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    Dota 2 – Fate, Rivals and Steak – the Shanghai Shuffle

    The deadline to lock down rosters for the Shanghai Majors has passed. From the conclusion of the Frankfurt Major up until this deadline, 17 days have gone by. A small time window for teams to properly redefine themselves and find suitable replacements if they wished to change their team. While it may not have been as big of a shuffle as we usually see, teams were still eager to make changes in order to move past bad tournament results or performances. At the same time, new players may have emerged on the market to help improve a team’s perspective for the future.. We take a look at some of the more notable roster changes.


    Former 4C&L player EGM in

    MyNuts out

    The disappointment of fans, rising since the Frankfurt Major, peaked with Alliance at DreamHack Winter, where the Swedes were unable to win a single game in front of their home crowd. Following these events, Alliance dropped Nuts from their roster to make space for the re-return of none other than EGM, making it his third run with Alliance.

    Large parts of the community did not quite comprehend the reasoning behind that move. MyNuts was considered to be one of the more stellar performers in the team, shining with heroes such as Tusk, mustering a 56.76% winrate in 37 games, and overall playing very steadily (average of 296 GPM with Alliance, compared to EGM’s avg of 266 GPM for 4C&L).

    Even disregarding MyNuts’ departure, people questioned why Alliance chose EGM to come back, given his previous stint with the Swedes. However, EGM is in much better shape now than he was before. When EGM left Teamerino Tinkerino to join Alliance at the beginning of this year, he was not the player Alliance needed at the time. His performance with TT was not good (avg. of only 1.94 KDA), whereas now, with 4C&L (avg. of 2.52), EGM seems like a strong player again. Whether or not he can reach TI3 form is not necessarily up to him alone, it’s dependant on how Alliance can develop as a team.

    Building a foundation based on friendship and trust is by no means a mistake, especially considering that OG has found success with the exact same foundation and it was the formula that Alliance used to win TI3. But there are several examples (Zephyr, Sneaky Nyx Assassins) where friendship alone will not win you tournaments. It will be a challenge for Alliance to find their way back into shape. It’s like a romantic story, where, as Loda said, “fate” has brought these guys back together. But will it be their fate to be successful again?

    Newbee & iG

    ChuaN leaves iG. xdd joins.

    ChuaN and former Newbee.Y player le join Newbee. Banana moves to a sub position, Chisbug out.

    Another former TI winning team made a change, with yet another TI winning player. ChuaN joining Newbee is big – for several reasons. First, ChuaN has been with iG for the longest time and he was widely considered to be a, if not the key member of the team. Changes after changes happened, but he and Ferrari_430 remained as the constant factors. His range of experience, as well as individual skill will be sorely missed by iG.

    ChuaN is also known to be an emotional player, a player that has shown numerous times that he values personal relationships to be a key factor for success. An emotional and vocal player like that now removed from iG could open up the path for others to speak up and for others to take charge. In fact, it actually forces them to do so.
    On the other hand, Newbee already has an emotional leader in Hao. ChuaN and Nihao will have to learn to cope with one another, especially when facing a rough patch. For both of them, motivation should be high. Hao returned to Newbee after a rather disappointing run with Vici Gaming. Similarly, ChuaN has struggled to find lasting success with iG since TI2. This new Newbee will be a way for them to redeem themselves and find success again.

    As for Le, who rose up from Newbee.Y to the main roster, he will be able to learn a lot with ChuaN on his side, meaning that he has the chance to put himself on the map.

    For INVICTUS GAMING, it is a new start. The team was very much centered around ChuaN and Ferrar. Roster changes were made in their favor. It may still center around Ferrari, but super and xdd are young players that are hungry to prove themselves and have shown great promise, as well has having played together before for Wings Gaming. In fact, ever since xdd joined iG, the team has won 12 out of 16 official matches – granted the competition was largely lower tiered teams.

    With these changes, it feels as if iG is left without a major driving and leading force outside of Xi, whereas Newbee could potentially have too many cooks that could spoil the broth. ChuaN leaving the one team for the other makes it even more interesting, as both teams were already contesting with one another to bounce back into the top pool of Chinese teams. An interesting rivalry has emerged that should write its own storylines in the coming weeks and months.

    Natus Vincere

    ArtStyle, Ax.Mo and DityaRa (re-)join Na’VI

    Much like Alliance, Natus Vincere was a fan favorite. They were a team that used to mesmerize the crowds both in front of them as well as at home. That was a long time ago. Up until this roster shuffle, Na’Vi was a shell of its former self and unable to find a roster composition that could perform well consistently.

