China’s World Elite Enter The Mid-Season Invitational As The True “Wild Card”

The LPL Champions World Elite have entered the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational with very little noise surrounding them, curious considering their 3-0 sweep of Royal Never Give Up in the LPL Finals. It is clear many fans and analysts are not quite sure where to pitch the strength of World Elite, as the disappointment from Chinese teams in the past has tempered some expectations for how far even a dominant Chinese team could go. With so much uncertainty surrounding them, World Elite could be the true “wild card” of this year’s MSI.

Entering MSI, there is likely no team shrouded in mystery like the LPL’s World Elite. Unlike the EU and NA LCS, little tends to be known of the LPL outside of China itself and the most die-hard of fans. While analysts and reporters alike shine the spotlight on Korea’s SK Telecom and the LMS’s Flash Wolves as tournament favorites, the Chinese champions are rarely presented to the table. Whether the underestimation of World Elite could prove fatal to their other competitors in the east, is yet to be seen.

Source: Twitter

If there was any doubt who the best team in the LPL was, it was put to rest after a 3-0 sweep of Royal Never Give Up by World Elite. Avenging last season’s 3-2 LPL semi-finals loss to Royal Never Give Up, World Elite were able to show success with multiple compositions, and maybe most importantly, their ability to recover from a deficit. Resilience is often an underrated trait in a team, and by fending off RNG in game 3 they showed they know how to both stall out a game and play through their win conditions.

Over the years, the reputation of Chinese teams at International events has dwindled to it becoming a lacklustre shadow of its former glory. Entering last year’s World Championship, Edward Gaming had been dominant domestically in the LPL and came to the World Championship as one of the clear two favorites to win the title along with Korea’s ROX Tigers.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

In typical Chinese fashion, Edward Gaming would drop the first game of the tournament to the Brazilian wild card INTZ eSports. Heralded as a top five player in the World, jungler Ming “Clearlove” Kai would be thoroughly outperformed by INTZ’s Gabriel “Revolta” Henud. While not the first example of disappointing performances by LPL teams, Edward Gaming’s struggles at last year’s World Championship only further cemented their reputation as overrated or unable to perform up to expectations.

If there is a player to watch on World Elite, it has to be star jungler Xiang “Condi” Ren-Jie. an MVP candidate in the LPL, Condi could easily be considered the best Chinese jungler and possibly one of the best in the world. While World Elite has still shown strong mid and late game team fighting, they are much more controlled than the “always fighting” reputation Chinese teams have accrued over the years, demonstrating a solid understanding of macro play and fulfilling their drafted win conditions.

Source: Twitter

The Mid-Season Invitational will mark World Elite’s first International Event (excluding IEM) since the Season 2 World Championships. While coming into the tournament as a relative unknown, they are a dangerous team that cannot be ignored. As was shown in their second place finish at IEM Katowice 2015 where they provided the greatest upset in League of Legends history, toppling the GE Tigers (last place LPL team over first place LCK). To under prepare for World Elite is a mistake that can quickly end a tournament run.

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