Time for the history to repeat itself: China to dominate?
In the history of Dota there is one pattern that has always been consistent so far. It is that every year China and the West take turns at holding the TI crown. TI 1 - Na`Vi (UA), TI 2 - iG (CN), TI 3 - Alliance (SE), TI 4 - NewBee (CN), TI 5 - EG (USA). As you can see it is time for China to rise once again if the history is to repeat itself.
However, up until past couple of weeks it wasn’t looking like that at all. China was scrambling for any results at all, while the Western teams were taking all the honours. The culmination of that was at the Shanghai Major where in front of the home crowd no CN teams finished in the Top 8. However, since then the tides have turned…
The great western reshuffle going wrong
For the second time in history we have seen the top Western squads reshuffle mid season. Yet again it was Team Secret who took players from Evil Geniuses forcing the boys in blue to change roster as well. However, contrary to last year it doesn't seem to have strengthen the teams.
Despite the star studded roster, Team Secret have finished in the bottom four at both LANs they have participated in with their new lineup. Moreover, the style in which they have been playing is far from what you would expect from a roster of this magnitude. There is of course a possibility Secret can turn it around in Manila, but there are no signs for that, at least for now.
On the other hand, EG has been doing a bit better than Team Secret. In their two LAN appearances they have played 3rd and in the Top 6 (at EPICENTER, above Team Secret). While these results are decent, they are still a significant step down for the TI 5 champions. It’s not the team that have dominated the Dota 2 scene for the past year winning DAC, TI 5 and placing 3rd at both Majors. They are showing some promise but for this Major the boys in blue do not look like a contender for a win.
Chinese squads the strongest we can remember
After the worst up to date performance at a Valve sponsored event Chinese scene reshuffled completely. Even the teams that have been keeping the core of their rosters the same for the past years have let go. From the ashes of the old order multiple teams have risen to compete at the highest level.
The Chinese reshuffle have produced two LAN champions (Vici Gaming Reborn, Wings Gaming) and a team that beat the record for the longest win streak in the history of Dota 2 (NewBee). And that’s only in only like two months. NewBee have of course also taken a second place at the biggest of all the LANs played since the Shanghai Major.
A formation that should not be underestimated but for now is going under the radar is LGD Gaming. A squad under the command of TI 4 champion and legendary captain - xiao8. LGD has also some of the most talented Chinese players in the form of Agressif (formerly the carry of TI 5 runners up - CDEC) and Maybe (the dominant force in the midlane for LGD at TI 5, 3rd place at the event) at their disposal.
With such representation China is looking better than ever to retake the TI crown and hold it for another year. However, for now there “World Championships of Dota 2” are quite a bit away. But all of those squads will be at the Manila Major and they are looking to dominate the event.
The Western hope: Team Liquid
The biggest winner of the great western reshuffle was a squad that didn’t change their roster at all - Team Liquid. Shanghai Major runners up haven’t touched their lineup since the formation post TI 5 despite some significant lows (not qualifying for the Frankfurt Major). This attitude have brought them on top of the Dota 2 scene.
Team Liquid has been “the almost team” for quite a while. Looking incredibly impressive at the beginning and throughout the middle part of tournaments but failing to deliver when it really matters. With that we have seen them 3rd at WAC, 3rd/4th at StarLadder i-League, 2nd at the Shanghai Major and ESL One Manila.
However, we may have seen a turning point for Team Liquid recently. The squad under the command of KuroKy have finally taken a win in a premier event winning EPICENTER. If Liquid have the winner's mentality and from now and they will peek for the finals not before them they have a great chance to become the best team in the world right now.
Looking ahead at the Manila Major
It looks like the Manila Major will be vastly different from what we have seen this year. This time around it doesn’t look like it will be the Chinese teams at the bottom. More likely scenario is that the Western giants will crumble.
If there is one team that looks to have the potential to carry the Western flat to the top it is Team Liquid. However, despite them winning EPICENTER recently I’m still not convinced that they have it in them to handle the pressure of the Grand Finals of the Major in front of roaring Filipino crowd. China to take their first Major!