Worlds 2017: Team WE’s long and winding road to the Semifinals
POSTED BY Ralph Nicolo Manaloto ON October 24, 2017
Heading into the 2017 League of Legends World Championship, not a lot of people (nor Chinese fans probably) expected Team WE to be one of the four teams remaining in the Playoffs. But that is exactly what they did, as the third-place LPL team defied expectations and became one of the best-performing teams at this year’s Worlds.
Of the four remaining teams, only WE had to go through the Play-In stage. So it’s fair to say that the Chinese squad had the longest and arguably toughest road to the Semifinals. Let’s look back at their journey through Worlds 2017 so far.
Some may argue that WE looked pretty good in the recent LPL Summer Playoffs, but for the better part the year, other Chinese teams had their number. And while their performance during the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational was great, they still did not have enough international LAN experience to be considered one of the teams to beat at Worlds.
One thing’s for sure, even if they had to go through the Play-Ins, they were very much guaranteed to move on to the Group Stage; barring any major throws of course. Thankfully, they performed up to par in front of the home Chinese crowd.
WE quickly dispatched their Group A opponents – Lyon Gaming and Gambit.CIS to secure a Round 2 Bo5 match against GPL team Young Generation .Team WE didn’t break a sweat in the said Bo5 match, as they eliminated Vietnamese squad YG 3-0 to claim a Group Stage spot.
In the Worlds Group Stage, Team WE flew under the radar for most fans, as all eyes were on Team SoloMid and Flash Wolves in Group D; after all, the aforementioned teams are the first placers in their respective regions. After the first week of Group Stage matches though, Flash Wolves failed to deliver as it was WE and TSM that took the top two spots with 2-1 records each.
WE’s loss against TSM in Week 1 proved to be their only loss of the Group Stage, as they proceeded to win the rest of their matches. They ended the Group Stage on top with a 5-1 record, which made them the second Chinese team to move on to the Worlds 2017 Playoffs.
In the Quarterfinals, Team WE were matched against Cloud9, the last remaining North American team. With the weight of the NA LoL scene on their backs, C9 poured all they had into the series; and it showed, as they got a 2-1 lead after the series’ third game.
Facing elimination, WE pulled out great gameplay, and even better drafts for Games 4 and 5. With their draft advantage, WE was able to take down C9 3-2, and guaranteed themselves a top-4 finish.
So what’s next for WE? Well, they’ll go up against Worlds 2016 runner-up Samsung Galaxy. The good news is that SSG hasn’t been playing as well as they have last year. The bad news is that they seemed to have a return to form in the Playoffs, as they convincingly 3-0’ed Longzhu Gaming, the first-place LCK team coming into Worlds.
For WE to win their series, the Chinese squad must play and draft as they did in Games 4 and 5 of their Quarterfinals series against C9. They must give their absolute best, if they are to have any hope of defeating SSG in a 5-game series. All hope is not lost though, as the slightly under-performing SSG from the Group Stage might show up in the semis; if not, then WE are in for one rough series.
Images courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr.