Featuring the top team from each of the five regional professional leagues, the All-Star Invitational is a true test of regional strength, as five international giants will play a round-robin group stage to decide seeds for a single-elimination bracket stage. One team will take home $50,000 and bragging rights as the strongest region in the world.
With two NA LCS championships, Cloud 9 has exerted their force over the North American scene ever since their promotion into the big leagues. Unfortunately for North America's champions, however, team captain and mid laner Hai will not be in attendance due to a collapsed lung. In a show of real American camaraderie, Counter Logic Gaming mid laner Link will step in for Hai, and has already began practice with his former rival team. Combining the experience of two top-level North American teams, Cloud 9 will be fighting for their hospitalized captain as well as the pride of North America.
Undefeated in EU LCS playoffs, Fnatic has consistently risen to the occasion to represent Europe in various international competitions. Season 1 veterans sOAZ, Cyanide and xPeke will have the most international experience of any players in attendance, and must use this experience as the sling to fell the Asian Goliaths OMG and SK Telecom T1 K. With the addition of wunderkind AD carry Rekkles to the roster since the Season 3 World Championship, Fnatic are hungry for another t international success, as well as another chance to defeat North American rivals Cloud 9.
SK Telecom T1 K travels to Paris with undoubtedly the most impressive track record of any team in attendance, coming off two wins in OGN Champions and a first place finish in the Season 3 World Championship. Yet, their recent struggles in regional play (including a recent loss in NLB to CJ Entus Frost) may haunt them as they take on the best that the rest of the world has to offer – four teams with recent success. Although they are the favorites for the tournament, in top laner's Impact's words, T1 K “can't help but be cautious about every one of them”. Korean rivals KT Bullets pulled off a flawless victory at IEM Katowice, and all eyes are on T1 K for a repeat performance.
The dark forces of China will make their second international appearance since the Season 3 World Championship in All-Star Paris, but potentially without their star mid laner xiyang. Like Cloud 9, OMG may use substitute mid laner Cool, who has had his fair share of games against T1 K's Faker. Being the only team in the LPL to have not lost a match 0:2 thus far, OMG are looking to employ their aggressive, adaptable style against a diversity of playstyles, especially against Season 3 World Championship opponents T1 K, their main competitor for the No. 1 finish.
Though the Taipei Assassins came out strong at IEM Katowice, their bold opening game gave way to two uncharacteristically sloppy games against Cloud 9 and Gambit Gaming. However, TPA is a changed team – the transfer of jungler Winds from sister team Taipei Snipers has been touted as one of the most important roster changes in GPL history, bolstering an already-dominant team. With former SGS linchpin Chawy coming into the roster as a sixth man, the historical dark horse TPA should not be underestimated at Paris despite their dire prospects.
Two players from each region have been voted in by their fans, and will face off against each other in a series of challenges prior to each day's All-Star Invitational games. As audiences await the various game modes of the All-Star Challenge, here are the top storylines coming into this international spectacle.
Team Ice features the reunion of five players who are no strangers to each other – after all, they were all present at the Season 2 World Championship. Counter Logic Gaming's Doublelift can finally breathe a sigh of relief as his long-time enemy MadLife is now on his side of Summoner's Rift.
While Alliance's Froggen may be pleased to play alongside his former CLG teammate Doublelift, the presence of Team WE's CaoMei on Team Ice may trigger horrific memories of CLG.EU's Season 2 World Championship trench war against the Chinese team, in which many wards lost their lives in the name of map control. Archie of the Saigon Jokers will have to put off his quest for revenge in the Jokers' loss to CLG.EU in the Season 2 World Championship, and work alongside Froggen for victory.
While Team Ice traces its history back to 2012, Team Fire presents some interesting storylines of its own. CJ Entus Frost's Shy will finally gain an insight into Gambit Gaming's Diamond, having been the victim of his jungle ganks on multiple occasions throughout Season 2. Diamond's presence on Team Fire is sure to evoke mixed emotions from Team SoloMid's Bjergsen, who played against the Russian jungler for two EU LCS splits.
Team Fire's Hexakill representative Toyz will join the fray with two of his former victims from Season 2 Worlds in Shy and Diamond. The All-Star Challenge is sure to be a spectacle as brothers turn on brothers, and old rivalries are reignited for the sake of our entertainment.
From side-splitting showmatches to fierce international clashes – All-Star 2014 has something for everyone. Tune in at lolesports.com from Thursday May 8 at 6:00AM PDT / 15:00 CEST.