Some light analysis and overviews of ten not-so-successful teams that were at TI2, where they are now, and what brought them here from the eyes of the Chinese scene, as written by Sgamer. A lot of the subtitles for each section say quite a bit about each team as well.
Immediately after The International 2 ends, the team and personnel changes begin. The European scene is already very chaotic, the Chinese domestic scene is still filled with doubt. Today we’re doing an overview of recent changes in teams, plus a light analysis of their recent performances.
The team with big changes, Darer
Darer, led originally by last year’s International-winning captain ArtStyle performed poorly, thus leading to a complete overhaul of the team. Darer announced a wholesale change of players, and in their place added an all-Bulgarian roster. Former Darer GoBlin and Funn1k have already joined Russian Team Empire, and other reports suggest that GoD will form a new team with ComeWithMe, and Admiration and Vigoss of former M5.
If we say changes to the team were to be expected, then we can also say that it was a bit unexpected that Darer would switch all five players. Last year’s champion captain Artstyle failed to recapture that glory this year with Darer As a captain that failed to always share the necessary understanding with his teammates, he ultimately fell short of utilizing his leadership skills to prove himself and lead his team to victory, and as a result his feature looks uncertain. During NaVi’s run of wins against Chinese teams, NaVi’s greatest support came from M5 and not Darer. Wonder what ArtStyle felt when he say Puppey using Enigma and Juggernaut to overthrow the Naga Siren plus Tidehunter combo. And when Puppey unexpectedly picked Nyx Assassin in the Grand Finals, did ArtStyle think to himself, “If I could be up there with him to talk strategy and compete, I would pick……”
The team that fell into pieces, M5
This former Russian great carried many older Dota fans’ hopes, because M5 had three legendary stars in Vigoss, Admiration, and PGG. But what flows in PGG’s veins in vodka, Vigoss’ focus seems to not be on Dota, and Admiration gives us the impression that he is old now, leaving unstable performances to be biggest characteristic of this M5 team. With a reputation greater than their actual skill, it was inevitable that they’d see re-structuring after the tournament.
The team is re-building and may need a few members to stay behind to form the core of a new roster; this should please fans of Vigoss and Admiration as the two of them have the best reputation and it should be them two staying for the team to re-build around, but it seems that it may not end up being this way, as there are reports saying they will join GoD and ComeWithMe to form a new team. So M5 as we know it is on the verge of falling apart, with Admiration and Vigoss perhaps leaving, Silent already having joined Empire, all that leaves is PGG and Bloodangel. If Vigoss leaves, and uncertainty regarding whether a problem player like PGG will ever be a solid choice to build around, M5 will truly have too many problems to fix. As fans, apart from patiently waiting to see the outcome, we also wish the three long-time pros smooth sailing.
The incomplete team, Mouz
In here we include Mouz, because after all they crushed WE 3-0 to grasp the chance to be at TI2. Additionally Mouz player ComeWithMe is very close with M5 and Darer players. Because of passport issues, CWM was unable to make it to Seattle, giving Kuroky a seemingly unearned oppportunity. However Kuroky seems to get that too, as he doesn’t look like he’s staying with Mouz, and his performances and understanding with the rest of Mouz during TI2 all left quite a bit to be desired.
V1lat also revealed that Mouz will certainly make roster changes, and Mouz has yet to make any announcement on this matter. In terms of fame and skill, Mouz’ players are not bad, but they’re always a few steps away from championships, and this is not necessarily something that can be fixed by simply changing players. If ComeWithMe’s passport had allowed him to go to TI2, Mouz would have certainly made it further.
The team that left their club, Absolute Legends
Before play started, AL had already been predicted as the “free experience” team of TI2 as no one expected them to do much. Yet they did alright for what they had and by not placing dead last, at least gave themselves a consolation prize. AL was the first team to undergo changes after the tournament, and with poor performances and a division of opinions internally, the end result was that they completely split with the Absolute Legends club, and went back to the Natural 9 name as a team.
Before many big teams got started, AL definitely wrote a bit of history for themselves. Facing massive lag, they once beat various big name European teams, including NaVi, thus proving their skill. But after they re-structured once and then got sponsored, their form dipped precariously. In the end were dubbed the team of “free result”, “feeding”, ultimately betraying their once-proud world number 2 ranking and title. Even though they’ve lost their sponsor and two players, their manager is still very confident. N9 right now can be said to be fighting against the current, but if these changes can spark the remaining players’ potential, then this team might be back on the scene.
The team that narrowly lost to iG, local team EG
When the entire hall rang with shouts of USA, EG’s home team advantage and effect could be obviously seen. In the upper bracket match against iG, they greatly troubled iG. If it wasn’t for Fear’s Morphling doing poorly in game 3, EG had a real chance to upset iG. In facing Asian teams, Maelk has always had his own unique strategies. Plus the flexible and dynamic DeMoN, as well as Bulba and Universe who joined later on from Its Gosu, these players all played very well. After dropping into the lower bracket, they lost again to TongFu, and departed from the tournament.
The North American Dota scene has rarely been stable, players move around all the time, and it’s rare for a team to last more than half a year. After TI2, Bulba and Universe have been missing from many EG matches, and it’s quite possible they’ve already left the team. And immediately following, rumors have popped up concerning Complexity’s solo mid master Jeoy potentially joining EG. Even though both clubs have come out to deny the rumors, but the North American Dota scene is just a limited size, with a limited pool of players. If one team doesn’t recruit, then another team is going to; if a player doesn’t go to one team, they’re going to go to the other. And the cycle repeats as teams come and go, players either retire or continue hopping around.
