Each week, Upcomer highlights one player in the League of Legends European Championship for their outstanding performance in the weekend prior and crowns them player of the week. As the undisputed mayor of gank city, the LEC player of the spring split’s week 3 is Rogue jungler Kim “Malrang” Geun-seong.
When Rogue met Fnatic last Friday, both teams had not dropped a single game yet in the split. However, given their schedule differences (Rogue’s strongest opponent had been MAD Lions, whereas Fnatic had already taken down Team Vitality) Fnatic were the favorite heading into the match. Rogue hadn’t been tested quite the same.
Malrang specifically had eyes on him for the same reason. The jungler’s gank-heavy playstyle had not been punished by lesser teams, but could he keep it up against the cream of the crop?
The answer: a resounding yes. In fact, Malrang went absolutely berserk playing Viego. With an early gank, he took down Marek “Humanoid” Brázda in the mid lane. Just a few minutes later, the Malrang show turned on in all its glory. Within one minute, he picked up a kill in the top lane, applied pressure mid and assisted in getting Emil “Larssen” Larsson not just one, but two kills.
Rogue were ahead considerably, but Malrang refused to pump the brakes. It even cost him his life on one occasion, when he chased Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov only for Fnatic to collapse on him. Thankfully for Malrang, the rest of Rogue took more agency in the game and secured a couple of kills themselves.
Nevertheless, Fnatic held on. They moved around the map to keep the amount of gold they had relatively close to Rogue’s. At sixteen minutes, when Rogue was up 11-4 in kills, Fnatic were only 1,000 gold behind and had killed one drake, just like Rogue. However, Rogue only had to wait out Fnatic.
“We just knew that, after we spike to two, three items, their teamfighting should be very unplayable,” Rogue bot laner Markos “Comp” Stamkopoulos later said in a broadcast interview.
The game meandered on with both teams tiptoeing around each other and not much teamfighting. Malrang diligently shadowed his allies as they pushed in the lanes. When Hylissang misstepped once again, Malrang got his revenge.
With the window Malrang had opened, Rogue took down Baron Nashor and quickly tightened their grip on the game. The team ramped up the pressure and pushed into Fnatic’s base.
The game was over, but Malrang wasn’t done just yet. Just like how he had started the game, he dove into Fnatic and sent two more champions to the morgue.
Versus Team Vitality
Rogue then faced a well-prepared Vitality on Saturday. In the LEC’s Post-Game Lobby segment in week 2, interviewers asked Vitality mid laner Luka “Perkz” Perković for his opinion on Rogue’s success.
“They still play the same way as last year,” Perkz said. “I do think they’re not as strong as they were last year. I’m gonna prove that when we face them.”
Malrang ended up on the receiving end of Vitality’s preparation. Piloting the LEC’s first Volibear of the year, Vitality constantly him with wards placed in his jungle and in the river. Whenever Malrang walked up to a lane to gank it, Vitality’s players retreated.
He had to adapt. Instead of being the proactive gank player, Malrang started shadowing his lanes in hopes to catch out a Vitality player. Seven minutes into the game, the adaptation paid off.
Instead of leading the charge in fights, Malrang followed his teammates’ initiations and secured the kill for them. Vitality, however, proved even more resilient than Fnatic had been. They played to their composition’s strengths well and pushed in against Rogue, realizing that Rogue’s composition would eventually out scale them if gold stayed even.
During the stalemate between the two teams, there was little for Malrang to do aside from clearing his jungle and patrolling the borders to see if he could pick up a kill to give his team an advantage.
In time, his vigilance was rewarded. Larssen pushed in the top lane, but Vitality jungler Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek apprehended him. Rogue’s Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu teleported to assist, and Rogue cleaned up a seemingly easy kill. However, the replay revealed that a vigilant Malrang had prevented Vitality support Labros “Labrov” Papoutsakis from teaming up with Selfmade in the first place.
The kills converted into a Baron Nashor takedown and, you guessed it, Rogue increased their pressure. They took down two of Vitality’s inhibitors, reset and asserted full map control. Malrang picked up another drake, leveraged his team’s pressure into a second Baron buff and marched down the top lane alongside his compatriots.
Malrang played a quieter game altogether, but he had adapted well to what Vitality presented to him. He met their cautious approach with patience and waited for the perfect moment to strike.
— 김근성 (@malrang12) January 29, 2022
The 18-0 dream stays alive for Rogue
Malrang’s modus operandi has been crystal clear from the first week of the LEC spring split: gank, gank, gank. That’s why Rogue’s drafts and game plan are simple. They pick a scaling composition, let Malrang gank their lanes and pick up Rift Heralds to get their carries ahead. Then they put their foot down once they claim the first Baron — and Malrang plays his part with finesse.
In the face of Fnatic and Vitality, who have shaped up to be Rogue’s top contenders for the LEC title, Malrang stood strong. It wasn’t a perfect showing — he’s still a bit too hungry at times — but the young South Korean player recovered well from his tiny slip-ups.
Many questioned whether Malrang could live up to the legacy his predecessor, Kacper “Inspired” Słoma, had left behind. It remains to be seen if Rogue can keep adapting well when teams throw curveballs at them, or if communicative issues will arise due to language differences — which is something he’s working hard on to resolve, according to his team. For now, however, Malrang has proven all the doubters wrong and can pride himself for what he has achieved with his team.
While Malrang’s performance stood out because of his consistency against strong opponents, he wasn’t the only player with a solid weekend. Two other names were in contention for player of the week.
G2 Esports top laner Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik faced a tough matchup on Friday, playing Renekton against Gwen when G2 faced Misfit Gaming. Broken Blade took the reins when the map opened up and kept finding great flanks. When Misfits almost won the game, he split up his enemies and weakened them so his teammates could finish the Misfits players off and pull off a miraculous safe. Against Fnatic, on Aatrox, Broken Blade was unkilable and appeared to drive his opponents away by sheer willpower alone.
Otherwise, a second jungler stood out last weekend: Team BDS’ Jakub “Cinkrof” Rokicki.
Cinkrof has developed the habit of invading his enemy’s top jungle, if he’s on the blue side, and getting an early kill. Against Astralis and SK Gaming, last weekend, that proved to be exactly what his team needed to get the ball rolling. Cinkrof managed to leverage his advantages into two much-needed victories for his team and gave the struggling lineup hope with a 2-0 weekend.
P.S.: A bonus honorable mention to Excel Esports mid laner Erlend “nukeduck” Holm, who heeded the call on Twitter by locking in Veigar and performing well with the champion.