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Intel Extreme Masters – World Championship 2014 Preview


Contributors to this preview include:

Alex “Valkyrie” | Dan “Heliosan” | Jordan “JYarbz” | Anthony Young | Clay Mischka

We are only one day away from the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship – From March 14th-16th, eight teams will look to take home the winning title after fighting it out in the conclusion to IEM in Katowice, Poland. With a $150,000 prize pool and international bragging rights at stake, this year’s line-up looks to ensure an exciting weekend.

This will be an important tournament to watch, as this will be one of the first events of the 2014 Season where teams will be competing from all around the world. With three powerhouse teams from Europe, two from China, one from Korea, Southeast Asia, and North America, who will rise to show that they are currently the strongest out of this elite pack?

Click Team Names to Navigate to Preview:

Team Previews Group A

Team Previews Group B

Tournament Structure

The eight teams at IEM will face off in two groups, played out in Dual Tournament format. This format contains four teams in one group who will face off in a Double Elimination bracket – The two teams that make it to the final of the entire bracket will not play out the final, but move on to the playoffs bracket of the tournament.

Groups

Two Groups, Double Elimination Bracket

In Group A, we will first see Invictus Gaming take on Fnatic and the KT Rolster Bullets take on Millenium. In Group B, we will first see Gambit Gaming take on Taipei Assassins and Cloud 9 take on World Elite.

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Group A Bracket Structure

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Group B Bracket Structure

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Meet The Casters

Professional League of Legends events have garnered a reputation for setting the bar ever higher in casting. This year’s IEM World Championship will be no exception, featuring some of the best and most well-known casters in the professional scene.

IEM Casters

Click each caster name for Twitter details and stay up to date with their commentary throughout the weekend!

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 Invictus GamingFnaticlogo_stdTeam Previews: Group A Ktrolsterlogo Milllogo_std


Invictus

iG 2014

From Left to Right: PDD, illuSioN, Zzitai, Kid, Kitties

Invictus Gaming    Team History & Current Season Standings    Invictus Gaming

In the early days of Chinese professional League of Legends, Invictus Gaming was always a bit on the back foot of World Elite, but had somewhat of a breakout season during LPL Spring 2013 when they finished First in the regular season and won the first place seed into the playoffs. However, it was downhill from there for iG when they lost to Positive Energy, though they were able to beat World Elite for third place in LPL Spring 2013.

Ever since iG fell off their pedestal, they have struggled to climb back up the team rankings in LPL. With only a support swap in their team roster, due to XiaoXiao’s retirement, Invictus Gaming has a lot to prove at IEM Worlds, considering they qualified by winning IEM Singapore against an arguably weak CJ Entus Frost in the Finals.

Invictus Gaming    Meet The Team    Invictus Gaming

Liu “PDD” Mou Top | Average KDA: 1.08 | Favorite Picks: Rengar, Renekton, Dr. Mundo, Shyvana

PDD, the All-Star top laner for Team China back in All Stars 2013, is known for oppressively bullying the enemy top laner and taking command of the lane. He will often build damage early to assist in his domination of the lane, and then transition into tank items during the later stages of the game. PDD is one of the main initiators for iG and he will not hesitate if he sees an opportunity to engage.

Chen “illuSioN” Xin-Lin  Jungle | Average KDA: 2.15 | Favorite Picks: Kha’Zix, Evelynn, Lee Sin, Elise

illuSioN, a founding member and long-time jungler for iG, prefers to play snowballing junglers like Evelynn and Kha’zix. He has a keen sense for when to steal objectives, which showed in the opening match of LPL Spring against EDG when he was able to solo Dragon twice, right under EDG’s nose. illuSioN focuses heavily on making his presence known across the map, investing early gold into movement speed and snowballing his laners. He will often lead the charge during iG’s engagements and tower dives.

Liu “Zzitai” Zhi-Hao  Mid | Average KDA: 2.14 | Favorite Picks: Everything (Gragas, Lulu, Oriaana, Leblanc, Nidalee, Riven, Talon…)

Zzitai, the young but experienced mid laner for iG, is known for his extremely versatile champion pool that has been witnessed within his competitive match history. He has played a different mid laner in almost every game Invictus Gaming has played in LPL Spring 2014. Zzitai is also known for bringing out unconventional mid laners in order to surprise his opponent. In the past, he was one of the few mid laners to ever use Swain in competitive League of Legends. More recently, he debuted Talon in iG’s winning match against Positive Energy during this season. Zzitai can be a prideful and emotional player (his account name for LPL matches is “McZz1taigod”) and if he begins to lose his lane, it could be argued that he goes on tilt as the game progresses.

Ge “Kid” Yan  AD Carry | Average KDA: 2.89 | Favorite Picks: Lucian, Ezreal, Vayne, Caitlyn

Kid, the AD Carry for iG, is known for playing hyper-aggressive alongside his new support, Kitties. Invictus Gaming’s duo lane continues to be a terror in the early game, constantly looking for an early level 2 all-in with hopes to pick up first blood and begin snowballing the lane in their favor. Like the other members of iG, Kid loves to shove and pressure lanes, but sometimes will over-commit for kills.

