Another year, another disappointing run for the Oceanic region at the International Wildcard Tournament. This year OPL champions and Australian esport legends The Chiefs represented the hopes and dreams of our region in Mexico City. Unfortunately, those hopes and dreams were smashed in front of us as multiple regions dismantled our best, and most promising team in years. Chiefs did manage to secure multiple victories during the round robin, but defeats to multiple regions such as Turkey, Japan and South East Asia truly display the vast difference in skill between other wild card regions.
Game 1: SuperMassive Esports VS Chiefs Esports Club
The first game of Chiefs international campaign had them go up against the Turkish all-star team SuperMassive Esports. It was the first game of the tournament and had me eager to see how much of a fight we could put up to the tournament favourites. The game was less a fight between challenging talent and more a murder and display of superior skill. SuperMassive took control early in the game by fearlessly diving Raydere beneath his own tier 1 and 2 turrets. Spookz was nowhere to be seen in this game and was out jungled heavily in the early game by Furkan “Stomaged” Güngör’s Gragas, who continued the early game aggressive momentum leading the charge on multiple other dives, sucking away any hope for map pressure for the Chiefs. SuperMassive went on to dismantle The Chiefs in team fights, taking the Baron and finishing the game at 29 minutes.
SuperMassive were however tournament favourites and this was to be just game one in a long and gruelling round robin that the Chiefs would struggle to combat through.
Game 2: Chiefs Esports Club Vs Hard Random
Game 2 had Chiefs face Hard Random, the Russian wild card team built around Anivia master and midlaner Mykhailo “Kira” Harmash. Chiefs were searching for first blood and their first win whilst Hard Random looked to tighten their game plan and look for a more commanding win than their first game. Chiefs chose to run a standard poke/pick composition with Nidalee, Azir, Jhin and Tresh whilst ignoring to ban Kira’s infamous Anivia. This oversight or, over confidence would come back to bite Chiefs as another game would run away from them.
Chiefs attempted to kill Kira multiple times to no avail, either due to impeccable Crystalize ice walls, Rebirth eggs or intervention by Mykhailo “Kira” Harmash’s support Tahm Kench, who would simply eat Kira whenever he was in danger. Raydere struggled to cut through Hard Randoms team with Jhin, dealing no damage during his ultimates because he was dead, or because a Tahm Kench or Trundle sat in his way soaking bullets. Day one was Grim for the Chiefs, but they had lost to two of the strongest teams at the tournament. Turkey, Brazil and Russia all showed that they were the teams to beat, displaying superior skill which separated theme into the upper echelon of the tournament. All was not lost for the Chiefs however who sat at the bottom of the table, who still could make the semi-finals with multiple victories.
Game 1: Chiefs Esports Club v INTZ E-SPORTS
Chiefs only had a singular game on day 2, but it was against the titans of wild card tournaments and long-time rivals, Brazil’s INTZ E-Sports. Chiefs looked at a double teleport composition with extreme comfort picks across the board with Poppy, Graves, Lissandra, Kalista and Alistair. Chiefs aimed to flank INTZ with Poppy and Lissandra then pile on damage with Kalista and Graves in early team fights. The Brazilians went for something much more different with Gabriel “tockers” Claumann on a midlane Corki and limited disengage and engage with Luan “Jockster” Cardoso’s Braum and Felipe “Yang” Zhao’s top Gragas.
In a stark contrast to day one, day two’s singular game would not be over swiftly. In a back in forth game that lasted a staggering 45 minutes. The fight was a scrap fest that had both teams killing each other over and over in a fight for objectives and vision. Chiefs gained control and turned the tables multiple times on INTZ with them teleport advantage, which allowed Swiffer to rotate bottom to turn the tides and create breathing room for Raydere. The game was finally closed out in a climatic team fight around Baron pit which saw Australian Alistair legend Egym land a crucial 4-man head-butt pulverize combo on the Brazilian team’s backline, freeing them up to be slaughtered by Raydere’s Kalista and Swiffer’s Lissandra.