The team that could get undermined, Complexity
The other American team Complexity is in a similar situation to EG – playing on home soil, they had a lot of fans. Their players are less famous than EG’s players, they don’t have as many strategic choices as EG, but their performances were fully satisfying. Facing a single-core strategy, Complexity favored a gank-heavy strategy to protect a hard carry. If they faced a multi-core strategy, they would put a Prophet or Templar Assassin in mid solo. This TI2, their carry player TC and their solo mid Jeoy left deep impressions, but unfortunately good performances also attract other teams’ attention, with rumors saying that Jeoy could join EG.
Rumors don’t come from nothing, and though the rumors about Jeoy joining EG are still unquantified, changes are likely close for Complexity and EG.
The team with an uncertain future, Zenith
Zenith was an Asian team that was well-regarded by many fans. In addition to hyhy’s achievements in leading Scythe.sg to success last year, iceiceice and solid support players xy and xFreedom joining, as well as the acquirement of European star Loda led to everyone feeling that such an excellent lineup would get within the top 3. And indeed, in various tournaments and competitions before TI2, Zenith was crushing Chinese teams left and right, and in an interview iceiceice declared that they would also be looking to destroy American and European teams, but the end result this year was disappointment.
On the LAN stage, many problems were exposed within Zenith. Iceiceice displayed extreme bouts of instability in his play, becoming a hole to be exploited in Zenith. Zenith’s players lacked LAN event experience, and communication issues became a major problem. After the competition Loda returned to his homeland Sweden, and whether he will be back in Singapore is yet to be answered. A new team named 1v5 consisting of Zenith’s iceiceice, xy, and xFreedom participated in WCG Asia, with hyhy disappeared. There are reports claiming that hyhy is taking a break after TI2, or that he has retired to focus on his studies. If they lose hyhy and Loda, then Zenith’s existence loses its meaning. Currently this is a team that is on the edge of disbanding, and perhaps in competitions near the end of this year we may no longer be able to see Zenith. At this point, we can only feel sorry for hyhy and Loda [if they don’t return and this causes Zenith to disband].
The team that peaked at the wrong time, mTw
To MTW I can only say one thing: “You peaked at the wrong time.” Before TI2, their win over NaVi using Juggernaut plus Enigma, their strong showings in various online tournaments, their crushing of Mouz in the TI2 qualifiers, they were coming to Seattle as strong dark horse candidates. But what is the use of so many strong showings before TI2? During the tournament, they had all kinds of strange bans and picks, all kinds of poor performances. From Sgamer’s interview with EHOME.71, 71 said when they tried to schedule training with MTW, MTW was on all kinds of vacation… And the result of going on vacation before TI2 is, you can now vacation all the way after TI2.
The biggest impression I got from mTw this time was not their in-game showing, rather it was their captain Synderen’s excellent casting with Tobi after they were eliminated. Their results and performances certainly let everyone’s hopes for them down, even their own players felt it was poor. mTw’s Kebap has already been looking for a new home, so mTw re-structuring isn’t far away either.
The ‘big horde’, EHOME (‘horde’ is a nickname for EHOME)
Last year’s runners-up, this year’s earliest Chinese team to train Dota2. Once ten-time champions in Dota, this time EHOME placed 5/6 at TI2 to end their Seattle trip. EHOME has raised a lot of topics and left a lot of memories with us this time: PCT’s rhythm (or lack thereof?), EHOME vs ACE alliance stories, EHOME’s ever-changing player roles and bans and picks. EHOME’s brightest play was LaNm and Dai’s Tiny plus Wisp combination, they used this to kill off Southeast Asian powerhouse Orange. But good luck led nowhere, as they then met the ‘Alliance’s’ iG, and were ultimately eliminated by iG.
EHOME’s biggest talking point was the already-departed PCT, amidst comments of “weak solo mid”, and “let Dai play Storm Spirit” he faced a lot of criticism and pressure. In our interview with manager 71, he also noted that unstable player roles was a big problem for EHOME. PCT’s best heroes overlap with Dai’s best, plus Dai feeling his support combined well with 357’s play, led to the team encouraging PCT to play solo mid. Perhaps it was Dai’s Storm Spirit leaving too good of an impression, perhaps the pressure was too great on PCT, ultimately PCT left the team after TI2.
Apart from all this, during the tournament it was also rumored that EHOME would be sold. Everyone felt that EHOME’s re-building this year was solely for TI2, and if they failed to achieve a result then they’d disband. Even though 71 says further re-structuring is to build a good Dota2 team, but facing an embargo by the ACE alliance how far can they go? We will watch on the sidelines.
The team with the truth somewhere, TongFu
“The world has real sentiments/truths, a bowl of TongFu porridge” (Dotaland note: TongFu is a food company and this quote was a marketing slogan that doesn’t translate well into English). Is what everyone sees now real sentiment? After being revealed that they had internal strife, TongFu’s manager at one point used very vulgar language to counter those claims and directed them at a certain commentator (see here for more: https://dotaland.net/2012/08/30/tongfus-manager-flames-chinese-commentators-do-your-own-job-well-first-dont-go-about-making-things-up/ ). This, in addition to another incident, became the second ‘internal flame war’ between Chinese parties.
So a team like this, could they not undergo change after the tournament? Here we’ll borrow a phrase from Caidaoren: (Chinese Dota person) “At their current level of salary and with their current roster, TongFu to a large degree relies on manager CuZn’s personal relationships with the players. This is also the cause for such caution on their part in terms of roster changes and transfers. Yet, with internal team issues still not being resolved, it is only a matter of time before Hao, Mu, get poached by another team, and TongFu sinks into danger of complete collapse. Switching players on the roster might be a last option, but it also may be a strong option that saves the team.”