WESG World Finals key storylines

We take a look at some of the key storylines heading into this year's WESG World Finals, set to kick off in Chongqing, China, with $890,000 on the line.

After last year's WESG 2017 World Finals in Haikou, Hainan, it is now the turn for one of the four municipalities under direct administration of the Chinese central government, Chongqing, to host the WESG 2018 World Finals. Boasting an $890,000 prize pool, the tournament is slated to take place from March 11-17, with the winner to be crowned Chongqing Olympic Sports Center, where they playoffs will be held.

This year's WESG World Finals are set to kick off in Chongqing

Following the withdrawal of Major Legends NiP and ENCE, two of the three favorite teams to take it all in China, the World Finals have opened up the possibility for smaller teams to make deeper runs and has tightened the race for the $500,000 grand prize between the few top teams in attendance.

Big fish in a small pond

March 14th, 2018. Haikou, Hainan, China. SK were coming from a semi-final run at the first event of the year, the ELEAGUE Major in Boston, followed by a third-place finish at cs_summit 3, a quarter-final run at SL i-League Season 4, and a group stage exit at IEM Katowice 2018. That day, the Brazilians lost two best-of-twos to Russia and BIG, meaning they were knocked out of competition at the WESG 2017 World Finals, their second group stage exit in a row. Having finished in 17-22nd place, outside of the lowest bracket that could claim a piece of the prize pool, SK left China one player short as Epitacio "TACO" de Melo stepped down from the roster. Following his departure, the direction of that team changed completely, as they brought in Jake "Stewie2K" Yip, breaking the Brazilian five-man block.

MIBR will try to go back to winning ways in China

One year later, in Chongqing, China, MIBR are returning to their roots with TACO, João "felps" Vasconcellos, and Wilton "zews" Prado back on the team. MIBR debuted the reunited team at the IEM Katowice Major, where they had a run that saw them knocked out in the semi-finals by the indomitable Astralis. Despite the loss to the Danes, MIBR left a good impression at their first event since bringing the gang back together, climbing back into the top 5 with particularly strong showings by star players Fernando "fer" Alvarenga and Marcelo "coldzera" David, both of whom among the EVPs for the event. When ENCE and NiP, the other two Major Legends slated to play at the WESG 2018 World Finals, pulled out, MIBR instantly became by far and large the favorite team to take it all. Furthermore, the Brazilians will only play one match during the group stage, against AGO, and are automatically through to the playoffs as the other two teams in the group, Isurus and K23, have pulled out of the tournament.

MIBR will be looking to further their legacy with a victory

As with every tournament in which one comes as the undisputed favorite team to take it all, the WESG 2018 World Finals will be a double-edged sword for MIBR, who have the pressure of winning no matter what, as anything other than bagging the $500,000 grand prize will be a letdown. The Brazilians are no strangers to first-place finishes at smaller events, however, as the team’s core lifted silverware at events like Adrenaline Cyber League 2018, Moche XL Esports, or the ZOTAC Cup Masters, setting enough of a precedent to be expected to once again be able to close against lesser opposition.

The other favorites

fnatic and G2, 14th and 16th in the world ranking, respectively, are the two other main title contenders at the WESG 2018 World Finals, although they are decidedly a step below MIBR. The Swedes and the Frenchmen come from disappointing runs at IEM Katowice, where G2 floundered in the New Legends Stage after eliminating fnatic in the New Challengers Stage. The lackluster results for G2 ended up with François "AmaNEk" Delaunay being brought onto the team, but the inability to make the changes in time for the event in Chongqing means the WESG 2018 World Finals will be Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro’s last ride before hanging his G2 jersey.

G2 will try to give bodyy a good send-off

Although the event in China will mark an end for the current G2 roster, the French squad should make a deep run into the playoffs as they have directly benefited from NiP’s withdrawal, with whom they shared a group. Facing Singularity and Revolution, G2 should have little problem securing the first seed in their group, thus assuring a favorable path down the brackets. Crucial to their success will be the form of their star players, who will have the chance to regain their confidence against lower opposition before having to step it up in the playoffs. With Lucas "Lucky" Chastang and Audric "JaCkz" Jug showing promise, G2 will have to power through the restructuring that has been going on since coach Damien "maLeK" Marcel joined the team late last year as nothing other than securing one of the top places is expected at a tournament with such a lack of top competition.

