ggChronicle continues our “Twelve Days of eSports” series with a comprehensive profile of World Elite. Every day between now and the World Finals, we will release one article highlighting each of the teams going to Los Angeles. Don’t forget to check back daily for our new content, and be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
A flaming eyeball appears above your head. You panic — you realize deep down that no matter how much you try to run, it’ll be all for naught. A faint rustling confirms your worst fears. The Cardmaster steps out in front of you, and it’s not long before you’re looking at your death in greyscale.
Every League of Legends player has experienced the terror of a Twisted Fate gank, and if teams leave him open for World Elite (WE), we could see it happen on the biggest stage in the world. This Chinese team may not be as well-known as TSM or M5 in the North American (NA) and Europeana (EU) communities, but they’re no less dangerous, especially if their Mid player gets his beloved TF. With a record that includes an Intel Extreme Masters championship and multiple Chinese tournament wins, World Elite have shown time and time again that even at the highest levels, they are here not just to compete, but to win.
If they’ve done nothing else, World Elite have established themselves as the best team in China. This is apparent from their dominant performances in the Tencent Games (Riot’s representative in China) tournaments. After taking second place in the 2011 Tencent Grand Prix, WE have proceeded to win the Tencent Games Carnival in 2011 and the Tencent Grand Prix in 2012 without dropping a single game, beating out other top Chinese teams such as eHome and Invictus Gaming (iG) in the process. In addition, WE’s method of qualification itself shows how dominant they are in China — World Elite earned a trip to Los Angeles by winning the Chinese circuit with 39.5 points, beating out Invictus Gaming, who had 24 points.
For all their success establishing themselves as the team to beat in China, WE would likely still be considered a questionable contender without an international victory under its belt. Of course, they have that covered as well. In their first offline tournament at IEM Guangzhou, World Elite showed that they were not a team to be trifled with, beating Counter Logic Gaming in the finals to give China a hometown victor.
|Game 3 of WE vs. CLG in the IEM Guangzhou Finals|
Struggling to Stay in the World’s Elite
Even if they were looking extremely strong after their win at Guangzhou, World Elite would run into many obstacles as they tried to keep their momentum going. Though we expected to see World Elite at their second international offline event at IEM Hanover, it was not to be, as circumstances and visa issues forced them to drop out. This meant that they would not get to play truly international tournaments until OnGameNet’s The Champions in Korea. Meanwhile, they continued to win Chinese tournaments, but World Elite struggled to establish themselves as an international force. At the Chinese StarsWar 7 tournament in June, WE made it to the finals just to lose to the famed Taipei Assassins.
With both CLG teams and Dignitas deciding to attend the Azubu The Champions tournament in Korea, World Elite finally got a chance to pit themselves against an international array of teams. The results from OnGameNet’s tournament, however, were disappointing. Despite getting past the group stages, WE lost in the first round of the quarterfinals to the eventual runners-up, CLG.EU.
World Elite’s Western debut came at IPL Face Off in San Francisco, which WE entered with high expectations as the reigning kings of the Chinese scene. They beat Team Dynamic in the first round, though the American squad did not look their best after removing Nintendudex from their roster. World Elite then fell to a surging Team Legion in the winner’s bracket and lost to Curse immediately after, once again failing to make the top four. After poor back-to-back showings in the international scene, World Elite look to prove their mettle in Los Angeles.
The Wild Cards
It seems odd to call a team that has a bye in the group stages a “wild card” team, but that’s exactly what World Elite is. Base on their international track record, it seems as though there are stronger teams that are more deserving of the rest on day one. Azubu Frost, CLG.EU and NaJin Sword, three of the teams without byes at the World Championships, came in first, second, and third at The Champions, a tournament in which WE failed to win a game outside the group stages. They won IEM Guangzhou, but that was a year ago with a very different line-up, and WE have come up short in the international scene since then.
Furthermore, recent shakeups to their roster mean that there are huge unknowns about the team. About a month ago, ClearLove replaced YJTM as the jungler, and just weeks later, Fzzf took over the support role. These switches are so recent that there are very few games with all five current members, let alone games in a tournament setting. The best look at the new roster is probably the showmatch between World Elite and CLG.EU from the celebration of the on-year anniversary of LoL in China, and even that game doesn’t tell much, because it was marred by technical difficulties.
In short, even though they were the first to qualify and did so by being the top team in their region, World Elite aren’t exactly the tournament favorite. But there’s still reason to believe that the perennial Tencent winners can take home the trophy. Remember, for example, that CLG Prime also lost every game outside of the group stages in The Champions Summer, so it isn’t as if WE lost to terrible teams while the real world powers moved on. In addition, the core of the team for World Elite is still very much intact, with WeiXiao able to perform in the late game while Misaya’s aggressive ganks dominate in the early and mid game.
