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The Chengdu Hunters have surprised many fans by progressing to the May Melee, rising from the ashes as a top team in the East. After their tumultuous history, so far, the unorthodox team have adapted to the league. They’ve kept their signature style of playing but it’s no longer laughable to watch while they lose. The Hunters has quickly become a top-tier team in the Eastern Division, to almost no one’s expectations.
The Hunters’ interesting past
When the Chengdu Hunters first entered the league, everyone expected them to be the worst team within it. Fans and experts across the scene underrated the Chinese contenders players. Additionally, some of the key players that the Hunters signed hadn’t even played Overwatch recently. It was common to see the team at the bottom of everyone’s power rankings. Then, they faced the Guangzhou Charge in their debut game and immediately won a close match. Key players like Ding “Ameng” Menghan and Yi “JinMu” Hu led the Hunters to many map wins.
The rest of the season proved that the Hunters were not the worst team in the league, as they finished twelfth out of 20. However, there is one big asterisk of the Hunters’ debut season: they refused to play the GOATs meta. When the best teams in the league were playing three tanks and three supports, the Hunters were running Wrecking Ball-focused compositions. They won many games simply by exploiting other teams’ inexperience in playing against Wrecking Ball. They gained many fans with this bold choice, as well as surprise wins against strong teams.
The Hunters’ 2020 season was poor, clearly not having the same magic they’d had in 2019 despite having the same core. Fans stuck around for their favorite players but everyone wanted them to improve for 2021.
The Hunters’ interesting future
The Chengdu Hunters have only lost one game, so far, in the 2021 season. In fact, their first game against the great Shanghai Dragons was a sweep. Much like the initial game of their first season, nobody expected the Hunters to win that match. And, no one expected them to improve the roster so drastically. The win was led by new signings over the offseason: Qiu “GA9A” Jiaxin, Zhou “Mmonk” Xiang and Tan “Nisha” Li all fit this roster like a glove. Both Mmonk and Nisha, in particular, quickly became their starting support duo, being key in the victories they had.
At this point, the Hunters started to play the meta more, but they still didn’t lose the fun aspects of their team. They entered the May Melee qualifiers as one of the better teams but faced a strong Seoul team in the first round. Also, they decided to start with Ameng over GA9A, to everyone’s surprise. However, they still won relatively easily, punching their ticket to Hawaii.
It goes to show that the Hunters have evolved from a meme team to a genuine force to fear. Their match against the Dallas Fuel in the May Melee will show just how high they can climb. Coincidentally, the Fuel, themselves, are trying to make it far by also not playing the meta.
The May Melee starts Thursday, May 6 at 7 p.m. EST.
Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming for as long as I can remember, with my first game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played games being Borderlands 2 and Overwatch. I have a degree in Film Studies, but writing about esports just makes my job all the better.