2013 in review from a Chinese point of view

UUU9 had a pretty cool editorial writeup on 2013 Dota from the Chinese point of view… I took some small liberties and added a little bit to make things read better in English when translating here and there.

Foreword

The long-awaited Dota 2 servers came, competition domestically and international grew ever fiercer, new players emerged, old players persisted, viewers’ tears and players’ tears mixed as results pulled all our heartstrings. DK finally escaped two years of no wins, VG saw a meteoric rise, and the scene witnessed five strong teams fighting it out on the path to TI4.

This past year has been memorable, with sadnesses and triumphs, sweat and tears. We haven’t given up, we’re still moving ahead — where there is Dota, we are there, if only for a belief, a passion, we strive together.

Dota 2 servers, finally

The original and unadulterated (mostly) Dota 2 experience finally comes as the successor to DotA. A top tier esports experience, million-RMB prizes, Perfect World’s Dota 2 has finally taken off… The servers officially went fully free and open to play on Sept 25, 2013. This also marked the beginning of a new wave of a people’s esport movement, as internet cafe events, city-based events, media-sponsored events, and fan events all came together to kick things off on a national scale.

Long-awaited, ranked matchmaking comes

On Dec 12, 2013, the matchmaking system that fans and critics alike have been clamoring for finally came to Dota 2 along with Winter’s Wraith Night promotional event and new hero Legion Commander. With split matchmaking queues for solo and party, the system brings another level of self-improvement and engagement for players.

Events

G-1 League Season 5, the fall of China

Led by Loda, Alliance came and conquered, leaving as true winners after storming through the likes of DK, iG, and LGD, the traditional top three teams in China. In doing so, Alliance took away the G-1 title, a first for a Western team on Chinese soil. This was the early beginnings of a trend of weakness for Chinese teams through the latter half of 2013, and questions were raised regarding the drastic drop in competitiveness, with concerns aimed at ACE, a lack of offline events, and the falling behind of Chinese strategies.

The world celebrates TI3, as China laments

At TI3, Alliance showed to the world what their abilities were capable of. Undefeated in group stages, defeating three-time finalists NaVi in the Grand Finals, their outstanding performances earned them plaudits the world across. Just prior to these amazing Grand Finals, China would see its worst showing in an International to date. Only TongFu, who kept decent form throughout, managed to squeeze into the top 4. But still, as TongFu were eliminated, our hearts shattered. For everyone Chinese team this was a massive blow, and the losses still linger within. After these losses, the scene has seen much encouragement and work to improve on perceived weaknesses, with various players expressing their determination in fighting another year in hopes of redeeming themselves at TI4. We wish them well.

A historic WPC-ACE inaugural season

The 2013 WPCACE League was held in Shanghai in collaboration with the Shanghai Sports Bureau, Jingruis Real Estate, and ACE. Eight top teams from wtihin China, plus two qualifier teams partook, becoming part of this piece of esport history. LGD, iG, DK, VG, TongFu all participated, and in three months’ time starting in September 2013, they fought for a total prizepool of 1 million RMB. In the end, DK fought back from 3 games down in a best of 7 to win 4-3 against iG, and not only was history made in the results and the fashion it was achieved, but also in DK finally breaking their two year streak without winning anything.

Teams

DK — The winless finally escape their fate

The galacticos, the team that countless fans put their hopes and joys on, the team that let those fans down over and over again. Yet always there in the end, always a challenger to be feared. Ever since DK moved to Dota 2, it had been two years without any titles. After TI3, LaNm, Mushi, and iceiceice brought their star power to the team and thus created what some called a ‘dream team’. In the WPC-ACE League group stages they exhibited dominating form against other Chinese powerhouse teams. Ultimately they took the WPC-ACE League title, and thus escaped their two year nightmare.

iG — The meandering of a former world champion

iG, once king of kings, TI2 champions and dominating presence on the Chinese scene. They entered 2013 with a relative dearth of domestic events to compete in, and iG eventually could not escape the low tide in form that Chinese teams suffered in general throughout the year as a result. Their losses at TI3 led the world to doubt this once-proud championship winning team, and after TI3, iG brought in Hao, while banana found a rebirth here. In WPC-ACE they went toe to toe with DK, and ended up with a more-than-respectable second place finish. 430′s outstanding plays, YYF’s steadiness, Hao’s aggressiveness were all on display as we look forward to this juggernaut getting back on track…

