Over the history of League of Legends, there may be no team who has teased the international scene with its potential quite like the Taiwanese League of Legends Master Series’ (LMS) Flash Wolves. One of the only outside organisations to consistently find success against the best Korean squads, the Flash Wolves failed to ever truly reach their potential on the international stage. With the announced departure of the final members of their core roster, fans will forever be left thinking about what could have been.
Flash Wolves first burst on to the League of Legends international stage at the 2015 IEM World Championship in Katowice, where victories over North America’s Cloud9 and Europe’s SK Gaming announced the Flash Wolves as a team that could not be ignored. Although they would fall 2-1 to the eventual IEM champion Team SoloMid, the Flash Wolves made a statement in their first international appearance that their roster and the LMS could not be ignored.
Built around the trio of jungler Hung “Karsa” Hao-Hsuan, mid-laner Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang, and support Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh, the Flash Wolves were a team who excelled at gaining early leads and snowballing them through decisive mid gameplay to victories. Dominant domestically, the Flash Wolves were clearly the best team in the LMS for multiple years as they reeled off an unprecedented six straight Split Championships.
Where many teams would stumble or hesitate when handed early advantages, the Flash Wolves’ prowess in creating massive early advantages and translating them into victories through the mid-game made them a dangerous opponent for any team who faltered early. Karsa and Maple’s jungle and mid synergy placed them among the best duo in the world, and SwordArt was consistently recognized as not only one of the best supports in the World but a top 20 player internationally.
The issues for Flash Wolves internationally largely rested in the inconsistencies in their play and their inability to find success in best-of-five series’. A standout team in a best of one, Flash Wolves were able to put up stellar showings in the group stages of many events but would falter in the knockout rounds as they failed to make the proper adjustments between games.
Heralded for their 3-0 record against the eventual World Champion SK Telecom in the 2016 season, Flash Wolves failed to advance past the first round of the knockout stage at either the World Championships or Mid-Season Invitational. While they would often score victories against tournament favourites and would thrive in an underdog role, Flash Wolves commonly dropped games to weaker competition.
After a couple years of coming tantalizing close to success and stumbling when it mattered the most, the first cracks in the core Flash Wolves roster began to show when it was announced Karsa would be leaving the team to join the League of Legends Pro League’s (LPL) Royal Never Give Up, a consistent World Championship contender and a powerhouse in the LPL. Karsa’s move to China would be mirrored a year later, both Maple and SwordArt would transition to the LPL by joining Suning Gaming.
For Flash Wolves fans, the end of the core roster may also mark the last time the organization and the LMS are relevant internationally in the near future. The clear number one team from Taiwan over the past few years, there is no clear heir apparent to take up the mantle of the LMS internationally and reclaim some of the success the region tasted early in League of Legends history.
The final farewell of the Flash Wolves’ core three is a loss not only for Flash Wolves fans but for Taiwanese fans and the LMS as a whole, as some of their best talent continues to migrate across the ocean into the LPL. While they provided their fans with many exciting results and plenty to brag about domestically, the Flash Wolves consistently fell short of the potential the roster radiated with every dominant victory.
All images courtesy of lolesports