OG is the most successful team in the world, but the story of the Dota 2 Asian Championship and the story of the Kiev Major is that of Chinese Dota’s youth. iG won DAC and two of the other top four placing teams were iG.V and Newbee. But the story doesn’t start at the event. It doesn’t even start in the qualifiers for the event. The story of Chinese Dota as it is now starts at DAC 2015. It starts in the West.
It starts in one of the most retold stories throughout all of Dota 2: Evil Geniuses and Artour “Arteezy” Babaev leaving for Secret. At the time people believed (and many still do) that Arteezy was the Chosen One. He was the superstar player of North America who would carry the region from the depths of its mediocrity to win The International. The pros themselves weren’t quite sure of what to make of the young wonder as the hype was at an all time high and Sébastien “7ckingMad” Debs famously wrote, “He’s a good player, a bit overrated in my opinion. But definitely okay to be in a top team! To say that he is one of the best solo mids etc is really exaggeration, he played like 10 games in a high level LAN, you need way more to compare him to Dendi, s4 or FATA”
As time went on, Arteezy did go on to prove that he was a top mid player, one of the best in the world. EG was one of the best teams at the time and consistently placed high in every event it attended. But that wasn’t enough for Arteezy, and in a move that would be repeated multiple times over, he left for Secret.
The move left EG in the lurch as Arteezy was a superstar level player and there was no one comparable to his play style or skill in the region. At that point, Peter “ppd” Dager, EG’s captain, ended up making a legendary move that completely altered the face of Dota 2. At the time, very few teams were willing to take risks on new players. Pubs weren’t taken as seriously and the only competitive place to play Dota 2 was in-house leagues. The barrier of entry into the highest level of competition was at an all-time high. No one wanted to gamble on a player who had little to no LAN experience.
Ppd had two choices. He could either recycle the same pros who had been swapping around teams since time immemorial. If he did that, it’s likely the team would have still gotten a decent placing because the rest of EG was still strong. Or he could take a chance on a player who had never been to a competitive LAN but had potential to be something more. He took the chance. EG then went on to win DAC 2015 with Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan as its superstar player. In that run they beat Secret, Big God and VG.
Ppd’s decision to add SumaiL would change the world, though no one realized it at the time. SumaiL was an incredible player, but the first of an entire generation, a wave of talent that was coming up. All it needed was a spark to start the fire. Dota 2 players are notorious for being stubborn when it comes to play style, itemization and hero choice. Unless someone else does it first and proves it’s viability no one will bother to touch it. It makes sense because Dota 2 has thousands of variables from player skill, team cohesion, farming efficiency, pathing, items, hero interactions, and constant patches. This makes it so that no one player or team can ever know all there is to know about Dota at any given time. But once someone proves its viability, it catches fire. Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao taught the world about stacking jungles. Chen “Hao” Zhihao forced the Luna pick at TI to win that tournament. Euls on Shadowfiend seemed ludicrous until it stomped every other player into the ground.
In this case, EG proved there was young talent out there. But China refused to believe it, as the region continued to try reshuffles of old names into different configurations. But in the end the young must overtake the old. At The International 5, it wasn’t any of the known Chinese teams that reached the finals, but the completely new CDEC led by Fu “Q” Bin and superstar player Sun “Agressif“ Zheng. Teams slowly integrated more young players into the various Chinese lineups with mixed results. The Chinese scene was changing. The old guard’s grasp on the scene was breaking, and it finally tore apart when Wings became the best Chinese team in the world in the latter end of 2016 and won TI6
The core of Wings had been at the doldrums of Chinese Dota for a long time. As a lineup, the players have been playing together for nearly two years. The core of the team with Zhang “y`” Yiping, Zhang “Faith_bian” Ruida and Zhou “bLink“ Yang have played together all the way back to 2015 in Speed Gaming.cn. Chu “shadow“ Zeyu was bouncing around lower tier teams. Li “iceice“ Peng was a pubstar who played with Big God at their DAC run and a player Zhang “xiao8“ Ning famously said couldn’t make it as a pro.
To make matters worse, the original roster was locked out of the ACE Alliance and was denied multiple chances to play in tournaments. The core of bLink, Faith_bian and y` was kicked out of the team and replaced with three different players to play in the TI5 qualifiers. Nothing was given to them, but it’s this team of rejects that won TI. There were no veterans to guide them. They never got the chance to join other better teams. They never learned from the greats first-hand. Theirs was a style all of their own making, made up of players no one believed could be made into anything.
And now all of China follows suit. At the Kiev Major, every Chinese team has new talents. Newbee is one of the best teams in the world and is built around the new players of Xu “uuu9“ Han, Song “Sccc“ Chun, and leader Hu “Kaka“ Liangzhi. Liu “Freeze“ Chang is the new addition to VG.J and works alongside ex-CDEC superstar Aggressif. While they dropped out early at DAC, this team made the finals of Starladder before that. iG looks to be one of the most intimidating teams in the world. Its only known names are: Xu “BurNIng“ Zhilei
And Q. Q was the mastermind behind CDEC’s success at TI5 and BurNIng has found new life and form playing with the young Chinese stars of Ou “Op” Peng, Lin “Xxs“ Jing, and Ye “BoBoKa” Zhibiao.
It is no longer a talk of potential. It is no longer a talk of when new players will come up. The new players are coming up and there are more every day. It is easier than ever for a talented pubstar to get noticed and placed onto a team, as teams are desperate to arm themselves with young skilled players. This is a phenomenon seen in both the East and West. The young waves have overtaken the old. The legends of tomorrow will now be written today. The old stars have their place, but it will be the young stars who must write the next chapter.
The future of Dota has arrived. The future is now.