MSI 2022 continues, with the world’s top teams from each region going head-to-head in the first global competition of the year. Overall, the results are going to plan, as the LCK, LPL and LEC representatives top their respective groups. With every event such as this, the patches change and teams adjust to the new meta. Here are the major new “curveball” champions picked within each group.
Group A: Wukong
The Monkey King has stepped onto the Rift seven times in the first three weeks of MSI 2022, four of which were Group A matches. AZE Dimitry, SGB BeanJ, T1 Keria and T1 Oner have each shown a Wukong pick, predominantly as a jungler. He has won two of the four matches for a 50 percent win rate.
Patch 12.7, the MSI patch, introduced changes to Wukong that pushed him into the jungle spotlight. His Warrior Trickster ability can dash over terrain, and Nimbus Strike’s damage to monsters increased from 150 percent to 180 percent. On top of that, the Crushing Blow cooldown was reduced by one second per level, Warrior Trickster’s cooldown was reduced increasingly per level and Nimbus Strike’s AP ratio increased to 100 percent from 80 percent.
RED Aegis in Group B and G2 Jankos in Group C have both picked up Wukong, and the pick has risen to 83 percent presence across the tournament. Since T1 is the favorite to win it all, and they have flexed Wukong to multiple positions, look for this champion to dominate drafts in Group A and beyond.
Group B: Jhin
While Jhin might not be a complete “curveball,” he has not been prominent in the meta, especially as a lethality builder. RED Titan and IW Holyphoenix both gave the pick a shot, with RED picking up one win and being competitive in another.
In all the Group B matches, the Jhin built Umbral Glaive. This item has seen popularity at MSI 2022, because of its low cost and vision denial. Players have also built the item on Graves, Pyke and Senna while playing in the tournament.
T1 Gumayusi and ORD Puma have also tried the pick outside of Group B, but they opted to build Galeforce instead of Glaive. Titan’s Jhin win included double AP solo laners and hard engage in jungle-support. None of the other matches have really followed that blueprint. This pick may fall out of favor as the even progresses.
Group C: Pyke
The LEC special—G2 Targamas brought his Hylissang influence to the international stage by drafting Pyke twice and winning. The other Group C teams have not picked or banned the support assassin, but T1 Keria did have his own win against DFM.
This champion is strongest when he can roam and influence the map. Pyke uses movement speed, camouflage, hooks and dashes to pop up when least expected. Teams like G2 and Fnatic have forced Europe to incorporate Pyke into their repertoire, as 60 of the last 200 Pyke matches historically come out of LEC teams (excluding minor regions).
With Umbral Glaive gaining popularity, and T1 and G2 finding success with the pick, expect more teams to give Pyke a go. Vulcan played Pyke at Worlds 2019 against Fnatic. Caps played Pyke mid versus FPX at Worlds 2019. Kaiwing tried Pyke at Worlds Play-ins 2019. Brokenblade even played Pyke top in the LCS Summer 2019.
With other pocket picks like Evelynn, Anivia and Vi popping up in individual games, look for more experimentation, as the teams continue to innovate the next great pick. Wukong will continue to grow in popularity. He seems here to stay. Jhin may see some more play, but he seems much more niche than Wukong. Pyke will definitely continue to make appearances, as the top teams warp the meta in their favor. Teams that fail to adapt will get knocked out, while the flexible ones continue to progress at MSI 2022.
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