The votes have been tallied, and Riot has once again announced this year’s All-Star teams for the upcoming Barcelona exhibition. On December 8th, Team Ice, which has all-star teams from EU, the LMS and the LPL, will compete against Team Fire, whose teams will come from NA, LCK and the Wild Card regions. What should we expect going in?
Teams for the LCS All-Star event are decided by fan-vote. We saw a similar system play out at BlizzCon earlier this month in the Overwatch World Cup, and the result was a Korean victory so absolute that they didn’t drop a map over the course of the series. Fan reaction was unanimous: “Another game where Korea smashes the rest of the world?” Of course, it wasn’t that simple.
We don’t need a magic eight ball to tell us that Korea is going to absolutely fuck shit up
“The teams with the more organization diversity were obviously going to do worse,” said Frank Villareal, team owner of Rogue, on the player-voted World Cup teams. He was referring to questions of synergy within teams; the power of a star player doesn’t mean much in Overwatch if the group is uncoordinated. “South Korea had 3 players from Lunatic Hai, 2 from Afreeca (including a coach). If Rogue had had 3 members on a nation team we would have done as well as South Korea.”
In terms of synergy, many of the All-Star teams are coming in with similar amount of organizational diversity. Korea looks about as strong as you’d expect: Bengi and Faker will be coming from SK Telecom, while PraY and Smeb will be coming over from the ROX Tigers. MadLife, the support for CJ Entus, is the only player that didn’t make it at least to a semi-final match at Worlds this year. We don’t need a magic eight ball to tell us that Korea is going to absolutely fuck shit up.
The LMS and LPL are also fielding players drawn from three teams within their regions. The most credible threat among them might be the LPL’s bottom lane of Mata and Uzi, a longtime partnership who dismantled some of the best pairs in the international scene at Worlds. If Team Ice has a chance, it’s thanks to them.
By contrast, the NA and EU rosters seem to be in poor condition. Of the North American All-Star lineup, only two players—Doublelift and Bjergsen—come from the same team. With Cloud 9’s Impact in top lane, Immortal’s Reignover in the jungle and CLG’s Aphromoo supporting, the team is a Frankensteinian creation, a collection of parts that might be totally awesome individually but maybe do not belong stitched together. Most precarious is NA’s bottom lane: the rift between Aphromoo and Doublelift was what caused the latter to defect to TSM. Now, they’ll be expected to cooperate, or perish.
It’s hard to know whether they have it worse than Europe, though. While the EU lineup doesn’t have any active beefs going, it also has four teams represented, and almost none of those teams have done well this year. H2K is the only represented team that made it out of the group stage at Worlds, and lonesome Jankos will be their sole envoy in Barcelona.
The team from the Wild Card regions, which will be joining the teams from the LCK and NA, hasn’t been decided yet, and won’t be until the International Wild Card Event in December. Expect Albus Nox and INTZ to make a strong showing, though, after their performance at Worlds.
With NA and EU both in shaky positions, it’s looking like this year’s All-Star event will be a three-legged race where each of the competitors has as their partner a very upset porpoise. Will it be Team Fire or Team Ice who drags their flapping, angry burden past the finish line first?
For the full rosters of this year’s All-Star teams, check here.