Reckoning and revenge: Huanmie's journey to redeem Chinese TFT
TFT Haunmie Reckoning Championship

Reckoning and revenge: Huanmie’s journey to redeem Chinese TFT

Following Huanmie's TFT Reckoning Championship run, looks for his third straight world championship appearance

Huanmie was nervous heading into the Teamfight Tactics Reckoning World Championship back in 2021. A world championship is already the most important event of the season for any competitor, but the Chinese player had a reputation to overcome. At the previous world championship for TFT Fates, Riot Games gave the region more slots than any other — but neither Huanmie or the other four Chinese players made it to the finals.

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Yet, through a combination of experience and boldness, Huanmie managed to win the entire tournament and redeem Chinese TFT alongside his co-competitors. Despite not feeling like the greatest to play the game, focusing on that outcome paid off.

“I imagined myself winning the event,” Huanmie said. “I thought Chinese players were likely to win because there were three players in the finals. I wouldn’t say I’m the best player in the world but it doesn’t mean I can’t dream about it.”

Now the TFT Gizmos and Gadgets World Championship is on the horizon and the reigning champion must rise up to defend his title. If he succeeds at China’s regional events, which begin on Thursday, he will even become the first player to ever qualify for three TFT world championships. But to control his fate, Huanmie must first reckon with his past. Only by recognizing the pitfalls and proper paths to success can he attempt to make competitive TFT history.

Never too late

Huanmie was a 21-year-old college student with no auto-battler experience before he started playing TFT in October of 2019. It took him two years to even reach Challenger, the game’s highest rank, on the ladder. That’s when he finally decided to try qualifying for the world championship and popped up on the competitive TFT radar.

After winning the Kuaishou Division Championship, Huanmie had to navigate multiple best-of-three matches to qualify as one of the five players to represent China at the TFT Fates World Championship. Huanmie succeeded, but the format at Worlds was different than what he expected. After a season full of three game series, the TFT Fates World Championship threw Huanmie and China for a loop when they featured five game series with lobbies shifting every game.

“It seemed like, once again, regional meta and play style differences were hard to adjust to, at least with how the Fates tournament format was structured,” caster and analyst for the TFT Fates World Championship, Khalif “Khroen” Hashim said.

While Huanmie had played well in China, this was his first time competing internationally. Worlds was definitely a rude awakening concerning his approach to TFT.

“I lacked experience and I was having a hard time adapting to the event,” Huanmie said. “After the Day 1 matches, I learned from other regions, but it wasn’t enough.” Huanmie said.

Historically, China plays TFT aggressively by trying to hit power spikes early. This works when everyone in the lobby plays that way, but being the odd one out is punishing when everyone uses a more conservative strategy. Eventually, that early game advantage falls off and the players who stood their ground grow stronger. Huanmie found that out the hard way.

“It was only when I hit the finals that I realized that each region’s meta was different,” Huanmie said. “Our strategy was outmoded and it didn’t suit the patch.”

China came into the event as the favorite but left Worlds without any finals placements. Huanmie was the highest placing Chinese player at 11th place, and others took notice of the region’s disappointing performance.

At his first TFT World Championship, Huanmie failed to make it to the finals. | Provided by Riot Games.

“I do remember I wasn’t super impressed with him at the time,” Khroen said of Huanmie. “I think a lot of people, myself included, had higher expectations for China as a region, given that they had two players in the top eight at the Galaxies Championship. Even though Huanmie was the closest one, there wasn’t anything stand-out about his performance.”

Huanmie felt similarly about his gameplay, though the kind of optimism that led to his eventual redemption shone through.

“I failed to win the next day. It’s a pity,” Huanmie said. “If I could have adapted to the patch more thoroughly, if I had more time, I believe I could [have won] the event.”

Knowing why he had failed, Huanmie went to work practicing for the new TFT: Reckoning expansion. And in the oncoming season, he wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.

Knowledge is power

Going into the TFT Reckoning season, Huanmie did his homework. He started to learn the meta of players from other regions and built up an adaptable play style he lacked at the TFT Fates World Championship.

Just like the previous season, Huanmie ran through the qualification process and reached Worlds for the second straight season. But before the event started, he got the chance to scrim against his fellow competitors. When he looked at the differences in each region’s meta, his confidence skyrocketed.

“My advantages at the event were quite obvious,” Huanmie said at the time. “I can play any style this season, and I know other region’s strategies and how to counter them.”

At the TFT Reckoning World Championship, the new and improved five game series format allowed the Chinese players to dictate the pace and play more aggressively than they were used to.

