'Ticket seller' Breathe punches his own Worlds 2022 spot with RNG
2022 LPL Summer Royal Never Give Up Worlds 2022 RNG Breathe LNG Esports LNG

‘Ticket seller’ Breathe punches his own Worlds 2022 spot with RNG

After being on the losing side of five Worlds qualifier matches, Breathe finally gets the emotional win he was looking for as RNG is heading to Worlds 2022

After an incredible five-game series against LNG Esports, the 2022 Mid-Season Invitational champions Royal Never Give Up felt relief as they secured the fourth and final League of Legends Pro League spot at Worlds 2022. But when their new top laner Chen “Breathe” Chen was interviewed on stage after the series, relief doesn’t describe his emotions.

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“I remember you saying ‘I’ve been trying too hard for so long; if I win, it will be the fruit of my labor,'” LPL interviewer Luo “Luoxin” Yu-Ting said to Breathe. “I want to ask you — if you could say anything to yourself, what do you want to say?”

He broke down in tears after realizing a dream that has haunted him for the past two years.

2021 was a rollercoaster for Breathe. As a member of Team WE, Breathe saw a team that many wrote off as just mediocre pull of an incredible Cinderella run in the 2021 League of Legends Pro League summer playoffs. Entering as the seventh seed, WE won four straight playoff series, including a series win against the eventual Worlds 2021 champions Edward Gaming, to give them a spot in the upper-bracket finals against FunPlus Phoenix.

A win against them would guarantee would inch Breathe closer to his first Worlds appearance. They lost, but no worries — they had a second chance in the lower bracket to get a spot against EDG. They lost again; but all hope wasn’t lost, they had another opportunity in the LPL Regional Finals. A win against RNG would give them the third of four Worlds 2021 spots. They lost once more. But even at this moment, they still had one more chance. In one last match against LNG Esports, the winner takes the final LPL Worlds 2021 spot. And with their fourth loss in a row, WE and Breathe’s season were crushed.

People started calling Breathe a “ticket seller;” every loss that WE suffered in the post-season directly gave their opponent a Worlds 2021 spot that WE thought they were going to have themselves. That WE team disbanded in 2022, with players joining new squads; Bilibili Gaming picked up Breathe’s contract. A team with a lot of promise fell flat in the spring split; it looked like Breathe would not get an opportunity to go to Worlds this year too.

But then just days after RNG won the 2022 Mid-Season Invitational, RNG swapped top laners with BLG, Breathe was now the starting top laner for the defending 2022 LPL spring champions. Overnight, Breathe’s Worlds aspirations manifested into something realistic. The 2022 summer split was good for RNG — the team finished 13-3, a great record for the fourth seed in the playoffs. At worst, Breathe would have two chances to get to Worlds, as RNG were guaranteed at least a Regional Finals spot. Unfortunately, the worst-case scenario occurred; EDG immediately trounced RNG in their first playoff match.

The LPL Regional Finals operates seeding based on championship points. The two highest championship point earners play in the upper bracket of the four-team mini tournament. The winner automatically qualifies for Worlds as the LPL’s third seed. The loser of that match plays the winner of the two remaining teams for the fourth and final spot. RNG played against EDG once again.

However, in this series, it was RNG that looked in control. In fact, they were up two games to none and instead of one series away from Worlds, Breathe was now just one game. But then EDG pulled off the reverse sweep to punch their ticket to Worlds 2022; Breathe once again gave another team a Worlds spot. And again, Breathe still had one last chance to turn things around.

Ironically, RNG’s opponent in the last Worlds 2022 qualifier match was LNG just like last year. With the series going to five games after RNG again went up 2-0, RNG put faith into Breathe and gave him a hyper carry top laner — Fiora. He stepped up and RNG prevented the reverse sweep; instead of selling the final ticket to another team, Breathe put that ticket into his pocket. RNG will start their Worlds 2022 journey from the play-in stage; and while the road to a World Championship is just ahead, Breathe wanted to make his ambitions clear after he wiped the tears.

“This won’t be my last time at Worlds.”

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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.