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 LGD 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.
LGD Gaming has been hovering around the top 3 Chinese teams for some time now, along with Vici Gaming and Invictus Gaming. The team was formed in 2009 back during the Dota 1 era, and they have seen several roster changes since. The team did not participate at The International 2011, came third in 2012, 9th-12th in 2013, and 5th-6th in 2014.
The team currently consists of several veterans including previous TI4 champion, Zhang "xiao8" Ning. Previously playing offlane for Newbee, xiao8 now plays position four support for LGD Gaming. Recently he has been favoring strong magic damage nukers such as Lina, Crystal Maiden and Zeus. Although playing Lina and Zeus as support can sometimes be difficult, xiao8 always makes sure to pick up a quick Force Staff in order to not only keep himself in a good position but also get his teammates out of trouble.
Lu "Maybe" Yao is the team’s most recent addition and plays solo mid. His favorite hero is Storm Spirit, although his team is usually more comfortable with him playing more tanky front line mid laners such as Bristleback or Dragon Knight — speaking of which, his Dragon Knight has a staggering 89.47% win rate with a 5.70 KDA over 19 professional matches.
Yao "Yao" Zhengzheng is LGD Gaming’s offlaner. His most recent games are fairly standard with a lot of Clockwerk and Dark Seer picks although he has experimented a bit with Tusk. His most played hero is Invoker however that was from back when he was playing solo mid in 2012.
Liu "Sylar" Jiajun is LGD Gaming’s safelane carry. He is famous for his Morphling; however it’s unlikely to see much use during The International 5 due to the current meta. Most likely he will play Gyrocopter as he has an impressive 70.69% win rate with a 5.18 KDA over 58 matches. While originally on LGD Gaming back in 2012, he secured third place at The International 2, losing to Invictus Gaming who went on to win the entire event. He also secured a second place finish at The International 4, earning $1,475,644 with Vici Gaming.
Lei "MMY!" Zengrong previously played Dota 1 for EHOME back in 2009 and was on the team during their run in the very first International; they finished second after losing to Na’Vi in the grand finals. He goes by X!! in-game and plays 5 position support. Although he is famous for his Lion, he has quickly adapted to the current meta with support picks such as Winter Wyvern and Naga Siren.
Both xiao8 and Sylar were once teammates on LGD back in 2011. The two players went their separate ways around the end of 2013 however they are back together on LGD now.
While Vici Gaming have fully adopted the western playstyle and Invictus gaming are somewhere in between, LGD is still known for their more standard Chinese play style which includes a very passive early game in which they focus on securing their safelane carry’s farm in order to dominate the late game.
Over the past year, LGD have proven themselves to be deadly at Chinese LAN events. The team won both season 2 and 3 of i-league, defeating HGT and VG 3-0 in the Grand Finals, respectively. They seem to struggle against Western teams, however, as they placed fourth at The Summit 3 and 5th-8th at the MarsTV Dota 2 League 2015 Spring (where three out of the top four teams were Western).
Following a disappointing 3-4th place finish at ECL 2015 Spring however, LGD bounced back and won both the WCA 2015 Chinese Pro Qualifiers and G-League 2015, defeating CDEC in the finals each time.
Although LGD is known for their passive farming playstyle, they are also very good at coordinating strong five-man push strategies. Their mid laner, Maybe, has a hero pool that plays to their strength in this regard with strong front man tanks such as Dragon Knight, Razor and Bristleback. Tiny is also a common pick for LGD if MMY’s Io goes unbanned throughout the draft.
Much like Team Secret’s Arteezy and s4, Sylar and Maybe are very comfortable switching roles between safelane and mid, although their collective hero pool is not as diverse as their western opponents. LGD’s offlaner, Yao, has a much wider hero pool however with not only the standard Dark Seer, Clockwerk, and Tusk picks but even unorthodox ones such as Puck and Sand King.
The team’s main weakness has been their adaptation of the latest patch. While most teams are understanding how important the early laning phase is, LGD still play too passively. The team will often lose before even making it to their more comfortable late game. The current meta along with the patch rewards a more active and in some ways chaotic playstyle with a lot of early team fights. This will be something LGD need to prepare for if they are to stand a chance against teams such as Evil Geniuses or Team Secret (and it’s highly doubtful they will ever be prepared for this typical CIS aggression).
Additionally, Sylar’s most played hero, Morphling, is currently not as competitively viable as a safelane carry which forces him to play other cores he may not be as comfortable with.
With how strong the western teams are playing lately, it’s fair to assume LGD will finish in 5th-6th place. Although they are definitely a strong team within China, their clash of playstyle with the rest of the scene might leave them at a disadvantage.
Connor Dunn is a staff writer for theScore eSports. You can follow him on Twitter.