Newbee - The Old SoldiersLeading Newbee into The International are Mu, Hao, and Chuan—all previous TI winners aiming to become the first two-time champions Dota 2 has ever had. These three veterans have turned to an unlikely duo, as they band up with the up-and-coming captain Kaka and former MVP Phoenix player kpii. When the current iteration of Newbee formed, the Chinese region was a hot mess of players and teams suffering from an overwhelming defeat at the Shanghai Major. Many wondered if the region would be prepared going into TI. Newbee immediately set out to prove that they were more than equipped to take up the banner and lead the charge. They started off by going 29 games straight without losing—smashing a record once held by Alliance—before finally faltering against OG at EPICENTER. Newbee have become part of the trifecta at the top of Dota 2, working to gain any edge they can over Liquid and OG, who can only be described as their main rivals heading into TI.
The Tom and Jerry of Dota 2, Mu and Hao have been both adversary and ally. Occasionally facing off against each other over the years, but when the goal is within reach, they band together in an attempt to succeed where few others have. These two were a part of the Newbee that won TI4, dismissed by many after nearly being eliminated in the group stage. Their resilience under pressure is well documented and helped them in their record setting winning streak earlier this year. While this version of Newbee is relatively young, we can already see the potential teeming out of every play they make. Matching Liquid in team fights, and OG in raw skill and leadership, Newbee has come ever so close to numerous LAN wins. As Newbee is the only team among the three juggernauts without a title in the past few months, they will be going to Seattle with a chip on their shoulders and a lot to prove.
Seattle will be Newbee’s theater, Kaka the conductor on stage attempting to produce a masterpiece on the spot with the eyes of millions on him. The pressure will be high but the reward higher still, and Newbee will be ready for the challenge. The new soldiers have fallen in line and are waiting for the curtains to open, waiting to shock the world with their performance. Newbee may not have stolen the show at the recitals leading up to TI, but they will demand your attention with all their strength come August.
Epicenter9th - 15th of May 2016Location: Moscow, Russia
Prize pool: $500,000
The Manila Major 20163rd - 12th of June 2016Location: Manila, Philippines
Prize pool: $3,000,000
National Electronic Arena 20162nd - 3rd of July 2016Location: Beijing, China
Prize pool: $194,398.40
Nanyang Dota 2 Championships Season 26th - 10th of July 2016Location: Shanghai, China
Prize pool: $201,270
PlaystyleControlled, Safe, Refined. Newbee, safe? While it is true that Hao shows rather wild tendencies, we must look at the whole of Newbee to get the full picture. Newbee has their own brand of aggression, but it is used either because they know they can get away with it, or it serves another purpose for their laning stage. Newbee, and especially Kaka, exemplifies xiao8’s Dota, and in turn embodies the spirit of Chinese Dota to its fullest. Kaka’s approach to Dota and the way he reflects xiao8’s masterful ways of manipulating the game to his advantage is no coincidence. Following DAC, before Kaka joined EHOME, xiao8 offered him a spot on LGD, clearly seeing a similarity in the way the two thought about and played the game.
However, Kaka brings his own blend of ideas to the table as he is surprisingly defensively minded for a team that spends so much time on the attack. The special flair he brought to Newbee is their willingness to drop everything to defend their towers. Newbee very rarely will trade objectives if they believe they can defend their own. Why trade when you can defend, kill the other teams heroes, and then take their buildings freely without worrying about a defense? One of the scariest things about Newbee, and by no surprise also one of the reasons for their success, is that this overall plan can be set in motion with nearly any team composition.
If we take a look at how they beat OG in the group stage at the Manila Major, we will see a common tactic they like to employ. Newbee prioritize creating an advantage in at least two lanes, to try to make kpii, their offlaner, combat ready while keeping Moonmeander slowed down as much as possible. Even when Hao would have been perfectly safe 1v1 against Moon in the safe lane, Kaka stayed and ensured Moon would miss out on any chance to farm in lane. Newbee use the advantage their offlaner has to get him involved in rotations and put themselves in a position where they control the pace of the game. Newbee used this same strategy countless times over their 29 game win streak as they controlled the tempo of many of their games from a very early point.
While Newbee do have their niche picks, like kpii’s Naga or Hao’s Clinkz, much of their stability comes from the way Kaka drafts and what he aims for with his support picks. Newbee usually run supports that do not fall off in the late game, demand the attention of the other team, and can initiate or counter-initiate as the situation demands. Chuan’s Lion and Kaka’s Earth Spirit are perfect examples. These kinds of heroes allow them to set the pace in the early game with smoke ganks or TP reactions. They offer team fight control and the ability to catch heroes in the mid-game while still offering utility in the late-game. Newbee will almost never pick a support hero that does not fit this criteria in some way, often drafting Witch Doctor, Disruptor, or in some cases a jungle Doom or Enchantress. Newbee rarely put themselves on a clock; with their execution and ability to capitalize on mistakes, this gives them an extremely large advantage whenever they go into the late game.
