Chinese representatives Team WE will be using an alternate roster for the IEM World Championships in Katowice, ESL confirmed to theScore today.
The alternate roster, as featured on the Intel Extreme Masters website, will replace their current LPL mid laner Noh "Ninja" Geon-woo for current substitute player Su "Xiye" Han-Wei. Former Jin Air Green Wings AD carry Jin "Mystic" Seong-jun will replace current LPL AD carry Qu "Styz" Zi-Liang.
The move has been speculated inside Chinese circles for a while, with many stating that Seong-jin's high ranking on the Chinese Ionian server as one of the reasons for this change.
Seong-jun was previously the AD Carry for the Jin Air Green Wings Falcons and additionally played for Team WE's sister team, WE Academy, as a jungler in the 2015 LPL expansion tournament.
Han-Wei previously played for WE Academy as their mid laner prior to their LPL qualification in Summer of 2014. He only played six Best of 2s for WE Academy before being replaced by high ranking Korean solo queue player, Son "Mickey" Yong-min. Xiye returned to the roster after the LPL season to play the 2015 Expansion Tournament, but was replaced again by Bae "dade" Eo-jin when the team was sold off and renamed to Master3.
WE currently sit at the bottom of the table in the Tencent LoL Pro League with a overall Win-Draw-Loss record of 1-6-8 and many Chinese fans have lamented the fact that WE will be the only team to represent the LPL.
ESL has confirmed with theScore that this will be the roster that WE will be using at Katowice. It remains to be seen if this will be the roster WE opts to run in the LPL afterwards.
WE's IEM Katowice roster will be:
Zhenming “Aluka” Peng (Top)
Dayun “Spirit” Lee (Jungle)
Su “Xiye” Han-Wei (Mid)
Jin “Mystic” Seong-jun (ADC)
Zhe “YuZhe” Zhang (Support)
HTC eSports: 'It is becoming difficult to justify our investments into the [LoL] scene'
HTC eSports is the latest organization to comment on controversial statements made by Riot Games President Marc "Tryndamere" Merrill and other Riot officials earlier this week about the long-term sustainability of League of Legends esports and its attractiveness to outside sponsors. In a statement on Facebook, HTC said that largely because of Riot's policies, it is becoming more difficult for mainstream sponsors to justify sponsoring teams in the LCS.
The post specifically addresses a Reddit comment made Wednesday by director of esports Whalen "Magus" Rozelle, which said Riot was opposed to a sponsor YouTube video made by Team SoloMid and HTC. The video shows TSM's LCS team playing the HTC Vive game Raw Data.
Magus said in his comment that the video was "a [tacit] advertisement for another game." "This is against LCS rules because LCS isn't a platform for other game companies to advertise on," he wrote. "Yes, this means there's a category that teams don't have access to but for any sport, letting quasi competitors advertise on the league doesn't make sense."
Rule 3.7 of Riot's official LCS rulebook states that teams are completely unrestricted in terms of what sponsors they are allowed to secure. Rule 3.7.6 lists "products or services from direct competitors" as one of the sponsors that are restricted in terms of being displayed by players at certain times, however the rule lists those times as: "the use or play of LoL, adjacent to LoL related material, the LCS, or any Riot-affiliated events."
While the rule does not explicitly ban players from participating in a video affiliated with what could be construed as a competitor, it does state that "LCS officials have the ability to update the category list at any time."
HTC said in its post that Riot threatened TSM with a fine if the video was not removed. The sponsor wrote that it was not "strategically trying to circumvent" Riot's policies, and that the video was part of a series which featured TSM's players playing various Vive games, which they claim the team chose themselves.
"Survios, the creators of Raw Data, did not make any financial investment into the production of the video, nor did they approach us to get it made," HTC wrote. "TSM selected Raw Data themselves after reviewing a list of Vive games as they felt it would resonate most with their fans."
HTC did admit that it is logical that Riot does not want LCS pros to bring attention to their competitors. However, they asked for a clarification of what Riot's policies explicitly prohibit. As an example, they asked what the difference is between an LCS player streaming Deus Ex and an LCS player making a YouTube video of them playing a Vive game. According to HTC, those kinds of questions are making it more difficult to justify their sponsorships in the League of Legends space.
