TI5 Preview: EHOME

by Preston Dozsa Jul 21 2015
Thumbnail image courtesy of EHOME

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 EHOME. 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.

When the former coach of EHOME, 71, revealed that he would be reforming the team for the start of 2015, few paid attention to the revival of what was once the best Chinese Dota team to play the game. In a country where teams like Vici and Invictus represent the top tier, it seemed unlikely that any team, no matter what it’s legacy is, could rise up and make a name for itself in hyper-competitive China.

That is, until EHOME won the TI5 Chinese Qualifiers. Now, the team who were runners up in the inaugural International are back on the world stage. This time, they have to prove that they can compete with the best teams the world has to offer.

The Decline of EHOME

As one of the sixteen teams invited to the first International back in 2011, EHOME was arguably the Chinese team to watch for the tournament. They had won multiple events in 2010, and despite some roster shake ups that culminated in a few major losses at tournaments, EHOME remained a strong team and fan favorite as the tournament began. Winning all of their group stage matches and bouncing back after a loss to Scythe Gaming by dominating the losers bracket, EHOME lost the chance to make history when they lost a hard fought best of three against Navi.

While EHOME stayed together for a few months after that crushing loss, team member 820 retired from the professional scene, with the team disbanding shortly thereafter. And even though the team reformed several months later following the disbandment of Nirvana, a disappointing 6th place finish at TI2 started a slow exodus until only LaNm remained, at which point EHOME ceased to exist as a team and disbanded once again in November 2012.

For the next two years, former players of EHOME went on to great success across Chinese DOTA. 357 (QQQ) played with Team DK for some time before joining Vici Gaming and achieving success as its coach. KingJ switch teams frequently, only staying with Newbee long enough to play a role in winning TI4. Both LaNm and MMY! won a multitude of events as members of Team DK. Despite its dormancy, EHOME’s legacy was still felt throughout Dota as its name became forgotten.

The Return

Upon EHOME’s reformation in January, its lineup contained none of the players who had fought with the team two years ago. Instead, 71 recruited veterans who had achieved professional success in their prior teams, namely mushi, Ohaiyo, and DDC, and players who were looking to finally hit the big leagues, with Yang and DDC.

Although the team had just reformed, EHOME’s roster looked strong enough to be able to at least give more established teams a run for their money when it came down to it. In their first tournament however, the Dota 2 Asia Championships, the team finished a disappointing 10th after losing to Cloud9 in the loser's bracket.

Following that debut, mushi and Ohaiyo left to form an auxiliary Malaysian team,, replaced on the main lineup by rOtK and former EHOME veteran LaNm. Within two weeks of mushi and Ohaiyo’s departure, was released by the main organization, leaving only the main team left to play in China.

The defeats continued as EHOME narrowly lost a Bo5 match against LGD Gaming in the Summit 3 Qualifiers, and finished fourth in the i-League Season 3 Chinese Qualifiers. inflame was lent to Dream Gaming at the start of May, replacing him with Team DK mid Cty. Despite their inability to make it past qualifiers and group stages, EHOME as a whole was a remarkably well rounded team.

LaNm was and is still one of the best support players in China, rOtk with the right heroes could be a great off lane, and both DDC and Yang had grown into players who were fun to watch even when they lost. With Cty’s addition, EHOME was now a team that looked as though they had a chance of finally reaching the next level of play required to survive alongside.

All they had to do was win the TI5 Chinese Qualifiers, as every other team sought the same goal.

The International 5 Qualifiers

Although the reformed EHOME had been unable to win any tournaments since its reformation, they were the frontrunners to win the tournament for many viewers. With a roster composed of great individual talent, EHOME needed to stay strong and not crumble in the group stage as they had in past tournaments and qualifiers. Which is exactly what EHOME did.

By the end of the group stage, EHOME had lost only two games and placed first in their division, a position only two matches away from their very first win in a qualifier. Their opponents, CDEC Gaming, had won all eight of their matches, and seemed poised to continue that domination all the way to TI5.

Fortunately for EHOME, it wasn’t even close.

EHOME trounced CDEC in the first match with two games that lasted 25 and 32 minutes, respectively. While the team performed great as a group, it was Cty and Yang who contributed the most to the two victories, with Cty going 9-0 in the first match and Yang dominating his lane as carry.

The finals for the qualifiers, again against CDEC, were longer but remained in EHOME’s control. Throughout the Grand Finals, it was LaNm who consistently enabled EHOME to win team fights against an often better geared CDEC with well timed stuns as Earthshaker and team destroying Echo Slams to end games. While EHOME did lose the third map due to a poor early game, EHOME was able to come back and end the series 3-1 with a draft that enabled them to dominate the late phase and force a surrender after over 50 minutes of play.

After two years missing from the The International, EHOME is returning to the tournament that they so narrowly lost in its first year. That said, EHOME has a lot of work to do before August if it hopes to win. Namely, EHOME has discovered that victory in the TI5 Qualifiers has not translated into success IN the tournaments following it; At the Mars TV Dota 2 Spring League, EHOME lost two games in a row to Team Secret in the first round of the quarterfinals.

For EHOME, winning the TI5 Chinese Qualifiers is the first step. To survive and prosper in Dota2, EHOME has to show that they’re greater than the legacy of their past namesake. EHOME has to make it far at The International, else the team may not survive for very much longer.

Preston Dozsa is a writer for theScore eSports. Follow him on Twitter.