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Articles:IEM Season VII World Championship Preview

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IEM Season VII World Championship Preview

The Intel Extreme Masters Season VII League of Legends World Championship Series will be held in Hanover, Germany from March 6-9. Although this is IEM’s seventh season, it is only the third year that League of Legends has been included on their roster of tournaments and it has continually grown in popularity. This year’s championship promises to be a flurry of nonstop, fantastic performances from 12 of the best professional League of Legends teams that the world has to offer. It will be a stirring competition and well-worth sacrificing some sleep to catch. North American fans will want to caffeinate and commiserate! The first match kicks off at 3:30 AM EST/9:30 CET, on March 6.

The IEM World Championship is not an isolated tournament in which the participants are selected by reputation alone. Each of the 12 attendees have struggled for months (through five qualification tournaments and numerous online qualifiers) while simultaneously keeping up with their other tournaments and opportunities. These select few have persevered on this arduous journey through Singapore, Cologne, Katowice, and Sao Paulo to make it to Hanover.

From late 2012 to early 2013, the aforementioned cities hosted a qualifier tournament. In each locale, various teams competed in a Round Robin group stage that gave way to a single elimination playoff bracket where they jockeyed for position and points. The teams who won these qualifiers were automatically seeded into the IEM World Championship, but the others did not leave empty handed. The non-first place finishers received points according to their placement. These points accumulated in the build-up to the finals, and the remaining tournament slots were filled with by the teams with the most points.

And so it was that MeetYourMakers won in Singapore, SK Telecom T1 in Cologne, Gambit Gaming in Katowice, and Incredible Miracle in Sao Paulo. These four have been placed in two separate groups for the first round of the tournament. Gambit and Miracle are in Group A; MeetYourMakers and Telecom are in Group B.

Point-based qualifiers round out the tournament roster. Fnatic, CJ Entus Blaze, Millenium, and paiN Gaming join Group A, while SK Gaming, Anexis eSports, Evil Geniuses, and CJ Entus Frost top off Group B. During the group stage, the teams will play a best of one against every team in their group. The team with the best record in each group gets a bye, advancing directly to the semifinals. The second and third best records are placed in the quarterfinals. In the playoff rounds, each match will be a single elimination best of three series until the final match, which will be a best of five. The team that comes out on top will be undisputed as the best the IEM has to offer.

So, which team will it be? With seven teams from Europe, four from Korea, and one from Brazil, this lineup offers a diverse group of playstyles that do not often come up against each other. Brazil’s representative, paiN Gaming, is the clear underdog. The League of Legends professional circuit in South America is growing, yes, but it is still fresh and untested. When the best of the NA first faced the aggressive styles employed by the EU and Korean teams, they were initially outmatched. It took time for them to adjust. Time is a luxury paiN does not have. They come into this tournament knowing that they have to adapt to perform well.

However, most of these teams are new to this specific tournament. Of the qualified 12, Fnatic and SK Gaming are the only EU teams returning from last year’s IEM world tournament after finishing well below the top spot. This could play to their advantage, as they are the only two that will not be surprised by the size of the IEM audience. A small advantage, to be sure, but both teams have been performing exceptionally well in the EU LCS over the past few weeks, and the tiniest of nudges could put them ahead.

Two other teams are spending their LCS bye week by playing in the IEM Worlds. Gambit Gaming has been nothing short of phenomenal these past four weeks. They have not lost a tournament match since early February, and they will be bringing all of that momentum with them into Hanover. On the other hand, Evil Geniuses have run hot and cold in the EU LCS. Still, they have proven that they can keep pace with the best of the best and should not be ruled out.

MeetYourMakers is a veteran team that has undergone massive roster changes. For the past year, they have held a relatively steady lineup. They used their stability to perform consistently well in each of the IEM qualifier tournaments. In the same vein, Anexis eSports are nearly unknowns. They finished second in their qualifier tournament and put up a strong show against good teams, but can they hang with the best?

Three of the four Korean teams are highly decorated. CJ Entus Frost came in second place at Riot’s Season 2 World Championship. CJ Entus Blaze and Incredible Miracle are not strangers to the big stage and have performed well within their region. Recently formed SK Telecom T1 dominated in their qualifier tournament and should not be underestimated.

It is next to impossible to predict who will master IEM. Fans will gladly tell you why their favorite team has a shot, and they would all be correct. The tight timetable for these matches will test the endurance and patience of these 12 teams, as they must maintain a high level of play throughout. The only guarantee is that this incredible collection of talent in one place at one time will fill the next four days with fantastic plays, amazing kills, and unforgettable finishes.

Written by Joshua Pelletier.
Edited by Marissa Moody Kuo.

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