    Initially, plans were made for Na’Vi to potentially have 2 rosters, building a team around superstar Dendi and talent SoNNeikO. The 2nd team would’ve been build around veteran artstyle and former SFZ player ogrizok11. Now these two compositions have been united and together with former Power Rangers player Ditya Ra, this team seems to be on the right track. Because of this chain of events however, it feels like this roster change wasn’t as forced as previous ones. It took them almost 2 months to find the squad that they are now. The results may not be there just yet (although winning a bo3 vs. OG and taking a game off of Secret is impressive), the performances show that Na’Vi may be here to stay.

    For players such as DityaRa and Ax.Mo, Na’Vi is the next step into the international spotlight, whereas, especially for Dendi, the other players are looking to recover first, before they can strike back. In similar style to many other roster changes this year, Na’Vi has mixed some new blood with some old one. It may be the recipe to success, but it remains to be seen if they have the right ingrediants. Regardless, Na’Vi remains a team to watch out for, especially now with even more individually talented and aspiring players.

    Former Empire player Silent in

    Illidan out

    After placing 6th at TI5, decided to stay together and progress as a team. However, that progression has not been as fruitful as expected. The team stayed in that grey area, where they showed the potential to be a title contender, while at the same time not being able to perform when it mattered the most.

    Without knowing the inner workings of the team, changing the carry position like they did seems to make sense. The way VP has approached the game has always been centered heavily around G, making sure he can farm and be the explosve mid that he likes to be. Illidan played an additional, often very involved carry with a somewhat risky playstyle. Going with more straight forward, safer carry such as Silent might be the key for this roster.
    That said, Illidan brought a large hero pool with him that allowed fng to draft as he wished.

    Similar to when Alliance removed EGM (first or second time), the question remains if they can keep moving forward without looking back.

    Team Empire

    Former Na’Vi players Funn1k and Xboct in

    The never ending story of a team that just wants a roster. Since TI5, this team has been looking to find a stable roster. Everytime they were close, it fell apart – due to disagreements over role distribution or over performances. For quite a while, Empire tried to fulfill yoky’s wish by letting him play mid, but it did not work out, as it meant to push Resolut1on to the offlane position.

    The core of Team Empire, namely captain Resolut1on and support player ALOHADANCE, have weathered the storm and now the team can field a promising roster. Taking in two former Na’Vi players, the squad already won their first LAN event, the Global eSports Cup in Moscow. Together with XBOCT and мєнтал, Empire has added a large amount of experience to their roster, but will that be enough? Most teams these days have a mix of old and new blood, but aside from NoFear, these players are all established names in the scene. Will this team have enough drive, thirst and inspiration to re-establish itself at the top?

    compLexity Gaming

    Chessie and former NiP players Handsken and Limmp in

    zizzy out

    Although this one seems less romantic that the Alliance roster change, this one has quite the “back to the roots” vibe. LIMMP and Chessie reunite and together with Handsken and the coL brothers, 4/5 Stay Green members have joined forces again. Putting personal relations aside, the squad seems incredibly strong right now, with both Chessie and Limmp being strong individual performers.

    Based on their performances so far, which are skewed as they were unable to always perform with their full roster, the team does much better against NA teams than European ones. That said, this is where it matters and being able to play with their three Swedes from a teamhouse in Florida gives them an edge over other North-American teams with less professional structures and environments.

    compLexity Gaming surprised many during TI5 with a stellar run in the groupstage and we could very well see a repeat during the Shanghai Major Qualifiers – unless they get directly invited.

    Steak Gaming

    Only a few new teams emerged in this roster shuffle, and the most exciting one is definitely Steak Gaming. Why is that? Well, there’s former mousesports and mTw captain turned caster syndereN, former NiP players Era and Sealkid, former HoN star kekuri and NA veteran Fogged.

    Slickz made a comparatively late transition from HoN to Dota 2, but if previous transitions from successful HoN players are indicators, then slickz could potentially be one of the next super-newcomers in the scene.

    The team will be interesting to follow, given their different histories. Fogged has been in various teams for the past 2 years without finding a true home. SyndereN last year considered to make a competitive return, but has put it off for the right opportunity. It will also be a new position for him, since he’s mainly occupied the support, carry or mid position in Dota 2 thus far. For Era, it will be an opportunity for redemption following the ups and downs he has experienced these past two years, with Fnatic and even NiP.

    Steak Gaming should be interesting to follow, and not just because of their name.

    All of these teams will be competing over the coming weeks to prove their worth. Who is your favorite going into the Shanghai Major Season?

    Image sources:

    Valve on flickr

    ESL | Steffie Wunderl

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