"If Riot does not want us making videos that feature our sponsored players playing other games, we do not have many options for showcasing our products," HTC stated.
"Sponsors are now very limited in what we can do to market our brand and products while still supporting the League of Legends scene."
HTC also noted that the r/leagueoflegends subreddit does not allow HTC to post their LoL-themed ads, though Riot has no official affiliation with the subreddit, and their policies are outside of Riot's control.
"As one of the first major non-endemic sponsors in the West, we believe we have helped pioneer marketing in esports, and we’ve loved every second of it," HTC stated. "But with less avenues for advertisement in League of Legends, stemming from the restrictions on the teams and players, restrictions on the subreddit, and the lack of available marketing opportunities at competitions, it is becoming difficult to justify our investments into the scene."
In a lengthy video posted Tuesday morning, OGN LoL caster and Renegades co-owner Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles weighed in on the debate that has broken out between LCS team owners and Riot Games about how teams and players earn revenue in LoL esports.
MonteCristo, whose LCS team was forced to disband earlier this year after Riot ruled it had inappropriate connections with Chris Badawi and Team Dragon Knights, was not shy about his frustration with how Riot's current policies have affected organizations' ability to generate revenue and pay their players.
"There has been no sponsorship revenue sharing for the league," he said. "The sponsors are tapped out. The endemic sponsors, they're not going to give any more money for League of Legends. Most teams are losing money, maybe one or two teams are making a razor-thin profit from LCS."
He claimed that Riot's policies about how and where an organization's sponsors can be featured has not only limited investments made by current sponsors, but has also made the LCS an unattractive option for potential new entrants.
The debate over how Riot's esports policies have affected team owners and outside investors broke into the public spotlight yesterday when Riot co-owner Marc "Tryndamere" Merrill replied to an interview with Team SoloMid co-owner Andy "Reginald" Dinh.
Reginald argued in the interview that Riot's decision to release a major patch after the LCS regular season, but ahead of playoffs and the World Championship, has hurt the high-level competitive environment. He said the constant reinvention of the game makes it hard for players to find consistent, healthy employment with a competitive organization.
Tryndamere countered in a written response on Reddit that Reginald had the power to decide how his players were reimbursed, and accused him of shifting profits to investments in other esports rather than paying more for LoL players.
MonteCristo rebuked Tryndamere in his video, saying that the money team owners use to pay players is ultimately controlled by Riot and that, in situations where Riot already provides money to players, they've chosen not to increase that amount.
"Maybe if you're concerned with the financial health of the players, Tryndamere, you should pay them more money," he said. "Maybe you should raise a stipend. You haven't raised a stipend for the players since 2013."
The Renegades owner argued that the rules surrounding sponsorships need to change to enable more outside investment, and that Riot should consider a revenue-sharing proposal that would see teams and players benefit from Riot's sponsorships. His video doesn't go into detail about what a solution might look like.
MonteCristo also claimed that the threat of relegation already forces teams to offer as much as they can to acquire the best players, so that they do not lose their LCS spot and forfeit their investment. "In a system where relegations exist, teams will always be trying to pay the players the maximum amount that makes sense, because otherwise you lose everything," he said.
He called Riot and Tryndamere hypocrites, claiming that they were telling teams to spend more on players while underpaying their own broadcast talent. MonteCristo and his fellow OGN casters have raised the issue of unfair treatment by Riot in the past, for example when they boycotted the Mid-Season Invitational for allegedly offering substandard wages. In a Tweet Monday morning, he said the current debate gave him more reason to believe a caster's union is needed.
In Tryndamere's original Reddit post, which he later edited, he suggested that Reginald and TSM were "losing money" by investing in other esports. MonteCristo attacked this statement in his video, saying there was no way for Riot to know whether teams were turning a profit from titles like Counter-Strike or Overwatch. (Renegades has an active roster in CS:GO.)