fnatic will want to get rid of the bitter taste from the Major

As far as the Swedes go, fnatic won last year’s WESG 2017 World Finals, although it can’t be attributed to this team as only two players remain from that lineup, Jesper "JW" Wecksell and Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson—the latter of whom was named MVP in Haikou. Back then, fnatic were coming from a first place finish at IEM Katowice, while this time around they come off of the back of a Major flop. Having shown some promise late last year with a semi-final run at IEM Chicago 2018 and a victory at the PLG Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi, fnatic will be looking to use the WESG World Finals as a talisman to get the team back on track. The Swedes were cast into the group of death with ENCE, Movistar Riders, and Windigo, but with the Finns dropping out of the tournament, Richard "Xizt" Landström's side are now the firm favorites to make it out of their group in first place and secure a good seeding in the Round of 16.

Alone in no man’s land

Having only played one LAN since Ismail "refrezh" Ali joined the team, the tournament in China will be crucial for OpTic to show they can revert their current situation and stop the bleeding that has seen them drop all the way down to #33 in the rankings after failing to make it through the Europe Minor, where they went out in 7-8th place following losses to Vitality and mousesports. With teams like ENCE and NiP pulling out, OpTic could easily find themselves in a position to come out of left field and pull an upset late in the tournament. On the other hand, if they get off to a slow start, it could go the complete opposite way as two potential dark horses join them in Group B.

The WESG World Finals are a good moment for OpTic to revert their downward trend

Having gone down in weight class, OpTic are in a position to bully around a lot of the lighter teams that will be playing at the WESG finals, but it remains to be seen if they can still take punches from stiff opposition. Despite being the favorites in their group, OpTic won’t be able to rest on their laurels, as they will be pressed early on by Valiance and Denial, although the Serbs will field two stand-ins and the South Africans will be playing their first LAN with the current roster. OpTic will want to make sure they can secure a top seed in the Round of 16 to avoid running into any of the better-ranked teams before the late rounds of the playoffs, as a strong opponent could have the Danes down for the count.

MDL teams form the tournament’s backbone

The event in Chongqing will have a myriad MDL teams from all three regions where the tournament is played: Europe, North America, and Australia. Group A has the North American MDL squad Singularity, who will be fighting Revolution and G2 for a spot in the playoffs, while Group B will feature MDL Europe’s first placed team, Valiance—albeit a heavily modified version since Otto "ottoNd" Sihvo and Rokas "EspiranTo" Milasauskas will have to watch their teammates play with coach Luka "emi" Vuković and Aleksa "Impulse" Stankić due to the roster restrictions—, as well as the South Africans of Denial, who will be playing their first LAN since bringing on Dominic "Domsterr" Sampaio and Robby "blackpoisoN" Da Loca to take over the spots left on the roster by Dimitri "Detrony" Hadjipaschali and Ruan "ELUSIVE" van Wyk.

Denial will play their first LAN with blackpoisoN and Domsterr

Group C has EU MDL team AGO, who have already secured a playoff berth and will only have to face MIBR during the group stage to determine seeding, while Group E, considered the group of death before ENCE’s withdrawal, features Movistar Riders—whose core played these finals last year under the Wololos tag. Currently sitting second in the European standings, the Spaniards will be trying to punch over their weight class as they will face ESL Pro League teams fnatic and Windigo. Last but not least are Chiefs, from MDL Australia, who will have the team’s core in attendance despite Ryan "zewsy" Palmer and Chris "ofnu" Hanley not being able to play due to roster restrictions, and Altima, who will field four members of NA MDL squad Forty Six and 2, including the core that represented Mexico under the QuetzaL banner at the WESG 2016 World Finals.

Can Russia repeat without electronic?

Due to WESG’s nationality rule, a field of mix teams ends up at the Chinese event every year. This year the most prominent of the mixes that will be playing in Chongqing are Russia, Ukraine, and Canada’s WARDELL N Friends. Featuring four out of the five players that managed to take third place at this event last year is Russia, who will be fielding Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov instead of Denis "electronic" Sharipov this time around and will hope to repeat last year’s podium finish.

