When world champions collide: Return of the All-Stars

For the 2014 All-Stars in Paris, five regional teams will be fighting for bragging rights as the world’s best region. In addition to this, two special rival teams whose members have been chosen by fans – Team Ice and Team Fire – will be competing in four challenges. However, a lot has changed since last year’s All-Stars, and this impressive, game-changing event seems like a distant memory.

The 2013 All-Stars saw each region send five members to Shanghai, with each player assigned a role by fans regardless of their own team allegiances. It was a tremendous show, from the individual skill-based 1v1 and 2v2 matchups in the Magma Chamber to regional groups clashing on Summoner’s Rift for a chance to win their region a third spot at the Season 3 World Championships.

The South Koreans dominated the individual skill competitions as Pray and MadLife trounced North America’s Doublelift and Xpecial in the duo AD carry and support contest, while inSec proved himself the best jungler in the world by dominating Europe’s Diamond. However, MadLife’s teammate Shy was defeated at the last hurdle by Europe’s sOAZ in the top lane, while SEA’s Toyz was crowned king of the mid lane over China’s Misaya. South Korea also ultimately landed themselves the prized first place position in the regional matchups at the 2013 All-Stars, earning an extra place for themselves at the World Championships. Korean team SKT T1 then took the third extra place and went on to win the 2013 World Championships and with it the coveted US$1 million top prize.

Who’s back at the All-Stars?

Europe’s sOAZ will be back but this time brings the full might of Fnatic, with him. Diamond is also setting his sights on returning to the dark jungles of the All-Star Rift, having been voted in by fans, and will be playing in Team Fire.
North America will be bringing Doublelift back to the table, and for South Korea both Shy and MadLife return from their success in Shanghai last year to attempt to reclaim their thrones as the top players in the world. Shy will be making his presence known in Team Fire, but this time MadLife is without his trusty AD carry Pray, who he won last year’s bottom lane competition with. Instead, he will be teaming up with the 2013 All-Stars’ enemy ADC Doublelift in this year’s Team Ice.

WeiXiao represented China in 2013 along with his Team WE colleagues Troll and Misaya. WeiXiao is back for another chance at fighting in the bot lane, having been voted in by the Chinese fans for Team Fire.
Misaya will also be rejoining the fray and so will Toyz, ex-captain of the Taipei Assassins, as the additional two voted-in players out of the five special picks. The two mid laners have been placed on opposing sides, Toyz in Fire and Misaya in Ice, and their 1v1 Magma Chamber mid lane showdown of 2013 could be one to watch as they are set to collide again in the challenges Team Ice and Team Fire must face.

First fights or déjà vu?

The first regional match will be between China’s OMG and the European Fnatic, but despite both teams having qualified for the 2013 World Championships, it will be the first time they butt heads in competition. OMG made their international debut at the World’s, having finished second place in the Season 3 China Regional Finals. Fnatic, meanwhile, are seasoned veterans of the international scene and World’s, having won Season 1’s World Championship themselves with current players Cyanide and xPeke and every single split of the European LCS since its creation.  

OMG missed out on the chance of fighting Fnatic at the World’s as they were dominated by fellow Chinese team Royal Club in the quarter finals. Fnatic then also lost out to Royal Club in the semifinals. OMG finished in seventh place at the World’s, three places behind Fnatic, but with the addition of young talent Rekkles on Fnatic’s side and OMG’s mid laner and former support Pomelo and jungler Allen (formerly LoveLin) switching roles, will the two teams have a lot of brushing up to do?

Then come the matches of champions: South Korea’s SK Telecom T1 K versus Southeast Asia’s AZUBU Taipei Assassins. Both teams have astounding records and both have won World Championships. The SK Telecom T1 K team was created in Spring 2013, and not only made their international debut at the World Championships but were crowned champions a little over half a year later. However, they have not played an international game since.

AZUBU Taipei Assassins, on the other hand, won the World’s in 2012, and are older and wiser with vast international gaming experience at Intel Extreme Masters, IPL and the World Cyber Games to name but a few. However, having dealt with the retirement of captain Toyz in 2013, constant roster changes and then later not qualifying for 2013 World Championships, how confident will AZB TPA be against the reigning World Champions?

Cloud 9 HyperX will be another team facing strong competition with a lot to learn, having made their international debut at last year’s World’s. Their first match at the All-Stars will be against Fnatic, with whom they had fleeting contact with at the 2013 World Championships. The two teams went head to head in the quarter finals, but for Cloud 9 it was their first match of the entire event and they were overwhelmed by Fnatic’s experience, ending up in eighth place. Cloud 9 and Fnatic faced each other once again in December 2013 at the Battle of the Atlantic European and North American invitational tournament, where Cloud 9 managed a straight-up 2-0 victory over the Europeans.

However, in March this year at the Intel Extreme Masters World Championships in Katowice, Cloud 9 managed to swing a third place victory, although Fnatic were one step ahead and took second place. Cloud 9 are certainly making their presence known in the international scene, and are definitely climbing up the ladder. But, with their mid laner Hai in hospital and Counter Logic Gaming’s Link being loaned to the team for All-Stars, can Cloud 9 still step up to the challenge and beat the team who hasn’t lost a single LCS split so far?

The All-Stars 2014 will begin on May the 8th, with semifinals running on the 10th and finals on the 11th.

For more information, check out the official site.

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