A Perfect Challenge:
The SPT/CE Rivalry
Written by: Midseasons
Bracket and schedules on LiquipediaThe rivalry between Challenge Everything (CE) and Super Perfect Team (SPT) has been building since 2016, and it’s only getting deeper. Throughout their shared history, the two teams have mirrored each other—similar tournament records, almost identical team statistics, and bleedingly close matches. Neither team has been able to claim a distinct advantage over the other until recently when SPT swept CE 2-0 on July 10th. Now SPT enjoys the upper hand, but with a rematch looming ahead and CE once again on the rise, that enjoyment might be short-lived.
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Neither Super, Nor Perfect
Throughout 2015, an earlier incarnation of Super Perfect Team struggled to find a place in the Chinese scene. After a year of poor results, SPT qualified for Gold Series Hero League, the premier event of China.
They didn’t win a single series.
SPT was pushed out of the league, and failed to re-qualify for the Spring 2016 season. Something had to change, and as GHL Spring went on without them, SPT began to restructure. A new core of Misaka, qianxiao, and zZH became the foundation for the team we know today, and the new incarnation returned to GHL in the summer.
Under Misaka’s leadership, the new SPT toppled regional giants eStar and ZeroPanda, and held the winners bracket until the finals. Though they would lose to ZeroPanda in a Bo7 rematch, it was an astonishing debut for what was essentially a new team.
After GHL Summer, rosterpocalypse fever swept through China as players shuffled between teams or formed entirely new ones. Misaka’s SPT continued to change with ranged assassin Xuyu being replaced, but while so much of the region looked unstable, SPT’s future was bright.
Misaka’s hard work shaping the team was soon validated by an invitation to the Gold Club World Championship (GCWC) in Beijing. Before Misaka, SPT was insignificant; with him, they were recognized as world elite. SPT brought their new lineup to GCWC with support Alooffool in place of zZH. Though SPT could not consistently defeat their Korean foes, their performance was still entirely acceptable, taking game off BlizzCon champions Ballistix in group stages and eliminating their regional rivals eStar in playoffs.
The Making of Rivalry
Super Perfect Team reunited with zZH for the GHL Grand Finals following GCWC, but a new team was about to make their debut. Challenge Everything was formed with strong veteran players from other teams, including Alooffool and Xuyu, and they were ready to rock the boat.
The very first game in CE’s history was a win against Super Perfect Team. After everything SPT had done throughout 2016 to prove they were top-tier, they were being challenged by a brand new roster. Luckily, they recovered and won the next game in the series and ended the tournament with far superior results. It wouldn’t be the last time SPT blocked CE’s progress, but it was the start of a deep-seated rivalry between the two teams.
CE’s debut was overshadowed by their final results, but a closer look at the group stage records shows that CE and SPT were a tightly close match throughout the tournament. Outside of their 1-1 with SPT, CE also went even with Xteam and eStar. Only the reigning Chinese champion Zero Gaming was able to solidly defeat CE.
Over the ten games of round robin, both CE and SPT went 5-5, finishing group stage with identical scores of 1-3-1. To secure their spot in the playoffs, SPT had to defeat CE in a three game tie-breaker—the longest series of the entire tournament! CE may have finished fifth place out of six teams, but the playoffs had been just within their reach. At every turn, CE was always one win away from eliminating SPT, and because of CE’s success, SPT was forced to fight harder for their position than any other team.
The Best Team in China?
eStar Gaming, SPT, and Xteam were presumptively tied for best team in the region at the start of Phase 1. All three teams were well established, had international experience, and had been in the GHL finals. But CE challenged those assumptions by defeating Xteam 3-0 in their first series of the season.
It wasn’t long before the two teams faced each other, and once again SPT was CE’s weakness. At the time, we described the series between SPT and CE as the closest of the season. The Bo5 between SPT and CE was the best Chinese series in all of Phase 1. For four games, the two teams were almost perfectly matched, but SPT’s stamina won out as CE’s decision making faltered heavily in the final game.
SPT’s victory over CE was hard fought and well deserved, and it was a feat no other team could duplicate.