VG — The fierceness of the newcomers

VG was founded in 2012, and they first entered our view in March of 2013. They first started with newcomers Fy, sydm et al. After TI3, they brought in Super, rOtK, and Sylar to create a mixed old and new roster alongside Fenrir. Amongst other good results, they went to Poland and won a major title in EMS One, proving that their choices thus far have been justified…

RisingStars — For the glory

Founded in January of 2013, Rstars consisted of former Noah’s Ark and DT Club players. Yet not much came of this team as they constantly looked to be on the verge of making the next step. A dismal showing in the latter half of the year, however, meant that eventually the club was disbanded. To this, their owner expressed dismay, because try as he might, it didn’t work out this time; we wish him strength in trying again for his dream in the future…

RattleSnake — Waiting to strike

In the beginning of 2013, various domestic events were all making the switch to Dota 2. Luo, along with former WE teammates Icy and Kabu, with LaNm and a new face in FAN, formed RSnake. After making it to TI3 but not doing much more than that, RSnake made changes to the roster yet saw little result, and currently the club retains no domestic roster for events in China…

LGD — The team of teams

With xiao8 as their heart, and the old Dream setup as their core, LGD has always been recognized as the strongest Chinese team in terms of execution. This has allowed them to hold on to their position within the traditional top three Chinese teams. Yet, their strong showing at TI2 did not transfer into 2013 and they failed to win any large titles, earning themselves the only title amongst Chinese fans as “forever number two”. Their TI3 performances were even less satisfactory, and after TI3, it was xiaotuji — a more aggressive fighting carry — that joined to replace Sylar. In relatively short amount of time since then, they have seen results with the new setup, with a good showing at WPC-ACE League (and a title at D2L S4 in the very start of 2014)…

TongFu — The sleeping tiger

With Hao, Mu, and KingJ as cores in 2013, TongFu achieved much in the first half of 2013. Because of LGD losing their direct invite to TI3 due to roster change, TongFu received a direct invite instead, and their fourth place finish at TI3 proved that they deserved it. As the best-placing Chinese team at TI3, TongFu were still unable to avoid changes, and Zhou, ZSMJ, and xtt joined after TI3. The two big-name Z carries have yet been unable to see TongFu emerge from a low ebb in form, and Zhou has even expressed a desire to retire if things don’t change, yet we still wish them luck and strength, add oil TongFu porridge…

Players

CTY: A bumpy path

CTY first entered our view as a wonderkid in 2009′s solo mid tournaments. With dreams of playing professionally, he joined VG, yet weak performances led to questioning of him as a player. After jolting around and ending up with RStars, we may have seen the last of him in Dota 2, as rumors abound that he will make the move to LoL. Things are never easy for newcomers to the scene, and we truly need them here…

Fy: Best newcomer aura

Fy’s first appearance on the main stage of our consciousness was perhaps him on Rubick. He lit the game up, and quickly earned a title as “Best Chinese Rubick player”. Afterwards, his career saw some bumps and ups and downs in a short amount of time, but he stuck with VG ultimately and has so far been rewarded with an EMS One title, accomanied with recognition as the year’s best new player…

ZSMJ: Dreams of the top in my return

ZSMJ’s original retirement left many fans with a sense of loss. One of the biggest anticipations for early 2013 was ZSMJ’s rumored return to the scene. From VG to TongFu, from carry to 4 position, his goal has only been to play to his utmost in hopes of one day standing again at the top. We can all see his hard work and his improvement, and perhaps the most reliable player on TongFu right now is none other than ZSMJ…

BurNIng: A thirst to prove himself by winning

B-God, ever since transitioning to Dota 2, had not won any major titles. In his heart of hearts there was nothing he desired more than a championship title. In this period, there were rumors around that he was thinking about retiring. Their faltering at TI3 was heavy and hard; in his tearful moments, fans empathized with his sadness but pleaded with him to play on for another year. After making changes to the team, DK seems to have found a new self, and the end of 2013 finally saw a smile visit BurNIng’s face…

