Credit: Michal Konkol/Riot Games

MSI Preview: LJL stalwarts DetonatioN FocusMe could one-up 2021 Worlds showing

Once an afterthought, the League of Legends Japan League (LJL) and DetonatioN FocusMe have emerged as a force. No longer will they be content with group stage elimination: unlike yesteryear, expectations are at their highest recorded level.

However, they could not have received a tougher group as tournament favorites T1 and fellow darkhorses Saigon Buffalo accompany them throughout their MSI journey. In T1’s case, this may go beyond group stage, provided they make a statement and overcome Vietnam’s representatives.

Not much to say about this DFM. Source: Leaguepedia

How they got here

DetonatioN FocusMe may have lost some of its greatest contributors, but they have returned to MSI despite the improvement of LJL’s overall level. Indeed, the LJL became a three-horse race with Sengoku swinging heavy alongside long-term rivals Rascal Jester.

DFM’s newfound flexibility around aggressive laning support Harp has allowed the team to play strong-side top lane, with underrated mid laner Yaharong (formerly Jin Air Grace) and veteran bot laner Yutapon holding the fort in a self-sufficient capacity. That much was needed to survive a tense five-game series against the much-improved Sengoku Gaming.

Player to watch: Shunsuke “Evi” Murase

Now allowed to play strong-side champs once again, Evi plays to his strengths as the team improves. Against his MSI opponents, he must shine brightly to provide hope for the LJL to reach the MSI semifinals—the LJL’s first bracket stage ever.

With the tools at DFM’s arsenal, a strong-side Evi would create massive headaches for opponents as a formerly exploitable team weakness vanishes, and as the LJL rises beyond its highest mark.

Expectations: Darkhorse #1 for MSI semifinal spot

Unfortunately for DetonatioN FocusMe, the path to a potential Rumble Stage qualification is far from open: the VCS has returned to MSI and are in the same group, both fighting for Group A’s second spot behind T1.

From there, if they qualify, the pressure is on for Evil Geniuses as DFM’s relatively strong early game and overall teamfight decisiveness will be their bane. As Yaharong’s ability and game understanding exceeds jojopyun’s, DFM has the recipe for success in a potential fight for a semifinal spot.

Adel primarily covers League of Legends, with a particular emphasis on League of Legends esports competitions. He has over 10 year of experience covering the LEC and other LoL competitive events across Europe.