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Flash Wolves’ exit from League of Legends hurt everyone

The League of Legends competitive scene lost one of its most recognizable franchises last month, with the Flash Wolves, a Taiwanese team formerly of the LMS, announcing that they will not continue to carry a League team into the next decade.

The LMS will combine with the LST, a region that represented many League of Legends teams based on Pacific Islands, into a brand new league called the Pacific League Championship Series. It was an exciting prospect for an area of the world that had seemingly stagnated, but they will unfortunately take the next step without their most recognizable team.

Flash Wolves were a dominant force in the scene for much of the 2010’s. They qualified for the World Championship every year between 2015 and 2018, with many of their players becoming household names worldwide.

Names like Hung "Karsa" Hao-Hsuan, Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang and Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Chieh had worldwide recognition despite coming from a region that did not attract many casual viewers.

While the stars who had earned the team notoriety were all gone by 2019 - leading to the team not being among the LMS’ representatives at the World Championship for the first time ever - the name Flash Wolves still carried immense weight. They were the most recognizable team outside of the mainstream regions in the League of Legends world.

With the PCS set to launch in the coming months, Flash Wolves provided more casual fans with an easy entry point into the new league.

Even without the recognizable players still around, fans would be familiar with the team after seeing them compete against the world's best teams at the World Championship and IEM over the years.

Smaller regions have always had trouble keeping up with the powerhouses of League of Legends. The Taipei Assassins, also of Taiwan, won the Season 2 World Championship back in 2012, but a few years later saw their entire roster purchased by J Team, and are now a remnant of the past.

The next big moment for the less-powerful regions would be KaBuM! Esports of Brazil defeating former Korean powerhouse NaJin White Shield in the 2014 World Championships. Since then, there have not been many moments for unconventional powers to hang their hats on.

The introduction of the PCS was a new opportunity for some of these teams. The allure of a shiny, new, league would combine with a league that now had a larger, less spread out, talent pool could bring in more foriegn viewers.

While Flash Wolves may not have been the most talented team right out of the gate, AHQ and J Team both featured at the World Championship in 2019 and were the best Taiwanese teams last year, they would definitely be the most recognizable.

The entire league may hurt because of it, as well. A loss of a recognizable brand hurt its ability to market itself. Less viewers means less money, which makes it even harder for the teams of the PCS to compete with the Korean and Western powerhouses on the world stage.

A piece of League history is also dead. The two greatest teams to ever come out of Taiwan are now both gone. Someone will replace Flash Wolves as a power in the region, but they will not have their long lore and history.

Many teams have come and gone through out League of Legends near-decade long history. The end of Flash Wolves involvement in the game feels like a loss of the sports history. A cornerstone of the League pro scene is now gone, and everyone is worse off for it.

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