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With Worlds 2022 about to begin, the Pacific Championship Series’ CTBC Flying Oyster (CFO) are one of the 24 teams from across the world that are making their way to the biggest event of the year. Every team entering the League of Legends World Championship have the same goal: to stand at the top uncontested and hoist the Season 12 Summoner’s Cup high.

CFO are a new team that entered the PCS in 2022 and claimed their first domestic title this summer, sending them to Worlds 2022 as the PCS’ first seed in their inaugural year. Can they write a new story for the PCS at Worlds?

CTBC Flying Oyster (PCS) Worlds 2022 starting roster breakdown:

  • Top: Hsu “Rest” Shih-Chieh | Signed in 2022
  • Jungler: Huang “Gemini” Chu-Xuan | Signed in 2022
  • Mid: Chen “Mission” Hsiao-Hsien | Signed in 2022
  • Bot: Chao “Shunn” Ying-Shun | Signed in 2022
  • Support: Lin “Koala” Chih-Chiang | Signed in 2022
  • Substitute: Sung “Atlen” Ya-Lun | Signed in 2022
  • Head Coach: Chen “Achie” Chen-Chi | Signed in 2022
  • Assistant Coach: Kevin “Kevin Miller” Yukihiro Isoda Miller | Signed in 2022

How CTBC Flying Oyster got here

In recent times, PSG Talon is a team that tends to dominate the conversation — as they often do in the PCS. But for this Worlds, they are strangely absent, and the  heavy burden of legacy falls on CTBC Flying Oyster. For non-PCS watchers, having a team with an airborne mollusc in their name is certainly quirky.

The Oysters got their name from their sponsor, CTBC Bank, one of the largest privately owned banks in Taiwan and also the sponsor for the PCS, whose tagline or slogan is “We are family”. In a clever play of words in Chinese/Mandarin, 飛牡蠣 (Fēi mǔlì) which literally means ‘flying oyster’ sounds like ‘family’, hence why their name is what it is.

Other than their unique origins, they are also the undisputed champions of summer, and their journey here has been an interesting one. In fact, they were very close to being the PCS’ representatives at MSI in spring, according to PCS caster Frank “Nit3Star” Peng.

“They made it into a spring finals rematch against PSG and ended up falling short. I would say that them falling short of making MSI was actually somewhat of a disappointment,” he said. “They were ramping up hard and going into the finals, it really looked like they were all set to take it, so for them to fall short was quite surprising.”

With the disappointment of spring gone, CFO looked towards summer. However, instead of a strong start, the team did struggle a little in the opening weeks though it was not alarming. In spring, they were top of the table by Week 3 with a 7-1 record, while in summer, they were tied for third at 6-3. Eventually, they finished fourth at 13-5, qualifying to the summer playoffs. And like in spring, CFO continued to ramp up steadily as summer went on and in the second round of playoffs, took down defending champions PSG Talon 3-2, exacting a bit of revenge from spring.

“As CFO closed the season, they once again started ramping up once more and really showcased why they made it into the spring finals, and it’s really off the back of just really incredible laners,” Nit3star said. “They’re really, really good in lane and really strong individually, so it was just really a matter of putting the pieces together.”

And put the pieces together they did, for after banishing PSG Talon to the Lower Bracket for the second time in 2022, the Flying Oysters glided past subsequent matches and never looked back. They took down Beyond Gaming 3-1 next and swept them 3-0 in the finals rematch to crown themselves PCS champions and make their first ever trip to the world championship. Their potential as a team was finally realised.

“CFO definitely had a dominant run and overall, their game trends played out fairly similarly. It was them just really steamrolling the lane phase and sometimes having a couple of stumbles during the mid-game,” Nit3star said. “They usually win their lanes hard enough that they have that extra bit of leeway to figure things out. This is a team that can problem solve on the fly, and especially in best-of-fives. I do have a lot of confidence in them in that regard.”

That confidence will certainly be tested as they now carry the torch as PCS champions as they make their way to the international stage. Can the Flying Oysters soar in America?

Players to watch

CFO are a team of players with a lot of experience under their belt. Four of them have made previous Worlds before, some even more than once. But despite the veterans of the team, the one player that should draw the crowd’s attention is the rookie of the roster: bot laner Shunn.

