In the last year, there is no denying that the Chinese Dota 2 scene has failed to live up to the expectations of fans. Chinese teams have consistently reached the top 5 of tournaments but failed to win any championships, , with the exception of the recent Mars Dota League. Their showing in the Frankfurt Major was especially poor, with no team even breaching the top 3 places. Their performance has raised many questions regarding the state of the Chinese professional scene,disheartening many fans.
With the upcoming Shanghai Major, there is an opportunity for the Chinese players to redeem themselves after over a year of slumber. With many younger players entering the scene, as well as old veterans rediscovering their motivation, their chances on the home turf are at its highest. Will the East vs. West confrontation reach its former heights? And who is going to lead the battle to reclaim their home title?
The squad under the legendary brand, led by the legendary coach 71, is deceptively lacking in the star-players department. Deceptively, because all of the young players on the team are in no way weaker than their Western counterparts—they simply never received the same amount of exposure. ELeVen, old chicken and Kaka may have been in the “big” e-sports significantly less than most other players, but they certainly don’t need to prove anything—the 3:0 sweep vs EG in MDL grand finals speaks for itself.
LaNm has also proven himself as a great captain and a mentor to the younger generation of Dota 2 players. Unlike most Chinese captains, he is ready to experiment and is a lot less meta-dependant—something that can go a long way in the versatility-friendly 6.86 patch.
Finally, there is Cty—the ”6-minute God”. Unlike other young players on his team, he has a lot of experience and it certainly shows—the progress made by Cty in the last couple of years is very impressive. From a mechanically gifted player, who was extremely prone to unnecessary aggression and lack of teamplay, he has since evolved into a player who is disciplined, patient and calculated.
from left to right: LaNm, CTY, kaka, old eLeVeN, old chicken
For the first time in the current roster’s history, the team comes into this major as one of the favorites—they have proved themselves in home tournaments, handily beating other Chinese teams in smaller tournaments, as well as internationally, when they won MDL. Their win rate in the last month is nothing but impressive at 71.43%—all of which comes from battling top tier teams.
Their record against top Western teams in 6.86 is something that can give a lot of hope to the Chinese fans. EHOME has beaten EG twice, in bo3 and bo5 formats, with a total of five victories and only one loss. They have also beaten OG in bo3, for a total of 2:1, and have tied with Team Secret in the MDL group stage.
The team is yet to face [A]lliance, Team Liquid or any of the CIS/Ukrainian teams. Of these teams, [A]lliance probably has the highest chance of upsetting EHOME, since it is most likely to require a specific approach. That is not to say that all other teams are a guaranteed win, but EHOME does look stronger both in terms of personal skill and team play.
Overall, with the exception of surprises the team might face, it should do extremely well, and given at least a bo3 format in almost all stages of the tournament, even the surprises can be mitigated. EHOME, once the most feared brand in the Dota scene, has finally been resurrected after 4 years of almost complete irrelevance.
It is never a good idea to discredit LGD. With a combined high-level Dota total experience of over 20 years, LGD is a well-oiled machine. The players on this team have faced pretty much every fathomable situation. When in a dire situation, they do not have to think what to do—they know what to do. And this is their biggest strength and weakness.
Dota has been evolving rapidly over the course of several last years—there were new items, new heroes and hero reworks, as well as constant changes. For the older players it can be hard to keep up, and this is the reason we have seen new teams from different regions perform so well, despite lack of experience—they do not come into the game with inflexible expectations and are generally quicker to adapt on-the-go.
For a detailed analysis of players and strategies the team uses, it is better to look at an existing profile—the team has not changed since the Frankfurt Major. Their general strategy has remained relatively unchanged, still with a strong focus on tempo and an even larger one on teamfight ability—only now it is Maybe who is controlling the tempo, rather than Sylar.
Going into this tournament, LGD looks less impressive than EHOME, but they certainly have more experience in 6.86 and have faced a bigger variety of enemies. Their total win rate for 6.86 is 65% across 57 games. It is worth noting, however, that many of these victories came from playing much weaker teams, which could be a cause for concern.
Playing against good Western teams comes somewhat harder for LGD. In fact, they are more likely to lose against them, with one interesting trend giving quite a bit of hope: even if they lose, they almost always take at least one game from the enemy. They have gone 2:3 vs [A] in the WCA grand finals, have taken at least one game off EG in MDL play-offs and have even won a bo1 off them. And they consistently beat CIS/Ukrainian teams. The only opponent this team is yet to beat is OG.
With all that information, it is extremely unlikely anything is going to surprise LGD at the event. They know their enemies very well, they learned their lessons playing against [A] and they have studied EG a little bit more. They will watch through every game of OG and Team Liquid and take notes. They will do their homework and while their performance in the tournament has a lot more conditions to become successful, it is never a good idea to discredit LGD.
It is a popular opinion now that the Chinese Dota has been on a decline. After all, no one remembers who came in second. Statistics for the past year-and-a-half suggests that the idea is greatly exaggerated, however. Moreover, most recent events show that there are still strong competitors in the region, and they are ready to go toe-to-toe against top Western teams.
Not only are there significantly more experienced players in China, compared to other regions, but there are also a lot of younger talents, who might lack exposure and fame, but certainly do not lack skill. The Shanghai Major can be an excellent proving ground for these younger players and will temper them for TI6.