"I don't know how Riot got this idea," he said. "They never asked me, as a team owner, how I was doing, where my sponsorship money was coming from. And I would have told them that — for me personally and I think this is true for a lot of teams — that sponsorship in CS:GO and the potential of Overwatch was much more exciting for sponsors. And it was getting increasingly difficult to field good sponsorships and make good money off of an LCS team."
MonteCristo took special issue with a section of Tryndamere's response in which he separated teams into those with "good guy" owners like Reginald, and others at the "bottom end of the ecosystem."
"I hate this about Riot," he said. "They’re like some sort of f***ed-up, tyrant Santa Claus, where you get put on the naughty or nice list for all-time, and they decide ‘he is good, he is bad. I guess Regi’s one of the good guys. I don’t really know what that means in this context."
Devastated after ten games, Snake eSports’ players deflated on stage. The stress that had mounted after a reverse sweep against Vici Gaming, five games against Team WE, and at least two incredible comebacks from gold deficits, and they simply wilted. They didn’t cry as they dragged their backpacks from the team room and left the stadium — at least not yet.
They didn’t cry, but their manager did. Cao “Zuowu” Yu covered his face for the cameras as he shepherded his players out of the stadium. Snake had played two best-of-fives in one day only to lose to the fourth place team in 2016 LPL Summer.
With the commercial nature of Chinese League of Legends esports — the streaming contracts, Jay Chou playing a showmatch with other celebrities on the same stage at the conclusion of the Regional final, the Choi “DanDy” Inkyu flip flops, the jerseys and the color change mugs — it’s sometimes easy to become jaded and detached, to forget this is a sport about winning.
One question I receive on Twitter almost daily is, “Do you think [X Korean player in LPL] still wants to win?” This question confuses me. No matter how many compromises one makes, making concessions to dedicated practice for something else, when the day arrives where a player has the opportunity to compete to win, they reach for it. Every pro player has risen through the ranks of the ordinary to gain attention, to join a team — to do that, they can't not want to win.
This weekend in Guangzhou, after EDward Gaming re-ascended to the LPL throne in the place in which the organization was originally conceived, four other teams bore the heavy lighting and sweat of the stage. Either one of them could have represented China as their third best team, but as the stands rocked and victory came down every time to a single moment — a ward, a Teleport, the fourth strike of a Jhin ultimate — you could feel how badly these teams wanted to win.
Vici Gaming, toppled in the first round after sliding past the first two games, splintered against Snake’s Game 4 comeback and crashed again without an opportunity to make the World stage. DanDy thought about returning to Korea to take a break earlier this year, but he stayed for another split. His ex-Samsung White teammates, he says, taunt him as the only one who still hasn’t won an LPL.
Lee “Easyhoon” Jihoon had great expectations for climbing out of Lee “Faker” Sanghyeok’s shadow, but had them crushed with the slipping away of two of his best picks in the meta. Without Ekko, Zhu “Loong” Xiaolong missed Rumble ultimates, he failed to impact the map, but he knows esports is a profession; it’s not about being famous or earning money, it’s a job. It’s almost certain that, as far as they’ve come, Vici Gaming’s two AD carries are tired of being blamed — but they still aren’t good enough. The fifth game closed, judged them unworthy, and Snake eSports, not Vici Gaming, advanced to the next round.
Snake eSports didn’t win another series, but they were the only team to leave the stadium “heroes.” In 2013, Star Horn Royal Club played two best-of-threes and a best of five in a single day to advance as the first seed for LPL in the Season 3 World Championship. They lost their first series in the upper bracket to Oh My God, defeated Invictus Gaming in the lower bracket and climbed back to 3-0 OMG and take the tournament. They played nine games in total. Snake eSports played ten.
Every split has been the same for Snake since they joined the League of Legends Pro League. For them, every game is a final. Manager Zuowu has said that some of the famous Korean players are too expensive to sign, but the lesser known Korean players like Park “TANK” Danwon come to China with a wound, with something to prove. But perhaps because of their hunger, Snake always play all their cards too early. Their opposition know what they will do before they do it, and they never evolve from the first style they use after a roster change.
This split, Zuowu took a gamble on the LPL’s first non-Korean import, Vietnamese jungler Lê "SofM" Quang Duy. His debut in Week 2 of the split made him an instant sensation with writers and analysts internationally — who made attempts to decipher his early game movements, to label him predictable, and he was, but this style, the Style of SofM, took Snake much further than expected.