Liu “Kitties” Hong-Jun  Support | Average KDA: 2.17 | Favorite Picks: Leona, Annie, Alistar

Kitties, the new support for iG, is continuing the bloody reputation that iG’s duo lane has held, his hyper-aggressive style of play complementing Kid’s. He favors AOE CC supports with the ability to set up early kills, which helps to snowball the lane and zone opponents away from farm. Kitties forms another side of iG’s initiation by following up engages and applying crowd control to priority targets.

Invictus Gaming    Last Words    Invictus Gaming

Invictus Gaming has been in a slump for a long time. Based on how they have been playing in LPL recently, it is not expected for them to qualify out of Groups. They will be facing Fnatic in their first match, who underwent a relatively shorter slump of their own, but look to have since recovered. The rematch between sOAZ and PDD from All Stars will be worth watching, as both players are not particularly fond of the current tanky top lane meta. iG needs to be able to adapt quickly to Patch 4.3 if they want a chance to qualify out of Groups. They also need to patch up their vision control and in-game decision-making, particularly in the late game when they tend to lose crucial fights and key objectives to their opponents.

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Fnatic

From Left to Right: sOAZ, Cyanide, xPeke, Rekkles, YellOwStaR

Fnaticlogo_std Team History & Current Season Standings Fnaticlogo_std

Fnatic is unquestionably one of the strongest teams in Europe – Having won the EU LCS Summer Split last season and presenting a strong show at Worlds, Fnatic  began the Spring Split with a 7-0 perfect record. While having fallen from their perfect start to this season’s Spring Split, Fnatic is looking to turn things around across the last few weeks. Their showing in Super Week was a reminder to not write them off, as they are a team who has shown time and time again that they are indeed a force to be reckoned with on a global scale.

Questions were raised when Fnatic fell handily to Gambit Gaming at IEM Cologne and Cloud 9 during Battle of The Atlantic. However, Fnatic silenced all nay-sayers as they opened up the Spring Split with an incredible 7-0 streak, tearing down every team to cross their path in long-fought battles. However, this was not to last – As teams dug deeper into Fnatic’s weaknesses, their winning streak took a rapid 180 and changed from a 7-game winning streak into a downhill losing streak. Fnatic looked to turn things around during Super Week and did bring themselves back up to some degree. In order for them to be more successful moving forward, they will need to continue to improve their mid-game and objective control, placing higher priority on balancing objectives with aggression – Passing over dragons time and time again will eventually add up.

Regardless of consistency issues, Fnatic has some key core strengths as a team and in their playstyle. When Fnatic is playing at their best, their continual map pressure and highly aggressive style of play commands control over games. Should a team fall prey to Fnatic’s mind games and taste for blood, they will find themselves in a world of pain, very quickly. Fnatic is not afraid to take risks and is focused on creating or forcing action on a map-wide scale. Will Fnatic redeem themselves at IEM, proving once again that they are indeed still among the giants of the European scene?

Fnaticlogo_std Meet The Team Fnaticlogo_std

Paul “sOAZ” Boyer – Top | Average KDA: 4.3 | Favorite Picks:  Renekton, Dr. Mundo, Trundle

sOAZ is not afraid to break the mold of the meta in the top lane. He is known for possessing a ‘quirky’ champion pool, often favoring AP champions, such as Lulu or Gragas. Though often criticized for running this double AP composition, Fnatic has stuck with this strategy across much of the Spring Split. Despite the relatively lackluster success of this composition, sOAZ remains a high tier player who is capable of playing a wide variety of champions with exceptional mechanical skill. If sOAZ can have more games like his 5/0 Malphite during Super Week, he can certainly assist in setting Fnatic up for success.

Lauri “Cyanide” Happonen – Jungle | Average KDA: 3.1 | Favorite Picks: Vi, Lee Sin, Elise

Cyanide is truly a Jungler with a heart of gold. He plays the Jungler role with his team 110% in mind. Cyanide is more focused on assisting the solo lanes rather than farming for himself, and he has a consistent pattern of falling behind enemy junglers in terms of minion kills and jungle farm. However, Cyanide is a potent ganker, and is usually able to turn a visit to a lane into a kill. Cyanide should work more on ensuring that the  success of the lanes from early ganks can translate into mid-game objectives, like dragon. If the lanes can get rolling and Fnatic maintains control of more objectives in the mid game, this will leave less wiggle room for opponents to come back.

Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño – Mid | Average KDA: 3.0 | Favorite Picks: Orianna, Gragas, LeBlanc

The legendary playmaker for Fnatic – Having been on the roster since Season I, Fnatic looks to xPeke to lead the way as they battle through difficult games. Both strong in his own lane and in spreading pressure to others, xPeke is the man to watch as he is willing to take risks and ensure that his team can take advantages at pivotal times. He will do anything he can  to help carry his team to victory. We all know what xPeke is capable of – He is a man to be feared should you let him have Kassadin. No one and nothing will be safe, especially the enemy team’s Nexus.

Martin “Rekkles” Larsson – AD Carry | Average KDA: 6.4 | Favorite Picks: Caitlyn, Jinx, Lucian

The undisputed Week 1 MVP of the Spring Split, Rekkles has been a shining addition to Fnatic’s roster. After having to wait until age restrictions no longer limited him from joining the LCS, Rekkles hit the stage with ferocity. Even through some bumps during this Split that have tarnished Fnatic’s record, Rekkles has no doubt demonstrated that he is a deadly opponent in Bot Lane and holding consistent KDA’s.

