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COMMENT: China's dominance of Dota 2 is all but over

Team Aster and PSG.LGD players shake hands after their elimination match, which Aster won. (Photo: Valve via Dota 2 Flickr)
Team Aster and PSG.LGD players shake hands after their elimination match, which Aster won. (Photo: Valve via Dota 2 Flickr)

It's been a long, slow decline from the top, but this year's The International 11 results have shown that China is no longer a force in Dota 2.

A fourth-placed finish in Singapore for Team Aster isn't too far off from the top – after all, Chinese teams have finished second or third the last few TI's.

They've also won a few Majors along the way, leading to teams like PSG.LGD (considered China's strongest squad) often being seen as favourites against teams from other regions, such as when they faced eventual winners Team Spirit at TI10.

But the last time TI was won by the Chinese was in 2016 by the legendary Wings squad, and nothing similar has happened since.

With players such as Lu "Somnus" Yao and Zhang “Faith_bian” Ruida unplugging their mice, and with rumours of Wang "Ame" Chunyu also leaving, the Chinese pro Dota 2 scene has never been more starved of talent.

Chinese squads have also been poaching SEA talent, in particular Malaysians such as Yap "xNova" Jian Wei, Daniel "Ghost" Chan, and Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang, instead of searching locally.

But with RNG looking like they're letting go of both xNova and Ghost – both players had posted that they were LFT on Twitter, China is about to lose another strong squad.

There's been talk about how China's restrictive gaming curfew laws have made it difficult for organisations to find new players, and it's possible that more and more gamers are flocking to gaming on their phones instead of PCs.

Most reports combine the data for PC and mobile for China, so it's hard to see if this is true.

Team Aster's coach Cheng “Mad” Han pointed out during the TI11 press conference that he felt younger players were flocking to play mobile games, but that he's still confident of unearthing talents.

However, that's contingent on the fact that China can continue to do well.

Otherwise, interest and the money will dry up there.

After all, there's no point playing for pride when you can't take home the trophy.

This is quite unlike in League of Legends, where Chinese squads have had a decent chance to be on top (though probably not this year's Worlds, where it was an all-Korean finals).

If next year's TI continues the Western EU dominance, and China fails to at least make it to top three, or win it, then I'm afraid Chinese pro Dota 2 will be all but gone.

And that, my fellow Dota 2 fans, will be a terrible day for the pro scene.

Aloysius Low is an ex-CNET editor with more than 15 years of experience. He's really into cats and is currently reviewing products at canbuyornot.com. Views expressed are his own.

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