“After watching and studying the Chinese regional qualifiers, their play seemed a lot more impressive, especially with how well they played Draven compositions,” Khroen said. “Even though those comps mostly fell off by worlds, it was still an impressive indicator of skill expression.”

Even though Draven fell off, China did not. In the group stage, the region showed up big time. All three of their remaining players popped off and, after a terrible TFT Fates World Championship, China redeemed itself by putting three players in the top eight – the most of any region.

Huanmie was in the same group as North American champion Robin “Robinsongz” Sung, but only one of them escaped to the finals. Robinsongz had to give him credit for his commitment to a successful strategy.

“I remember that he was a really good Lucian player and he played it a lot,” Robinsongz said of Huanmie. “He would not play stage two and three and at stage 4-1, rolled down for six Sentinels and his Lucian positioning would be really good. Often times, he would be stuck at Level 7 just donkey rolling for Lucian two-star and Galio two-star, but it worked because, for that comp, level eight is fake.”

Huanmie definitely favored the Sentinel composition. After analyzing the other regions’ play, he said on the Worlds patch, Sentinels were the way to victory. While foreign servers preferred Karma and Ranger-based compositions, Huanmie and China identified a crucial problem with them.

“Rangers are not so good in a fast-paced game,” Huanmie said. “Relatively speaking, Karma and Rangers are not as stable as Sentinels and Vel’Koz.”

Despite a clear direction for his play, Huanmie struggled at the start of the finals. But instead of repeating his mistakes at the Fates championship, he buckled down and recovered.

“The first two games results were not good and I made some poor choices in the third game. However, I didn’t give up and tried to do my best,” Huanmie said. “It’s all about the mindset and how well you adapt to the event format.”

Then, in Game 5, Huanmie took a chance. He played an off-meta composition of Nidalee and Riven, going all in on the three star carries once he had enough gold to commit.

“The result was just as I expected,” Huanmie said. “My Riven got three-star during stage 5-1, securing my winning streak.”

Huanmie took his eight Legionnaires composition all the way to a Game 5 win and claimed the first TFT World Championship for China, reversing the narrative on himself and for China as a region.

Khroen said Huanmie’s play at the TFT Reckoning World Championship versus his play at the TFT Fates World Championship was like dusk and dawn(bringers).

“I think Huanmie showed a remarkable ability to stabilize boards on low HP and not panic. He definitely seemed very comfortable, even when he was having a rough game, and was able to scrape an extra few placements here and there because of it,” Khroen said. “The final game making the eight Legionnaires Riven three-star and Nidalee three-star work out and get a first was wild. I don’t think many people at all would’ve taken the same line as Huanmie that game, but he did and it was beautiful.”

Robinsongz, who watched the finals from the sidelines, said he thought there were stronger players than Huanmie in the finals, including second place finisher qituX. Yet he admitted that when it mattered most, Huanmie came to play.

“Huanmie lived up to the hype, of course, since he won Worlds,” Robinsongz said. “His positioning and [actions per minute] were insane.”

Steamrolling ahead

Although Huanmie reached the pinnacle of TFT success, he didn’t celebrate long. Huanmie quickly started to prepare for the next TFT expansion, Gizmos and Gadgets. As for the future of Chinese TFT, Huanmie said everyone should expect greatness going forward.

“When the champion and runner-up of a single game are all taken over by our Chinese players, this will give us a lot of confidence,” Huanmie said. “This result was helpful for the development of Chinese TFT.”

Robinsongz agreed, pointing out that while the North America and the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions are better, they’ll be left behind if they don’t improve. Then, TFT will be just like professional League of Legends.

“I think besides qituX and Huanmie, the other players were not as good as them, but I expect China to get better every set,” Robinsongz said. “So there might be eight qiituX’s next year. Who knows?”

Despite China’s development as a TFT region, Huanmie isn’t ready to move over for anyone else, yet. Throughout TFT’s sixth expansion, he has remained at the top of the leaderboard. Yet, unlike last season, Huanmie has been unshackled from the long grind to reach China’s regional semifinal. Thanks to his placement at Worlds, he qualified automatically alongside qituX.

As a result, he’s had nothing but time to practice the same skills that made him such a menace during the last world championship. And with his path to the Gizmos and Gadgets World Championship clear ahead, Huanmie’s eyes are on taking the title yet again.

Author
Image of Warren Younger
Warren Younger
ASU alum with a B.A in Sports Journalism, Warren is one of the premier TFT Journalists in the scene and is a decent TFT player as well who has peaked Challenger and has had multiple accounts in Master+ over all sets. Warren also specializes in other esports content including League of Legends, Valorant, Smash Bros, and more.