Written by: Midseasons
HGC Bracket and schedules on Liquipedia
Challenge Everything. The team’s name is a bold statement, but CE has always lived up to it. They’ve faced every challenge in China, but the Eastern Clash is a whole new level. Of the eight teams attending the Clash, CE is the only one without any previous global experience.
Fans have been waiting for CE’s international debut since the end of Phase 1. The team was supposed to be China’s first seed at the Mid-Season Brawl, but travel issues forced them to stay home. Missing the tournament was a disappointment, but the news still introduced CE’s name to new people. The spread of CE’s reputation during the Brawl already built anticipation for their reveal at the Clash, and the announcement that the more experienced Soul Torturers will be appearing at the Clash instead of eStar casts an additional spotlight on CE. As the only rookie team left, it’s up to them to represent a new generation of China to the rest of the world.
The regional Clashes are a halfway point for most HGC teams, a chance for them to measure the progress they have made during the season, but for China the Clashes have been paradigm shifts. The first Eastern Clash in March invited the Grand Finalists of Gold Series 2016 to represent the region, closing one era of Chinese HotS and inaugurating another as the first week of HGC China league play began shortly after.
CE formed at the end of the GHL era, but they have defined themselves during the HGC in 2017. As such, CE’s proving at the Eastern Clash will reflect the growth of their team as well as the growth of the region as a whole through the new global league system. In the face of the veteran teams at the Clash, CE represents a new generation in Heroes esports, much like their counterparts Roll20 in North America and Team expert in Europe.
CE has never faced a team from outside China, but that may prove to be a blessing in disguise. CE has a focus on macro play that is unusual for a Chinese team, and they show a preference for maps like Dragon Shire, Towers of Doom, and Warhead Junction that are otherwise unpopular in China. Their style relies on misdirection and creative rotations, flowing like water across the battleground to surprise opponents and build map control, and their relative obscurity at the Eastern Clash could help them catch other teams off guard. But CE is a passionate team. They are accustomed to quick, dominant victories, but when blinded by the deep history with SPT, they lose their usual control and throw themselves into bitter, drawn out fights.
The Eastern Clash’s quality of competition will test CE’s stamina to an unprecedented degree. CE can do well if they keep their heads cool, but if the Clash introduces them to a new rival, expect them to transform as the stakes become more personal.
CE’s greatest asset is the flexibility of their roster. Some teams rely on one star player, but all five of CE’s players are equally important. They’ve embraced the double support style and rely on hyper carries for their team damage, and their flexibility allows multiple players to anchor their drafts. The carry spotlight rotates easily between CE’s three flex players, and each of them have stepped into the second support role when needed.
Gu ‘Alooffool’ Jing is CE’s main support player and the face of their team. He’s had a broad range of experience, playing for many of China’s best teams throughout his career; more importantly, he has the most recent international experience among his team’s players, having played with Super Perfect Team during the Gold Club World Championship. Alooffool is well-known for his Kharazim, though in recent times Auriel has become his preferred choice. International drafts often become an arms race of support bans, so Alooffool’s pocket monk will keep CE from being banned out.
Junfeng ‘Wind’ Gu got his start on Hots Lady in 2016 before becoming CE’s main tank. While that makes him responsible for protecting the team, his positioning emphasizes vision and flanking plays while trusting his teammates to remain safe. The rise of Anub’arak and Arthas in the Chinese meta has been great for Wind since both heroes having excellent tools for his style of flanking and isolation.
Chen ‘Xuyu’ Jing is CE’s ranged carry. Xuyu originally played for Chinese organization Oh My God (OMG) and later became a key player in Super Perfect Team’s rebirth before helping found CE. He plays a variety of heroes from Valla to Genji to Chromie, all of them lethal. When not carrying, his Tassadar is still dangerous, and he’s also CE’s Abathur player. CE doesn’t pick Abathur often, but the slug always seems to spike in popularity during international play, and it remains to be seen how CE will adjust.
Wu ‘Paradise’ Chengwei was a founding member of X-Team, giving him one of the longest careers in HotS history, and he even played against CE during their GHL debut before joining them for HGC. Paradise is the team’s melee version of Xuyu. He’s easily able to carry the team on heroes like Malthael or Zeratul, but with CE’s emphasis on rotations and macro, Paradise’s Dehaka is the hero to watch.
Jiawei ‘Kty’ Zhang* is the newest player on the team. He started his career in HGC Phase 1 on Hots Lady before becoming a mid-season replacement for the retired canjian on CE. Kty hasn’t been on CE long, but he’s already shown the same flexibility as the rest of the players in his hero pool, making him a natural fit for the team. Less of a hyper carry than the team’s two other flex players, Kty provides the team with steady assistance in teamfights, either as secondary support or on a sustained DPS assassin. But when the carry role falls on Kty, he’s playing Cassia. The Amazon warmatron does not seem to be part of Xuyu’s hero pool, but Kty has a 100% winrate with her so far. Cassia is more popular in China than she is in Korea, but she’s still only an occasional option. More likely, Kty’s time will be spent on Tychus and Tassadar.
* Due to visa issues, Shy will be substituting for Kty. Shy is a new player for Start Over Again, a team that has vastly improved since adding him in Phase 2. Shy's hero pool overlaps with Kty's, so play on the battleground should be comparable, but he doesn't flex onto support like Kty does, which may affect CE's drafting strategy.
Fern ‘Midseasons’ Rojas is a Los Angeles-based writer who is active on Twitter. Fern is saving up all his bits to cheer on CE during the Eastern Clash.