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China wins first LAN event in seven months as Robin hoists the SL i-League cup

Hearthstone Radoslav “Nydra” Kolev

The country has drawn first blood in international competition for 2016.

The rivalry between China and the West has been a long one, stretching back more than two years. Between regular international tournaments and “versus” events, one of the biggest esports regions has been struggling to leave its mark in Hearthstone, often trampled by the opposition. Both “CN vs EU” and “CN vs NA” were won by the westerners and not even lavish prizes like a brand new Ferrari could turn the tides.

The only victory on international soil which China enjoyed in 2015 was at the hands of Xieyu “TiddlerCelestial” Wang. In June, the founder of Team Celestial cruised through DreamHack Summer – the first major LAN swiss in Hearthstone – defeating David “Dog” Caero for the finals. Despite being met with thunderous cheer upon his return home, TiddlerCelestial’s championship legacy did not pass on and the Chinese players continued to struggle.

Just two weeks ago, Tiddler himself called out his countrymen. In an interview with h.163.com, the seasoned veteran said the Chinese are “far less professional than the others” and that they would lose another CN vs KR or CN vs JP if one such event would happen again.

This weekend, two players were given the chance to prove TiddlerCelestial wrong. Chosen from through the i-League qualifiers, 2014 HWC finalist Yuan “Lvxiaobu” Lin and Yolo Miracle rising star Xu “Robin” Bin flew to Minsk to compete at the $50,000 StarLadder i-League finals, the first major LAN event in the west for this year.

The two players were in all sorts of disadvantage, starting with their sheer number: just two against the six westerners. The latter were also arguably more prepared and experienced, their line-up including the likes of Aleksandr “Kolento” Malsh, winner of EU vs CN Season 2, and David “Dog” Caero, an instrumental part in the success of the American team in CN vs NA Season 2. As the first day brought the elimination of Lvxiaobu, it would seem China was walking towards another tournament shut-out.

That change as Robin came on top of Group B over Jung Soo “Surrender” Kim, Stanislav Cifka and Justin “JAB” Black. Robin was the only other player next to his compatriot to bring Shaman to the tournament but unlike Lvxiaobu Thrall was working for him. A Warlock/Shaman/Paladin trio prevailed over Dog in the semi finals. Cipher applied the same strategy in the grand final – banning Robin’s Druid and leaving these same three classes – and met the same faith. A final 4-1 gave Robin his first tournament victory of his career, as well as China’s first triumph on foreign soil in over seven months.

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