This is the latest in a series of articles profiling the 18 teams attending The International 8, which kicks off on Aug. 15.
The ancient dragons of Dota
The storied Chinese esports organization LGD Gaming has been to The International every year, without fail, since forming its Dota 2 roster in 2012. Truly, a TI without LGD would look and feel strange, especially considering just how many historic runs they’ve been a part of. In fact, their first trip to the annual world championship event had them finishing in third place—a seriously impressive feat for a team that had just made the transition from DotA Allstars a few months prior.
The incredible level of consistency they’ve shown over the years has allowed them to stay within the top tiers of Chinese Dota 2. From the days of the wizened Xie “DD” Bin, to the multiple International appearances by Zhang “xiao8” Ning, the name LGD will always be in the conversation when talking about the best teams from the East.
But out of the three titles captured by Chinese teams at TI, none of them have come at the hands of LGD. Each time they’ve stepped into the ring against other world-class teams, they fall short of the ultimate prize—always having their hot streaks stopped cold by others. Even at TI7 last year, they fell from the lower bracket in fourth place, bowing out of the tournament thanks to their sister squad LGD Forever Young.
Once again, they find themselves within arm’s reach of the Aegis of Champions. As the winners of Epicenter XL and the MDL Changsha Majors, LGD (now known as Paris St. Germain-LGD Gaming) are within the top three favorites to win the entire event. But can they actually get it done this time, after so much heartbreak over the years?
There’s a long-standing superstition shared by the Dota 2 community about even-numbered iterations of The International being reserved exclusively for Chinese teams. So far, it’s held true: Every such TI has been won by the Chinese, with the most recent case being Wings Gaming at TI6.
It’s another even-numbered tournament this year, but LGD are one of the favorites at TI regardless. Looking at their results in the Pro Circuit, it’s clear that the Chinese titans have awakened at just the right time after laying dormant for most of the early and middle parts of the season. There’s nothing quite like a huge boost in morale and momentum a few months before The International, which should be a boon for them when stacked on top of their already frightening individual skill and talent.
Speaking of which, it’s painfully obvious that LGD’s roster is one of the strongest on paper right now. From Wang “Ame” Chunyu’s mastery of the carry position to import Yap “xNova” Jian Wei’s solid support play, there’s plenty of expertise to go around here. Harnessing all this power is the responsibility of legendary captain and support player Xu “fy” Linsen, whose own impact in games hasn’t diminished one iota since joining LGD late last year.
They know very well how to channel their energies as individual players into wins—which they showed at Epicenter and MDL Changsha. In recent events, they’ve looked nigh-unstoppable, with momentum firmly on their side. The onus to actually reach the grand finals and secure the championship, however, is entirely on them. We’re sure the “LGD Curse” is hanging over their heads as they prepare for TI8, and they would love nothing more than to finally break it this time around.
Player to watch
Once the blood brother of Vici Gaming’s Lu “Fenrir” Chao (thus forming one of the best support duos in Dota 2 history), fy is a sight to behold on the battlefield. If the bards of Celtic mythology existed today, they would probably sing songs of his awe-inspiring performances at the utility support slot.
His Rubick play is the stuff of legend. Whenever he gets his hands on the hero, he pulls off the flashiest of setups and the most daring of escapes—wowing the crowd wherever he goes.
LGD are very likely to reach at least top three, if not the grand final match. In all their appearances at TI so far, though, they’ve yet to accomplish the latter—and so their foremost hurdle will be keeping their composure and momentum going while they approach the last few rounds of the tournament.
We give PSG-LGD an A- for this year’s International. Yet again, they have a seriously good chance of taking home the Aegis of Champions, but the same could be said about their past TI rosters. They’ll need to ensure that they don’t waver late in the tournament, in order to cast out the ghosts that have been haunting them for years.