Kalista overcomes Vel'Koz in the mid lane at MSI 2022
Vel'Koz MSI 2022

Kalista overcomes Vel’Koz in the mid lane at MSI 2022

DFM and SGB both went all-in with the spice

The most important of perhaps the entire group stage at the 2022 Mid-Season Invitational also turned out to be the most hyped.

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With the League of Legends Japan League representative DetonatioN FocusMe’s backs to the wall, they came into their elimination match against the Vietnam Championship Series representative Saigon Buffalo holding nothing back. SGB didn’t either. In the draft, DFM locked in Vel’Koz mid while SGB countered it with an unexpected Kalista mid flex.

This was the first time in competitive League of Legends history this matchup happened in the mid-lane.

While Kalista has picked up steam at MSI 2022 as a bot lane pick, this was only the second time she has been picked in the mid lane in 2022 across all levels of professional play according to Gol.gg. In fact, in the history of competitive League of Legends, players only picked Kalista mid-lane 20 times total. As a bot laner, players picked Kalista over 3,000 times. In those 20 mid lane games, this was the first time the champion has met a Vel’Koz.

As for Vel’Koz, the champion has never been a real meta threat. In 2022, players only picked Vel’Koz 13 times heading into this match. None of those 13 games came from major region of play. Since Season 5, players from all levels of pro play only picked Vel’Koz  327 games total, and it actually has a winning record.

This was Lee “Yaharong” Chan-ju’s first-ever professional game on Vel’Koz. Weirdly, this wasn’t Bùi “Froggy” Văn Minh Hải’s first Kalista game. Froggy played Kalista twice during the 2021 VCS Spring split with mixed results going 1-1 in those games. But this has been the first time in a year that he has played the champion.

During the game, Yaharong struggled to do much in the early game while losing the creep score battle against the Kalista. Despite that, the two mid laners had similar overall statlines. But as the game got later and later, the Vel’Koz pick started to shine.

By picking off multiple SGB members, Yaharong’s the 1/2/1 KDA (kills/deaths/assists) ballooned to 8/7/12. At 31 minutes into the game, Vel’Koz appeared to be the better pick.  Froggy only put up an ineffective 3/7/5 line at that point. But in the end, Froggy’s team bailed him out as SGB won a game-ending teamfight in the red-side jungle to push SGB to victory and shove DFM out of MSI 2022.

Froggy improved to 2-1 lifetime on Kalista. He also gave the champion its first mid-lane win since the summer of 2021. Nicholas “Ablazeolive” Antonio Abbott won with the pick in the 2022 League Championship Series summer split as a member of Golden Guardians in their regular season match against Team Liquid.

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Warren Younger
ASU alum with a B.A in Sports Journalism, Warren is one of the premier TFT Journalists in the scene and is a decent TFT player as well who has peaked Challenger and has had multiple accounts in Master+ over all sets. Warren also specializes in other esports content including League of Legends, Valorant, Smash Bros, and more.