Dotaland note: Written by Felix菜刀刃, friend of Dotaland, and translated at his personal request — this is a look back on the last year of Dota in China, where so many things have changed, grown, and in some cases, disappeared… Looks back on teams, controversies, achievements, and a hint at Perfect World having their own ‘International’? This and more, read on below!
10 — Disbandment
Nirvana, sponsored by Loveen, winners of prestigious titles such as G-League in 2010, WDC, WCG China, once upon a time stood amongst the three giants of Chinese Dota, alongside EHOME and LGD. WDC, the World Dota Championships, catalyzed in part by Loveen, was a top three competition in Dota. Going into 2011, Nirvana and the WDC both entered a turning point, where Loveen, citing a new marriage faded out of the scene. In the beginning of 2012, Nirvana officially announced their end, with WDC being their swansong.
PanDa, sponsored by a Hang Yu (this was PanDa’s second iteration), with Efeng as manager, established in 2012. Players under their tag included Hao, Mu, Yaobai, PanPan, 830God, and Sansheng. Their results were not bad, but then the boss disappeared, Efeng quit, three core players transferred to TongFu, and that was that — the team disbanded.
WE’s Dota team was established in 2011. At one point or another, they had new at the time, but now-familiar names such as Sylar and Veronica. After TI2 ended, their Dota players left one after another.
CLC’s Dota team, after a short existence including players like 357, ultimately disbanded after 357 returned to EHOME. Afterwards, the remnants of CLC merged with LOH to form Noah’s Ark. Following investors pulling out from NA in 2012, the team ceased to exist.
DT Club, once 3rd/4th placed finishers at ACE League, suffered an unexplained resignation from their manager, a loss of financial backing from their boss, their players floated off to other teams.
9 — Rebirth
“A thousand sails drift past the sunken ship, a thousand trees flourish upon the dying stump” — in 2012, though quite a few teams left us, new teams appeared to fill their spots and bring with them a new wind of hope. The most inspired of these is none other than LGD.int, where we must give credit to LGD.RuRu’s eagle-eyed wisdom for her skill in building another super-team in the hyper competitive Dota scene. And LGD.int’s performances so far have shown us all that Western players do not necessarily lack talent, they only need an environment to focus and train better.
Post-TI2, the biggest dark horse newcomer should be ViCi Gaming. Mostly comprised of new players, they first took the GosuCup by storm, only losing to Zenith and ending up third place. And then it was in the G-League group B, where they escaped death by eliminating MUFC, pushed LGD.cn to the limit, ending the year in a satisfactory manner.
Apart from that, there’s still the new as-yet-unnamed team led by ZSMJ and Ch, as well as a potential new team with LaNm. And then, there are rumors saying that former DT Club players have re-convened to fight anew in this new year.
8 — Perfection
After a seemingly neverending wait, Perfect World finally was confirmed as Dota2’s official Chinese partner. Despite many fans and industry people alike eagerly and impatiently awaiting this news, Perfect World played this to their own leisurely pace, perhaps with confidence in a long-term approach. While they prepared a new Dota2 official splash page and beta signups, Perfect World has also been ramping up recruitment in preparation. There are reports suggesting that Perfect World also has plans to hold independent large-scale events a-la Valve’s International, and perhaps this act could serve to disrupt the current balance between third-party events. Either way, no matter what comes from Perfect World, it will greatly influence the Dota2 scene as we know it.
7 — Reputation
For WCG, its name recognition is matched only by its controversy. As one of the key forces in early Chinese esports development, WCG holds an almost mythical reputation amongst Chinese fans. Yet, recent developments in gaming have almost left WCG behind, with WCG attempting a shift towards mobile games. And plus, as a modern-day esports giant, the new generation of Chinese gamers have the ability to look beyond what the Koreans can provide. Increasingly refined experiences and production from domestic competitions, plus huge moves from American gaming companies have left the Samsung-led WCG by the wayside.
This year’s World Cyber Games was held in Kunshan, China, and its production fully catered to the host nation’s tastes. Dota2 became a main competition, with its predecessor Dota included as an exhibition event. In Warcraft3, Ted’s Undead had a classic come from behind victory, and the Sky-Moon rivalry played out another emotional chapter; the whole of it meaning that viewers got more than enough. But still, the worries were apparent underneath the surface at WCG, and its future remains unknown.