Zhou: Searching for life within darkness

Zhou-god’s poor form has been bound to him since 2013 began and never left him. Still, he’s been featured on the loading screen seven times, and he holds weight as a player. After TI3, he joined TongFu alongside ZSMJ to redeem himself. We hope Zhou doesn’t give up, add oil…

MMY: Rebirth

Joining DK in early 2013, Dai officially became MMY and made the move to support. No matter what position MMY plays, his talent shines through. His Wisp, Rubick, and Visage are all shining examples, especially his Wisp, which could be the best in China. Following TI3, MMY’s play with DK has been a central pillar to depend on for the rest of his team, and within Chinese hard supports, he has been one of the most reliable, most outstanding ones…

LaNm: A legendary talent

Before he became a pro player, he was the king of pub players. After he became a pro, through all kinds of hardships and challenges, he has finally proven himself in this stretch of 2013 with a title. In the beginning of the year, RSnake with him and Luo had been well-regarded by people around China, but unfortunately they fell short. Post TI3, he joined DK to partner with MMY in support, reuniting with two other former EHOME players. This setup did not let us down, and after settling in with the team, LaNm has gradually displayed more and more flashes of his brilliance…

Bonus — a few top Chinese comments in response

1. Dai possesses the most natural talent, but the weakness of these tyeps of players is that typically they don’t work very hard. Back then he was playing WoW all day, but I think he’s gotten better nowadays. After losing LaNm, we finally saw how important he was as a player, RSnake went directly from competing at the TI3 level to barely being a semi-professional quality.
2. Why does LGD have such strong execution? Because what xiao8 says is what happens. So if they win it’s because of this, but if they lose it’s also because of this. LGD’s other four listen to xiao8 to a point of blindly following. I forget which competition it was, but xiao8 was initiating and dying instantly, and his other four teammates would just follow in one by one and die too. Sylar perhaps hadn’t yet completely bought into this, he tends to play it safe and just straight up bails if he thinks things aren’t going right, so ultimately he was replaced due to not matching up. This type of team execution has its good points, and its bad points. If it works then it results in perfect counter-plays, if it fails then it’s feeding. Even if the others have their own thoughts, in-game they all unconditionally listen to xiao8. Yet nowadays, this kind of execution perhaps has greater weaknesses than strengths.
3. Zhou, I think was a victim of iG’s recent styles. He’s been forced to play carry under a style where the carry has to face heavy pressure on his own and doesn’t get much protection, this has gone on for so long that perhaps he has lost some of his original carry senses. This is why 820 once said, if you’ve played too much 5 position then you end up forgetting how to play carry, your thoughts and your mechanics are focused on a completely different area.

The importance of team execution isn’t determined in just one competition. LGD, ever since 2009, has been one brain leading four obedient teammates, this has been the LGD style. This is also why LGD has been steady and stable no matter how their roster has changed. Honestly speaking, LGD with xiao8 has been greater than the sum of its parts, this is where we see the power of execution. You can question the captain’s decisions, after a match you can go and discuss, but on the field you just go and do what he says. Losing a match isn’t that important, it’s losing that collective heart. Right now DK is truly a dream team, at least in terms of its roster. But just as they are each great individual players, they will also each have their own thoughts, and this might be DK’s greatest problem in the future. If addressed, DK will certainly win over the entire world. Every strong world-class team, at their peak, has always had two things: strong execution, and a soul. EHOME had 820, Alliance has Loda, NaVi has Puppey (not Dendi).

Source: http://dota2.uuu9.com/2013/

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Dota 2 Store nearing official launch in China

The Dota 2 Store is nearing official launch in China, after what has seemed like ages. According to Anderson Wang, former Dota 2 commentator (interviewer at TI2), current Perfect World employee, they are performing final tests and checks on the Dota 2 Store before it officially launches in China. This means that Chinese players will no longer have to go through third parties or use VPNs to buy from the international store, they’ll have native access with local payment options right in their Chinese Dota 2 client.

