Dota fans have a tendency to assume that all teams from a given region have similar playstyles, and this idea is especially ingrained when it comes to China. In case we haven’t already dissuaded you of this notion, here’s a look at the current state of the five Chinese teams that will be competing at The International 6.
|Chen "Hao" Zhihao||1|
|Zhang "Mu" Pan||2|
|Damien "kpii" Chok||3|
|Wong Hock "ChuaN" Chuan||4/5|
|Hu "Kaka" Liangzhi||4/5|
The best Chinese team headed to TI6 can boast something that no other team from the region has — three TI champions. Both Hao and Mu were part of the Newbee roster that took TI4, while Chuan hoisted the Aegis back in 2012 at TI2 as a member of Invictus Gaming. While many veterans of the Chinese scene (like BurNing, rOtk or Ferrari_430) were unable to qualify for the year's biggest Dota tournament, Newbee have managed to find team synergy and climb to the top of their region.
While the organization's Grand Final win at TI4 made use of a death ball strategy that centered around early game oriented in-your-face aggression, today's Newbee tends to get aggressive later into the game, allowing Hao to farm. Mu’s typically aggressive heroes paired with Chuan’s potent roaming ability makes space for the team's carry, but this can mean that early aggression from teams like Wings or OG could hamper Newbee’s game plan.
Newbee have been on a roll this year, winning multiple weeks of H-Cup, qualifying for EPICENTER (then winning the wild card and finishing the tournament in second place) and qualifying for The Manila Major (where they finished in third). They missed The Summit 5 after losing to Wings Gaming in the qualifier, but went on to beat them in the Nanyang Championships Season 2 Grand Final 3-2.
They are projected by many to finish in the Top 3 at TI.
|Sun "Agressif" Zheng||1|
|Lu "Maybe" Yao||2|
|Zhang "xiao8" Ning||3|
|Lei "MMY!" Zengrong||4/5|
|Wang "Banana" Jiao||4/5|
Though LGD are second to Newbee when it comes to boasting TI champions on their starting roster, they have a lineup stacked with talent. Agressif finished in second at TI5, Maybe finished in third at TI5, xiao8 won TI4 and finished in third at both TI2 and TI5, and MMY! finished in the Top 4 at three TIs.
Unfortunately, LGD will not be attending TI6 with their usual five man roster as September has been unable to secure a visa in time for the tournament. In his stead, LGD will field their coach, Banana, who's a DotA veteran and member of Newbee's TI4 winning roster.
LGD’s results since The Shanghai Major have been somewhat inconsistent. In local leagues and qualifiers, they sometimes fall to weaker teams, such as in their 2-0 loss to Newbee Young in the StarLadder i-League Season 2 qualifier or their 2-0 loss to iG in The Summit 5 qualifier.
However, when LGD make it to a LAN it’s a whole other story. They took: third place at SL i-League Invitational, fourth place at The Manila Major and third at Nanyang Season 2. These have been their only LAN appearances since The Shanghai Major as they were unable to win six of the seven qualifiers they played in at that time. They qualified for ESL One Frankfurt but later dropped out due to “health reasons”.
|Chu "Shadow" Zeyu||1|
|Zhou "bLink" Yang||2|
|Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida||3|
|Zhang "Innocence" Yiping||4/5|
|Li "iceice" Peng||4/5|
The latest phenomenon to come out of the Chinese scene may not have recognizable names like xiao8, Chuan or fy, but Wings are proving that hard work, talent and a willingness to experiment can be a deadly combination.
The team's five-man roster has been together since last August, but with just a brief stint of notoriety following their fourth place finish at WCA 2015, they didn’t start to gain widespread recognition until months later when they won ESL One Manila with a 3-0 victory over Team Liquid (the same team they lost to in the WCA third place match). Perhaps most impressively, Wings recently defeated Manila and Frankfurt Major champions OG 3-1 in The Summit 5 Grand Finals.
Wings Gaming are best known for their diverse hero pool, leading to unpredictable drafts and unexpected strategies. In a recent interview, team captain Innocence said that that they enjoy changing up their picks in both pubs and official matches to keep the game interesting, which is an interesting contrast to the school of thought favoring having a smaller pool of heroes a player feels very comfortable with.
Vici Gaming Reborn
|Yang "END" Pu||1|
|Wang "NoNo" Xin||2|
|Zhou "Yang" Haiyang||3|
|Xu "fy" Linsen||4|
|Leong "DDC" Fat-meng||5|
While Vici Gaming’s main roster has languished and suffered consistently poor results, Vici Gaming Reborn made the best of a bad situation and have essentially become the face of VG. Shortly after their disastrous Shanghai Major performance, Vici Gaming splintered into two parts, and VGR quickly became one of the first Chinese teams to bounce back and start winning again.
Their first appearance was in H-Cup Season 1, where they won the first of four straight weeks. This streak qualified them for the StarLadder i-League Invitational, which they attended as one of two qualified teams — facing off against six direct invites. Despite attending with coach Mikasa on their roster (who was standing in for NoNo, the team barreled through more established squads like MVP Phoenix, OG, LGD and finally Na`Vi in the Grand Final to win the tournament.
Since then, it seems like the rest of their region has caught up to or surpassed VGR, but a 7th-8th finish at The Manila Major, 5th-6th finish at Nanyang Season 2 and qualifying for The International are still nothing to scoff at.
VGR played their TI6 regional qualifier matches with Yang and Mikasa. NoNo has returned to the lineup for TI, but Mikasa will take Yang's place as he was unable to secure a visa for Seattle. These frequent mini roster shuffles could hinder their team synergy, though VGR’s win at SL i-League was, after all, done with Mikasa standing in.
|Daryl Koh "iceiceice" Pei Xiang||1|
|Wang "old chicken" Zhiyong||2|
|Ren "old eLeVeN" Yangwei||3|
|Zhang "LaNm" Zhicheng||4|
|Lu "Fenrir" Chao||5|
EHOME are kind of the odd team out of this bunch, which makes some sense given that they are the region's Wild Card team. They are one of the all-star rosters that formed after the Shanghai Major and haven’t done as well as expected. Featuring three members of the EHOME's 2015 squad and two Vici Gaming veterans, the team looked good on paper but has yet to live up to their potential.
The team received a direct invite to ESL One Manila, but finished in last place alongside Mineski and have only qualified for one LAN outside of TI6 (Pro Gamer League 2016 Summer, which they later dropped out of).
EHOME’s recent DPL matches seem to show their willingness to experiment. Perhaps the team hopes to imitate Wings’ versatility to catch their Wild Card opponents off guard. Unconventional hero picks like Ogre Magi, Warlock and Crystal Maiden are peppered throughout more standard picks like Juggernaut, Elder Titan or Batrider.
They’re going to have a tough go of things, facing up against Escape Gaming, compLexity and Execration in the Wild Card before even qualifying for the main event, but if there’s one thing EHOME doesn’t lack, it’s experience. Three of their players have placed in the Top 4 of an International, while old chicken and old eLeVeN took fourth place at The Frankfurt Major relatively early in their careers.
Infographic by Andrew Tanzil. Article by Annabelle Fischer.
Annabelle "Abelle" Fischer is a writer for theScore esports with a love for Dota 2, birds and cheese. You can follow her adventures at TI6 on Twitter.