Bora “Yell0wStaR” Kim – Support | Average KDA: 4.4 | Favorite Picks: Annie, Thresh, Leona

Having graced a variety of different roles during his time with Fnatic, Yell0wStaR has grown to become one of the most feared supports in the bot lane, demonstrating incredible skill and control, as well as some of the highest kill participation numbers in the Split. Having adapted well to supporting and working side-by-side with Rekkles, Fnatic’s duo lane looks to take down the competition at IEM.

Fnaticlogo_std Last Words Fnaticlogo_std

While perhaps struggling to find their way in the LCS, Fnatic’s power and past record cannot be denied. They are an incredibly strong team with a deep amount of talent across their roster. With some adaptation and more attention to mid-game objectives, they look to become yet again the most feared team in the EU scene. Perhaps IEM will be a stepping stone for their return to power.

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Rolster

KT B 2014

From Left to Right: Leopard, inSec, Ryu, Score, Mafa

Ktrolsterlogo    Team History & Current Season Standings    Ktrolsterlogo

The KT Rolster Bullets once again have proved themselves to be “The Gatekeeper” for any team looking to win the overall championship in the Korean scene – Not once or twice, but seven consecutive times:

  • Najin Sword beat KT B to win OGN Winter 2012-2013
  • MVP Ozone beat KT B, knocking them down to NLB to win OGN Spring 2013
  • Najin Sword beat KT B to win NLB Spring 2013
  • SK Telecom T1 beat the KT Bullets in the Grand Finals to win OGN Summer 2013
  • SK Telecom T1 beat the KT Bullets in the Finals to win the Korean S3 World Championship Qualifier – As a result, moving on to Worlds becoming the World Champions
  • CJ Entus Blaze beat the KT Bullets to win the WCG Qualifiers and eventually win WCG 2013
  • SK Telecom T1 beat the KT Bullets in the semifinals to win OGN Winter 2013-2014

Whether or not the KT Rolster Bullets live up to that reputation once again in the IEM Season VIII World Championships, this team will still be a challenging opponent for anyone who faces them, as they are an incredibly talented team. They are one of the most strategic teams in terms of their picks and bans, in-game decision-making, and late game Baron control. Despite KaKAO being moved over to the Arrows and more experiments being made to the roster during the LoL Masters matches, KT B will be a force to be reckoned with at IEM.

The KT Rolster Bullets are a renowned team in the OGN scene – However, despite having had strong performances throughout various seasons of Champions, KT B has never managed to actually win a Championship title. After losing to SK Telecom T1 K once again in the semifinals of OGN Champions Winter and KT Arrows making another bid to qualify for OGN Champions, the KT organization decided to make some roster swaps, moving KaKAO back to the Arrows and moving Zero to the Bullets as the jungler while inSec stayed in top lane. However, KT B had a very lackluster performance against Najin, and as a result, KT coaches ended up changing the roster again during the second match of LoL Masters, moving inSec back into the jungle and Leopard into Top Lane. It is not known whether this roster swap is permanent for KT B.

Ktrolsterlogo    Meet The Team    Ktrolsterlogo

Lee “Leopard” Ho-Seong Top | Average KDA: 6.0 | Favorite Picks: Renekton, Shyvana

Leopard was a longtime sub top laner for the KT Bullets and has played some games with the team in place of inSec in the past. With inSec’s move back to the jungle in KT B’s most recent match, this could be Leopard’s opportunity to make his mark on the international stage as the top laner for KT B. With his high rank in the Korean ranked solo queue ladder, Leopard looks to provide the solid tanky front line his team needs and has much to prove in terms of his skill on the world stage.

Choi “inSec” In-seok  – Jungle | Average KDA: 1.37 | Favorite Picks: Lee Sin

inSec is internationally renowned for his jungle play and mechanics. Though he served as the top laner for KT B during the past two OGN Champions seasons, the King of the Jungle has returned. Prior to KT’s LoL Masters match against IM, inSec’s last professional game in the jungle was against Ozone in the Champions Spring Quarterfinals, back in May of 2013. Although inSec’s initial return to the jungle was not the smoothest of transitions, he is not to be underestimated. With his death-defying mechanics and aggressive initiation, inSec will likely demand respect from the competition as his team re-adjusts to having him in the jungle.

Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook – Mid | Average KDA: 1.37 | Favorite Picks: Leblanc, Gragas

Ryu is a well-respected mid laner who holds a deep champion pool. This opens up more options in terms of strategy and versatility for KT B during their pick and ban phase. Known for his highly aggressive playstyle, Ryu consistently seeks favorable trades against his lane opponent, the end goal being to snowball an advantage and carry KT B during mid-game team fights. Despite some inconsistency in recent games with the new roster, Ryu will be a formidable mid laner that must be accounted for by any team looking to defeat KT B.

Go “Score” Dong-bin – AD Carry | Average KDA: 3.25 | Favorite Picks: Sivir, Lucian, Ezreal

Score, the Team Captain for the KT Bullets, is known for his defensive playstyle – Prioritizing farm and avoiding trades in lane. Although many consider playing against Score to be boring because he focuses on farming so much, Score will utilize both the farm he amasses from the laning phase and his strong positioning in team fights to help dish out ‘tons of damage’ for the KT Bullets and still survive the fight. Alongside his team, the “Immortal Score” will be looking to make his mark on the international stage.

