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IEM World Championship Preview

By Irena 'curlychan' Pencheva
Mar 4, 2013 23:51


ImageA year has passed once again and it is time for the seventh season of the IEM to end, but not before we find out which team will have their name engraved on the big trophy. 12 squads from Europe, Korea and Brazil will have the chance of doing that, so let’s have a closer look at each of them.

After 5 stops throughout the season that started with the Season 2 European Regionals at Gamescom and ended, accompanied by one of the loudest chants from the audience, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the rankings have been finalized and the teams that will have a shot at the IEM trophy were chosen.

It was without a doubt a controversial season compared to the previous one – the NA teams hardly ever participated in the offline events, some of the European ones had to cancel their trips to Singapore and Brazil as well, which lead to the competition not always be at the level we were used to seeing it. Despite that, the stops in Katowice and Sao Paulo had two of the most amazing and loudest audiences we’ve seen to date and made thousands of eSports fans experience the magic that League of Legends and Starcraft 2 bring to life, fulfilling IEM’s goal to do exactly that every year.

Having said that let’s take a look at the groups that have been drawn last week and at the teams themselves:

Group A:


Group B:


1. RU Gambit Gaming

Line-up


The defending champions from last year’s IEM World Championship are going to Hanover with one intention – taking another trophy. Given the fact that they haven’t lost a single IEM event they have participated in, the odds are definitely in their favour. Gambit are coming from a 9 game winning streak at LCS – a number that can’t be sniffed at, and have been steamrolling through their biggest rivals EG, SK and Fnatic. Each of the Russian players has been on top of his game in the last weeks - introducing new FOTM champions, going on killing sprees with supports, getting quadra kills, etc. Any team that meets Gambit either in the group stage or in the playoffs, in which they will 99,99% participate, is going to have a really hard time because 3 bans are just not enough against them. Last year, the Russian powerhouse won the Championship without losing a single game and they have shown that they have the strength to do it again, unless someone can stop them. Will there be such a team though?

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2. EU Evil Geniuses

Line-up


After a very good performance in the first two weeks of LCS, Evil Geniuses found themselves having a bit of problems in the next two winning only 1 of their last 6 games. Players from the team said there were communication issues and strategies not executed properly, but they will bounce back from the disappointment and return to their usual form as soon as possible. However, the IEM World Championship might be a bit too soon. EG are definitely in the tougher group of the 2 and given their recent results, there is a possibility that they might not make it out of it. Froggen and company will definitely try their best not to let that happen and a strong showing in Hanover is exactly what they need to get back on track.

3. EU Fnatic

Line-up


Currently holding the second place in the LCS, Fnatic started the league a bit shaky, played brilliantly in week 3 and had a questionable performance in the Super Week taking 3 out of 5 games. It’s not clear if they had time to prepare special strategies for the IEM World Championship with it starting so close after the weekend, but they will definitely be looking for a good run there, given the fact that they didn’t even make it out of the group stage last year. And talking about last year, the aAa Corki+Leona pain train has now transformed into Fnatic’s MF+Leona which has worked very well for them so far. So well actually, that teams started banning one of the champions against them and they will probably not be able to use the combo in Hanover at all. The European powerhouse should not have much trouble to go out of the group stage even though it includes yet another match with Gambit, who they haven’t been able to beat yet in the LCS. How far will they go in the playoffs given they get there? Depends on how many teams they can backdoor!

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4. EU SK Gaming

Line-up


SK Gaming just went 4-1 in LCS’ Super Week and climbed up to the third place in the league. Each of the players had at least one game in which they played brilliantly and things are definitely looking bright for the team. It’s time for a big showing by them as their last tournaments weren’t what people expected from SK and they know it. Lead by Ocelote and his notebook of ultimate knowledge, which for sure keeps yet not shown strategies, SK will have to go through quite a challenging group stage and possibly even stronger opponents in the playoffs. If they start winning though, we all know they would carry the momentum and become a formidable opponent for anyone.

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5. PL Anexis

Line-up


Anexis is a relatively new team, though all of its members have been around the competitive scene for a long time, sadly not with much success as of now. The team took part in the Season 3 European qualifiers but couldn’t win even one game in their group of death which included Fnatic, Giants and Alternate. Immediately after that, they traveled to their first IEM event in Brazil in which they took Fnatic’s spot after the latter announced they won’t be able to attend. Anexis went 2-1 in their group, losing only to LG-IM, which they met once again in the final. The Polish team couldn’t take revenge on the Koreans and ended up 2nd but even that was enough for them to receive a spot for the IEM World Championship. Their chances though don’t seem very good as all other teams in their Group B are considered better and have played in more offline events. Anexis probably won’t get out of the group stage but should definitely soak up all the experience of playing against the big names if they want another shot of qualifying for the LCS later this spring.

6. PL MeetYourMakers

Line-up


MYM is one of the oldest line-ups in the European competitive scene but were staying a bit in the shadows until their first IEM appearance last winter in Singapore. Even though the competition there wasn’t the best, they took the gold and since then, have attended every IEM event. Their achievements include two 3/4th spots as well as a 5/6th one, which was only decided by the time rule. They also attended the Season 3 European qualifiers and were considered one of the teams that will make it for sure into the LCS. Surprisingly for many, they didn’t succeed as they lost to DragonBorns in the game for the last available spot. Since then, they have went under the radar, possibly training hard for the IEM World Championship, though with the hard group they have, it will be quite the challenge for them to make it out.

