It should come as no surprise that Team China dominated the Overwatch World Cup Bangkok qualifier, but it was to many fans only familiar with the Shanghai Dragons' winless run in Overwatch League Season 1.
China has a vast player base, despite Overwatch's relative decline in the region over the past year without top-tier tournaments like the Overwatch Premier Series and the Overwatch Asia-Pacific tournament (APAC). The Chinese Contenders series is still highly competitive and packed with Chinese talent but lacks the punch of the Premier Series or APAC, similar to how Korean Contenders is not OGN APEX.
With most scouting eyes turned firmly toward South Korea and Shanghai's lack of Overwatch League success, many of the Chinese players who had dazzled scouts in pre-Overwatch League tournaments were forgotten or passed over.
The youth of some of China's top players was also a problem this year. LGD Gaming DPS Ou "Eileen" Yiliang has been on the international scouting radar for more than a year but is just now turning 18. Miraculous Youngster, a team with remarkable talent, broke up before the inaugural season of Overwatch League began, and thus far only support He "Sky" Junjian has made it to the league as a player; former Miraculous Youngster support Yan "creed" Xiao joined Shanghai as a coach.
The bottleneck of only one Chinese team, Shanghai, in the Overwatch League also didn't help, with many pre-Overwatch League Chinese teams disbanding or larger Chinese esports organizations pulling out of Overwatch entirely and turning their focus to Player Unknown's Battlegrounds.
Come Season 2, three Chinese cities -- Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Chengdu -- will join the Overwatch League, leaving many to wonder whether an all-Chinese lineup is in the future for the league despite an influx of successful South Korean players to Chinese Contenders like the roster of Lucky Future Zenith. Mixed Mandarin and Korean rosters are difficult -- if you don't believe the Shanghai Dragons, just ask nearly any League of Legends Pro League team in competitive League of Legends circa 2015 -- but teams will inevitably try them due to the wealth of talent in both regions.
The Bangkok stage helped showcase top-tier Chinese players who aren't necessarily new but who might have been forgotten thanks to the prominence of the Overwatch League in the game's competitive scene.
The first player on anyone's list coming out of the Bangkok qualifier is LGD main tank Xu "guxue" Qiulin. DPS players have hogged scouting headlines in Incheon, South Korea, and in Los Angeles, but no player was as talked about as guxue, who stood out even while surrounded by the DPS prowess of his Team China teammates Huang "leave" Xin, Zheng "Shy" Yangjie and Cai "Krystal" Shilong.
Guxue has an aggressive playstyle that's best suited for an offensive-minded team. Those tactics work particularly well in China, where making room for individual mechanical outplays is the norm. Overwatch League teams tend to play more slowly, but guxue's knowledge of teamfight positioning is also strong, making him a top-tier main tank pickup for any team.
Back in the heyday of Miraculous Youngster, leave was touted as one of China's best due to his incredible flexibility. He should be toward the top of DPS scouting lists, and his performance with Team China in Bangkok showcased his large hero pool. The fewest number of heroes leave played in a single match was seven. In Team China's final match of the qualifier against Team Australia, leave played 11 heroes. With Krystal making waves as a flexible, talented DPS player in his own right, leave still stands out due to his willingness to play anything and everything.
Formerly a support player for LGD, Shy is another player who has shown strong flexibility; he's now in a hitscan DPS role, which he switched to earlier this year. The Team China LGD duo of guxue and Shy would make for an excellent start to any Chinese roster, especially if LGD teammate Eileen, who was not part of Team China this year despite representing his country in 2017, joins them. Shy, another example of the young Chinese talent that missed out on Overwatch League's first season due to age restrictions, turns 18 in October, a couple months ahead of Season 2.
Lastly, although Team China largely stole the show in Bangkok, the talent of Team Thailand DPS player Patiphan "Patiphan" Chaiwong was undeniable. Unfortunately, he's only 15, prompting a renewed discussion around the current Overwatch League age limit. Currently, Patiphan plays for Xavier Esports in the Pacific Contenders tournament. His team recently finished fourth overall in Season 2 of its league and is already qualified for the upcoming Season 3.