Won “Mafa” Sang-yeon – Support | Average KDA: 3.67 | Favorite Picks: Annie, Leona, Alistar

Mafa is one of the best defensive supports in Korea, which in turn, allows Score to play a very passive and farm-centric laning phase, while also providing utility and peel during mid-late game team fights. His strong initiations from AOE CC supports like Annie and Leona often allow KT B to come out with an advantage in team fights. With a wide pool of supports, Mafa is not easily banned out and will adapt to team strategies on a game-by-game basis.

Ktrolsterlogo    Last Words    Ktrolsterlogo

KT B’s success at IEM will largely be in the hands of inSec, assuming he will be returning to the jungle, and for the team to adjust to a changing meta in Patch 4.3, in which multiple changes were implemented. Will inSec make the kinds of plays he has become known for? Can KT B recover the strategic pick and ban phase, as well as in-game execution of strategy that they were known for in the past? If KT B plays the way they have been recently in LoL Masters, Ozone’s return to Korea following Season III Worlds and the subsequent Korean internet forum debacle would be considered mild in comparison to the kind of criticism they will receive if they do poorly.

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milleniumbanner

Millenium

From Left to Right: Kerp, Creaton, Araneae, kev1n, Jree

Milllogo_std Team History & Current Season Standings Milllogo_std

Having been formed in 2011, Millenium recently acquired the roster of Team ALTERNATE for the 2014 EU LCS Spring Split. Millenium earned their spot in the IEM Season VIII World Championship by placing first in the IEM Sao Paulo tournament, trouncing over Brazilian teams on their home turf in a convincingly one-sided manner. This tournament was their first professional experience with their solidified roster, and what a debut! Unfortunately, Millenium has failed to achieve similar success within the EU Spring Split, currently sitting in last place with a 7-13 record moving into the final three weeks. Hopefully Millenium brings their best to Katowice – Because the competition is going to be fierce.

Milllogo_std Meet The Team Milllogo_std

Kevin “kev1n” Rubiszewski – Top | Average KDA: 4.4 | Favorite Picks: Shen, Trundle, Shyvana

The consistent rock in the top lane for Millenium – Kev1n rarely has a bad game; he can be described as reliable at his worst, and an unstoppable force at his best. Kev1n’s champion pool is massive, ranging from current meta tanks, Shyvana or Dr. Mundo, to niche team picks, Elise or Shen, and he always has an impact on the game, win or lose. Kev1n is flexible and adapts to support the team or carry the team; he is the kind of top laner that every team wants.

Alvar “Araneae” Martin Aleñar – Jungle | Average KDA: 2.3 | Favorite Picks: Lee Sin, Elise, Evelynn

Araneae cuts no corners when it comes to aggression and stepping up to be the playmaker for his team. He is the most easily recognized player on Millenium because of the excitement and passion he emanates during their games. Araneae’s champion picks and playstyle tend to favor his focus on heavy ganking and assisting his teammates in snowballing. Araneae tends to take on the role of being the initiator for his team; his plays on picks like Evelynn and Lee Sin allow him to create fights with clean initiations, opening the way for his team to follow up and finish out the rest of the fight.

Adrian “Kerp” Wetekam – Mid | Average KDA: 2.6 | Favorite Picks: Leblanc, Ziggs, Gragas

The top laner turned mid laner for Millenium, Kerp has performed well so far in the Spring Split. His Leblanc and Ziggs play has carried Millenium to victory several times, and as the Split comes to an end, hopefully Kerp will find his footing and begin showing even stronger dominance in the Mid Lane, helping to lead Millenium out of the dark and upwards in the team standings.

Jakub “Creaton” Grzegorzewski – AD Carry | Average KDA: 4.3 | Favorite Picks: Lucian, Caitlyn, Jinx

Creaton is often praised for his excellent mechanics and extremely aggressive playstyle. Creaton’s Lucian play is some of the best in the EU LCS and should thus be kept in mind by the enemy competition. If left unattended to in team fights, Creaton will wreak havoc on the enemy team.

Alexander “Jree” Bergström – Support | Average KDA: 3.0 | Favorite Picks: Thresh, Leona, Annie

Creaton’s right hand man and the backbone of the bot lane for Millenium. Jree is a dependable support who often provides strong engages for Millenium to capitalize on. He has demonstrated his skill on current meta supports, such as Annie, Leona, and Thresh, and always tries to put the kills on Creaton.

Milllogo_std Last Words Milllogo_std

While struggling to find their foothold in the Spring Split, Millenium has nonetheless shown that there is potential in their current line-up. Millenium certainly had no problems sweeping opposing teams off their feet at IEM Sao Paulo, and perhaps they will pull out some new strategies at Katowice to catch their competition off guard. Millenium should not be counted out of the running yet and should not be underestimated. With more time and practice in a variety of arenas, Millenium can only grow stronger as they better synergize and implement new team stratgies and compositions.