Initially, CFO’s main bot laner was Atlen, who previously played with Gemini and Koala on Machi Esports in 2021. They went on a seven game winstreak at the start of spring before they started dropping a few games. That’s where they brought in then substitute bot laner Shunn, a literal rookie with no prior competitive experience before his first match against Hurricane Gaming in Week 5. He went 8/0/5 on Xayah in his debut match and proceeded thereafter to become one of the Flying Oyster’s new wings.

“Shunn is the hotshot rookie in his first year of being a pro player and when he joined during spring, it was somewhat of a surprise because we had no idea where he came from and he straight up just kind of gapped everyone in lane,” Nit3star said. “He really showcased that mechanically, he was on another level in comparison to the other PCS bot laners. Shunn was one of the big changes that came in for CFO in the spring split that elevated them to make that deep playoff run. He is the player to watch.”

Nit3star also mentions that Shunn tends to favor more lane dominant champions, such as him playing a lot of lethality Xayah in spring. Shunn also picked Kalista when the situation favoured it and has a pocket Draven which is still undefeated in four games, drawing bans in the PCS on occasion. He’s also very proficient with Aphelios. Flanked by a roster full of experienced players, perhaps Shunn will make waves in the international arena just like his predecessor Chiu “Doggo” Tzu-Chuan did on his first outing.

Among the more senior players, veteran top laner Rest is also one to watch, having attended Worlds before with J Team in 2019 before the PCS was formed. He decided to move on to CFO in 2022 after spending five years with J Team, and he has remained a consistently reliable force for the team, making it to the All-PCS first team for 2022.

“You could certainly make a case for Gemini or Mission, but Rest really put himself a cut above and has really maintained his level of success as a top laner,” Nit3star said. “Even going back last year when he was still with J Team; when we evaluated and made our all-pro team one, it was really just PSG players and then Rest. This was because Rest was just so mechanically good in the lane phase and that has remained true through almost his entire career.”

Indeed, statistically speaking from Oracle’s Elixir, Rest is consistently top three for Gold, Experience and CS difference at 10 minutes, and is consistently top for CS per minute, in both regular season (9.4) and playoffs (8.6). As such, he does have one of the higher Gold Shares, but he has also translated that to some of the highest Damage Per Minute among top laners, third in the regular season (515) and highest in playoffs (587). Rest has played a lot of Gnar this summer, 12 games in total and only losing twice, and is also unbeaten on Aatrox so far in four games from playoffs.

How CFO can succeed at Worlds 2022

The PCS champion is still seeded into the Main Event for Worlds and CFO has been slotted into Group D. Their group contains the LoL Champions Korea (LCK) champions Gen.G and the LoL Championship Series (LCS) second seed 100 Thieves. The fourth team will arrive from Play-ins and assuming LoL Pro League (LPL) fourth seed Royal Never Give Up (RNG) makes it, they will probably be allocated here.

Last year, PSG Talon brought the PCS back into the limelight with their top four appearance at MSI 2021 and even almost making it out of groups at Worlds 2021. But the fact remains that since 2015, there has not been a team from the now-PCS regions that have made it to the Knockout stage of Worlds.

Nit3star believes that while the draw is not an easy one for CFO, their ability to scrim with the LPL teams should give them a slight edge.

“It’s certainly a difficult group with Gen.G and RNG, assuming that all the favorites from Play-ins make it through,” he said. “But because we are in the PCS region, we do have opportunities to practice against LPL teams. So there is some familiarity in that regard. Maybe we can find an upset against RNG and certainly against 100 Thieves, and maybe they even 2-0 100 Thieves. But ultimately, it’s really hard just because of how difficult really all the groups are.”

The other slight concern for the Oysters is their general pattern of needing time to ramp up and their somewhat ‘win lane, win game’ strategic preference. Nevertheless, Nit3star believes that confidence will be key to seeing if this team succeeds in their goals or not.

“Overall, I think that this is a squad that because of their individual mechanics, hopefully, the confidence is there,” he said.“Because I think more so than momentum, it’s going to be the confidence that plays a larger factor on them really challenging some of the major region teams. Hopefully, they’ve figured out something before they come into worlds, to really remove the ramping up time that they had during the regular seasons.”

CFO’s first year in LoL has been interesting. From nearly making MSI in spring to a dominant playoffs run in summer where they reigned supreme, they stepped out of the shadow PSG cast on the whole region and are ready to write their own story at Worlds.

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