The annual post TI shuffle came through like a hurricane this year and the aftermath is a very strange, very brave, new world. It’s hard to objectively judge teams without seeing how they play since team members might not mesh well and synergy will vary but these are our picks for the winners and losers of this year’s shuffle, at least on paper.
China. In terms of legacy, China is the strongest region in Dota. It doesn’t matter if you include or exclude Dota 1 in that analysis. This is the country that produced the juggernaut that was EHOME during 2010. They put together legends during 2014 to create Team DK. CDEC during TI5 showed us the deep talent pool of China; rocketing from a virtually unknown team to a second place finish. Wings Gaming pushed this to it’s logical conclusion at TI6, embarrassing the competition and making it look easy. The Chinese Dota scene has seen several veteran players announce their retirements and breaks from the scene, creating space for a new crop of players to reach for greater heights.
Wings Gaming: Zeyu “Chu” Shadow, Yang “bLink” Zhou, Ruida “Faith_Bian” Zhang, Yiping “y’” Zhang, Peng “iceice” Li.
Your International 2016 Champions have decided to keep their finalized roster. Honestly, who can blame them? They cut through the competition at TI6 like butter and showed little signs of weakness. In fact, Wings were often shown in their booth laughing, and smiling, apparently feeling zero pressure at all. Their two losses on the main stage, both times with Pudge and once with Techies, seem more like Wings showing mercy and goofing around rather than any serious flaws in their gameplay. Heading into the new season, Wings Gaming looks head and shoulders above everyone else. They have an understanding of the game that is unrivaled, and have the best players possible to execute that vision.
Vici Gaming: Pu “END” Yang, Jie “ghost” Zheng, Haiyang “Yang” Zhou, Linsen “fy” Xu, Fat-meng “DDC” Leong
Vici Gaming’s academy squad, VG.R, has largely been promoted to their main roster with the exception of Nono. The story of VG.R during TI6 was largely one of disappointment. Yang’s US Visa application was rejected multiple times, and as such, he had to be replaced by Mikasa, VG.R’s coach and sometimes substitute. Nono underperformed heavily throughout the event, in a way that matched his jitters under high pressure situations before. That didn’t have to be the case however. VG.R dominated China’s local H-Cup series for an entire month, and snagged first place at the first StarLadder i-League invitational after an impressive lower bracket run. Nono’s replacement, ghost, was formerly the mid player for For The Dream’s Club C team and doesn’t have any significant results to his name. If he can gel well with the rest of the team however, he’d be more than a sufficient replacement for Nono, and Vici Gaming can shine again as one of the premier teams in China.
Vici Gaming J: Zheng “Agressif” Sun, Xin “Nono” Wang, Fan “rOtK” Bai, Zhi “hym” Xu, Chao “Fenrir” Lu
Vici Gaming J’s new lineup after the Fall shuffle (Credit: Wykhrm Reddy)
rOtK, Agressif, hym, and Fenrir join Nono on Vici Gaming’s new secondary squad, VG.J. Jeremy Lin, point guard for the Brooklyn Nets, also joins as honorary captain. Fenrir and hym are good supports, with Fenrir being the more notable of the two. Formerly one part of the fy/Fenrir combo that carried Vici Gaming for several years, they’ve both managed to find success by themselves. Hym was formerly on the main VG squad and is a capable, if largely unnoticeable support. Agressif comes in after playing with LGD, and before that CDEC. He was far and away the best carry at TI5, but has fallen behind other Chinese carries. He’ll need to step it up to compete for the title of best carry again. rOtK is one of the old guards of China and hardly needs any introduction. He’s lead teams of relative newcomers to the top echelons of competitive Dota 2 and has played with legends of the scene; his experience is bound to be invaluable, even though his play in game is often questionable. This is a team with a lot to prove in the coming year, and their players have all of the tools to pull out victories.