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GambitLogo_stdTaipei Assassins Team Previews: Group B Cloud 9 World Elite


Gambit

Gambit Gaming

From Left to Right: Diamondprox, Edward, Alex Ich, Darien, Genja

GambitLogo_stdTeam History & Current Season StandingsGambitLogo_std

Gambit Gaming formed and acquired the roster of Moscow 5 in January o2013. Within a blink of an eye, Gambit became an incredibly successful team, continuing the legacy of Moscow 5. They placed second in the 2013 EU LCS Spring Split, held three of the five 2013 LCS All-Star spots, and were first in the EU LCS Summer Split. With their success in the Summer Split, Gambit secured a spot in the Season III World Championship and placed 7th overall after losing to Korean team NaJin Black Sword. Now, in the EU LCS 2014 Spring Split, Gambit currently holds First Place with a record of 12-8 moving into the final three weeks. If their form stays consistent, Gambit will likely take home first place, adding to their list of accolades. Gambit’s first round in the IEM World Championship will be an explosive grudge match against the Taipei Assassins, which dates all the way back to Season II. Gambit, then Moscow 5, lost in a Best of Three in the semifinals against the eventual Season II World Champions. Look to Gambit as being one of the strongest European teams to succeed in the tournament.

GambitLogo_stdMeet The TeamGambitLogo_std

Evgeny ” Darien” Mazaev  Top | Average KDA: 3.4 | Favorite Picks: Dr. Mundo, Aatrox, Trundle

The famous “feed to win” top laner: Darien often seems to live in his own world up in the top lane because of the limited attention he receives from his team. The “feed to win” label is a result from many games where Darien split pushes until he attracts one or two from the enemy team, allowing his team to fight with an advantage at the cost of his death.

Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov  Jungle | Average KDA: 3.8 | Favorite Picks: Evelynn, Lee Sin, Elise

Diamondprox is one of the most aggressive junglers in the world. He is renowned for his Lee Sin and Evelynn play that often shreds through enemy teams. Diamondprox has also brought many unconventional jungle picks into the pro scene, such as Volibear and Nasus. He, similar to Alex Ich, is one of the best in his position in the EU LCS and has been a consistent factor in Gambit’s success.

Alexey “Alex Ich” Ichetovkin”  Mid | Average Kda: 3.3 | Favorite Picks: Leblanc, Lulu, Kha’Zix

Alex Ich is a mid laner who can do it all. When Gambit needs him to carry, he will play champions like Leblanc and Khazix and completely dominate a game. If he needs to assist the team in bringing more utility, he will play Lulu or Kayle. Alex Ich has been a consistent performer for years in the pro scene and his success with Gambit does not appear to be slowing down. A word to the wise: Allowing Alex Ich to have Kha’Zix is a recipe for disaster for the enemy team.

Evgeny “Genja” Andryushin  AD Carry | Average KDA: 7.4 | Favorite Picks: Jinx, Lucian, Sivir

The first half of the Gambit Gaming duo lane. Genja has been credited by Diamondprox as the brain behind Gambit’s strategies and champion picks. Genja is praised for his top-notch positioning and team-fighting ability. Because Gambit’s playstyle revolves around dividing the enemy team, Genja rarely has protection or peel, and must be able to stay safe. This has led to innovative decisions like triple Doran’s Blades, rushing Guardian Angel, and the popularization of a Varus pick.

Edward “Edward” Abgaryan  Support | Average KDA: 2.2 | Favorite Picks: Thresh, Annie, Kennen

The second half of the Gambit Gaming bottom lane. Edward is an unconventional support; popularizing supports such as Kennen and Amumu, Edward seems to always have a surprise for their opponents and their fans. He has been labeled as the “Support Carry” because he tends to take kills instead of giving them to his AD Carry.

GambitLogo_stdLast WordsGambitLogo_std

Having a well-established foundation in the Professional scene, Gambit Gaming looks to continue their legacy and strength at this year’s IEM World Championship. With some of the most well-known and considered strongest players in their respective roles/lanes, it is expected that Gambit will be a formidable opponent for any and all teams who cross their path. It will be interesting to witness their strategy and composition choices on the current patch and how the likes of Diamondprox and Alex Ich stack up against superstar NA and Asian laners like Meteos, inSec, or Ryu.

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Assassins

Taipei Assassins

From Left to Right: Jay, Achie, bebe, DinTer, Morning

Taipei Assassins    Team History & Current Season Standings    Taipei Assassins

There are few League of Legends fans who haven’t at least heard of the Taipei Assassins. The heavy underdogs carved a path through all the best teams in the world to win the Season II World Championships with Stanley (Top), Lilballz (Jungle), Toyz (Mid), Bebe (AD Carry) and MiSTakE (Support). This same roster would take first in the opening season of the Garena Premier League and third place at IPL5 in Las Vegas. However, the success would not last long, as team captain MiSTakE moved on to newly-formed sister team, Azubu Taipei Snipers. With Jungler Lilballz struggling to adapt to the jungle changes of Season III, TPA would struggle and fall into a slump for the majority of the first half of 2013.

TPA

Season 2 World Champions – Who has TPA skins?

After several roster swaps and retirements, including Toyz and Stanley in July of 2013, the Taipei Assassins today are a completely re-created team, claiming only Bebe from the original roster. With MiSTakE’s recent retirement in the off-season, Bebe is officially the only current remaining professional player from the Season II World Championship roster. Though their new roster needed time to build the same synergy of a World Championship caliber team, TPA would remain a top team in the Garena Premier League, and in the recent GPL Winter season, take first place in a close 3-2 victory over the Red Hot Snipers, who had taken out the previous season’s champions, AHQ Esports, in the semi-finals. TPA finished out the GPL Spring Groups 10-0 at the top of Group B.Though their early game is not always impressive, they have continued to pull out leads in the mid and late game through superior teamfighting and coordination.

