The World Electronic Sports Games is fast approaching us. Thirty-two teams from all across the world will compete for their chance to win part of the massive $890,000 prize pool.
The World Electronic Sports Games is fast approaching us. Thirty-two teams from all across the world will compete for their chance to win part of the massive $890,000 prize pool in a tournament which in many ways resembles the Olympic Games. Follow along as we break down all you need to know about this year’s tournament.
The World Electronic Sports Games (or WESG for short) is an annual tournament that runs in China. The tournament is unique in the sense that it uses Olympic style rules where all of the thirty-two teams in the competition must be composed of players of the same nationality. This years tournament will take place in the city of Chongqing, often called “Fog City” due to the thick layer of fog which shrouds the city.
The thirty-two teams will be drawn into eight groups of four and play in a BO2 round-robin format. The top two teams then advance to a single-elimination BO3 bracket. The tournament kicks off March 11 and runs all throughout the week, with the final matches being played on Sunday, March 17.
fnatic hoisted the WESG trophy in 2018, will they be able to make it two in a row?
At last year’s event, we saw the Swedes from fnatic take down the Turkish side Space Soldiers in the finals which netted them a cool $800,000. For this year’s competition, the total prize pool has been cut down from $1,500,000 to $890,000. So the winner will have to settle for “only” $500,000 this time around.
There’s plenty of money to be won in China, yet we usually see a pretty weak field in this tournament. In 2016, we saw a weak EnVyUs side take down Kinguin in the finals which says something about the quality of competition. This mostly has to do with the fact that it often clashes with some other events, but also because WESG is going for an Olympic style approach where all teams must be of a single nationality. With mixed-nationality teams becoming all the more prevalent it is no surprise to see that the quality of teams is somewhat lacking.
As of the writing of this article, only two teams from HLTV’s top 10 rankings are confirmed to be attending; The Swedish side NiP and the newly formed Brazilian roster of MIBR.
Last year’s winner fnatic will be looking to defend their title in China and they will among the favorites to do so. But a lot has happened since they took down Space Soldiers in a three-map series last year. They have since decided to replace in-game leader Maikil ‘Golden’ Selim, entry-fragger Jonas ‘Lekr0’ Olofsson as well as seasoned veteran Robin ‘flusha’ Rönnquist. In their place comes Simon ‘twist’ Eliasson and Ludvig ‘Brollan’ Brolin, formerly of Red Reserve, as well as seasoned veteran Richard ‘Xizt’ Landström who finally left Ninjas in Pyjamas after five years on the team. The newly formed roster looked promising initially, as they won PLG Grand Slam 2018 as well as taking the current number one team in the world, Astralis, to deep waters in a thrilling three-map series at IEM Chicago. However, the Swedish side had a disappointing showing at the IEM Katowice major, where they went out early in the challenger’s stage with losses to ViCi, Winstrike and G2 — Teams that they were heavily favored against. The Swedes will look to bounce back with a win in China, but they will be facing tough competition as they were drawn in the group of death. Thankfully, the IEM Katowice runner-up, ENCE, dropped out of the competition so they should still have a great chance of making it out of the group which includes the Bulgarian side Windigo and the Spanish team Movistar Riders.
KRIMZ was a monster for fnatic at the start of last year.
Freddy ‘KRIMZ’ Johansson was the MVP at last year’s tournament and his performances in 2018 ultimately earned him a place in HLTV’s top 10 players of the year. The fnatic veteran seems to love two things; snus (Swedish tobacco) and playing on the big stage. The man has an uncanny ability to perform when the stakes are high which shows in his statistics on LAN. Since this roster was formed, KRIMZ has a total rating of 1.23 and a K/D ratio of 1.28. Far better than anyone else on the roster. If KRIMZ performs as he did at the start of last year, fnatic will have a great chance at making a deep run in China.
Another favorite for the title will be MIBR, who surprisingly went out in a disappointing 17th place finish at last year’s competition. The Brazilians had a difficult year in 2018 which ultimately led to the removal of the American duo, Jake ‘Stewie2k’ Yip and Tarik ‘tarik’ Celik. Instead, they‘ve opted to go back to the roster that won them multiple titles in 2017 by picking up João ‘felps’ Vasconcellos from INTZ and Epitacio ‘TACO’ de Melo from Team Liquid. We got to see a glimpse of what this team is capable of at the major, where the Brazilians made it all the way to the semi-finals where they went out to the eventual winners, Astralis. Someone who seems to have benefitted greatly from the changes is Fernando ‘fer’ Alvarenga, who showed glimpses of his old self in Katowice.
coldzera will look to spearhead his team to yet another trophy.
Despite MIBR’s struggles in 2018, Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David has remained a consistent performer throughout, silently putting up big numbers for the team. Look no further than the man sometimes referred to as “The Terminator” to be a difference maker for the team that at one point in time was regarded as the best in the world.
One of the issues that this lineup faced at times during its inception was how to fit an aggressive rifler such as felps into a team that already has one of the best aggressive riflers in Fernando ‘fer’ Alvarenga. If MIBR wants to go all the way in China, they need to find a way to get the best out of felps.
A lot of teams have dropped out of the competition due to scheduling and visa issues that come with traveling and competing in China, which will change the outcome of the tournament quite substantially. Teams like ENCE, k23 and MVP.PK ended up withdrawing from the tournament, leaving some groups with three or fewer teams. In fact, MIBR and AGO will move straight to the playoffs, as both Isurus Gaming and k23 withdrew from the tournament. This will, of course, make MIBR an even bigger favorite to win. WESG also did the groups at random, which has led to some incredibly unbalanced groups. Group E included fnatic, Windigo, ENCE and Movistar Riders which are some of the better teams in the competition. However, with ENCE withdrawing things will become a lot easier for the other teams in that group.
This is a pretty weird tournament overall, as a lot of teams have been put together last minute to compete at this tournament. There will definitely be some upsets in group play, as teams from the rest of the world are slowly starting to close in on the Western teams. Some teams to look out for that could potentially steal maps against stronger competition include South African side Denial Gaming, Movistar Riders from Spain, WARDELL N FRIENDS from Canada, Team Singularity from The United States as well as Chinese team Panda which is essentially CyberZen, a team that has given teams like TYLOO and ViCi a run for their money in China. Also, I wouldn’t rule out AGO stealing a map or making it close against MIBR despite being huge underdogs. Since k23 and Isurus withdrew from the competition, the Poles will be able to play without pressure in a match where the only thing on the line is the seeding for the playoffs. I would avoid betting on MIBR in this match for this reason, and depending on the odds a handicap bet on AGO might be in play.