This week, the China Cup will play out in a city you’ve never heard of, with teams you don’t care about, and between players who are totally alien to the international viewer. Yet, it boasts a $100k prize pool, is expected to have decent viewership, and the results of the tournament will provide some incredibly important information and context. By the way, it starts this week. Wait… what?
The six teams in attendance might represent one of the most eclectic groupings of teams in recent memory. But, due to how the separate storylines of each team comes together, this eclecticism actually works massively in favour of how important each result will play in the scope of Asian-Pacific (APAC) CS:GO.
The two teams that are, by definition, separate from the rest due to their nationality, are eFuture.dk, and Fnatic Academy. Both teams represent the grey area of semi-professional play – with the players on both primed for future development in teams with bigger followings.
In the world of EU premier, online qualifiers, and domestic LANs, both Fnatic Academy and eFuture.dk represent teams firmly in the middle of the pack; unlikely to qualify for a big LAN, but also unlikely to drop into EU Main. They are very much a known quantity within the scope of tier 3-4 EU play, and their results can easily be extrapolated in the scope of global rankings due to their results against teams who are actually on the global top 30 list.
As such, for the China Cup, these teams are the baseline for building a comparable bridge between the West and Asia. The other four teams represent some of the top Asian sides available to play at a LAN in the present.
Although Tyloo recently suffered their fair share of negative press following the fallout between coach Karsa, somebody, Fancy1 and the organisation, the team itself is still one of the top dogs in Asia. The new line-up, with much of the emotional baggage that has been carried over from the contract controversy, will be fully tested against their Asian peers and the international competition present. How they perform on LAN at the China Cup will be the determining factor for who can claim the top spot in China moving forwards.
One of the names that are hungrily looking to take Tyloo’s current spot as number one, is the ever dangerous 5Power Club, who have gone almost entirely unknown internationally. Regularly butting heads with international competition in the last six months, 5Power’s most recent roster change that saw them bring in both QKA and Aizhu has been working wonders. They are currently poised with some of the region’s hottest talent in shuadapai. The China Cup could push them over the edge domestically and finally give them the international recognition they’ve been craving for months.
Dreamscape, who were recently backed by relative MOBA giant B.O.O.T, is one the top APAC teams outside of Chinese competition. Boasting the best players from Singapore and pushing the region far above its neighbouring countries, B.O.O.T. Dreamscape have been wielding the superstar power of their 17 year old dynamo splashke to push them over the edge. Boasting a ridiculous 1.36 rating on HLTV over the last three months, splashke is definitely the player to watch at the China Cup against the international competition.
Just because Western viewers mightn’t know these broad storylines, Asian fans do, and by historical data, we know they like to come out and support their home teams. Dreamhack Masters Malmo was a prime example of this, when Tyloo played Luminosity in the deciding Bo3 to get out of groups the Chinese streams helped bolster viewership to higher points than some of the actual playoff games.
With this in mind, and considering the games will be played in a comfortable time zone on home soil, not only will we see a substantial prize pool, but likely decent viewership watching decent APAC teams against their international counterparts.
This is one of a growing group of examples of a divided viewership and scenes between the East and West, and will provide much contextual information both inside and outside the game as to how this rift will grow/shrink moving into 2017.