theScore eSports is taking a look at all of the teams taking part in The International 5, two a day leading up to the beginning of the tournament. Today’s team is Invictus Gaming. This will be both a history of the team as well as a look at the individual players that make up the roster headed to Seattle.
Catastrophic Cruel Memory
Invictus Gaming are one of the longest-running Chinese powerhouses in both DotA and Dota 2. Chinese corporate firm Wanda Enterprise founded the organization in 2011 by acquiring the already-successful team known as Catastrophic Cruel Memory. That lineup was made up of Chen "Zhou" Yao, Wang "SanSheng" Zhaohui, Zhang "xiao8" Ning, Liang "DDC" Faming and Luo "Ferrari_430" Feichi. Unfortunately, roster instability was a major problem at the time and iG’s formative roster lasted just one week.
After an upset at the World Cyber Games finals both Xiao8 and DDC left the team. Zeng "Faith" Hongda and Ye "Awoke" Jing replaced them and not long after iG split into two separate squads for the only time in it’s history. The two teams were named after their captains, iG.Z led by Zhou and iG.Y which was a roster almost completely poached from LGD, led by Jiang "YYF" Cen.
At the first International, both iG and LGD had been invited but since the LGD roster had since reformed to iG.Y (minus Gong "ZSMJ" Jian, who had gone on to reform LGD with a new roster), the YYF led squad did not participate. iG.Z took part, but were eliminated in their first Loser’s Bracket match. After this disappointing result, iG.Y and iG.Z, merged to once again become iG. This lineup consisted of Zhou, Ferrari_430, YYF, Wong "ChuaN" Hock Chuan and Faith (three of whom are on the roster today, though only Ferrari has never left).
While iG had been struggling with the two different rosters, Team DK were emerging as the Chinese team to beat. However, the reformed iG not only defeated their rivals at SMM 2011 (taking first place) but also made it through the Loser’s Bracket of TI2, beating powerful rivals DK and LGD before defeating the defending champions Na`Vi in the Grand Final and becoming TI champions themselves.
Conflict among champions
iG kept up their success through early 2013, winning both World Cyber Games 2012 in December 2012 and G-League 2012 Season 2 in March 2013 but began to suffer in their performance as the year continued. The defending champions were unable to keep up their high level of play coming into TI3 and were knocked out of the lower bracket by TongFu, making it to just 5/6th place.
The roster which had been stable since late 2011 were now facing serious internal issues. According to an interview with Zhou, ChauN had seen this coming.
“Chuan said we weren’t serious and focused as usual, and this would lead to losing in the future. I felt Chuan’s words were right. Once you kept winning all the time, you will lose the motivation to improve. However, we paid no attention to Chuan words after that and then we lost a game as Chuan expected. Chuan was very mad about ignoring his words. Then the conflicts were sharpened, and finally led to transfer.”
Both ChuaN and Zhou left the team after their lackluster results at TI3, and they were replaced by Hao and Banana. It seems that iG had learned their lesson and the new roster did well in the winter of 2013, winning Red Bull ECL 2013 and placing second at both 2013 WPC ACE Dota 2 League as well as G-League 2013, all of which had finals in January 2014. Still, these wins would not be enough to keep Hao from leaving the team in February to join Xiao8’s brand new squad, Newbee.
It had been rumoured that ChuaN would be joining Newbee but on February 20, 2014 iG announced a roster with six players — ChuaN, Luo, Faith, Ferrari_430, YYF and Banana. However just a couple of weeks later Newbee announced Banana’s departure, bringing iG down to five.
Once again, iG had a relatively strong year, winning both WPC 2014 and ESL One Frankfurt but they would fall casualty to Newbee’s performance at TI4, losing to them in the group stage before being knocked out entirely by LGD in the first round of the lower bracket for a 7/8th place finish — their worst placement at a TI since the team’s inception.
