*Note: Taiwan is referred to as Chinese Taipei in all official World Cup media and games.
Heading into the preliminaries on October 31, the team from Taiwan are undoubtedly underdogs. More than half of their starting roster is currently unsigned and their only working committee member is currently working as a commentator in the Pacific Contenders region. On paper, this roster should struggle among the more star-studded rosters participating in the OWWC. But with Blizzcon weekend looming ever so close, it should be noted that this squad is playing with a fire in their soul, and a desire to prove to the world what the nation of Taiwan is truly capable of.
A Brief Introduction
The densely populated island of Taiwan is a classic example of what is an esports mecca. A recent Newzoo report projects that the 14.5M gamers in Taiwan will spend a total of $1.3B on gaming in 2018; it further shows that 54% of the online community in Taiwan engages in online gaming and esports regularly. It should be no surprise then, that this small island of people cyclically produces such great esports talent. In recent years it has become an expectation that there will be Taiwanese representation from the LMS at League of Legend’s World Championship. And in the Overwatch scene, a majority of the Flash Wolves team was Taiwanese. This roster had been the strongest team in the Pacific region of Contenders for the better part of the early Overwatch scene. At times competing with top Korean teams.
Taiwan has only officially competed at one OWWC. It was in the very first iteration of the tournament and the squad was unable to win a single match. Since then, they have failed twice to qualify for the main weekend of play. However, their performances in these qualifiers were never embarrassing, falling to teams like South Korea, Finland and the United Kingdom. With no public knowledge on how exactly the brackets will be run at the World Cup this year, it could be possible for Taiwan to avoid these elite teams and qualify for the main day of play.
The majority of the roster representing Taiwan at the OWWC this year were former players of the recently disbanded team Nova Monster Shield. Specifically, that is DPS player Lin “Shiaulin” Keng-Yu, off-tank player Wei “Craz1S” Hsiao-Chin, main tank player Chen “ATing” Shao-Hua and support player Wang “inin77” Qi-Hong. Under the Nova brand, this squad was quite successful in the Pacific region. In the most recent season of Contenders, they finished in the third position after falling to the eventual champions Talon Esports in the playoffs. Craz1S and ini77 also have experience playing as apart of more well-known teams; the former has played in the Chinese scene on Bubble Burster Gaming and the latter was a former member of the now very much beloved Talon Esports.
The sole Overwatch League representative in this World Cup squad is Lo “Baconjack” Tzu-Heng. Baconjack is a former professional CSGO player and also an original member of the legendary Overwatch team, the Flash Wolves. Which, as mentioned above, was a world-class team a few years back. Baconjack will have to be the star DPS carry for this team. Despite having moments of brilliance in the OWL this year, Baconjack found himself on the bench more often than not. So now, with the starting DPS position all to himself, he will need to make a statement in this tournament to solidify his legend status in this scene.
The rest of this roster is filled out by DPS player Kuo “WON” Zhan-Hao and main support player Yang “CQB” Hao-Cheng. WON plays the projectile DPS position for the struggling Chinese team Flag Gaming, perhaps best known as the squad that was named Team Never Lose Weight. On this roster, he was rarely given a chance to play and comes into the OWWC as relatively questionable skill-wise. However, CQB is a legitimately impressive player. During the Gauntlet, the recently concluded climax to the international tier two scene, CQB proved to be one of the most intelligent Lucio players outside of the OWL.
Predictions and Conclusions
In recent show matches against fellow Pacific representatives New Zealand and Australia, Taiwan managed to complete each series with a 2-2 map scoreline. Of course, this is not encouraging seeing as those teams are not expected to do particularly well on the Blizzcon stage either. But the south-east Asian squad is experienced and united. And on a stage in front of thousands of physical viewers, with tens of thousands more watching online, there will be teams that get nervous. And if Baconjack pops off, or maybe if WON is a secret Doomfist nut and/or if CQB can conduct his team from the backline like they are a well-practised and tight orchestra, then this is a team to watch out for. Crazier things have happened on the World Cup stage.
Watch the online preliminaries on October 31, starting at 12:30 PM EST on the PlayOverwatch Twitch channel.
For more Overwatch content, or a chat, follow Sam on twitter @yaakiisoba, or message him on Discord (yaakiisoba#2969).
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