Chris Higgins, January 13, 2017

China's CS:GO chances on home turf at WESG

The group stages of the World Electronic Sports Games have come to an end and the home nation isn’t doing too badly. China’s CS:GO ambitions have been rising steadily over the past year, as teams like TyLoo and VG.CyberZen start attending more international tournaments. And in the halls of the Changzhou Olympic Sports Center, they appear to be holding their own against a host of single-nation teams.

But now that we’re past the best-of-two stages and into elimination country, can the great nation’s greatest stand up to their rivals? TyLoo have perhaps had the best track record of the two remaining Chinese squads. Easily taking the top spots of any Minor championships they can get their name onto, they’re having less luck when challenging the top 10 teams in the world at offline events.

In their first test of the playoffs, TyLoo (1.28) stand against Thai team Signature (3.5) who aren’t exactly making waves in every Major either. However, TyLoo’s entry to WESG has been a little less than optimal, forcefully releasing three of their players earlier this week as part of a contract dispute. The unproven squad hasn’t performed badly, but losing a tight-knit communication network isn’t going to inspire a lot of confidence in the team going forward.

Their fellow countryment, VG.CyberZen, could now see themselves taking up the mantle of TyLoo on the world circuit. After losing their DreamHack Las Vegas ticket to TyLoo last month, and being forced to enter WESG through the APAC qualifiers when denied the Chinese finals slot by their rivals, CyberZen will be all too happy to take up that title.

However, their first challenge of the playoffs is significantly more difficult than TyLoo’s as VG.CyberZen (1.28) need to take on the equally-ranked Epsilon (3.5) team from Sweden. Rank 24 vs 22 is a much closer game to call but with similar odds thanks to TyLoo’s roster rhumba this week. The Chinese remain only very slight underdogs thanks to that two-rank discrepancy, but every previous encounter with Epsilon in the past year has resulted in a loss.

If China can manage to make it through to the quarter-finals tonight, their onward journey doesn’t look promising from either side of the bracket. TyLoo, who by all counts stand the greatest chance of making it further, will face EnVyUs – champions of their group and certainly one of the strongest teams at the tournament. CyberZen’s reward for overcoming the odds would be a run in with Team Kinguin, who finished their group with a 4-1-0 record, best in show.

Though many of the world’s best teams either weren’t eligible or shirked the chance to attend WESG for bigger fish round the bend, China still faces near insurmountable challenges at their own party. Check back later in the year to see if the great nation can break that barrier to the world stage.

Chris Higgins

Chris is the silent solo support.