Taipei Assassins    Meet The Team    Taipei Assassins

Chen “Achie” Chen-Chi  Top | Average KDA: 5.9 | Favorite Picks: Renekton, Jax

Achie is the consistent backbone of TPA. While it’s hard to carry games and distinguish yourself from top lane in the current meta, Achie does an admirable job of playing a game of inches. When he has a favorable match-up, you can expect him to have a cs lead. In an unfavorable match-up, you can expect him to more-or-less stay even and not die. Sometimes in the early mid game, DinTer will pay a visit to try and get Achie going so he can snowball, but this is more the exception than the norm. Though he is most comfortable on his favored Renekton and Jax, Achie has shown a laning and teamfight prowess on champions like Mundo, Shyvana, Zac and Shen. Achie’s champion pool and playstyle reflects this – He rarely falls too far behind in lane and always has a major impact on mid to late game teamfights being the primary front line and initiator for his team.

Xue “DinTer” Hong-Wei  Jungle | Average KDA: 7.9 | Favorite Picks: Evelynn, Elise

Having moved around from so many positions in his professional career, at times it can feel as if DinTer hasn’t quite transitioned completely to the Jungle. If he isn’t on Eve, you can expect him to usually not be involved in kills for about the first 15 minutes of the game. Though he defaults to it often, he has had especially atrocious performances on Elise often missing multiple cocoons and giving up early kills. In addition to that, you might as well crown DinTer the GPL’s Saintvicious. It is likely that he holds the record for missed smites on Barons, Dragons and buffs. In last season’s championships he even got out-smited multiple times as Nunu. If there is a weak point in the Assassin’s armor, it’s in the Jungle. If teams do their research and take away his Evelynn—which is sure to be a contested pick in their first match against Gambit—than history has shown he will struggle to be relevant until much later in team fights.

Chen “Morning” Kuan-Ting  Mid | Average KDA: 13.75 | Favorite Picks: Gragas, Ziggs, Lulu

It’s hard to judge what Morning’s mid lane style could be, because most games he’s left without many options, due to low pressure from his jungler. The few times DinTer has gotten ahead early on Eve, Morning has been able to help take over the game as a 2-man roaming gank squad with his jungler. However, due to low early game pressure from his jungler, Morning is often relegated to passively farming out his lane and waiting for teamfights. As such, he trends toward extremely safe farming champions with good laning phases and great teamfighting capabilities. This season he has played Ziggs, Gragas and Lulu each at least twice and got his hands on Kassadin only once. Most notably, he has a 17/0/29 KDA across just three games on Lulu—all games where DinTer was able to play Evelynn and had a combined KDA of 25/2/28 himself. Picking a mid laner with strong waveclear and teamfight control is essential to TPA’s most common strategy this season of drawing out games to mid and late game, where they have the most experience and the stronger teamfighting.

Cheng “Bebe” Bo-Wei  AD Carry | Average KDA: 15.25 | Favorite Picks: Ezreal, Lucian, Sivir

Even with 56 assists, Bebe has still racked up 66 kills over the course of 10 games. Though Bebe often favors safety and mobility on his carries, you will often see him with a few kills and a cs lead coming out of laning phase. The bot lane is a bright spot for TPA, and the only lane that typically straight up wins the early game. Also, extremely unique to the AD carry role is being the team captain and shot-caller. In teamfights, Bebe displays practically perfect positioning, always the last one alive and getting out the maximum possible amount of damage. Fitting to his playstyle, Bebe was also the player that popularized the “blue Ezreal build” in Season III. The team is heavily centered around Bebe; his shotcalling and veteran decision making will be absolutely key to helping his less experienced teammates calm their nerves and perform in a major international LAN. If the Winter championships are any indicator—where Bebe arcane shifted into the enemy team twice to start fights that won game 5—TPA’s success will be directly related to how well Bebe performs.

Li “Jay” Chieh  Support | KDA: 6.05 | Favorite Picks: Leona, Annie, Thresh

True to his military background, Jay in unflinching and unafraid to get into the middle of the fray. In GPL Spring, he has heavily preferred consistent hard initiation from Annie and Leona. Jay and Bebe haven’t had a game this season where they’ve lost the 2v2 matchup in bot lane and they will almost always come out ahead. One thing to watch for is how Jay has adapted to patch 4.3, if at all. It is certain that supports like Morgana will be contested by multiple teams in the tournament, including at least two in Group B, in the likes of Gambit and Cloud 9. Considering the heavy engage and low mobility supports Jay has favored—as well as the strength of the Assassin’s bot lane—it could be expected for enemy teams to set up a tent on the bottom side of the map and continuously force kills on Jay after blowing his flash.