Boombl4 will have big shoes to fill in the Russia squad

The squad featuring Dmitry "hooch" Bogdanov, Denis "seized" Kostin, Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov, and Georgi "WorldEdit" Yaskin will face another one of the mix teams, WARDELL N Friends, a rag-tag group including Yassine "Subroza" Taoufik, Bradley "ANDROID" Fodor and the team’s namesake, star AWPer Matthew "WARDELL" Yu, in Group F, where Imperial and Panda will also be fighting for spots in the playoffs. Another mix team with a shot at the playoffs is Ukraine, a shadow of the star-studded team that qualified but didn’t attend the event last year, as they drew one of the easier groups in the tournament, Group G, where 5POWER, TNC, and WingHei "Freeman" Cheung’s ENZO are slotted.

A chance on the world stage, if the teams can make it

As happens every year, the WESG World Finals will offer teams from all over the world the opportunity to show themselves on the world stage for all to watch. In 2016 it was Kinguin who took local rivals Virtus.pro out in the semifinals to steal a second-place finish, while in 2017 it was TeamOne who upset Cloud9 before being knocked out in the semis by the eventual champions, fnatic. But beneath those big upsets and deep runs, layers of teams will be trying to make a name for themselves, and many players will be putting their talent on display to try and extend their 15 minutes of fame.

caike weeping after TeamOne defeated Cloud9 during last year's WESG World Finals

Sadly, some of these teams and players will be unable to make it to the event in China, as the tournament has an ongoing problem with getting all of them to attend, for one reason or another. Five teams have pulled out this year, two of them Major Legends, ENCE and NiP, as well as the Kazakhstani mix of K23, Korean side MVP PK, and Isurus from Argentina. This means three groups will have three teams and one will have only two, something we already saw last year when Envy and Bravado were given automatic access to the following stage and only had to play for seeding because the other two teams in their group, Ukraine and Viva Algeria, didn’t attend.

Last but not least is the fact that the WESG World Finals have randomly seeded groups. Coming straight after the IEM Katowice Major, which managed to match teams fairly and adjusted their ELO as they progressed through the tournament, it may be hard for some to digest the disparity between groups. To give an example, Group E will feature fnatic (#14), Windigo (#30), and Movistar Riders (#37), and was supposed to also have ENCE (#4) before they backed out of the tournament, while Group G features 5POWER (#110) and three unranked teams: Ukraine, ENZO, and TNC. While this may not be the fairest way to get a real sense of the best teams and how strong they are compared to all of the other competitors present, a gladiatorial “only the best survive” event should make for an entertaining week of Counter-Strike.