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7. EU Millenium

Line-up


Millenium’s current roster has been together since December when they attended IEM Cologne. Despite their early exit from the tournament, after it other teams and fans were praising them a lot for their online performance and everyone expected them to have an easy time at the Season 3 European qualifiers. Things didn’t turn out that way at all in Warsaw and they had to admit defeat, hoping for better luck in the next qualifier during the mid-season. After the disappointing outcome of the qualifier and because of some internal problems, Millenium had to release their support player Haydal, taking FatMamma who was prior to that acting as a sub back in the main roster. Right after that, they took part in IEM Brazil where they took a 3/4th spot, losing to Anexis in the semi-final. During the last two weeks Millenium have been practicing with only one goal in mind – a good showing at IEM World Championship and finally establishing themselves offline. Will they be able to accomplish that? Looking at the their group, it will not be an easy task by any means, but maybe they will be able to surprise us.

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8. KR CJ Entus Blaze

Line-up


Once considered the best Korean LoL team or in the worst case one of the absolute top tier, Blaze have had some unsuccessful months lately. Ever since they released Reapered it seemed like there was a hole left in the squad that their new recruit Flame couldn’t fill in. IPL 5 was the first North American event they attended with him and the first one they didn’t win, as they lost to Moscow 5 and finished in 7/8th place. A month later, it was again the Russian powerhouse that simply dismantled them at IEM Katowice’s final. And if that wasn’t enough, they lost their match for 3rd place at The Champions Winter versus KT Rolster B with a 0-3 score. Blaze didn’t put up any kind of a fight against a team that is miles behind them in terms of experience and participation in such important matches, which was a clear sign of trouble. Now with the new sponsorship provided by CJ Entus, the team will surely look to restore their status as one of the best in the world and there’s not a better place to do that than the IEM World Championship. They will have a chance for revenge against Gambit Gaming as soon as the group stage commences and that will definitely be a match you don’t want to miss.

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9. KR CJ Entus Frost

Line-up


Despite definitely being the better Azubu/CJ Entus team of the two for months, Frost’s status was shaken as of lately too. After a perfect 3-0 result in the group stage at IEM Katowice the runners-up from the Season 2 World Championship, were defeated in the semi-final by Gambit Gaming. Two weeks later, they also lost with an unimpressive 0-3 score from NaJin Sword at “The Champions” Winter season final (third consecutive one for Frost). Two days after that, the team changed their sponsors and besides some of their players participating in the OGN Club Masters, where they played in an all-stars CJ Entus line-up, they have gone completely off the radar. This will certainly give them an edge at the IEM World Championship as the non-Korean teams would probably have next to no idea about their picks, team comps and strategies. Frost will have to use that to their advantage in order to go out of the very tough group stage and hopefully for them, to fight their way up to the final.

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10. KR Incredible Miracle

Line-up


LG-IM is the team that won the last IEM event in Brazil and they did so by losing only one game in the group stage versus the home squad of Keyd Team. A month after that though, and only a week and a half before the IEM World Championship, they released one of their founding members and jungler player, Ring Troll, citing attitude problems which were bad for the atmosphere in the gaming house and the team as a whole. It is yet unknown if they found a 5th player or if they will be bringing someone to fill in the gap just for the tournament, but in any scenario their chances of showing a strong performance given the circumstances are rather low.

11. KR SK Telecom T1 S

Line-up


SK Telecom T1, lead by the former Blaze top laner Reapered, first appeared on the international scene at IEM Cologne but that didn’t stop them from winning it out right in a final versus Fnatic, who were on top of their game at the time. Since then, they have been participating in the Asian StarsWar League against the likes of World Elite, Invictus Gaming and Taipei Snipers, but their performance was far from good as they have lost all 3 of their games till now, sitting at the bottom of their group. How will they fare against some of the strongest European and Korean teams now is a bit of a mystery. Koreans are definitely not as scary as they were since IEM Katowice but SKT1 can still use the element of surprise against the squads from the Old Continent as most of them won’t know what to expect from them. The team’s performance will probably be hit or miss –we’ll have to wait and see which one of the two it will be.

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12. BR paiN Gaming

Line-up


paiN Gaming is probably the most well known name among the pro Brazilian teams. Despite that they haven’t actually won any of the Brazilian offline events up until now, they couldn’t even go out of the group stage at IEM Brazil. However, when a spot was left open for one of the Brazilian teams to compete at the IEM World Championship, they stepped up their game and won the qualifying match against Insight eSports. Now paiN will have to play against some of the best players in the world and this time the amazing Brazilian crowd won’t be behind their back cheering for them. Their chances of making it out of the group stage are rather slim, but the experience they will gather from the tournament will be priceless especially if they are aiming of being the best in their country and possibly qualifying for the Season 3 Finals, granted there is a Brazilian spot there.

The event will be hosted by our very own Eefje "sjokz" Depoortere and Paul 'ReDeYe' Chaloner. The casters are everyone's favourites Joe Miller, Jason Kaplan and Leigh "Deman" Smith, while on the analysis desk we'll see Jarett Cale, Christopher 'Panky' Pankhurst and Trevor 'qu1ksh0t' Henry.

IEM World Championship promises to be nothing short of amazing so better don't miss a minute of it. The show starts on Wednesday at 9:30 CET with the matches from Group A and continues the next day at the same time with Group B. The playoffs will be played on Friday and Saturday at the same starting hour. For the full schedule head over to esl.tv.

Pictures courtesy of Fnatic, ESL, Millenium, ThisIsGame and Azubu.


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