then you come and here and you go ‘Ah, we can’t do this anymore’,” shared Denian.

“We have to quickly figure out how not to lose to this thing, because that is really, really doing us in. Against Team Liquid, the early priority on Scuttle, how heavily they would commit to it, was screwing us over. These are some small things we don’t get punished for in Oceania. We get here, and we find out we can’t do these things anymore. If you don’t know them, and if you can’t respond, then it’s really, really rough.”

Credit: LoL Esports/Riot Games

Without MSI, there were even fewer opportunities for minor region teams to compete against other teams this year. Unlike major regions like LCK (Korea), LPL (China), and PCS (Taiwan) which are geographically close enough to scrim, minor regions are comparatively more isolated. Suddenly being thrown into a totally different competitive environment, and facing teams they have absolutely no practice with, they are forced to improve, adjust, and adapt in a very short amount of time.

“Just know that when we get there, we’re going to have to either hit the ground running or we’re going to have to try to learn everything we can because it’s going to be really hard to keep up,” Denian had advised his team before Worlds.

Results aside, Legacy Esports is proud of how they stuck to their own identity until the finish line. According to Denian, the team’s goal was to get better at what they were good at.

“We met a lot of talented players in the OPL and they’re always trying to punish us, and we’re trying to figure out how to survive them. When we come here, we’re trying the same thing. We’re just trying to figure out how to survive because we have some of the best team fighters in Oceania, but we just don’t like playing aggressive, so we have to know a lot more than we do.”

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