Canada Matthew 'WARDELL' Yu
Matthew 'WARDELL' Yu
Age:
21
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.09
Maps played:
489
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.10
Brazil Marcelo 'coldzera' David
Marcelo 'coldzera' David
Age:
24
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.20
Maps played:
1038
KPR:
0.80
DPR:
0.61
APR:
0.12
Brazil Epitacio 'TACO' de Melo
Epitacio 'TACO' de Melo
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.94
Maps played:
940
KPR:
0.62
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.12
Brazil João 'felps' Vasconcellos
João 'felps' Vasconcellos
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
725
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.71
APR:
0.16
Sweden Jesper 'JW' Wecksell
Jesper 'JW' Wecksell
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
1542
KPR:
0.74
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.14
France François 'AmaNEk' Delaunay
François 'AmaNEk' Delaunay
Age:
25
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.09
Maps played:
545
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.63
APR:
0.13
Russia Denis 'seized' Kostin
Denis 'seized' Kostin
Age:
24
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.99
Maps played:
1224
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.15
Finland Otto 'ottoNd' Sihvo
Otto 'ottoNd' Sihvo
Age:
21
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.13
Maps played:
594
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.62
APR:
0.11
Hong Kong WingHei 'Freeman' Cheung
WingHei 'Freeman' Cheung
Age:
20
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.17
Maps played:
555
KPR:
0.79
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.13
France Audric 'JaCkz' Jug
Audric 'JaCkz' Jug
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
558
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.15
Serbia Luka 'emi' Vuković
Luka 'emi' Vuković
Age:
25
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.96
Maps played:
818
KPR:
0.66
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.16
France Alexandre 'bodyy' Pianaro
Alexandre 'bodyy' Pianaro
Age:
22
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.96
Maps played:
760
KPR:
0.65
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.14
South Africa Robby 'blackpoisoN' Da Loca
Robby 'blackpoisoN' Da Loca
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.07
Maps played:
288
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.12
South Africa Dimitri 'Detrony' Hadjipaschali
Dimitri 'Detrony' Hadjipaschali
Age:
28
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.07
Maps played:
376
KPR:
0.72
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.13
France Lucas 'Lucky' Chastang
Lucas 'Lucky' Chastang
Age:
21
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.04
Maps played:
426
KPR:
0.69
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.14
New Zealand Ryan 'zewsy' Palmer
Ryan 'zewsy' Palmer
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.05
Maps played:
562
KPR:
0.72
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.16
New Zealand Chris 'ofnu' Hanley
Chris 'ofnu' Hanley
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.08
Maps played:
604
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.15
Russia Kirill 'Boombl4' Mikhailov
Kirill 'Boombl4' Mikhailov
Age:
20
Rating 1.0:
1.04
Maps played:
567
KPR:
0.72
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.14
Brazil Wilton 'zews' Prado
Wilton 'zews' Prado
Age:
31
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.81
Maps played:
137
KPR:
0.54
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.13
France Damien 'maLeK' Marcel
Damien 'maLeK' Marcel
Age:
33
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.53
Maps played:
2
KPR:
0.16
DPR:
0.51
APR:
0.08
Canada Bradley 'ANDROID' Fodor
Bradley 'ANDROID' Fodor
Age:
25
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.03
Maps played:
756
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.13
Russia Denis 'electronic' Sharipov
Denis 'electronic' Sharipov
Age:
20
Rating 1.0:
1.12
Maps played:
767
KPR:
0.77
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.14
Serbia Aleksa 'Impulse' Stankić
Aleksa 'Impulse' Stankić
Age:
23
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.11
Maps played:
400
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.62
APR:
0.11
United States Jake 'Stewie2K' Yip
Jake 'Stewie2K' Yip
Age:
21
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.05
Maps played:
1060
KPR:
0.72
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.14
South Africa Dominic 'Domsterr' Sampaio
Dominic 'Domsterr' Sampaio
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.05
Maps played:
274
KPR:
0.69
DPR:
0.63
APR:
0.13
Canada Yassine 'Subroza' Taoufik
Yassine 'Subroza' Taoufik
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.03
Maps played:
505
KPR:
0.72
DPR:
0.70
APR:
0.15
Russia Mihail 'Dosia' Stolyarov
Mihail 'Dosia' Stolyarov
Age:
31
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.99
Maps played:
1396