Taipei Assassins    Last Words    Taipei Assassins

Overall, TPA has only had a strong early game specifically when being allowed to pick both Eve and Lulu. With a combined KDA of 23-1-28 on Eve’s DinTer and 17/0/29 on Morning’s Lulu in those 3 games, enemy teams would be wise to keep these champions off the table for TPA. DinTer has struggled heavily as jungler to make an impact in the laning phase – His synergy with the team in teamfights is noticeable, but his team often has to play from an early game defecit and try to lose the least amount of objectives as possible before making it to a point in the game where they can outplay their opponents in teamfights. Unless DinTer and TPA have magically fixed their earlygame woes in the last week, the Assassins are going to need to find ways to minimize their early game disadvantages as much as possible. DinTer should focus on being around bot and maybe mid in the early game to stop aggression and focus on counterganking more than actually trying to pull off ganks himself. If TPA plays to their strengths and can play around their early game weakness in their jungler, then perhaps Bebe and Jay have a good shot of carrying them to at least a semifinal showing.

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Cloud9Banner

Cloud 9

From Left to Right: Balls, LemonNation, Hai, Meteos, Sneaky

Cloud 9    Team History & Current Season Standings    Cloud 9

North America’s Cloud 9 will be proudly representing North America at IEM Katowice. Standing strong at the top of the pack in this year’s Spring Split, Cloud 9 is a favored contender this year’s IEM World Championship. While failing to overtake Europe’s Gambit Gaming at IEM Cologne this past November, Cloud 9 came back with a vengeance in December’s Battle of The Atlantic, sweeping Fnatic in a spectacular show of power. Cloud 9 has already shown a much wider variety of compositions and champion pools across the board this Spring Split, perhaps faltering as a result within a few games, but overall, showing that they are indeed a team who has more tricks up their sleeve than last season.

Meteos is unquestionably one of the strongest junglers in NA, netting a slot as an OP Player in the LCS week after week, and has adapted his playstyle to pick up stronger early game play-makers, like Lee Sin, in order to opt for earlier lane presence as opposed to his nearly exclusively used farm-centric style in Season III. Hai has also acquired a much deeper champion pool this season and has demonstrated exceptional mechanical skill and improvement in mid lane. From Teemo to LeBlanc, Hai has shown that he fears no match-up, often picking into a counter because he has confidence both in his team and himself. Balls, the underrated hero of the top lane has been heavily praised by other top laners as being one of the most consistent and most difficult to beat in lane. His ability to perform strongly on tanks and out-of-favor champions, like Rumble, allows for more team versatility in compositions. Cloud 9 has strength in all lanes and an uncanny ability to be in the minds of each other at nearly all times. This amazing synergy has allowed them to achieve victory more often than not, and the world waits to see how they will stack up against the competition at IEM.

Cloud 9    Meet The Team    Cloud 9

An “Balls” Le – Top | Average KDA: 7.0 | Favorite Picks: Shyvana, Renekton, Rumble

Known for his niche Rumble pick, Balls is a constant threat to whomever is against him in the top lane. Once he gets a lead, he will bully his opponent out of lane and attempt to snowball from the top half of the map. He has seemed to shine recently in the new tanky/bruiser meta, and creates a front line that the rest of his team can almost always rely on. It will be interesting to see how Balls will stack up on the world stage. Balls performed exceptionally well during Super Week, where the team went 4-0 to retain their second spot atop the leader board. His Renekton has been on point as of late, and will likely warrant bans in Katowice.

William “Meteos” Hartman – Jungle | Average KDA: 10.8 | Favorite Picks: Elise, Lee Sin, Vi

Widely considered by many as the best jungler in North America, Meteos plays a large part in Cloud 9’s success. Meteos constantly applies mapwide pressure with ganks and efficient counter-jungling. Even though it is easier to jungle when all your lanes are winning, Meteos has an uncanny ability to sense where the enemy jungler is and efficiently counter-gank for his team. Before this Season started, there were questions on how Meteos would adapt to the new jungle changes. His farm-centric style of jungling has switched to a hyper-aggressive early game that centers around counter-jungling and earlier ganks.

Hai “Hai” Lam – Mid | Average KDA: 3.2 | Favorite Picks: LeBlanc, Kha’zix, Orianna

As the shotcaller for Cloud 9, Hai has quickly cemented himself as one of the best mid laners in North America and is a threat on nearly any champion that he plays. While he does prefer to play assassins in the mid lane, his deep champion pool has caused problems for many teams in the pick/ban phase. Teams normally have to use one or two bans to target Hai and force him away from Leblanc and Kassadin. If he can get going early with some help from Meteos, Hai normally snowballs his lane and can carry the game.

Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi – AD Carry | Average KDA: 7.0 | Favorite Picks: Caitlyn, Lucian, Sivir

Sneaky is one of the most consistent ADC’s in North America. He rarely loses his lane and is almost never caught out of position in team fights. He also farms well throughout every stage of the game, with a GPM of 402, only third behind TSM’s WildTurtle and Bjergsen. While Cloud 9 is not necessarily known for their bottom lane, it will be interesting to see how they perform when they hit the world stage. If they can carry their momentum from Super Week into Katowice, they are sure to have success.

Daerek “LemonNation” Hart – Support | Average KDA: 3.9 | Favorite Picks: Thresh, Leona, Annie

With his notepad, LemonNation is the brains behind most of the Cloud 9 strategies. Widely regarded as one of the best support players in North America, LemonNation is responsible for producing two of the most prolific ADC’s in North America – Sneaky and WildTurtle. During the laning phase, he plays an aggressive support and is able to create opportunities for Sneaky frequently during the laning phase. He is proficient on the big three supports (Tresh, Leona, and Annie) and with the addition of Morgana to the meta, LemonNation should have no problem getting a champion he feels comfortable on.