SofM takes many kills, he endeavors to constantly outplay his opposition, and his solo laners back him up, not the other way around. This split has been a struggle of integrating SofM into the team, of breaking bad habits and making him think of himself more as part of a unit.
In different splits since they entered the LPL, Snake have had three different stars. In 2015 Spring, Yang “kRYST4L” Fan’s apparently selfish playstyle required peel to keep him safe in a fight. His target selection was precise, but his positioning required him to be the center of attention. He’s been benched from the roster several times, and has said that getting back on the team has often been about finding other ways to be useful, including becoming an increasingly vocal team member as part of their communication.
kRYST4L’s return in the tie-breaker match against Vici Gaming allowed Snake to beat Vici twice: first in the best-of-three to determine Regionals seeding, and then in the first round. He, along with the team’s new support, Xia “Jiezou” Heng, who was a whisper in Chinese solo queue and as a substitute before he dazzled in LSPL and LPL proper on Energy Pacemaker All, gave Snake firepower in the bottom lane.
The team’s second star has always been Snake’s real focal point. Their captain and top laner, Li “Flandre” Xuanjin played more and more carry champions in the LPL when kRYST4L first went to the bench. Known for his outlandish top lane picks in LSPL, Snake’s first game against WE featured one of his old favorites, Yasuo, and he started with three kills in the first six minutes. Snake still lost the game.
But if Snake had to go down, it should have been with all three stars: kRYST4L, Flandre and SofM finally operating together as a unit, finally sharing the spotlight and looking increasingly, though not yet completely, like a team.
“Sorry” was the only word Zuowu left on weibo after Snake’s final loss and exit from Worlds contention. I saw him briefly before the final game of the day, but he stopped me from saying a word for fear it would jinx them.
Today, Aug. 28, 2016, Flandre turned 18. Tank, at age 20, is the oldest player on the roster. They’ve already braved one of the longest days in LoL esports.
Team WE spent 2015, the year after one of the greatest Chinese players to ever play League of Legends, Gao “WeiXiao” Xuecheng, retired from their team, at the bottom of the LPL standings. Roster changes gave them energy to make it to Top 8 in 2015 Spring, but they had to scrape back into the LPL through Promotion at the end of the summer split.
Many credited WE’s bare minimum miracles to jungler Lee “Spirit” Dayoon, and when he left the team, publicly criticizing the Chinese team work ethic, WE had lost two stars in two years. Under the radar roster changes revived the team with Yoon “Zero” Kyungsup, Xiang “Condi” Renjie and rookie top laner Ke “957” Changyu.
The transformation WE’s top and mid laner went through this year is astounding. Su “xiye” Hanwei, always a staple at the top of the solo queue ladder in China, began to impact the map and became a powerful contender for China’s new generation of mid lane giants. 957, suffering in laning phase, took up the mantel of zoning top laners, controlling teamfights. While they developed, Condi kept the team climbing this spring with miraculous Baron steals, earning him the name “son of Baron.” His early pathing isn’t the most methodical, but he understands how to make the low probability play more probable.
Mystic, during his time in Korea, was regarded as one of the worst AD carries in Champions. With a selection of champions — Lucian, Ezreal and Sivir — he can tussle with the league’s best in LPL. Since Uzi’s departure from Star Horn Royal Club at the conclusion of 2014, Zero has oscillated between frustrated and scintillating as an individual player. This weekend, his Tahm plays made him the latter.
WE’s magic comes in the amount of risks they take. They shouldn’t get away with losing turrets, with juggling aggro in close fights, with complicated compositions that require the careful stacking of ultimates like Kindred and Taric. In the League of Legends Pro League, you pressure Baron with an advantage. Even if your advantage isn’t monstrous at 25 minutes, the enemy team can only delay the inevitable by taking the Baron from you, but securing it can ensure a win. WE were the masters of this play.
But I May and Snake both demonstrated how to abuse it. WE lost winnable games with heavy leads twice. The last one was the one that sent I May to Worlds instead of them.