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.15
Sweden Freddy 'KRIMZ' Johansson
Freddy 'KRIMZ' Johansson
Age:
25
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
1322
KPR:
0.71
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.15
Russia Georgi 'WorldEdit' Yaskin
Georgi 'WorldEdit' Yaskin
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.08
Maps played:
1124
KPR:
0.74
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.12
Denmark Ismail 'refrezh' Ali
Ismail 'refrezh' Ali
Age:
21
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.05
Maps played:
568
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.12
Russia Dmitry 'hooch' Bogdanov
Dmitry 'hooch' Bogdanov
Age:
32
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.91
Maps played:
845
KPR:
0.62
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.14
Sweden Richard 'Xizt' Landström
Richard 'Xizt' Landström
Age:
28
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.00
Maps played:
1549
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.17
Brazil Fernando 'fer' Alvarenga
Fernando 'fer' Alvarenga
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.10
Maps played:
1090
KPR:
0.76
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.16
South Africa Ruan 'ELUSIVE' van Wyk
Ruan 'ELUSIVE' van Wyk
Age:
26
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.97
Maps played:
379
KPR:
0.64
DPR:
0.63
APR:
0.14
Lithuania Rokas 'EspiranTo' Milasauskas
Rokas 'EspiranTo' Milasauskas
Age:
18
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.10
Maps played:
614
KPR:
0.77
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.11
Free money for G2
2019-03-10 18:06
#2
 | 
Germany LULTARES 
Cool
2019-03-10 18:06
Cool
2019-03-10 18:12
mibr lul
2019-03-10 18:06
+1 OMEGALUL lost to team russia last year XAXAXAXAXAXA
2019-03-10 18:07
last year... we're in 2019
2019-03-10 18:32
2 major 3 years ago we in 2k19
2019-03-10 18:57
top 5 in the world almost beaten astralis.
2019-03-10 19:00
#30
 | 
United Arab Emirates p1peb0mb 
baeting astralis mens nothing. remenber when north beat astralis in bo3s twice in one tournament. look at them after that event.
2019-03-10 19:06
#31
 | 
France Creez_sp 
2-0 almost LUL
2019-03-10 19:07
16x14 without pistols
2019-03-10 19:18
When they almost beat astralis? Renegades won a map vs astralis so renegades > mibr nice br logic
2019-03-10 19:13
rofl gj showing brazil are so biased they have no sense of reality at all
2019-03-10 19:16
+1
2019-03-10 19:32
+1
2019-03-10 23:16
#48
 | 
United States Bochanka 
+1
2019-03-10 23:33
#46
 | 
Portugal GODTACO 
FIRST PLACE: MIBR
2019-03-10 22:55
#4
 | 
Sweden Unluko 
F5
2019-03-10 18:06
#15
tarik | 
Asia number00 
hhahahhahhahhhhhahahahah idiot. Any other team has more chance of winning it than G2
2019-03-10 18:23
#55
fer | 
Brazil jmarcelo 
mibr*
2019-03-11 00:10
+1 ez
2019-03-11 14:34
ResidentSleeper
2019-03-10 18:07
#7
NBK- | 
France Azowel 
ty ez money
2019-03-10 18:07
#8
NAF | 
Canada Dash_ 
Go WARDELL AND FRIENDS
2019-03-10 18:07
#9
KSCERATO | 
Europe L1iMA 
Ez "money major" for Mibr
2019-03-10 18:09
*Fnatic
2019-03-10 18:12
fnatic cant win against g2 in major LUL
2019-03-10 18:27
#51
 | 
United States Bochanka 
G2 their Kryptonite
2019-03-10 23:35
just like last year lmao
2019-03-10 18:25
#52
 | 
United States Bochanka 
+1
2019-03-10 23:35
lol overrating MIBR the same way they did last year and they finished last even tho this tournament is tier 3 , wouldnt be surprised if the same happens yet again
2019-03-10 18:13
#14
 | 
Turkey tastemycobra 
Key story: Almost everyone dodged this crappy event.
2019-03-10 18:15
Lucas Say hi to me. You are my favorite reporter)))
2019-03-10 18:28
Heyya :)
2019-03-11 04:14
#20
 | 
Spain iBuyQueso 
Very nice read mr Lucas
2019-03-10 18:30
Ty Mr. iBuyGroceries_Everyday
2019-03-11 04:36
ez money 4 mibr
2019-03-10 18:31
mibr and the philosopher’s 9 hour delay
2019-03-10 18:37
ez for viva algeria
2019-03-10 18:43
#28
k0nfig | 
Denmark QDouble 
easy 500k for mibr
2019-03-10 19:04
#32
 | 
Czech Republic @me 
1st title: can mibr beat ago???🤔🤔🤔
2019-03-10 19:11
#53
 | 
United States Bochanka 
ah no
2019-03-10 23:36
ez for SK
2019-03-10 19:18
Kazakhstani mix... again...
2019-03-10 19:37
roflchamp for any middle team against mix
2019-03-10 20:55
#40
 | 
Spain BlaNcoW 
EZ4RIDERS
2019-03-10 21:00
#42
 | 
Spain GamerGuillem 
+1
2019-03-10 22:13
cute
2019-03-10 21:22
#43
 | 
Brazil P4uloVisk 
ez4mibr
2019-03-10 22:13
ez mibr
2019-03-10 22:20
G2 signing Amenek from LDLC ( wich can’t even win against x6tence galaxy) is quite the joke acctualy just good he boddy will play this tournument. And yet again they are overrating MIBR.
2019-03-10 22:52
#54
kennyS | 
New Zealand INxNITY 
Ummmmmm AmaNEK has been inactive since mid/late last year
2019-03-10 23:50
A wonder he still even has a rating If he haven`t played in along time
2019-03-11 21:22
#49
 | 
Brazil Brazilian Wax 
At least this time mibr won't get eliminated in group stage.
2019-03-10 23:33
let's get this money bois
2019-03-12 15:19
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