Cloud 9     Last Words    Cloud 9

With team synergy and communication that rarely falters, Cloud 9 will be looking to show how much they have grown as a team in terms of both strategies and compositions as they make their showing this year at the IEM World Championship. This experience will likely have a positive impact on their team, win or lose, because of the global experience and exposure to varying playstyles and strategy. LemonNation may be able to take home a few new notes in his notebook after this weekend.

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TeamBanners

WE 2014

From Left to Right: CaoMei, Ruo, SukiM, WeiXiao, Conan

World Elite    Team History & Current Season Standings    World Elite

World Elite, once considered the best team in the world, returns to the international stage for the IEM World Championships as a newly revamped team. World Elite used to dominate the Chinese scene back in Season II and was essentially unstoppable at IPL 5. Their former domination came to an end in Season III with the rise of OMG and the meta shifting away from World Elite’s preferred champions and strategies.

After the end of Season III and the conclusion of the World Cyber Games, World Elite underwent severe roster changes with Misaya’s retirement, analyst Aaron leaving the team for Edward Gaming, and ClearLove and FzzF (Jungler and Support) also leaving World Elite to join Edward Gaming. World Elite then picked up three new players in Ruo, SukiM, and Conan, to fill up the vacant Jungle, Mid, and Support roles.

With their new roster, World Elite entered the LPL Spring 2014 Season with a strong 4-0 start, beating out Royal Club, Positive Energy, and Energy Pacemaker. However, they failed to beat OMG and LGD, both known to be highly aggressive teams. It will be of note to see how World Elite adapts to Patch 4.3, as they have been playing on Patch 3.15.

World Elite    Meet The Team    World Elite

Wei “CaoMei” Han-Dong  Top | Average KDA: 4.13 | Favorite Picks: Dr. Mundo, Shyvana, Renekton

CaoMei is a long-time veteran on World Elite and although he favors an aggressive play style, his coaches have urged him to play more passively and take less risks. CaoMei doesn’t usually play carry top laners, but rather, opts for utility tanks that allow him to simultaneously soak up enemy damage and peel for WeiXiao, the star of World Elite.

Teng Yang “Ruo” Tian-Xia  Jungle | Average KDA: 2.39 | Favorite Picks: Olaf, Lee Sin

Ruo is a very young player who recently joined World Elite, and he often opts to recall early to buy wards almost immediately after his first clear. He then will make decisions in terms of whether to gank, hold a lane, or counter-jungle. Like his younger teammates, he plays quite aggressively, but sometimes loses sight of taking objectives, rather than kills.

Ryu “SukiM” Sang-wook Mid | Average KDA: 3.61 | Favorite Picks: Ziggs, Syndra, Orianna, Zed

SukiM is another new addition to World Elite’s new roster this season, and unlike the former Misaya, SukiM has a fairly wide champion pool, allowing him to more easily adapt to various team compositions. He can play wave-clear oriented mages, like Ziggs, or assassins, like Zed. He is also one of few players who will play Syndra in the competitive scene. Though SukiM is at the top of the MVP rankings in LPL, he sometimes overcommits for kills, which could potentially cost the team in a crucial moment of the game.

 Gao “WeiXiao” Xue-Cheng  AD | Average KDA: 4.33 | Favorite Picks: Sivir, Lucian, Caitlyn

WeiXiao, the new captain of World Elite, is considered one of the best AD carries in China, if not the world. Although the meta has shifted away from star AD carries, WeiXiao still finds his way to win fights for World Elite in the mid/late game. WeiXiao prefers farming over aggressive trades in lane so that he can become a stronger mid/late game carry. When he is on Sivir, WeiXiao will often act as the initiator, calling the team to engage with On The Hunt.

 Ke “Conan” Yi  Support | Average KDA: 2.88 | Favorite Picks: Leona, Thresh, Annie

Conan, the new support for World Elite, is different from the former FzzF in that he likes to play more aggressively in lane. This shows, as his most played champion is Leona. However, he is playing with a rather passive AD carry in WeiXiao, which has brought some problems to the duo lane where Conan will engage, but WeiXiao is still farming. Despite having different playstyles, Conan has been playing well with WeiXiao – Only time will tell how World Elite’s duo lane will evolve over the course of the season.

World Elite    Last Words    World Elite

World Elite has not historically had a reputation as an aggressive team, and they have struggled considerably in the past against aggressive teams like OMG. With the meta shifting from AD carry to the solo laners (esp. top lane), World Elite has begun to focus their strategy more on getting SukiM and CaoMei well-farmed, while having WeiXiao choose more utility-focused AD carries with strong pushing power and wave clear, such as Sivir, Caitlyn, and Lucian. In order to defeat the other international teams attending IEM, World Elite should look to dictate the pace of the game right from the start, rather than play reactively to what their opponent does.

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 Don’t Miss The Action – More Information & Links

IEM

The action starts on Friday, March 14th – You can watch all of the action live on the IEM Twitch Channel. Be sure to tune in for this tournament!

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Alex "Valkyrie"

Hello all! I manage Cloth5's Public Relations and Content Coordination. I am a lover of Tazo Tea, League of Legends, Apple Products, & John Mayer. Follow me on Twitter: @C5Valkyrie

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