After pressuring top lane and pushing the final game into I May’s base, the team got caught at the bottom lane inhibitor turret. I May had scaled their durability and damage. WE lost too many fights, and one well-placed ward, one Teleport, was all they needed to smash through WE’s base, to take their first inhibitor turret, their first inhibitor and advance to the 2016 World Championship.
This was far from I May’s first close five game series. Outside the one they played against Royal Never Give Up in the Summer semifinal, I May played an extremely close best-of-five in the 2016 Spring League of Legends Secondary Pro League final against Young Miracles. In the fifth game, Young Miracles had a lead, as did Team WE, but they dropped the game in a fight around Baron. I May made their way back and entered the LPL.
That demonstrates how much they’ve grown as a team. Young Miracles again had the opportunity to enter the LPL. YM have played four five game best of fives with the winner making it into the league this year, and lost all four of them, but I May are going to the 2016 World Championship.
For I May captain and top laner, Shek “AmazingJ” Wai Ho, this is about redemption. At the 2015 World Championship, he played for EDward Gaming. He was slated as the “dead weight” top laner from the LPL in a team fans constructed from what they called "dead weight" players. The desire to return has driven him to moving speeches, to declaring the team wouldn’t stop at making LPL, they’d make an assault on the 2016 World Championship.
Their analyst, Huang "FireFox" Tinghsiang, was coach of LGD Gaming. Blamed heavily for LGD’s loss, FireFox joined EDward Gaming as an analyst for their LSPL team and worked tirelessly with I May to advance back to Worlds for his own redemption story.
The rest of I May barely have any experience in major leagues to scrape together. AmazingJ and jungler Fan “Avoidless” Jun Wei played under the same organization years ago for a Hong Kong team known as You Can’t Stop Me. Today, it seems you really can’t.
Growth has propelled I May forward. They don’t have the strongest laners, and that became clear today when WE could often out-pressure them when high-skilled coordination was required. Yet the cleverness and understanding of the map, as well as their patience made them the better team.
Chinese players like Yu “Misaya” Jingxi or I May’s owner Pun Wai "Wh1t3zZ" Lo have emphasized countless times that the key to international success is being open and willing to learn quickly in scrims or otherwise at events against competition from abroad. The growth witnessed from Royal Never Give Up from the 2016 LPL Spring final to the Mid-Season Invitational underlined that point.
At the 2016 LPL Regional, all sets went to five games. Any of the four teams at the Regional could have represented the LPL at Worlds. This arbitrary need we have to assess how badly teams want to win is absurd — they want to win, that’s why they advance to the highest level, and they don’t need our validation.
I May didn’t triumph over WE because they wanted to win more. The very act of wanting to win didn’t take them from LSPL to Worlds in the span of a split. But what did — the perseverance and the willingness to adapt not just across the span of the summer split but within their series — is what makes them the best team to complete China’s lineup of representatives.
As I May took the last nexus of the 2016 Chinese regional final, it came down to the right ward, the right flank, the right Teleport. This weekend, Guangzhou crushed a year’s worth of hard work and dedication for three teams, but it made heroes. The halls are lined with collections of photos from previous years’ Regionals — even photos of the ones who didn’t win.
Because they all wanted to, and as I May head to Worlds this year, that’s something they take with them.
MarkZ on why he quit coaching: 'A lot of players in the scene have very bad attitudes'
William "scarra" Li
Mark "MarkZ" Zimmerman has been busy since his departure from coaching Team Liquid, creating his own show, "The Blame Game," and often appearing as one of the main guest analysts for the weekly NA LCS broadcasts.
After Team SoloMid's 3-0 sweep of Counter Logic Gaming in Sunday's semifinal, William "scarra" Li chatted with MarkZ about why he's happier than ever since leaving coaching behind and get his prediction for the upcoming third-place and grand final matches.
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Re-Ward Here: A Guide to Toronto for the NA LCS Finals
For those who don’t know, theScore esports is based in Toronto, Canada. So with the 2016 NA LCS Summer Split finals taking place in our city, who else would be better to give you some tips to get around?
We present to you our guide to help you make the most of your trip to Toronto.
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