The 2015 League of Legends World Championship has been centered around one main storyline. Is the West finally catching up to Korea and China? However one region in this discussion has been overlooked, a region that sent both of its representatives to the quarterfinals in fact.
The Taiwanese AHQ Esports Club managed to crawl into the quarterfinals after the slugfest that was Group B. It all came down to the very last hour on the very last day when the team faced off against North America’s Cloud9 in a do-or-die tie-breaker.
“I’m pretty happy we were able to beat Cloud9 in the tiebreaker,” AHQ AD Carry Chou “AN” Chun-An said. “I think both of us were under a lot of pressure since it was the deciding game, and us even more so because we had just lost to Fnatic in the game before. We were able to adjust our mindset and forget about the loss to focus on this game and take the win and go through the group.”
It certainly was a tight affair. The tiebreaker never seemed completely out of the hands of the Taiwanese side. A 33-minute victory and an impressive Jinx performance secured the victory and a spot in the quarter finals. Though a tiebreaker may not have been needed if AHQ could have shown the same quality they did in week one as they did in week two.
“I think we didn’t adapt to the meta that well in week one. But with extra time during the break we were able to break it down and understand it better,” AN said. “We also watched the other teams in that time to learn more about them. It put us under a lot of pressure because the group was so close. But that helped us since it forced us to focus more and put everything we had into making sure we win as many games as possible.”
The West versus East debate has been raging throughout the tournament. Strong performances from Origen and Fnatic and comments from some Korean pro players like SKT’s Bang, along with the underperforming Chinese region, have led many to believe the European region is the biggest threat to Korea’s dominance. In all the praise for Europe, however, many have failed to notice AHQ’s play, as well as that of fellow countrymen Flash Wolves, who went 2-0 over favored Korean side KOO Tigers in the group stage.
“When we played against some European teams we were actually pretty shocked because they are really strong,” AN said. “However, after the group stage and our improvement we know that we are not weaker than them, we are really strong as well.”
It won’t be easy for AHQ to prove themselves against the other European side left in the tournament: Origen.
AHQ have been given arguably the hardest draw in the quarterfinals, facing off against the kings of Korea, SK Telecom T1. The best-of-five match will certainly push the Taiwanese side to their limits. They’ll have to pull off one of the largest upsets in League of Legends history to progress to the semi finals. AN knows their task will be difficult.
“I think SKT are the hardest team amongst all 16 at the tournament to play against” he said. “There’s not much we can do about being drawn against them so early. So all we can do is try our best to win.”
He added: “I think each region is actually fairly close to each other, and there are a lot of teams that can make it to the final. We got a tough draw against SKT but I think we also have a chance.”
That chance is slim for AHQ Esports, but there have been upsets aplenty so far in the 2015 World Championships.
AHQ will face this toughest test on Friday Oct. 16 at the Wembley Arena in London. SKT have proved to be formidable competition thus far in the tournament—the only team to not drop a single group stage game. But even if the LMS side fail to overcome the outstanding odds, they’ll still have done themselves proud with their group stage performances.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr