This is the final post in a series previewing the IWCI. Here I preview SEA’s replacement representatives Bangkok Titans, the champions of Brazil INTZ e-Sports, and give my predicted final results for the tournament as well as some players and matches to watch. Part 2 and part 1 can be found here and here respectively.
Team Name: Bangkok Titans
Qualified By: 2nd place GPL Spring (replacing SF5, who couldn’t attend due to visa issues)
- Top: WarL0cK (Thailand)
- Jungle: 007x (Thailand)
- Mid: G4 (Thailand)
- ADC: Lloyd (Thailand)
- Support: Valen (Thailand)
One of the original Garena sponsored teams created for the first edition of the GPL back in 2012, Bangkok Titans (BKT) are one of the oldest teams in the SEA region. Unfortunately, not all of their history is filled with glory and conquest, as their initial forays into the GPL were almost universally unsuccessful. Indeed, in the first two GPL seasons BKT went a combined 8-60, a mind boggling record of futility that was compounded by constant roster changes and role swaps. Slowly the team began to show some promise, managing to finish 6th out of 8 in the 2013 GPL Summer and taking games off of established powers Singapore Sentinels and Taipei Assassins.
The end of 2013 brought with it a shocking result, with BKT failing to win a domestic tournament for the first, and to this day only, time in the 2013 Thai Grand Championship. Stunningly swept by rivals MiTH Flashdrive, BKT looked like they had been completely overtaken, especially considering the team’s poor result in the Winter GPL season around the same time. However, the team refused to rest on their laurels and made several roster swaps aimed at improving the team, recruiting top laner WarL0cK from BlackBean and ADC Lloyd from MiTH Flashdrive. BKT immediately returned to the top of the Thai ladder, giving MiTH Flashdrive a taste of their own medicine in a 3-0 stomp that allowed them to requalify for the 2014 GPL Spring.
After hovering around the periphery of making the GPL playoffs, BKT made one more major roster change with the aim of qualifying for the knockout stages for the first time in their history, recruiting jungler 007x and mid laner G4 from MiTH Flashdrive while shifting their previous mid laner InTreso to support. These changes bore fruit in the 2014 GPL Summer where BKT scraped out of the group stages for the first time, finishing fourth in their group behind TPA, ahq Fighter and Saigon Jokers but ahead of Singapore’s Insidious Gaming Legends and Philipines Imperium Pro Team. Their reward? A date with ahq e-Sports Club in the quarterfinals and a prompt 3-0 thrashing that reminded BKT that they still had a long way to go before being able to compete with the region’s elite.
Season 5 saw the separation of Taiwan from SEA and another revamping of the GPL. In this new world BKT quickly asserted themselves as a team to be feared, brushing aside their first round opponents to end up one of only two non-Vietnamese teams to qualify for the second stage. Facing 269 ZOTAC, Full Louis, and An Phat Ultimate with spots in the semi-finals up for grabs, BKT continued to show their strength by losing only a single series to 269 ZOTAC before returning the favor by winning the tie-breaker match to finish first in the group. Insidious Gaming Legends were up next in the semi-finals and BKT showed no mercy, blasting their opponents from Singapore in a 3-0 sweep. Despite looking very strong at this point the finals were a disappointment as BKT found themselves on the receiving end of a sweep from SF5. Given another chance by SF5’s visa troubles, BKT will represent SEA at the IWCI where they hope to show how far they’ve come from their humble beginnings.
Despite their rather flat performance against SF5 in the GPL Spring finals, BKT look quite strong overall as they head into the IWCI. They were able to get leads against almost all of their opponents in the GPL and have repeatedly demonstrated very strong lanes all across the map. In many ways they remind me of SK Gaming from this past split in and of that if teams let them play their preferred style they will almost always win simply by exerting tremendous pressure all over the map and never giving their opponents a chance to establish a foothold in the game.
To borrow a phrase from American sports, G4 is the straw that stirs BKT’s drink. Known for his dominant assassin play, particularly on Zed, G4 is my vote for the best player ever produced by Thailand, as well as one of the most skilled SEA (non-Taiwanese) players of all time. When he is on form he makes BKT look untouchable in the early game, often scoring solo-kills then roaming bot-lane to snowball Lloyd ahead and put the enemy jungler in a no-win situation of needing to protect his bot-lane but also needing to keep an eye on mid to prevent things from getting out of hand. This pressure also makes 007x’s job easier as he can play a Bengi style role for BKT, focusing on keeping vision control and counter-ganking to take advantage of his lanes being ahead. Simply put, when G4 does well it makes life so much easier for his teammates and gives them a shot to compete with anyone.
Perhaps the two biggest issues BKT will have to resolve if they want to go far in the IWCI are their mid to late game shotcalling and their mental fortitude. They had a noticeable lead in game 1 against SF5 in the GPL Spring finals but failed to close the game out despite having all of the tools available to do so. A string of bad decisions to fight in areas that allowed Auzeze’s Rumble and Jinkey’s Zac to completely zone G4’s Diana and Lloyd’s Graves kept SF5 in the game until the climactic teamfight where BKT finally crumbled before MinaS’s Sivir and got aced, costing them game despite holding a gold lead all the way through. BKT won’t be able to make similar mistakes if they want to compete with the top teams at the IWCI.
Impactful though those errors were, they only cost BKT game 1. There was no need for it to define the entire series. Unfortunately, the team seemed to completely lose morale going into games 2 and 3, which were stomps in SF5’s favor. If BKT lose a game early in the tournament will they have the mental fortitude necessary to power through and keep playing to their potential? If they don’t they could well be on an early flight home.
007x is a solid player who doesn’t often make egregious mistakes, but he is highly reliant on G4’s success in the mid lane to bolster his own effectiveness. When G4 is ahead 007x will focus on warding around mid lane and counter-ganking the opposing jungler, ensuring that G4 is able to keep the snowball rolling whilst simultaneously putting the opposing jungler further behind. However, in games where G4 hasn’t managed to win lane 007x has looked much weaker. When relied on to create opportunities for his teammates he seems to come up short more often than not and can fall back on an “omnivore” style that leaves BKT open to getting run over in the early game.
BKT should be strong enough to beat the weaker teams in the IWCI and qualify for the knockout rounds, but their flaws will likely prove too hard to overcome against teams like BJK and INTZ. They will need G4 to be the tournament MVP if they hope to win, but short of that the most likely result looks like a semi-final exit.
Team Name: INTZ e-Sports
Qualified By: 1st place CBLOL
- Top: Yang (Brazil)
- Jungle: Revolta (Brazil)
- Mid: Tockers (Brazil)
- ADC: micaO (Brazil)
- Support: Jockster (Brazil)
Formerly known as Team United and then Out of Position Gaming, this INTZ e-Sports roster has improved dramatically since it initially came together in Season 4. Team United finished dead last in the Riot Brazilian Championship and looked to be heading nowhere, particularly after the organization released the roster prior to the Season 4 Brazilian Regional Championship qualifiers. Undeterred, the team rallied under the name Out of Position Gaming and qualified for the main event with Yang in the top lane, Djokovic in the jungle, Tockers in mid lane, micaO on ADC and Jockster as the support, which led to the roster joining the INTZ organization. The good news stopped there however, as INTZ were unable to get past pai Gaming in the first round of regionals, losing 2-0.
After the season concluded INTZ decided to make one roster change, with jungler Djokovic leaving to take over as CNB e-Sports Club’s coach and Revolta heading in the other direction to replace him as the starting jungler. Considering the fanfare surrounding their rivals Keyd Stars, who added Korean professionals DayDream and Emperor, it is perhaps not surprising that INTZ entered this 2015 CBLOL without too much hype behind them. If INTZ were being overlooked by anyone their first three weeks quickly demonstrated that they were a force to be reckoned with, comfortably defeating KaBuM Orange and CNB e-Sports 2-0 before splitting with Keyd Stars. INTZ continued to demonstrate their strength throughout the remainder of the regular season, dropping only two games and finishing with a record of 5-2-0 (12-2 in individual games) before defeating Keyd in the tiebreaker match to clinch the first overall seed for the playoffs.
Given the strength of their regular season performances, INTZ and Keyd looked destined to meet again in the finals, though the semi-finals did throw a potential curveball INTZ’s way in the form of paiN Gaming, who was the only team aside from Keyd to take a game off them in the regular season. Game one was a ridiculous back and forth affair that ended with an ace for INTZ with paiN knocking on their exposed nexus. It seemed impossible that the series could live up to the intensity of that first game, but game two was perhaps even closer. INTZ took an early lead, including the first three dragons, but paiN stormed back on the strength of several excellent team fights to take the largest gold lead of the game, nearly 6k. However, INTZ managed to take a crucial fight over their fifth dragon and used the advantage gained there to push paiN back and win the game. Game three was the only simple game of the set as INTZ once again took an early lead but this time refused to give it up, taking the nexus before 30 minutes.
With Keyd sweeping CNB in the opposite semi-final, the final everyone was hoping for became reality. Game one looked like a routine win for Keyd as they jumped out to a 10k gold lead on the back of strong play by Emperor on Corki and some questionable decision making by Yang on Maokai. However, after securing their second fifth dragon and Baron of the game, Keyd initiated a sloppy team-fight and gave up a clean ace against INTZ’s much better teamfighting comp. From there it was a string of bad decisions to force fights combined with INTZ’s team composition thoroughly outscaling Keyd’s that swung the game all the way back in INTZ’s favor. Game two was tight up until about 15 minutes when INTZ won a team-fight around dragon and promptly snowballed the game from there. By the time we hit game three Keyd appeared mentally defeated and INTZ ran them over, finishing the sweep and sealing their spot as Brazil’s representative in the IWCI.
What stands out immediately about INTZ is that have a very good understanding of how to play around powerspikes in their team compositions, better than any other team in the IWCI by a fair margin. Combine that with their teamfighting prowess and you get a recipe for some impressive comebacks. Game one against Keyd in the CBLOL final is a perfect example of this: Keyd were up by 10k gold and possessed both a fifth dragon buff and Baron, but INTZ was able to get a clean ace in a teamfight just outside their base. Keyd’s massive lead masked the fact that with their jungler DayDream on Lee Sin, and tank Lee Sin at that, they were effectively playing with two supports versus INTZ’s comp featuring both Azir and Jinx, two of the best late-game carries in the entire game. Many other teams would have failed to create that chance by trying to fight before their team had reached the requisite power level to overcome their opponent’s resource advantages, but INTZ knew the limits of their comp and played it out as well as possible, taking full advantage of Keyd’s poor decision making as the game went late.
While a very lofty comparison, INTZ’s playstyle is reminiscent of Samsung Blue from Season 4 in their ability to make seemingly massive gold deficits insignificant by expertly leveraging their comp to put their opponents in positions where their gold advantage is outweighed by other factors. Obviously INTZ is not at Samsung Blue’s level, either individually or as a team, but they’ve repeatedly shown that no lead is safe against them. IWCI opponents take note, unless you’ve destroyed the nexus INTZ is never dead.
Paramount to their ability to execute this highwire act is INTZ’s ADC micaO whose exceptional position in teamfights can make it seem like opponents are swiping at thin air when they try to reach him. Even on immobile carries like Jinx, micaO never seems to die early in fights, somehow managing to slip away and continue pumping out DPS. While his laning phase isn’t fantastic it’s more than enough to get him through the early portion of the game and into the objective focused phase where INTZ has thrived thus far this season. Teams may well have to consider banning hypercarries against him given his effectiveness on the likes of Jinx and Kog’Maw, but sacrificing a ban on another power pick for an ADC is something teams are rarely willing to do (the only example that comes to mind in recent memory is against SK Gaming) and it could easily backfire against a team with as much talent as INTZ.
Sooner or later someone will make INTZ pay for falling behind in the early game. Or at least, that’s what you might think. Simple though it sounds, no one has succeeded at actually finishing INTZ off after picking up an early lead, which makes this “weakness” behave more like a trap, baiting opponents into thinking they have INTZ on the ropes before finding themselves getting knocked out from behind. However, both Keyd and paiN could easily have taken at least a game off of INTZ had they made smarter decisions in taking teamfights, giving at least some insight into how INTZ might be taken down at the IWCI. That being said, it’s unlikely that most teams will have the wherewithal to actually pull it off.