The last key aspect of their game play is simply Hao and Mu. Together, they create a nearly unstoppable force and cover the weaknesses in each other's game play. If Hao is having a rough time or being too aggressive, Mu will step in to clean up fights and carry Newbee through the late game. Likewise, when Mu has a slow start and needs to recover, Hao will pressure the enemy team and demand their attention, sometimes outright winning the game with his rotations while Mu recovers. The amount of time these two have played together have made them especially in-sync, and their excellent coordination in-game is a crucial part of Newbee’s success.
The Laverne to Mu’s Shirley. Hao has competed at every single TI, winning once and coming in 4th place twice. He has accomplished what every Dota 2 player dreams of, but that in and of itself isn’t enough for Hao; he aims to do it again. Hao is a combination of full out, clowny, overconfident aggression and strong mechanical farming ability, which turns him into a kind of systematic chaos that Newbee aims to take advantage of. Hao believes so strongly in himself that he had claimed, when playing against RoX.KIS on his signature Spectre, that if he lost he would cut his hands off in shame. His confidence does not lie only in himself, though, as he often makes plays while fully trusting in his team to back him up and make his gambits pay off, increasing his lead in the game and in turn increasing the chance for success in the match. Hao has been nicknamed “The General” in China, and given the way he leads the charge, it is incredibly fitting for how he plays. Hao will attempt to lead the charge once more and do what many can only dream of as he attempts to tackle his second International championship, not only for himself, but also for his team.
The Costello to Hao’s Abbott. Mu has mastered playing the straight man; while Hao is his more clowny counterpart, Mu has a knack for turning those strange and sometimes funny moments that Hao creates to his advantage in order to get the last laugh over his opponents. Mu is perhaps one of the most skilled mid players in all of China which, in turn, makes him one of the most skilled mids in the world. He isn’t as flashy as Hao, but perhaps that works to his advantage, as teams seem to sometimes forget he exists until it is much too late. Mu brings stability to Newbee as he nearly always hits his level and item timings that make him effective in the mid and late game. This, combined with Newbee’s strong sense of what they want to accomplish around the map, makes him a force to be reckoned with. Mu enjoys creating space as much as being given it and is proficient at a wide array of heroes with a decent range of play styles. While every one on Newbee is crucial to their game plan, Mu’s consistency is what allows them to succeed time after time as he makes up for any lackluster performances from the other cores.
kpii is the only Australian player to compete at TI since Absolute Legends during TI2. Out of an entire continent, he alone has proven to be good enough to reach the highest stage this year. Not only that, he competes against monsters in the offlane while holding his own. While kpii isn’t as flashy as Hao or as noticeable as Mu in the late-game, he steadily backs his team up. kpii doesn’t get discouraged if his early game doesn’t start well. He pushes himself to make plays in the late game on his Batrider, Tidehunter, Dark Seer, and sometimes even Naga Siren that will serve as a breaking point through which Newbee finds a path to victory. We’ve seen kpii accomplish this numerous times with Ravages on key heroes, Aghs Batrider Lassoes, and incredible patience waiting for a perfect Vacuum + Wall from his Dark Seer. kpii seems willing to play nearly anything Kaka asks, knowing that as long as he focuses on what he has to do, they can beat any team. His Doom alone is 15-5 as he seems to always find a way to initiate on the right target at the right moment to give Newbee an edge in team fights.
Every distinguished team owes their success in part to their supports, Newbee being no exception. Chuan has been instrumental in Newbee’s victories on his Lion and patented Ench(u)antress, not only securing his team late game advantages in terms of team fight control and damage, but sometimes simultaneously outfarming the enemy’s cores. Chuan’s synergy with Kaka is reminiscent of his time on iG with Faith, and given a little more time we expect them to become even stronger as a support duo. Chuan’s drive to win and to improve himself has been made clear throughout his career through interviews and in-game performances alike. Chuan’s Lion in particular maintains an unbelievable all time record of 64-22, and it is clear why, as he always seems to rotate or TP in time to stop enemy movement around the map. While Chuan’s dominant period on iG might be long past, we might just see a revival of his TI2-era brilliance while playing on Newbee.
Kaka has proven to be the best new captain the Chinese scene has had in quite awhile. While the Chinese scene was crumbling, only EHOME, under his guidance, looked capable of winning games at the highest level. It wasn’t expected, but it’s no surprise that under his leadership Newbee managed to win 29 games in a row and give themselves a record that will likely not be broken for a very long time. Kaka keeps an open mind during drafts, often picking up off-meta heroes to surprise his opponents while, at the same time, never compromising his own team’s confidence in being able to win with what they have picked. He is helped tremendously by kpii and Hao’s willingness to swap positions, which allows him even greater freedom during drafts to outmaneuver other teams. Kaka as a player is also incredibly talented, being hailed as one of the best Earth Spirit players in the world, being 19-6 on the hero in total, as well as Witch Doctor (10-1) and Vengeful Spirit (22-11). He has a team-first mentality when he plays, with no fear of death if it can help pave the way for Hao or Mu to snowball and get Newbee another victory.