Overwatch’s biggest wildcard, Flash Wolves, will represent Team Taiwan in Santa Monica. The Wolves are one of the most well respected World Cup squads, and for good reason, as the team is riding a wave of blistering momentum after crowning a twenty one game win streak with a Pacific Championship title.
Flash Wolves were formed in February this year, with the aim of creating an all-star team from the available Taiwanese talent. At the time Taiwan’s other leading team, ahq eSports Club, were still rebuilding after a disastrous campaign in China, dropping out in the early stages of both the Nexus Cup Grand Final and Team Story Chapter 1.
Both teams had the potential to claim the number one spot in Taiwan, but until recently that title didn’t hold much value to the global community. Local competition in Taiwan before the Pacific Championship was, for the most part, limited to small LAN events or online cups that drew little attention from international fans, accentuated by ahq’s failures in China.
The Wolves roster was sourced from multiple teams competing in Taiwan. Baconjack, KMoMo and S1nkler previously played for Stay Frosty, victors of the $70K USD Taiwan Open. Zonda and Realment joined the roster with previous experience on an ahq’s sister team. The two also played in online cups with Jongie, the final member of the roster, under project team Nameless TW.
Together the players made up what was expected to be Taiwan’s best team. However, every single member of the roster had previously been defeated by Australia’s Fusion Girls (now Blank Esports), despite having the benefit of a ping advantage in online cups. Considering that history, few expected that Flash Wolves could defeat their Australian rivals. After losses to ahq and Machi Esports opening stages of the tournament some were even questioning whether they were even the best Taiwan had to offer.
It was at this point that the Wolves started their current 21 game winning streak. The team cut down on overextensions and wasting ultimates in losing fights, adapting to the dives of Blank and ahq. The tanks and supports made sufficient room for Zonda and Baconjack to go to work, particularly Baconjack, who dismantled teams player by player on Tracer. Remarkably they did not lose a map for twenty straight games, earning 3-0 after 3-0 in the regular season of the Pacific Championship.
Blank were devoured by the Taiwanese players in the Grand Final, only claiming two maps against the champions across two best-of-seven matches. With their victory, Flash Wolves earned themselves a reputation that has struck fear in the hearts of opposing World Cup squads.
The question is: can Flash Wolves translate this success into wins away from home? At their best the Wolves possess an incredibly coordinated 2/2/2 dive, with honed teamwork providing space for the DPS players to run wild whilst at the same time ensuring sufficient protection for the backline.
However, this has all come on the Wolves home ground at Blizzard’s eStadium in Taiwan. It remains to be seen if they’ll be able to translate such a successful season into wins away from home. Team Taiwan will also be facing new competition after months of playing the same seven teams again and again in four round robins.
Another issue to note is the team’s lack of flexibility. When facing the best competition in the Pacific Championship, Flash Wolves consistently fell back on their 2/2/2 dive, outside of their use of Sombra. Lacking a top tier Genji player, the team is unable to emulate their efficiency with 2/2/2 when running triple DPS. Whilst they did dominate when utilising their preferred composition, teams are starting to develop anti-dive compositions, featuring Zarya and Reinhardt. Team Taiwan could potentially face difficulties due to their rigid line-up, but bear in mind Santa Monica is still on the old patch.
Finally, Taiwan play in one of the World Cup’s toughest groups, facing off against Team Brazil, represented up of the entire Brazil Gaming House roster, as well as Team USA. In such a talented group there is little room for slip ups, dropped matches or maps could see the team place second in their group or even fail to advance to the Round of 8.
In the end these issues are nit-picking what should be viewed as the best team in the Santa Monica Group Stage. Retaining team chemistry built by months of play on a LAN setting will be invaluable and should aid the team in overcoming any issues they may face. Fans were impressed by quality Tracer players such as ta1yo and Klaus in previous World Cup qualifiers. So expect jaws to drop when Baconjack, one of the world’s best Tracer players, gets to strut his stuff on a global stage. Don’t discount the rest of the roster though, as the players have all been honing their roles as a team for many months.
Now is the perfect time for Team Taiwan to eradicate any lingering doubts about the quality of Taiwanese Overwatch. Defeating their American and potentially European opposition will firmly place Taiwan on the map as another Asian powerhouse, alongside Korea and China.
The roster of Team Taiwan is:
- Lu "Zonda" Zhongda(DPS)
- Luo "Baconjack" Zihuan (DPS)
- JI "Jongie" Zicheng (Flex)
- Syu "KMoMo" Maojyun (Tank)
- Huang "Realment" Huang (Support)
- Li "S1nkler" Jiahao (Support)