Source: http://t.qq.com/p/t/356118005631679

Pics and video from DSL Finals day: DK and TongFu

Worth checking out… some of the galleries load a bit slowly, but I decided against re-upping them to imgur because I don’t wanna steal views or whatever. Yeah. There are some shots of the venue, which is the new Gamefy Esports Stadium, pretty cool.

 

Pre-match: http://dota2.sgamer.com/albums/201307/8006_323420.html

DK eats breakfast (KFC, apparently): http://dota2.sgamer.com/albums/201307/8007_323445.html

Venue shots: http://dota2.uuu9.com/201307/447681.shtml

More venue shots: http://dota2.replays.net/pic/page/20130706/1830391.html#p=1

Fan interaction and crowd shots: http://dota2.sgamer.com/albums/201307/8004_323372.html

Lots more crowd shots and images from event: http://dota2.uuu9.com/201307/447697.shtml

Perfect World people speak: http://dota2.sgamer.com/albums/201307/8005_323401.html

DSL Finals Opening Cermony: http://dota2.sgamer.com/albums/201307/8008_323447.html

rOtk and DK live: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNTc5NzAwNDYw.html

TongFu’s awarding: http://dota2.sgamer.com/albums/201307/8009_323467.html

 

Perfect World’s Dota 2 Super League start date and groups revealed

The groups were determined by way of a draw, and are as below:

Group A: iG, LGD.cn, Vici Gaming, TongFu, For.Love
Group B: DK, LGD.int, Orange, RattleSnake, RisingStars

The matches will begin on May 10 at 19:00 China time, with VG vs LGD.cn

The rest of the schedule for the regular season of the league is below (all in Chinese time):

May 16: 20:00–23:00:A- TongFu vs Invictus GAMING
May 17: 20:00–23:00:A- ForLove vs LGD GAMING CN
May 18: 14:00–18:00:A- VICI GAMING vs ForLove
May 18: 20:00–23:00:A-LGD GAMING CN vs TongFu

May 23: 20:00–23:00:A- Invictus GAMING vs LGD GAMING CN
May 24: 20:00–23:00:B- NeoEs.Orange vs LGD GAMING INT
May 25: 14:00–18:00:B- LGD GAMING INT vs TEAM DK
May 25: 20:00–23:00:A- Invictus GAMING vs ForLove
May 30: 20:00–23:00:A- TongFu vs ForLove
May 31: 20:00–23:00:A- Invictus GAMING vs VICI GAMING
June 1: 14:00–18:00:A- VICI GAMING vs TongFu
June 1: 20:00–23:00:B- Rattle Snake vs Rstars Gaming
June 6: 20:00–23:00:B- TEAM DK vs Rstars Gaming
June 7: 20:00–23:00:B- LGD GAMING INT vs Rattle Snake
June 8: 14:00–18:00:B- NeoEs.Orange vs Rstars Gaming
June 8: 20:00–23:00:B- TEAM DK vs Rattle Snake
June 13: 20:00–23:00:B- NeoEs.Orange vs Rattle Snake
June 14: 20:00–23:00:B- Rstars Gaming vs LGD GAMING INT
June 15: 20:00–23:00:B- TEAM DK vs NeoEs.Orange

Gamefy and Perfect World’s Dota2 Super League: May – July

From May to July of this year, ten teams will gather in Shanghai for a Dota 2 league that will take place in an offline setting.

Teams will play a round-robin group stage, and qualifiers from each group will go on to a double elimination playoff bracket.

Winner gets 500k RMB, second place 200k, third place 100k, fourth place 50k. Every other participating team gets 20k as a participation prize, for a grand total of a cool 1 million RMB in prize money.

Source: http://dota2.gamefy.cn/view_31151.html

DSL official site: http://dsl.gamefy.cn/

Dota 2 Chinese client download now available

The official Chinese Dota 2 site now has a page up, offering downloads of the Chinese Dota 2 client, along with instructions on how to activate via limited availability beta keys. Those lucky Chinese gamers who have so far gotten beta keys will be able to download and get to playing very soon, as April 28, the announced date of the Chinese Dota 2 beta launch, is less than 5 hours away in the Chinese time zone.

