For the first time in over a year, the Taiwanese champion, Flash Wolves, will not be making it to the bracket stage of a major international competition. They made it to the semifinals in last year's IEM World Championship, the quarterfinals of last year's Riot Games World Championships and the semifinals of 2016's Mid-Season Invitational in Shanghai, China.
Yet, the 2016 World Championship was a difficult run for the Wolves, misplaying games it should have won, and exiting the tournament with a disappointing 2-4 record.
ESPN spoke to the team's star support Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Jie following his team's elimination to get his impromptu thoughts on the bracket matchups.
When asked about SK Telecom T1 vs. Royal Never Give Up, the first words that came out were, "F---. That's really hard to predict." After a bit of thinking SwordArt said, "Probably SKT."
For ROX Tigers vs. Edward Gaming, it'd be "ROX."
Which South Korean giant would make it through to the final? SwordArt couldn't quite decide. "It'll be 3-2, but I don't know who'll win."
On the other side of the bracket, he was more certain. "H2k [over Albus Nox Luna], Samsung [over Cloud9] and Samsung [making the final]."
So will South Korea win Worlds? "Yes," said SwordArt.
When asked if he had any fond memories of the competition, he said, "None. We lost, so there are no [happy feelings]."
It was a difficult World Championship for the Taiwanese region. Although Ahq Esports Club, the second-place team, was considered a longshot to make it out of its group, it was on the verge of making the quarterfinals and eliminating Chinese champion Edward Gaming before blowing a gigantic lead in their final set of the group stage. For Flash Wolves, it was a missed opportunity to go further than last year.
"LMS is still a really strong region and always performs very well. You can't judge a region off just a [single] tournament. At MSI, we got top four, so we'll keep fighting for the LMS."
"As time goes by, I realize every region, other than Korea [who is far ahead], is pretty close right now [in terms of skill level]," he said. "[Taiwan's] improvement compared to the other regions wasn't as big, so that's the reason why we lost."
To end the interview, SwordArt wanted to say one last thing to the fans from Taiwan and around the world. "I have to say sorry to [our] fans," he said. "Maybe we were not well-prepared, but we still have IEM and other international tournaments next year, so we'll play harder and play our best.