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The Composure and Consistency of Royal Never Give Up

Nikhil Kalro

One of the things we learnt at MSI 2022 was that T1 is beatable. And Royal Never Give Up, true to their name, were right up there among the top teams in the LoL sphere. After all, to become the first team to win three MSI titles, including two back-to-back, is no joke. Their success was phenomenal given it came under tough circumstances. They played the MSI remotely. The organisers even increased the ping of all participants in the tournament. Their three wins were disqualified because of the ping issue.

royal never give up

BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA - MAY 21: Royal Never Give Up poses at the League of Legends - Mid-Season Invitational Rumble Stage on May 21, 2022 in Busan, South Korea. (Photo by RNG/Riot Games)

They were told to replay those games. Like a champion team, RNG did, and bossed their way through the matches, unhindered by what could’ve potentially become a massive roadblock along their way. It spoke highly of their mindset and drive to ensure nothing came in their way of success.

They overcame some top teams like PSG Talon, Red Canids and Istanbul Wildcats to emerge from their group. The luck of their draw was such that each game was against a side equally or more proficient than them on the performance spectrum.

One of the key reasons for their success – and as old and cliched as it may sound – is they have been boring in their methods, robotic even. They don’t fix something that ain’t broken. Like T1, they haven’t generally been swayed by short-term results.

Barring a serious string of performances that have been plain embarrassing – such as a prospect that hasn’t played out in the recent past – they’ve mostly looked for continuity.

This hasn’t changed in 2022 either. The RNG line-up has been on predicted lines. Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao has returned to the mid-lane as per his wishes. Such a move may have potentially caused friction in few other teams, but RNG’s decision to empower a player by giving his desired role was a statement that spoke highly of their man management skills.

Then they parted ways with Zhang “Yuekai” Yue-Kai, who moved to Invictus Gaming, so the move to give Xiaohu his desired role at the first available opportunity played out well.

Let’s look at the players they have on their roster. Yan “Wei” Yang-Wei achieved the highest KDA at MSI 2022 at 7.41. This number doesn’t factor in the group stage games before RNG’s forced rematches due to the ping issues. His record was better than his closest competition with fellow jungler Mun “Oner” Hyeon-jun of T1 by over two points.

Between champions like Viego, Lee Sin, and Wukong, Wei proved to be one of the most important players in RNG’s success, ultimately leading them to their second consecutive MSI victory. This is a massive increase over Wei’s MSI 2021 KDA of 4.77, where the team had to stave off a serious challenge from DWG KIA.

The other members of RNG followed close behind Wei in standing out amongst the competition with their high KDAs. Chen “GALA” Wei, Xiaohu, and Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming – all finished with KDA’s above 5.5, even as Chen “Bin” Ze-Bin ended just slightly further behind at 3.95, possibly due to his importance in initiating fights for the team.

Over time, RNG has shown great adaptability and consistency across roles. GALA and Ming have excelled as bot laners, and Wei and Bin combined with them to form a deadly cocktail, despite the usual ups and downs during certain matches. One of the key markers for success is a team’s ability to formulate their own play style within the meta.

RNG has been so successful here that we’ve often seen other teams try and copy them. In any case, China has among the best top laners in the business, those who are mechanical. In that sense, it hasn’t been a massive surprise to see RNG be the toppers of the current patch there.

Ming has been the only RNG player on the No. 1 all-pro team, while Xiaohu is No. 2. This hasn’t always reflected how well they dominated the spring split, especially during the round-robin stage. Role clarity and map precision helped them raze down opponents; they lost just four games during the regular split.

Surprisingly, their biggest issue was appearing a bit switched off against lower-placed teams, who actually pushed them to the edge on several occasions. It’s beyond a fact that they clearly don’t like playing teams ranked lower than them, as bizarre as that may sound.

In the playoffs, their first game against JDG was mighty close, with the result being a reverse sweep by RNG. They moved up to the winners bracket to face tougher teams, and you could see their game just went up several notches higher.

Top Esports were dominant, but RNG gathered themselves around to capitalize on some mistakes and eventually win to enter the Grand Finale. Unlike T1, RNG haven’t bulldozed their way. They seldom do. What you instead find them do best is to find a way to come out of tough pockets. They seem to bring out their best when pushed to a corner.

Another aspect is, their practicality and the ability to ensure mind rules over the heart when it comes to their roster changes. After MSI, they  swapped their top laner with Bilibili Gaming, as Chen “Breathe” Chen joined the team in a starting role. Bin, who was the top laner through the spring split, has now moved to Bilibili, a move borne out of both the player’s desire for more game time and also the team’s willingness to allow him to flourish in a role they may have not been able to give him a long rope with.

Their decision to sign Yuan “Cryin” Cheng-Wei, who left the club to move to Ultra Prime, was another sign of them being anything but rigid in their mindset. Over the years, their outlook towards players, their man management, and ability to allow players to flourish and thrive in roles they desire have all been key ingredients for their success.

This mantra makes them the favourites this time around as well. It could be a challenge to replicate the success of the spring split and MSI all over again, but at least they are headed in the right direction.