Often times, the Demacia Cup is insignificant in the eyes of the western audience, yet it provides Chinese teams with a chance to somewhat redeem themselves. This year’s event has even more on the line: honor, pride, self-reassurance and respect. Unlike last year’s Demacia Cup, all teams in the semifinals of the 2016 edition have different reasons that will back up their desire to win the cup.
The Chinese dynasty known as Edward Gaming made their return to the LPL throne this summer. After an undefeated regular season, EDG was able to easily reclaim their title of best team in the league. Defeating Royal Never Give Up 3-0 in the finals, the Chinese squad looked to be one of the heavy favorites heading into Worlds. Unfortunately for them, misfortune hit the team once more as top laner Mouse had to withdraw from the tournament due to a tragedy within his family. A poor performance in groups led to EDG not even being able to secure the first seed and moving to the Quarterfinals as a second seed. Having to face one of other tournament favorites, ROX Tigers, EDG had to use Koro1 in the top lane role. Sadly for them, Koro1 had played a small amount of games prior to the substitution which meant EDG’s chances of victory went down significantly. Only winning one game in the Quarterfinals, EDG was defeated 1-3 by ROX, and was once again eliminated in the same stage of Worlds for a third year in a row.
After such a poor performance, it’s expected that EDG would want to redeem themselves. Especially ClearLove, who was considered the best jungler in the world but failed to be effective for EDG and had very poor performances on Lee Sin. But it’s not just about redemption for Edward Gaming. PawN has officially left the team, and it has also been announced that superstar ADC Deft will be leaving the team as well after Demacia Cup. It’s important to understand how dominant this iteration of EDG was, at least domestically. Winning two LPL titles, one of which after an undefeated regular season, while also winning other events including last year’s Demacia Cup and the 2015 Mid-Season Invitational, EDG breaking apart is upsetting for a lot of LPL fans. The team will surely want to have one last happy memory together by winning their final event as teammates.
Royal Never Give Up is in a similar position. With rumors of Looper and Mata leaving the team, RNG is looking to not only rebound after Worlds but also earn one final victory if the team were to break apart. Their journey at Worlds was a bit more joyful than EDG’s. Being expected to flop in groups, they were able to do well against Team SoloMid and secure the second seed in the group. They were, however, defeated 1-3 by the eventual winner of the tournament, SK Telecom T1.
Despite a decent showing at Worlds, RNG still has a lot to prove. Ever since MSI, they have been on a downward spiral, failing to win the Summer Split of the LPL despite making it to the finals. They were expected to do even better however, as the team added superstar ADC Uzi to the roster. Unfortunately, with most rosters Uzi has been on, RNG lost coordination and lacked teamwork in most of their matches ever since adding Uzi. At Demacia Cup, Royal will have yet another chance to prove that the roster move was for the better and they can win something even with Uzi on the team.
IMay and Snake are teams with similarities. Both teams came from the LSPL and made a surge. While Snake made more of an impact in their first LPL split, IMay was able to perform well in their first playoffs despite not having a promising regular season run. Both squads have shown potential to do well within the LPL. With Snake finishing their second season this year, it’s worth mentioning that they haven’t been able to push past 4th place and have remained stuck in mostly the same position every single split. IMay hasn’t looked as impressive in terms of their performances in-game but when it comes to results, they have delivered. Going from LSPL to Worlds in one split, something Snake hasn’t been able to do yet.
Their seasons didn’t end well, and both teams have a reason to try and do well at Demacia Cup. For Snake, they were forced to play two Bo5s in a row. And not just in two different days but in one single day. No matter who it is, any team would feel drained having to play two Bo5s. Alas, due to the schedule of the LPL Regionals, Snake was left with no option but to play and try to somehow win. While they were able to win 3-2 against Vici Gaming, the team fell against Team WE 2-3 and was 1 win away from facing IMay for a chance to go to Worlds. For Snake, not only is Demacia Cup a chance to make up for their loss at the Regional Qualifier, it is also their chance to prove that they can beat IMay, a team that went to Worlds instead of them.
For IMay, it was a tough Worlds and a tough group. Having to face eventual winners SK Telecom T1, as well as the LMS #1 seed Flash Wolves and NA powerhouse Cloud9, IMay fell short in groups and finished 3rd. Being considered the weakest team in the group, IMay failed to prove their doubters wrong. For them, Demacia Cup is a means to earn people’s respect and show them that they can be a winning team.
All 4 of these teams have something to prove. Whether it’s gaining people’s respect or redeeming themselves after crushing losses, Demacia Cup is showing a lot of promise this year and while the event as a whole is poorly received by Western fans, it remains important within the Chinese region and it should be treated with more respect.