Outside of that single early loss, CE’s rise was meteoric as they continued to look stronger every week. Halfway through the phase, CE crushed eStar 3-0 and secured their hold on first place. In three simple games, CE accomplished what SPT had failed at for months. All three teams ended the tournament in a three-way tie with a score of 6-1, but CE’s victories were cleaner and more dominant.
There was no need for a tiebreaker; CE’s overall tournament points were far ahead of any other team’s, leaving them unquestionably in first place. The CE that lifted the trophy was a stronger team than the one that had lost to SPT weeks before. But the win triangle between CE, eStar, and SPT would soon cast a strange shadow over the international scene.
The Mid-Season Denials
CE had earned the right to represent China internationally, but their hopes were dashed by denied visas. With key players unable to attend Dreamhack in Sweden, Alooffool contacted SPT asking for substitutes, but negotiations did not work out. As a result, CE had to miss the Brawl completely, and it was announced that SPT would take their place. Unfortunately, SPT had visa problems too and were forced to play without Misaka, the team captain who had helped shape them since 2016.
The Chinese representation at the Brawl could not have been more varied. Holding strong against international favorites L5 and Dignitas during the group stage, eStar proved that the top teams of China had to be taken seriously. But as eStar dominated group B, SPT sank to the bottom of group A.
SPT was the worst performing team in their group, and the second worst in the tournament overall, winning only a single game. SPT’s failure to impress only invited comparisons with CE. Would CE have dominated? Discussions of eStar’s success would recall CE’s 3-0 over them, but SPT’s own victory against CE was momentarily forgotten. Most of the Mid-Season Brawl viewers had not seen how close SPT and CE’s series had been or how closely the two vied for control throughout their history. An audience unfamiliar with the Chinese scene only knew that SPT was the third place, last-minute replacement for the true champions—and without Misaka, viewers would only see a weak team.
I'm a fan of his. I fully support him!" - Liu "CNNo1" Tao, eStar Gaming
But SPT is not a weak team. Their disappointing Brawl performance showed only how vital Misaka is to their success. Imagine Dignitas would perform without Bakery or Roll20 without Glauring. In our interview with the new eStar, they described Misaka as the magnet that holds SPT together. Misaka is at the heart of SPT’s success.
In the story between these two teams, the Brawl left more questions than answers. At this point, these questions can only be answered with a final head-to-head.
Now that both teams are back home, Phase 2 has been a trial of endurance. Reunited with Misaka, SPT has washed away the Mid-Season sting and is performing excellently again. CE lost their star player canjian, but luckily his replacement Kty fits their style and has helped them remain in region’s top three. However, the adjustment process has been noticeable enough that SPT is now considered the favorite of the two.
The struggle between the two teams is passionate and personal. The deepening rivalry can be seen on the battlefield with both teams prioritizing killing each other above anything else. The second game of their series climaxed in a three-minute teamfight with both teams abandoning the objective entirely to chase each other across the lanes. All ten players died—one at a time—and the death timers were so staggered that players could respawn and rejoin the fight before it ended.
As they were meeting for the first time in summer, the two teams were incredibly close. From top to bottom: KDA, average kills, average deaths, average assists, and experience per game.
SPT's 2-0 victory over CE earlier in Phase 2 was a dramatic turn in the season. Throughout CE’s history, SPT has always been the one force that can stop them, even during their most impressive moments. With that win, SPT pulled ahead and took the title firmly in their hands at the end of the first round robin. However, CE has pulled back into form. Since the second part of the phase began on July 12th, the two teams have—yet again—identical records. In this round, CE and SPT have lost only a single game each (both to eStar, naturally), narrowing the point gap between them. CE’s momentum gain since losing to SPT is an exact echo of Phase 1, and they may yet take back their trophy. SPT is still at the top of the standings, but the three points SPT earned from the 2-0 are the only thing separating the two.
The final series of HGC China will be played between SPT and CE. This series can settle everything or throw things back into chaos. If CE answers back with a 2-0, the two are back where they started at GHL Finals, still waiting for the final tie-breaker that will leave only one of them standing.
Fern “Midseasons” Rojas is a Los Angeles-based writer who follows the Chinese scene for LiquidHeroes. He’s been waiting for Tissue Regeneration to become meta since Dehaka was released, and will be waiting a long time. You can follow him on Twitter.