Lastly, we must look at the recent showmatch between CLG.EU and World Elite. Though there were technical issues (including Irelia being unable to auto-attack near the end of the game) and undoubtedly some pulled punches with neither team wanting to give away secrets before the big tournament, WE did manage to win the marathon of a game, an impressive feat considering CLG.EU is largely considered a late-game oriented team. More importantly, WE showed good coordination with the new team, including an impressive early gank at mid to grab first blood and multiple dives later in top and bottom lanes. Though CLG.EU generally had superior teamfighting, WeiXiao showed more than once that he deserved to be among the top AD players in the world as he carried his team to victory.
We’ll probably see a lot of Twisted Fate bans in World Elite’s games, and it’s all because of this man. His Twisted Fate is almost as feared as Froggen’s Anivia, and teams have taken care to ban him out nearly every time they face World Elite. That doesn’t mean he’s a one trick pony, though. Sticking with the theme of global ultimates, Misaya is also known for his Karthus play, and in the recent IPL Face Off, Misaya also ran with Morgana, Vladimir, Ryze, Anivia, and Orianna in the mid lane. In fact, Misaya even drew some Vladimir bans, in effect taking up two out of the three available bans from the enemy team.
WeiXiao may be the one to carry late game, but look for Misaya to make an impact early and late. We all know about the presence Twisted Fate has in laning phase, but even with his other champions, Misaya can make a difference. Look for the captain of WE to take advantage of weak moments in other lanes if he finds the chance.
Pop Quiz: Name a player that is considered one of the top AD carries in the world and lists Ezreal and Vayne as two of his favorite champions. Most of you probably just said “Doublelift.” While CLG’s AD carry might be the more well-known of the two, WeiXiao is no less capable at handling the Prodigal Explorer or the Night Hunter, two champions that he says are his favorite for the AD carry role. In fact, during the finals of IEM Guangzhou against CLG, Weixiao picked Ezreal in one game and Vayne in the other two. Even now, WeiXiao continues to pick these two champions regularly, taking Ezreal in five out of eight games in the IPL Face Off and going with Vayne as recently as The Champions tournament despite her fall from favor after repeated nerfs.
Of course, we might still see him carry with someone else in the World Championships. He has shown a willingness to play all of the big three AD carries, choosing Graves and Corki in addition to Ezreal at the recent IPL Face Off and The Champions tournaments.
When he joined World Elite, CaoMei was actually supposed to be the AD carry while WeiXiao played at top. Before long, though, WeiXiao’s prowess at AD carry was too good to pass up, and CaoMei moved up to the top lane, adapting quickly to his new position. This switch paid huge dividends for WE, as they took the new roles to a win at the 2012 NVIDIA Game Festival, beating TPA in the finals.
Rumble and Irelia were CaoMei’s two most played champions in the IPL Face Off, though he did grab Jax for one game. Because of some nerfs to Rumble, it’s still up in the air whether we’ll see the Mechanized Menace, but there’s no reason we shouldn’t expect an Irelia pick. He’s also played some Olaf in The Champions and the showmatch against CLG.EU, so don’t be surprised if you see the Berserker come out either.
One of the new World Elite members, ClearLove is one of the biggest unknowns on the team. From the small sample that we have, it seems ClearLove has settled nicely into his role. In the showmatch against CLG.EU, he ganked mid early, tanking multiple tower hits to pick up the first blood and showing good teamwork with Misaya. As the game went on, he participated in coordinated dives with his teammates to pick up more kills, certainly an encouraging sign for WE fans concerned about the aptitude of the new jungler.
In a limited sample, we’ve only seen ClearLove jungle with Maokai and Skarner, so we’ll have to wait and see if he goes with other champions. He’s shown some aggressive tendencies in the few games he’s played, though, going for early ganks and even counter-jungling frequently as Maokai in one game.
The second of World Elite’s newest members, Fzzf pairs up with WeiXiao in bottom lane. Though we don’t know much about him, one thing sticks out from WE’s recent showmatch against CLG.EU: at around 58 minutes into the game, Fzzf on Taric sold his Kindlegem in order to get 12 wards in preparation for the Baron dance, leaving him with only a Shurelya’s Reverie and Mercury Treads. Say what you want about the WE support, but he at the very least doesn’t let a measly Oracle’s Elixir stop him from doing his job right.
In terms of champions, Fzzf so far has gone with the standard fare, picking up Taric against CLG.EU as well as Sona and Blitzcrank in other games. Whoever he chooses, keep an eye out for his play at bottom lane — because he is so new to the team, his synergy with WeiXiao could be the difference between victory and defeat.
The Bottom Line
This isn’t the same WE that beat CLG at IEM Guangzhou, nor is it the same team that won numerous Tencent tournaments. It isn’t even the team that participated in the IPL Face Off or The Champions in Korea. With almost half of the team changed and no recent major tournaments to assess the new squad, we are left to speculate as to how good WE will be in October. Don’t let these changes make you think that World Elite won’t be ready though. When they won IEM Guangzhou, WeiXiao had only been on the team for a month. When they beat the Taipei Assassins, WE had just flipped their AD carry and top lane roles. In other words, some of their biggest wins have come just after lineup changes.
You might even say that that’s when they’re at their best.