EHOME: Jiajun “Sylar” Liu, Zhiyong “old chicken” Wang, Yangwei “eleven” Ren, Zhicheng “Lanm” Zhang, Xinzhou “Guardian” Liu
Sylar and Guardian, formerly Garder, join old chicken, eleven, and Lanm to fill out EHOME’s new roster for this season. Sylar has always been one of the most consistent carries in the Chinese scene. Hardly flashy, but stable and creates space for other players on the team to shine. Guardian on the other hand, is an playmaking support. His quick reflexes and sharp thinking were often the key to saving CDEC’s cores in teamfights and ganks. With the addition of Garder and Sylar, EHOME looks very strong. Lanm needs no introduction. A stalwart of the Chinese scene, he’s been at every International and took second place at the first International with EHOME. He’s proven himself to be a capable captain and a well rounded player, switching between the carry role and support roles for EHOME with ease. Eleven became known for his ridiculously good Tusk play during the Frankfurt Major, and settled into EHOME as a self sustaining offlaner. His performance at TI6 was him at his former Frankfurt peak, with a wide hero pool and massive game impact throughout the entire game. EHOME looks to be one of the teams to watch if they can keep up their form.
LGD Gaming: Chunyu “Ame” Wang, Lu “Maybe” Yao, Zhezi “Xz” Chen, Guanhong “Victoria” Chen, Zihao “Jixing” Xiao
Don’t get us wrong. LGD Gaming has, and always will be, a team to watch as long as Maybe stays on the team. But LGD’s former lineup of Zengrong “MMY!” Lei, Ning “xiao8” Zhang, Zheng “Aggressif” Sun, and Zhichuan “September” Xue was the type of team created specifically to shoulder Maybe’s greatness. LGD’s new lineup consists largely of members from CDEC.Youth, except for Jixing who is a transfer from ThunderRobot Gaming. Ame and Victoria have no significant international LAN experience. Xz was part of the CDEC Gaming squad that surprised the world to snag 2nd place at TI5. His offlane skills were impressive during TI5 and he’s still a very good Chinese position 3 with a deep hero pool and steady mechanics. LGD Gaming could very well turn out to be a Chinese powerhouse but right now it’s a team filled with unproven players.
Newbee: Han “uuu9” Xu, Chung “Sccc” Song, Damien “kpii” Chok, Hongda “Faith” Zeng, Liangzhi “kaka” Hu
A number of retirements hurt Newbee this year. Hao and Mu, longtime friends, decided to drop out of Newbee together, with Hao taking an undefined break, and Mu seriously retiring. Chuan also took a break after failing to get a favorable contract from any organization. Uuu9, Sccc, and Faith take their place on the main Newbee roster. Sccc is perhaps more famous for his 9000 MMR rather than any actual competitive experience. His previous team Newbee.Young, was never really able to standout in the sea of Chinese Tier 2 teams. Uuu9 comes in from Tongfu, and is a little more known, mostly for his Slark. Faith is a former TI champion, and has several years of experience in the scene but unfortunately plays very weakly ingame. His support plays have often led the Chinese scene to joke that Faith expended all of his brainpower during TI2 and is now largely brain dead. If Newbee wants to regain it’s former TI4 glory then kpii and kaka will need to guide the newcomers towards higher heights.
Invictus Gaming’s new lineup for the Fall shuffle (Credit: Wykhrm Reddy)
Invictus Gaming: Zhulei “Burning” Xu, Peng “OP” Ou, Jing “Xxs” Ling, Zhibiao “BoBoKa” Ye, “Bin “Q” Fu,
OP is promoted from IG.Youth to the main IG squad for the new season, while Xxs and BoBoKa stay on the team. Q and the carry legend himself, Burning, fill in the blanks for this new IG squad. Unfortunately this squad looks pretty weak; none of the players here have reached any notable results in a long time. Despite Burning’s fame, his last major result was getting 5/6th with Vici Gaming at the Frankfurt Major and he failed to qualify for TI6. The main IG squad with Xxs and BoBoKa failed to achieve any notable results outside of winning a 4 team LAN in China (National Electronic Arena 2016). OP and Q have similar mediocre showings on IG.Youth and CDEC over the past year. This team needs to put time into improving their individual skills and teamwork before we can expect any strong showings from them.