The aftermath of The International 4 has already begun.
Following his team’s fourth-place finish at the world’s biggest esports event, Chinese support player Zhang “Lanm” Zhicheng has confirmed his retirement from Team DK and the game of Dota 2.
Rumors had already been circulating prior to the event that this would be the last stop for Team DK’s Zhang, who gave credence to these rumors during interviews throughout the event in which he mentioned a desire to step away from the demands of the game to possibly raise a family.
Zhang’s career highlight likely came in 2011 when he finished second at The International while playing with Chinese team Ehome. He has since been credited as one of the game’s most influential support players.
Team DK’s latest roster was formed in late 2013 as something of an Asian all-star team, with the clear goal of becoming the world’s best and translating that success into a Dota 2 title at The International.
The team made a strong run towards their goal but ultimately came up short. Team DK struggled after qualifying for the main event in the upper bracket. They were immediately swept by American side Evil Geniuses, and after winning a close series over LGD Gaming were swept again, this time by eventual runners-up Vici Gaming. This left Team DK with a fourth-place finish that—a clear disappointment for a team likely to consider anything short of a finals appearance to be a failure.
Zhang took to his QQ account to talk about his decision.
“The past year with DK was the most amazing of my life so far,” Zhang said. “To my (teammates), coaches, and partners: thank you for accompanying me as I finished my career.”
More changes may follow. Xu “Burning” Zhilei has long been rumored to be preparing for retirement, something that was openly discussed during The International 4 broadcast.
Movement within arguably the world’s strongest team in Dota 2 is sure to have ramifications elsewhere. There has been talk of Singaporean player Daryl “iceiceice” Koh Pei Xiang transferring to a new side should his teammates depart, possibly even venturing to Europe to join a team there rather than catching on with another Asian team.