6 — Surprises
G-1 League’s 4th Season quietly snuck up on us, and it brought with it China’s first Dota2 competition, a first for Chinese and English simultaneous broadcasting, the first Chinese competition with an in-game Steam ticket. Out of many firsts, what it served to do most was to set an example and kick off the future of Chinese — and even Asian — competitive Dota2. Even so, of course, there were many places for improvement; wonder what surprises the next iteration of G-1 League will have for fans?
5 — Breakout
As China’s longest standing and most well-known esports media organization, Gamefy’s 2012 wasn’t a typical one. In fact, it could be said that their summary for the year is a long list of achievements. The first season of G-League in 2012 managed to put on an exuberant celebration of a Grand Finals, despite being trapped between a spectacular ACE League debut, and a certain million-dollar tournament in Seattle. And speaking of TI2, Gamefy also successfully acquired broadcasting rights to the competition. Yet, not long after these successes, Gamefy commentator SnowKiss resigned controversially, leaving in her place a long series of accusations leveled at Gamefy and former coworkers there. Although Gamefy successfully cooled the situation down, the storm clouds from this incident remain difficult to disperse. Afterwards, Gamefy’s Daily Report show negatively reviewed WCG, and Chinese WCG media partner NeoTV responded, causing another wave of arguments and controversy in the public eye.
So it was in this atmosphere that the new season of G-League began at the end of 2012. Unprecedented production quality along with unpredictable and exciting matches seemed to sweep away the haze of past disputes, finally helping Gamefy to break out from a series of negative events. In 2013, a reformed SiTV (parent company of Gamefy) thus must continue their role as one of Chinese esports forces.
4 — Professionalism
The ACE League, as a collaboration between the ACE Esports League and GTV Channel, provided Dota competition in its debut event. In the roadmap of Chinese esports development, the ACE League holds a milestone-like status. In terms of production and packaging, it’s erected a new standard for other competitions. But an awkward reality cannot be ignored, that is that half of the original participating teams have by now disbanded, and a second season of the league never materialized in 2012. In what way will ACE re-appear in 2013, all is still unknown to us now.
3 — EHOME
EHOME is (or was?) China’s oldest esports name. In many different events and games, especially Dota, they at one time or another represented the top China — or even the world — had to offer. In 2011, BurNing and KingJ left the team, and DK and iG arose, and EHOME’s kingly aura faded as it never had before. In 2012, EHOME made high-profile roster changes: DC as a coach, ZSMJ et al recruited to compete, yet no goals were achieved. Afterwards, old EHOME veterans 357, Dai, and LanM were recruited back into the fold, and because of rule-breaking in these transfers EHOME ultimately were excluded from the new ACE Esports Alliance — EHOME became the ‘Horde’ to ACE’s ‘Alliance’. After TI2, 357 and Dai joined DK, team lead 71 left, and EHOME once again fell apart. Rumors say that EHOME’s been bought by iG owner Principal Wang, but no one knows if we’ll see EHOME make another return.
2 — Royalty
As we review the Dota scene of 2012, we come to find that unfortunately, ‘mess’ is still a word closely associated with everything, to the extent that the China Esports Magazine of 2011 below can be used again for 2012 with little changes. Paid smurfing to boost Dota 11 platform account ladder rankings, Dota2 keys and profiteering, the “100% focused” statements, Taobao’s antics… from one side to another, insults, maneuvering, and politics covered everything from fairness to profits and everything in between. The end result of all this being, for better or worse, we saw many more sides of players, commentators, organizers, tournaments, and clubs than we would have otherwise ever known about. Interestingly, all of this seemed to die down quite a bit after TI2. Perhaps it was because everyone saw first hand that there’s a quality in professionalism, and there’s a power behind a million dollars.
1 — Crusade
Because of Valve’s million-dollar injection into The International 2, the competition was seen as a ‘crusade’ of sorts by players. The first International in Cologne was not particularly important to Chinese teams, with seemingly only EHOME taking even a week of time to prepare for it. But then, EHOME’s $250000 prize for second place had everyone waking up. CCM, who finished outside the top four last time had turned into this year’s iG. Equipped with the best training environment Beijing could provide, and having just taken a G-League championship, with a lead in the on-going ACE League, it could be said that they had all the forces of nature alongside them. In the end, they didn’t disappoint, and successfully planted the Chinese flag on the greatest stage of Dota2.
This TI2 also served to completely rewrite the order of the worldwide Dota scene. China’s iG began their dynasty, Chinese competitions transitioned to Dota2, and the former big three Dota competitions faded away, all while Dota2’s gravity shifted ever so much towards the East. All indications point towards the fact that with TI2 and iG’s title, a new age has begun.