The last time that many saw Chinese Dota 2 juggernauts PSG.LGD in an international LAN tournament was in October 2021, when they lost the grand finals of The International 10 (TI10) in a 3-2 upset to Team Spirit.
Nine months later, PSG.LGD made their grand return to an international LAN stage at the recently-concluded Riyadh Masters 2022.
There, the Chinese squad avenged their loss to Team Spirit in TI10 by dismantling their rivals in a quick 2-0 victory at the Riyadh Masters' best-of-three grand finals.
While Riyadh Masters pales in comparison to TI10, it is still the second biggest tournament of the year in terms of prize pool with a US$4 million pot — only behind TI itself.
Most of the non-Chinese Dota 2 community have seen little of PSG.LGD as Chinese teams were unable to participate in the ESL One Stockholm Major.
But with PSG.LGD's victory in Riyadh, they gave the Dota 2 world a reminder that they are still one of the best teams in the world and a heavy favorite to win the Aegis of Champions this year.
Here is how PSG.LGD bulldozed through Team Spirit to remind us all of their place atop the scene:
Faith_bian and XinQ carry PSG.LGD in game one
PSG.LGD's started their draft in game one by taking Winter Wyvern and Pangolier for Zhao "XinQ" Zixing, and Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang respectively, giving the team a solid teamfight duo right off the bat.
Zhang "y`" Yiping picked Enchantress to secure the laning stage for Wang "Ame" Chunyu's Lone Druid. Sylla was one of the best carries in Riyadh, winning five of his six appearances. Lastly, Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida played Brewmaster, further enhancing the teamfight of PSG.LGD.
Team Spirit's draft focused on winning the lanes and securing pickoffs later in the game. Miroslaw "Mira" Kolpakov and Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov played Marci and Viper respectively, a strong laning duo.
Spirit captain Yaroslav "Miposhka" Naidenov played Skywrath Mage while Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk picked Luna. Lastly, Alexander "TORONTOTOKYO" Khertek would be the focal point for the team's aggression on Ember Spirit.
The laning stage went well for Spirit, as their focus on lanes paid off and they were able to gain a 3,000 net worth advantage for themselves, with a lot of the credit going to Collapse and Mira.
The offlane duo for Team Spirit managed to get four kills in the lane, with two of them being on Ame.
Unfortunately for the TI10 champions, their weaker teamfight draft suffered when PSG.LGD grouped up at nine minutes to take the mid-lane tower. Not only did the mid-tower fall, but Spirit also lost TORONTOTOKYO as well as both supports twice during the push, nullifying their laning advantage entirely.
Spirit's Viper pick was a classic "win-lane-lose-game" situation, as Collapse was the most farmed hero on their side in the mid-game but couldn't leverage that advantage in a meaningful way.
On the other side, Faith_bian had an absolutely stellar performance on Brewmaster, being involved in every engagement for his team.
The most important fight in the game came at the 23-minute mark, as PSG.LGD chased Team Spirit in the Radiant jungle.
Despite losing NothingToSay early in the fight, Faith_bian baits Spirit to stay and fight while XinQ lands an incredible Winter's Curse. Spirit loses all three of their cores while Faith_bian went Godlike with a Triple Kill.
After that teamfight, the game was firmly in the hands of PSG.LGD and there was nothing the TI10 champions could do about it. Faith_bian was MVP in game one, bringing Yatoro down twice in the laning stage and finishing with nine kills and 12 assists against just one death on Brewmaster.
PSG.LGD rolls over Team Spirit in game two
In game two, Spirit stuck to their offlane duo of Viper and Marci. TORONTOTOKYO also played Ember Spirit for the second game in a row.
Spirit's adjustment came in their safe lane, as Yatoro picked Sven and Miposhka took Jakiro. Sven hasn't had much success as a carry lately, so it was a risky pick for the TI10 champions.
PSG.LGD went with an Alchemist draft, which meant the rest of the team had to make space for Ame. Pangolier was picked up again for NothingToSay while Faith_bian provided global presence on Nature's Prophet. XinQ took Tiny and y` rounded up PSG.LGD's draft with Dazzle.
Unlike in the first game of the series, it was PSG.LGD that took the lead during the laning stage in the second game. The Chinese squad managed to win the midlane as well as the offlane.
Even though Collapse managed to slow down Ame's farm in the top lane, it didn't matter as Ame could recover quickly on Alchemist while Collapse's Viper couldn't leverage his net worth advantage to make aggressive plays.
The two teams clashed at the 14-minute mark and thanks to a beautiful save by y`, PSG.LGD managed to bait Spirit into overextending. The fight took a turn for the worse as Ame finished his Radiance halfway through the fight and managed to bring down four enemies on Team Spirit.
Spirit knew that it would be almost impossible to recover from that situation, as PSG.LGD had a big net worth advantage along with a Dazzle who could save his allies and discourage the TI10 champions from fighting.
It only took 30 minutes for the Chinese juggernauts to wrap up game two and crown themselves champions of the Riyadh Masters 2022.
It is the biggest tournament victory for PSG.LGD yet, and it stakes their claim as the best team in the world right now. Not only did they take down the TI10 champions in the grand finals, the Chinese juggernauts also bested Stockholm Major winners OG in the prior semifinals.
PSG.LGD fans won't have to wait long to see them take on international competition once again. They will be competing at the upcoming PGL Arlington Major in August against Team Spirit, OG, and 15 other teams for the second Major title of the 2021-2022 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) season.
And after that will be TI11 in Singapore this October, with PSG.LGD being one of the first four teams to secure a direct invite.
PSG.LGD Dota 2 roster:
Wang "Ame" Chunyu
Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang
Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida
Zhao "XinQ" Zixing
Zhang "y`" Yiping
Team Spirit Dota 2 roster:
Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk
Alexander "TORONTOTOKYO" Khertek
Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov
Miroslaw "Mira" Kolpakov
Yaroslav "Miposhka" Naidenov
Otomo is a long-time gaming enthusiast and caster. He has been playing games since he was 10 and is the biggest Dota 2 fan.