The Chinese Dota 2 scene has recently come out of a major roster shuffle, with multiple teams swapping players while the region’s latest superteam was assembled. OG captain Johan “N0tail” Sundstein thinks that the shuffle will make the region a bigger threat for The International 2020 (TI10).
The two-time TI champion thinks that the shuffle will be “healthy overall,” as the region is looking to be more competitive compared to the last couple of years.
“I think we’re gonna get two good teams out of China for TI [next] year, maybe even more […] I think China is going to be coming in stronger force next year,” N0tail said in an audio clip posted by OG.
N0tail didn’t explicitly name which teams he rated as possible TI contenders. But one can hazard a guess that one of them would be the Four Angry Men (4AM) Chinese superteam, which is comprised of some of the biggest stars in China: Zhang “Eurus” Chengjun, Lu “Somnus丶M” Yao, Zhou “Yang” Haiyang, Xu “fy” Linsen, and Ru “RedPanda” Zhihao.
Two of those players, Somnus and fy, should be very familiar to N0tail. After all, he and OG defeated them — when they were still with PSG.LGD — in a legendary five-game finals series to claim the Aegis of Champions in TI8.
As for which other Chinese teams could also challenge N0tail and OG’s quest for a third-straight TI championship, they could be, interestingly enough, the very ones that looked to have been gutted by the formation of the 4AM superteam.
With the loss of Somnus and fy, PSG.LGD reformed around Wang “Ame” Chunyu, whom they notably traded earlier this season. The team paired their returning carry player with Zhang “Faith_bian” Ruida and Zhang “y`” Yiping, who won TI6 with Wings Gaming, and are looking like the biggest winners of the shuffle.
Despite completely reforming its roster, PSG.LGD looked dominant as they claimed the championship at China Dota 2 Pro Cup Season 1.
Finishing in second place in that tournament was EHOME, where PSG.LGD sent two of its former players. One of them, Malaysian support player Jian Wei “xNova” Yap, is someone N0tail seems keen on facing again.
“I’m really excited to see xNova compete again and also see [how it’s going to look after] splitting off from fy,” said N0tail.
In third place is Vici Gaming, who lost Yang and Eurus to 4AM but have retooled with the additions of Nuengnara “23savage” Teeramahanon and Ren “old eLeVeN” Yangwei.
Even if 4AM has yet to play an official match, China is already looking very stacked with just those three teams. In recent years, the region has really only been able to deploy two teams that were considered real contenders for a TI championship.
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Why this sudden arms race as teams reformed and retooled rosters, with even a superteam being assembled?
Perhaps partly because of the continued suspension of the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) for the rest of the year by the coronavirus pandemic. But really, it’s mostly because of N0tail and OG.
2018 and 2019 were supposed to be “China’s years,” so to speak, but instead it was OG who became the first team in the history of Dota 2 to become back-to-back TI champions with legendary victories at TI8 and TI9.
TI8 was supposed to be China’s year in the sense that back then, the West and China always took turns winning TI, starting with Ukrainian team Natus Vincere in 2011. Invictus Gaming won China its first Aegis in 2012, Swedish team Alliance won Europe’s second championship in 2013, Newbee gave China a second Aegis in 2014, Evil Geniuses brought North America its first TI win in 2015, Wings Gaming added a third title for China in 2016, then Team Liquid swept Newbee in 2017 to claim Europe’s third Aegis.
2018 was supposed to be China’s year, as a PSG.LGD squad led by Somnus, fy, and Ame that dominated all throughout that season faced N0tail’s OG, then massive underdogs who were expected to get sent home early. But against all odds, OG raised the Aegis of Champions and ended what was then considered an unbreakable cycle.
China looked for revenge on TI9 on their home turf, as the event was held in Shanghai in front of a raving crowd of Chinese fans hoping to see one of their teams emerge victorious.
They didn’t even get a chance to see one of their home teams in the grand finals, as Team Liquid eliminated PSG.LGD in the Lower Bracket Finals to set up an all-European Grand Finals. OG raised their second-straight Aegis of Champions, China was denied for the second-straight time.
N0tail is right, China will be coming to TI10 with a vengeance. They will have as many as four teams that could be capable of returning the Aegis of Champions back to the country, and one of them is a superteam seemingly assembled to do just that.
However, the path won’t be any easier than the last two years. OG is still OG, even if they have lost two of the players they won their two titles with. N0tail is still hungry for a third Aegis. Then there’s also a historically-dominant Team Secret — you know, the ones that spent the last few months winning eight-straight tournaments — that are looking like early favorites to win it all.
China won’t be the only one gunning to win TI10 with all they have. And that’s great, TI10 can’t come soon enough. It might be the best TI yet, the level of competition is looking through the roof this early on. Maybe N0tail wasn’t just referring to China when he said the shuffle makes the competitive scene healthy overall.
READ MORE: Eurus is joining the 4AM superteam after all