Special thanks to Rio for helping get information on the Chinese selection process and interviewing uNdeAD
The number one seed for this year's Overwatch World Cup will be China. The team will be playing at home during the group stages, and will likely be greeted by a friendly crowd as they play in Shanghai. They will likely make it out of their groups, but past that, China's performance will be an unknown to much of the world watching.
It is rare for a one seed to be anything less than the favorites, with the exception of this year's NBA Eastern Conference playoffs. This year's Boston Celtics' will have be joined by another dark horse one seed: China's Overwatch World Cup team. Team Korea serves as China's Cleveland Cavaliers, a two seed that enters the World Cup as heavy favorites.
Part of this is because Team Korea is just that good. Last year's iteration smashed their opponents en route to a tournament victory and the region is becoming the hottest place for western teams to go shopping for new roster additions. However, the other part to this is that China's ability is a huge unknown to most of the world.
Last time Chinese teams took on international competition was last October in the APAC Premier. A tournament that could be considered NRG's last notable performance and one in which the only native Chinese team to make the semifinal was eliminated in a 3-0.
It has been a long time since then and the top of China looks much different than it once did. NGA.Titan are no longer the powerhouses of China, and have since been replaced by LGD Gaming, a team that hasn't lost in tournament play since December to Kongdoo Uncia, until their recent loss to 1246 in the OWPS Finals.
Four of China's six representatives in the Overwatch World Cup come from this LGD Gaming roster. The other two come from one of China's most popular teams, Invictus Gaming Ice. While the players from this team don't have nearly the same success as their teammates from LGD Gaming, the players will certainly be popular to the Chinese faithful in Shanghai.
According to Chinese committee member Xiaoyao, the Chinese World Cup squad held extensive trials before settling on their team. The first three to make it onto the roster, forming the core of the team, were all from LGD: uNdeAD, Shy, and Eileen. uNdeAD specifically was a must-pick for the Chinese committee, as he is regarded as one of the best shotcallers in China, despite playing DPS. The rest of the team was formed around this core three based on team synergy, performance, and hero pools.
For more perspective, over.gg's own riojestin caught up with uNdeAD of Team China:
How would you compare team china to others in the group?
uNdeAD: I think all teams are quite strong, we won't underestimate any of them and will do our best in every match.
Do you think Team China members have anything in common?
u: The four of us from LGD all have strong desires to win, which is also an important quality as pro players. As for the other two from IG.Ice, I think they have strong communication skills and adaptability. We are united and trusting of each other.
Current composition of Team China vs LGD full team?
u: Team China was based on LGD players, so our play style and strategies are quite different from IG.Ice, but we have great team atmosphere and I believe we will overcome this problem soon. If China sends a full LGD team, we won't have to worry about synergy, since we played with each other for a long time already. However, our opponent could get info and study us more easily. That's the disadvantage.
Who do you want to play against the most?
u: I hope to play against every team and learn the Overwatch [play style] of other countries. But I would really love to face off Team Korea, because Saebyeolbe is on it, he is my target.
China has two opportunities to prove that it isn't the same country as last year with this year's APAC Premier and World Cup. Only time will tell if China has blossomed into one of the world's most promising Overwatch regions or if it continues to lag just behind Korea, North America, and Europe.
The Team China's World Cup roster is:
- Ou "Eileen" Yiliang (欧倚良) (DPS)
- Fang "uNdeAD" Chao (方超) (DPS)
- Wu "mg" Dongjian (吴董健) (Flex)
- Li "YaoYao" Haibo (李海波) (Tank)
- Zheng "Shy" Yangjie (郑杨杰) (Support)
- Chen "5King" Zhao yu (陈昭宇) (Support)