A major contributing factor to INTZ falling as far behind against Keyd as they did was top laner Yang’s decision making as to when to engage on their opponents. Simply put, he was way too aggressive at points in the game where INTZ did not have the damage to keep up with their opponents or were significantly out of position relative to Yang’s location. Some questionable item-choices in the mid game made these engages even worse, as Yang’s Maokai wasn’t tanky enough to withstand Keyd’s damage. He was very solid later in the game and for the rest of the series, but if he makes mistakes like that at the IWCI it will give opposing teams a chance to take advantages that might not have otherwise existed.
INTZ are simply a better team than almost everyone else at this event. I don’t see a realistic scenario that doesn’t have them at least making the final, especially given that SF5 won’t be able to attend the IWCI due to visa issues which weakens the overall field. The only team I see as being able to compete with INTZ is Be?ikta? e-Sports Club, who were similarly dominant in Turkey and feature comparably talented players. I expect those two teams to meet in the final without really being challenged prior, setting up a cross-continental brawl for the final spot in the MSI. I have BJK coming out on top, but I wouldn’t be remotely surprised to see INTZ representing the wild card regions in Tallahassee.
Round Robin and Bracket Predictions:-
- INTZ (6-0)
- BJK (5-1)
- The Chiefs (4-2)
- BKT (3-3)
- KLG (1-5)
- Hard Random (1-5)
- Det FM (1-5)
Semi-Final 1: INTZ over BKT (3-0)
Semi-Final 2: BJK over The Chiefs (3-1)
Final: BJK over INTZ (3-2)
Under the Radar Players to Watch in Each Role:-
Top Lane: Helior (KLG, Latin America)
KLG’s captain is the driving force behind their excellent late-game teamfighting and will be relied upon to provide steady play in the face of much stronger competition. If he plays well KLG could well spring a surprise.
Jungle: Revolta (INTZ, Brazil)
An excellent all around player, Revolta does a little bit of everything for INTZ. His performance is often a good barometer for how the game is going; if Revolta is doing well, INTZ is almost certainly in good shape.
Mid Lane: G4 (BKT, SEA)
G4’s assassin play has been the hallmark of BKT’s playstyle since he joined the team, but even with assassins weakened by the tank meta BKT will still rely on G4 to win his lane and create opportunities for the team to snowball. Can G4 keep up his high-octane style in the face of teams stacking tanks like bars of gold? BKT’s success will depend on it.
ADC: Raydere (The Chiefs, OCE)
Extremely mechanically skilled, Raydere has the potential to carry games for The Chiefs against virtually anyone. He will likely be heavily focused by opponents but if he proves equal to the pressure The Chiefs will be a tough out as the tournament progresses.
Support: Dumbledoge (BJK, Turkey)
BJK looked unstoppable in the TCL but if they want to take the final spot at the MSI they will need Dumbledoge to be on top of his game. His laning alongside ADC Nardeus is quite solid and he has been able to maintain strong vision control throughout most games. That will be absolutely crucial if BJK find themselves in close games, something that rarely happened in their TCL run and which they must be able to handle if they want to take home the IWCI crown on home turf.
Matches to Watch:-
Hard Random vs Det FM (Day 1)
Japan’s finest face off against the champions of the CIS in the second match of the tournament. A win would do wonders for each team’s confidence heading into the rest of the tournament. Will Hard Random play to their potential or will we see Det FM spring the upset?
The Chiefs vs INTZ (Day 1)
INTZ are the better team but The Chiefs might have the best individual player at the event in ADC Raydere. Can he carry his team past the heavy favorites or will INTZ’s team play prove too much to overcome?
INTZ vs BJK (Day 2)
The pre-tournament favorites clash on the second day of matches. The winner of this match most likely ends up with the top seed heading into the playoffs and will perhaps have an edge in confidence should they meet in the final as expected.
Det FM vs KLG (Day 2)
Both teams are virtual unknowns on the international stage and come into the event with minimal expectations. If either team hopes to make the knockout rounds they will need to win this game, especially considering their day 3 schedules look particularly brutal (KLG faces BKT and INTZ, Def FM faces The Chiefs and BJK). Expect both teams to go all out here.
BKT vs The Chiefs (Day 3)
While INTZ and BJK seem to be the clear favorites, both BKT and The Chiefs will have aspirations of springing the upset. Each of these teams played a very high pressure style in their domestic leagues, giving this match the look of a bloodbath. Pay close attention to the mid lane matchup of G4 and Swiffer which may well decide the course of the game.