One of the most notable teams to grace the World Cup stage, Team China is now coming into 2019 with the intention of winning. This year they’re fielding a star-studded 2019 roster featuring some of the best Chinese players in the scene. After coming so far then being denied the 2018 trophy at the hands of Team South Korea, China wants to prove that silver just isn’t their color.
OWWC 2016 and 2017
China has been one of the few teams to have competed in the World Cup for all four years that it has been held. Starting back in 2016, the OWWC was formatted extremely different from now, as was China’s roster. In this first year, China placed at the top of their group stage, boasting a 4-1 matchup record against France, Thailand, and Singapore. However, in the playoffs, China met their ends quickly at the hands of team Sweden 2-0.
In 2017 the team came back to once again, this time featuring some names more familiar to recent fans; DPS Yiliang “Eileen” Ou and Huang “leave” Xin made their first World Cup debuts here. China easily swept through their initial group qualifiers, not dropping a single map against Norway, Hong Kong, or Romania. Yet once again, they were halted in Top 8, this time at the hands of Team France, and were sent packing.
For 2018’s World Cup, the roster had a wealth of important fresh new faces, including names that would come to define several 2019 Overwatch League expansion teams. While Eileen did not return for starting 7, Leave was back again, this time paired with fellow DPS Cai “Krystal” Shilong. This roster also featured the World Cup debuts of supports Li “Yveltal” Xianyao and He “Sky” Junjian, the latter of whom played for Shanghai Dragons near the end of 2018. It also featured Ma “LateYoung” Tianbin and playmaker main tank Xu “guxue” Qiulin.
Starting in the group stage, the same pattern seemed to be repeating again as it did before. China exited the Bangkok group qualifiers in first place with a 5-0 record; their opponents here were Thailand, Sweden, Australia, Spain, and Denmark. This time, their match against Sweden yielded a victory, a nice revenge arc completed for long-time fans of the team.
Once getting to Anaheim however, it seemed China’s quarterfinals curse had finally lifted for the first time as they went to crush team Finland in Top 8. They then went on to demolish Team Canada, who were huge favorites to return to the Finals. However, in the final match, Team South Korea crushed Team China 4-0, denying them the coveted first place finish.
Team China’s roster may be one of the most stacked that China’s ever provided. With six Overwatch League pros at the helm from three different teams, many of whom are returning World Cup players, no one on this team is a stranger to performing on large stages in Los Angeles.
Their primary DPS line will consist of an old returning face as well as a brand new one; Eileen of the Guangzhou Charge has made his return this year to team up with fan-favorite Yi “JinMu” Hu from the Chengdu Hunters. Both are flex DPS players, but they have each proven themselves capable on a variety of characters over the season. Out of the two, it’s most likely that Eileen will fill the hitscan role.
Next on the lineup are Hangzhou Spark main tank Guxue with Chengdu’s Luo “Elsa” Wenjie. Guxue made a massive name for himself off of his 2018 performance, so his return will likely signal a strong showing again, and Elsa proved himself a very dominant off-tank in the 2019 OWL season.
Finally, there are the supports, both from the Chengdu Hunters, which are Yveltal and Kong “Kyo” Chunting. Both of them had extremely good cohesion for the OWL 2019 season, consistently starting together, and will round out the roster well.
Potential Roster Issue
However, it is worth noting that one of their DPS players will reportedly not be playing in Los Angeles this year. According to a tweet from the Chengdu Hunters from October 23, Leave will not be playing this year due to illness, marking his first World Cup absence in three years. As of now, no other word on this situation has been shared, not even from Team China’s twitter.
Happy 18th Birthday to Leave today! Unfortunately, due to health reasons, Leave will not be playing for Team China during this year’s OWWC. Get better soon and we will see you on stage again! pic.twitter.com/A6xUSPN5IT
— Chengdu Hunters (@ChengduHunters) October 24, 2019
This also means as of now it is unclear who will come in to replace Leave in the starting seven. China never posted a top 12, only 15 players who were doing well in trials, and out of these, Krystal was the only alternate DPS candidate. It’s unknown if Krystal will come in to play, especially given his recent public conflict with the Hangzhou Spark’s management, or if China will bring in a backup of another role. Regardless, Leave’s absence may cost China dearly this year.
China truly has been growing as a competitive region every year since Overwatch was released. While they have stalled out in the past, 2018 was so close to being their year to take the gold. After coming home second best, China has returned this year, taking some of the best parts of their accomplished roster, while bringing several new faces and even a veteran from a year before that. They’ve certainly set themselves up for an excellent run in 2019 by making notable tweaks to their roster but not overhauling anything. Leave’s absence may pose the only main issue for this roster, but knowing how strong Chinese Overwatch has become in the year 2019, it’s only natural for this team to do well. This year, they won’t be satisfied with another silver medal. After all, gold looks good on China.
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