As is usually the case, a poor performance at TI meant a change of lineup. YYF retired (only to return for TongFu.OldBoys just a month later), and Faith was dropped. chisbug and June were brought in to fill the roster but while change may have been what iG needed, the new lineup did not do well. chisbug announced at the end of December 2014 that he would leave iG, though he stayed on to stand in during the Dota 2 Asia Championships.
The Great Chinese Roster Shuffle of 2015
After DAC, there was a fairly lengthy period in which Chinese teams went silent. When the teams finally began to break radio silence, many players had changed places and iG’s roster was looking very solid (article link: 608). With Faith back on the team and the legendary BurNing playing the carry role, iG was ready to get back on top of the Chinese Dota 2 scene.
Things were looking good for China as Vici Gaming and iG duked it out in the Grand Finals of Starladder Season 12, a previously European dominated tournament. iG took second place but once again this was their best result before a series of disappointments for the squad.
It’s been a rough spring for Chinese Dota thanks to the dominance of both Team Secret and Evil Geniuses. However even at i-League Season 3, a tournament featuring all Asian teams, iG was eliminated by VG and Newbee before they could touch the top 4. It will take some hard work and great drafts but knowing iG’s past it feels like they are capable of doing better. Perhaps the main stage in Seattle will bring something great out of these players once again.
BurNIng has not said (yet) that he plans to retire after TI5, and that makes the first time in two TIs for Xu Zhilei. Despite claiming that he would retire after both TI3 and TI4, the legendary carry player is still around and playing for one of the best teams in China. He’s been on EHOME, Team DK, formed Big God and finally landed in iG this year.
Burning’s nickname is B-God, and the “God” moniker is not undeserved. He is known for both versatility in his hero pool as well as an ability to farm very efficiently. He gained international notoriety for his farming abilities after a TI2 lower bracket match against DARER in which Burning had 279 last hits, 871 XPM and 768 GPM in a 28 minute game.
Ferrari_430 has been playing for Invictus Gaming since the beginning of his Dota 2 career. His DotA team Catastrophic Cruel Memory became iG and he’s been along for the ride ever since. This makes him one of the most stable Dota 2 players since Dendi and XBOCT.
His highest winrate on a “traditional” mid hero is 76% with Brewmaster, though the hero has fallen out of the meta, Ferrari can also play a mean Storm Spirit, Shadow Fiend or Queen of Pain. Still, he hasn’t played a single professional game as Leshrac, an incredibly popular mid pick these days. Perhaps he will surprise us all with a bootcamp-polished Lesh, or perhaps iG feel strong enough with other picks to deal with the glowing blue pony.
Luo is perhaps iG’s least experienced player when it comes to major tournaments, but since he joined iG he has become a very strong offlaner. He joined iG when Hao and Banana left to form Newbee in early 2014, alongside the return of ChuaN.
According to an interview by Hotbid at The Summit 3, Luo is a bit of a romantic, enjoying “School Romance” movies, and is a quiet and reserved person. However, he has also earned the nickname “Director Luo” for taking control and calling shots in game. He is also sometimes seen using the name “Xi” ingame.
Wong Hock “ChuaN” Chuan is iG’s only non-Chinese player, a native of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. ChuaN played basketball as a teenager but around 2008/2009 he sustained an injury that forced him to stop playing. He picked up DotA at the time and has worked towards becoming one of the best support players in the world ever since.
He was part of iG during their victory at The International 2 but was unable to attend WCA that year due to his Malaysian citizenship. He is known for big plays on heroes like Lion and Mirana, and especially for his Enchantress which led to the creation of EnChuaNtress. He has a big fanbase around the world and is also known for his exuberance while playing.
Faith is the youngest player on iG, at the tender age of 23, and is the other half of iG’s support duo. He is often seen playing the hard support role and favors heros like Shadow Demon, Ancient Apparition and Shadow Shaman. He has been part of iG for a large part of the organization’s history, leaving after their disappointing TI4 but returning after the Chinese reshuffle in early 2015.
Annabelle "Abelle" Fischer is a writer for theScore eSports with a love for Dota 2, birds and cheese. You can follow her on Twitter.