Also of interest, the client has a feature allowing players with existing Steam accounts to link their existing Steam account to the new Chinese client, which we assume is to allow them to continue using their cosmetic items and perhaps even transfer stats, friends list, and other account details over.

Source: http://www.dota2.com.cn/download/http://members.dota2.com.cn/login

Interview with Perfect World CEO Robert Hong Xiao on the eve of Chinese beta

Dotaland note: Some business talk in here, a few sorta strange responses, lots of interesting stuff too.

Q: Dr Xiao hello. The Dota 2 Chinese beta will come online on the 28th of April. At the same time, there have been increasing amounts of Dota-like games on the domestic market — in the face of so many competitors, what do you think Dota 2 will need to see success here?

Robert Hong Xiao (RHX): Our focus isn’t necessarily placed upon competing with others; instead, it’s more geared towards pushing out an excellent game and customer service product out for customers. From DotA to today’s Dota 2, the game itself has always been superb. Whenever anyone plays a similar game, they enter a gaming ‘mode’ defined by Dota, so all other similar games can only be described as Dota-like games. In Dota 2 we’re seeing a wide array of improvements in details, mechanics, and graphics, and during our global search for additional products to add to our portfolio, we felt that Dota 2 was truly a top tier product, which is why we steadfastly chose to work on Dota 2. It isn’t only a game, I believe that it represents a kind of culture, a set of values. Even though I’m personally not a gamer, I still believe that I have the responsibility of ensuring that we present the most positive, caring, interesting, and professional product possible to gamers, because it is a product that has the unstoppable ability to influence yet more people.

So what we need to do is very simple, we need to continue to improve the product, do our best in terms of service, these are our jobs. As for who we’re competing with, it’s not really something we are really concerned about, and whether it will defeat any competitors, it’s not something we really care about. In the process of getting the Chinese servers online, our team at Perfect World has put a lot of work in.

Q: A common piece of feedback from players is that quite a few of the characters in Dota 2, along with their style, are hard to swallow. Will Dota 2 see some changes to better fit the Chinese pallette?

RHX: There is indeed work being done on related items, but right now it’s very difficult to say exactly where that process is. This is also something that requires a lot of communication with Valve. The most important thing is, Dota 2 should be an avenue to promote Chinese elements to the world. The work itself is two-fold: first of all there must be constant communication with Valve to ensure the game operates smoothly, secondly it is to explore ways in which Chinese elements can be implanted within the game. Of course, these are all things that will be worked on.

Q: In the process of bringing the Chinese servers online, have you had any insights or lessons that you’d like to share?

RHX: Firstly, the team has been really hard at work. Due to time differences, our team often works late at night in order to collaborate with the American side, and then still work their normal hours when the American side is asleep. Additionally, the American side also has needed to extend their work hours to work with us, so both sides have put in a lot of hard work, they truly love this product.

In their collaboration, they’ve taken the approach of learning first. Under circumstances where we have language difficulties, to be able to gain such deep understandings in our work together, it has been a very unique experience. Valve have also learned a lot regarding the Chinese market.

Q: In the past few years, esports has boomed in its growth. For Dota, a very competitive game, has their been similar growth?

RHX: I’ve said before during open meetings at Perfect World, something like baseball (in China) was also once maligned and shunned by parents, to only gradually gain acceptance, and esports is very similar. They both allow people to express teamwork and individual potential. If a group of people push esports along a positive path, then over a few generations of effort, it is completely possible to develop esports into something that is recognized and accepted in the mainstream as an industry and market. Perfect World absolutely wants to pursue this goal. The hope is that perhaps one day, when your kid asks you if he or she can go play Dota 2 professionally, you can unwaveringly give him or her your support.

Q: Nowadays there are a lot of players on various school campuses, has Perfect World considered doing events or competitions on school campuses?

RHX: Right now we’re not yet able to talk about details, but our partnership with AMD and Gamefy is the beginning of just this type of thing. We will do widespread promotion, the goal being to push the game out to all sorts of potential enthusiasts. Not only university students, because Dota 2 has unlimited potential. To allow gamers a few tries with the game and get them to fall in love with it, that is our ultimate target. We will do a lot of events in order to support this.

Source: http://dota2.uuu9.com/201304/441575.shtml