Taipei Assassins were not a favorite to win the League of Legends Season 2 championship, which may have worked in their favor as they stunned Korea’s NaJin Sword, Russia’s Moscow 5, and finally Azubu Frost. Their relative anonymity may have helped them live up to their name as they used their opponents’ strengths against them. As they explained in the post-match press conference, “It’s not really about [Azubu Frosts’s] weaknesses. It was more about finding the spot where we could exploit them and counteract them.”
In practice, that strategy could be summarized as, “Let Stanley bully everyone.”
The Taipei Assassins have only existed for about six months, and most of the team have only been together for a year. Their championship-winning lineup consisted of Wang “Stanley” June Tsan in the top lane (and wherever the else he wanted to go after burying his opponents up there), Alex “Lilballz” Sung in the jungle, Kurtis “Toyz” Lau as AP carry (ability power carry, whose job it is to win teamfights with explosive damage output and powers), Cheng “Bebe” Bo Wei as AD carry (attack damage character, whose primary weapon is its standard attack), and Chen “MiSTakE” Hui Chung as support player and team captain.
After seeing mixed success as Team For The Win in 2011, the core group of MiSTakE, Stanley, and Lilballz formed into a new team under the sponsorship of Garena. Earlier this year, TPA won the IGN Proleague Taiwanese qualifiers before heading to the Season 2 Regionals in Taipei and placing first of 32 teams. This won them a trip to the Season 2 playoffs in LA, and a first-round bye.
Prior the championship, TPA struck up a friendly relationship with Counter-Logic Gaming EU, training with them extensively and then doing more scrimmage matches during the tournament itself. Luckily for TPA, they did not have to face their friends from CLG in the tournament, and Toyz was spared another encounter with Froggen, who he admitted was the toughest midlane opponent.
Taipei Assassins star player in the championship was undoubtedly Stanley, who outplayed Azubu Frost’s Park “Shy” Sang Myeon so completely that Stanley was basically roaming free ten minutes into each game, which made it hard for Frost to find any favorable matchups anywhere on the map. That spilled over into the ban phase, where Frost were tried and failed to eliminate Stanley’s weapons. As Frost tried vainly to find a way to get Shy back in the game, Lilballz took control of the jungle and helped Toyz and Bebe rack up kills.
With a million-dollar prize and the world title to their name, you might think TPA would be in danger of losing their edge. But during the press conference after the final, they sounded like they were ready to start reviewing replays and getting ready for next season.
“Being number one doesn’t mean that your ability and skills are at the top as number one,” MiSTakE told me. “So that means we’ll go back, and we’ll learn from our mistakes even more, and just improve ourselves.”
The rest of the world has a lot of catching up to do before Season 3 if they’re going to challenge the Taipei Assassins’ dominance, because TPA aren’t content with being the best. The most dangerous thing about them is the only want to get better.