GAME 1: Saigon Jokers Vs Chiefs Esports Club
Chiefs started day 3 coming off the back of an upset and looked to continue this trend by taking down south east Asia’s Saigon Jokers. Regrettably, The Chiefs couldn’t keep their momentum from day two and Saigon Jokers picked the oceanic team apart in the mid game. Hoàng “Row” Duy Ph??ng out levelled Swipp3r by 2 levels at the 20-minute mark and Long “Lovida” Mai Nh?t caused nightmares for The Chiefs on a split pushing Twisted Fate. The Jokers worked their way to a 6 thousand gold lead at the 20-minute mark and didn’t let go of Chiefs throat, choking more and more gold out of them eventually growing their lead to 10 thousand gold. Saigon were aggressive, diving Chiefs in choke points and consuming single targets in crowd control like Elise’s cocoon and TF’s Gold card.
Chiefs valiantly defended the base against one push, but finally the game was closed by Saigon Jokers excellent team fighting and Nguy?n “Celebrity” Ph??c Long’s Lucian ridiculously fed Lucian, who nearly wiped Chiefs entire line up with a single culling, allowing him to pick up a quadra kill.
Game 2: Chiefs Esports Club Vs Lyon Gaming
The Chiefs would finish off day 3 by facing the equally struggling Latin American team Lyon Gaming, who like the Chiefs were crushed by Hard Random and Saigon Jokers. It was evident the losses and tournament had begun to weigh on our international hopefuls, who visually looked a lot less enthused than day 1. Fortunately, The Chiefs would finally pick up a second win to slightly wash the taste of defeat out of their mouths. Chiefs finally conformed to the meta of the tournament, picking Twisted Fate in the middle lane to abuse to lack of vision on Lyons behalf.
Spookz, who up until this point had poor form I nthe tournament finally showed what he was made of, ganking lanes early and applying pressure across the map. Chiefs also showed the strength of their bot lane in the 2v2, who took a 30 creep score lead and pushed through Lyons tower. Lyon did manage to start firing on plays when defending their base, but the Chiefs gold lead was far too large.
Game 1: Detonation FocusMe Vs Chiefs Esports Club
Chiefs were now in a position where a singular loss meant they could not advance, and now they had to face Japans Detonation FocusMe. The Chiefs had a solid pick ban phase, until they let Lissandra go that is. Up until this point Lissandra had an 80%-win rate in the tournament, and Raydere was on an immobile attack damage carry in Caitlyn, truly a recipe for disaster.
The game went for a gruelling 50 minutes that saw Chiefs get multiple opportunities to turn the game against their Japanese foes. Chiefs lacked hard control and engage however and had to rely on soft engage from Tresh and Moakai. These champions were no match for the amount of crowd control Detonation brought to the table with Nautalis, Lissandra and Alistair. This difference in composition made any aggressive moves or attempts at engages from the Chiefs null and void, and the prospect of winning team fights continued to dwindle away longer the game went along.
Game 2: Chiefs Esports Club Vs Isurus Gaming
The Chiefs chances to advance to the Semi-finals had disappeared with their loss to Japan, and with it the hopes of a region, but there was still one last game to play against Latin America Isurus Gaming. Isurus shared the same record of 2-4 with the Chiefs, and even though neither team could advance, pride was on the line. The Chiefs wouldn’t allow themselves to finish the tournament on a loss, massacring Isurus in 25 minutes. Swiffer snowballed hard on Leblanc, ending with a score of 11-0-4.
And with this commanding victory, Chief’s International Wildcard campaign for 2016 came to a bittersweet close. It is evident that every Chief member under-performed during the tournament, not due to a lack of preparation or skill but due to experience and perhaps some complacency. This may be a result of the local scene needing to be more competitive, closing the skewed power between teams. Perhaps gaming houses and infrastructure must improve to aid this endeavour? Or maybe as a whole our competitive region needs to simply try harder? What is clear after watching IWC 2016 is that every region has improved over the past 12 months, but some have noticeably advanced further and faster than others. Hopefully the Oceanic region can learn from this tournament run to not just develop and catch up to the rest of the regions.