ORDER’s top laner, BioPanther, sat down with Gamelevate after their loss to G2 Esports to talk about repeating the performance of the LCO, the diversity of the top lane, and working with newer players on the international stage.
Last year, MSI saw the Cinderella run of Oceania’s Pentanet.GG helped lead the LCO to their first Group Stage as well as match up with the top teams. Leading the charge in the top lane was Brandon “BioPanther” Alexander. Now, he returns to MSI on ORDER and looks to challenge EU and NA to qualify for the Rumble Stage.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
BioPanther, thank you for taking the time to chat with us this morning. I know that the last game was a little rough but before we get to the game, I’d like to get your thoughts on returning to MSI after Pentanet’s successes last year.
I think I’m just here to recreate the same story as last year. That’s my plan. And like, I don’t even mind that [we lost that] game. As a team, I trusted a call and it went poorly. I feel like we literally were in control in that whole game. I was literally destroying BrokenBlade permanently. So like, we just know that we can contest this group and I promise you we will make it out.
So you’re in the same situation that you were in last year. Unfortunately, it is the LCL who is not here, but you’re in this similar group pattern where it’s only three teams instead of four. You have experience compared to the other two teams. So can you talk to me a little bit about what it’s like having to basically repeat the same style?
Oh, it’s just, you know, fewer teams to prep for and we just have to solidify our strategy heading into both teams, and just making sure that we can just play back-to-back games, like throughout the days, and just prepare for all of them. It’s just easier to prepare for two teams than three, so I just feel very confident heading into the next few days.
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I believe you are the only one on ORDER who has experience on the international stage. What’s it like working with these players to make sure they’re ready for the international stage?
It’s hard for them how it feels because they haven’t ever experienced it. Like I tell them about my experiences, how you get punished and like the teams you will be versing and how much better than us and for them to experience on stage like for the first time. It’s good for them to like realize the gap and like how we can actually like approach these games. And I feel like everyone feels confident against these two teams because I feel, especially after that loss, we were very close to winning. So if we just keep level-headed, keep consistent, and are making sure that we just take it day-by-day, we should be very good.
We are on Patch 12.8 and we really haven’t seen much of the meta. So one of the things that we’ve seen is we saw the Aatrox today out of you but we’ve also seen champs like Gwen and Rumble. Can you describe to me a little bit what the top lane meta is now as it is shifting more from a tank oriented to kind of a hybrid carry?
I think there’s like two good blindables right now in Aatrox and Gwen, and like, if you pick those matchups, you kind of like forced a skill matchup, and usually, you can play out with a skill matchup or just outplay them. It’s the same when BrokenBlade picked Fiora. It forces them into a skill matchup which is good for the draft and good for the team overall.
So you’ll see most teams just pick those two champions just because of that, because like the enemy choosing these counter picks is good for the holistic draft. So for me, the top lane is very interesting. But it’s very diverse. Honestly, we should be seeing Vladimir. We should be seeing a lot more like champs throughout the days.
So you’re expecting we may see a little bit of a weird AP/AD kind of style?
I think toppling right now is very diverse because of team compositions and it’s not just like stock and standard just pick only these two champions.
That’s very interesting to hear. Obviously, we saw in North America was basically just a lot of Ornn. So when you’re thinking about the overall meta of MSI, what would you say are some stranger pics that you may expect to see?
Well, for us, we ban Rengar. So like that’s probably going to be on the radar for most teams. We should see mage bot lanes with Pantheon that will be very contested as well. But most teams will stick with Lucian and Nami and the Twisted Fate. So like, I think the meta is very open-ended. Like, I don’t feel like we’re going to see everything on the first day. And like, I think that’s very exciting for everyone. So I just think that a lot of teams are holding back some picks and you’ll see it throughout the next few days that the meta is very open-ended.
So focusing back on a point that you made earlier, you said that it only takes two teams to prepare for both EG and G2. I know you guys lost to G2 today and I believe you play EG tomorrow when they do their double match day. Do you think one of those two teams may be easier to beat?
I can say with a full heart that EG is literally the easier opponent. I think that G2 has more flexibility in their draft and in their gameplay like I can expect from G2. EG I know they’re gonna play a stock-standard 5v5 and I think that really fits our style as a team and we can contest them mechanically. So I think EG is the easier team in the group.
I’ll have to hold you to your words on that one tomorrow.
You can hold me to my words tomorrow. But I’m going to solo-bolo Impact, in fact, tomorrow as well. So like, I’m just gonna go one by one and then make them respect me.
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I know from talking to you last year, you’re a very passionate player. You obviously want to make sure that your team is successful. For you personally, what do you think it will take to develop and practice or develop your skills and make your name on an international stage, continuing your performance from last year?
I think just making sure that we continue our performances, whether it’s win or loss. I have full confidence that we should make it out of this group. And that’s what I’m like aiming to do. And like making this group will make everyone, especially me on the team, be recognized more because right now we’re just like the underdogs. So once we start taking games, we will be lon everyone’s radar, and like there’ll be a worrisome side because this group is not as one-sided as you should think.
Looking ahead, you do have to play this quadruple Round Robin and it obviously is very taxing to play that many games. So what do you think the best strategy, without giving anything away, is to make sure that you guys are on top of every game that you play especially the days where you have to play back-to-back games?
For me, I’ve practiced so hard leading up to this. I don’t want to have any last-minute study of matchups. I’ve done my research. I know everything that will come out of these drafts and like that’s my preparation. When the game day does come, I’m not going to like just sit back and be like worrying about like last-minute study. Like right now, I know everything so like I can rest on the days and prepare for the back-to-back games.
One of the things that are also interesting is that you have you do have such this wider top lane talent pool. Outside of your group, who do you think are some of the other stronger top laners in this MSI tournament?
I think for me, people should be looking out for Evi, Zeus. I have like huge respect for those two top laners like specifically in like the event and I think those are the two top players that should be just seen as the best at the moment.
Is there one team that is also on your radar?
I kind of want to face RNG again since we didn’t win a game last year, so it would be good to like get out of this group, get into the Rumble Stage with them, and have that contest again.
Finally, you have the hopes of Oceania behind you. Is there anything you’d like to say to ORDER fans who are reading this article from all over the world?
I just want to say thank you to everyone. I think Oceania gets a huge boost in community hype and I love seeing it and I appreciate everyone that keeps supporting us. I will do my best to make sure that you know we keep the games interesting and we do make it out of this group. I’m super confident that in the next few days, you will see us pull out upsets. We should win these games and you should be excited about that.
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