Wildcard Regions: Garena Premier League (GPL)

One of the most complex regions in the world, Southeast Asia (SEA) is known for its rich history, diversity and a consolidated LoL competitive scene. With representatives from six different countries, the Garena Premier League (GPL) tournament is the critical steps emerging regions in SEA must go through to earn a spot in the 2016 International Wildcard Invitational (IWCI). Let’s break down the GPL’s intricate structure and find out more about the key contenders.

League Structure

Originally a single region, in 2014 SEA was split into two distinct leagues:

  • League of Legends Master Series (LMS), comprised of Taiwan, Hong Kong y Macao, where teams compete for two seasons to qualify for the World Championship;
  • Garena Premier League (GPL), which includes Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia. It is this league of emerging regions where 6 teams battle it out for the chance to represent the GPL at the IWCI.

However, in order to determine these 6 representatives, the GPL is divided into the following local leagues:

  • The Vietnam Championship Series A (VCS A)
  • The League Circuit, which includes Singapore and Malaysia
  • Philipines Pro Gaming Series (PGS)
  • Thailand Pro League
  • League of Legends Garuda Series (LGS), the Malaysian national league

The GPL Spring Split tournament is currently underway. It all starts with a single round robin style group stage. The top 4 teams from the group will then be seeded into the playoffs round, starting with a best-of-5 (Bo5) Semifinals, to then move on to the Bo5 Grand Final that will decide the GPL Spring 2016 champion. As the best in Southeast Asia, the champion will subsequently head straight to the International Wildcard Invitational in Mexico City, to compete for a coveted spot in the Mid-Season Invitational!

League History and Competitive Scene

Southeast Asia is no stranger to the international LoL competitive scene. Back in Season 2, the Taiwan-based Taipei Assassins were crowned as the 2012 League of Legends World Champions, defeating fan-favorites such as the Korean NaJin Sword and Azubu Frost, as well as Russia’s Moscow Five.

Although the GPL has seen a handful of surprising upset matches in the past, Vietnam and Thailand are usually the top contending regions, with the Saigon Jokers, Bangkok Titans and Saigon Fantastic Five having stellar performances in 2015. It was that same year when the Saigon Fantastic Five had to relinquish their hard-earned IWCI spot due to visa-related problems, giving the runner-up, Bangkok Titans, an unexpected chance to represent the region. The Titans had a great run, going all the way to the Semifinals only to be debunked by the Turkish champion, Besiktas e-Sports.

GPL teams have shown resilience and unparalleled mastery of League of Legends to top their local leagues, but how their regional metas and strategies will stack up on the international stage is still anyone's guess.

The Contenders

Now that all the local leagues have officially ended, we’ve finally locked in all the teams that will represent their countries: Bangkok Titans (Thailand), Imperium Proteam (Philippines), Kanaya Gaming (Indonesia), Kuala Lumpur Hunters (Malaysia), Rigel (Singapore), Saigon Jokers (Vietnam). Here’s the rundown of the favorites.

  • Saigon Jokers

    Ever since beating the Singapore Sentinels and qualifying for the Season 2 World Championships back in 2012, the Saigon Jokers (SAJ) have gone through a shaky period where they struggled to even finish in the top 3 within the Vietnam Championship Series. With the likes of Gigabyte Full Louis, Boba Marines and sister team Saigon Fantastic Five giving them a stinging taste of defeat, SAJ has had to rethink their strategies going into VSCA Spring 2016.

    Thankfully for them, with head coach Mister Lee In Cheol leading the way, they were able to win the championship this season and qualify for GPL Spring Split. SAJ was also the team that has come closest to beating the favorites, Bangkok Tigers, as they were narrowly defeated 2-3 by the reigning GPL Champions.

    • Bangkok Tigers

      Current GPL Champions and winners of the King of SEA tournament, we are witnessing Bangkok Titans at their prime with pretty much the entire team playing to their best potential at the moment. Despite not winning a single game at last year’s World Championships, BKT has shown their credentials over the past few months in both local and regional competitions.

      Aside from losing 2-3 to Boba Marines in their first game back in January, they have gone undefeated with a 25-0 score in the Thailand Pro League and winning all their games in King of SEA since coming back in the third rotation. Barring a huge upset, BKT looks to be only the second team after the Taipei Assassins to win back to back GPL seasons.

3 years ago

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