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Group A Recap
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Dota 2 Super League Group A Recap
The Dota 2 Super League is in full swing now, and we are here with a recap packed chock-full of Dota goodness. Though history is written by the victor, in this DSL update we will focus on Vici Gaming, a team that were eliminated from the tournament.
First, Vykromond is here with a detailed analysis of VG and what went wrong for them these past few months. We've been moving towards more analytical pieces over the past few weeks, and Vykromond carries the flag in this update with some carefully put together thoughts on Vici and what they can do to get back on that horse! Of course, kupon3sss translation of an interview with VG's manager complements this content, and gives us even more insight into how the team runs!
Finally, no LAN update of ours would be complete without the usual recaps. Missed most of the games? Don't worry. TL writer k-poptosis has got your back. Read through the Group A recap to find out exactly what went down.
We hope you enjoy this DSL update from TL Dota 2 Coverage. We'll see you again soon in our Group B recap!
Group A Recap
Vici Gaming vs. LGD.cn
Vici Gaming would come out strong out of the gate, drafting the Chaos Knight + Wisp combo and placing a rare farming Shadow Demon in a dual mid with Leshrac. LGD wasn’t quite ready for the levels of aggression VG threw at them, and by the 15 minute mark the kill score was 13-3 in favor of VG. LGD attempted to claw back into the game, but the early game dominance, paired with Xtt’s pushing ability of Lone Druid forged a gulf too wide to cross and VG would take Game 1. Game 2 saw Cty take up his now signature Clockwerk against Yao’s Magnus and ZSMJ pick up Storm Spirit against Sylar’s Lone Druid. The game stayed neck-and-neck through the early stages, but when mid-game came, the Clockwerk + Storm Spirit + Juggernaut combination was just too strong, with Cty going on an Unstoppable streak before the 15 minute mark. LGD didn’t tap out though, and picked good fights to stay in the game and even place themselves in a chance to win it late. A full team wipe at a Tier 2 tower at 40 minutes sealed the deal though, and VG took the match 2-0.
Vici Gaming vs For.Love
Six days later, the second match of the Group A took place. In game 1, VG veered away from their aggressive strategy and drafted Anti Mage and Weaver. For.Love attempted to counter this by running Gyrocopter and Juggernaut in dual lanes, but VG was able to stay in control of the game throughout all the phases, culminating in them taking it late. Game 2 featured a similar early-game focused draft from For.Love, picking up Bounty Hunter, Night Stalker and Juggernaut. It appeared to work out for them at first, netting them the first two kills of the game. That’s the only time For.Love would maintain a kill score lead however, as Cty would go on to hit 23 Hookshots with 82% accuracy, granting him 24 assists and allowing VG to dominate the middle and late stages of the game and power on to the victory, taking the match.
LGD.cn vs For.Love
This matchup brought together two teams that had already been saddled with a loss. The first match played like an ode to Visage’s recent ascent to trilane royalty with DDC playing an immaculate game on Necro’lic, picking up first blood and collecting 5 kills and 7 assists in 15 minutes and thereby crafting an insurmountable lead. For.Love’s carry Gyrocopter would die 5 times whilst getting no kills during this time span and they would be thus forced to call the early gg. The next game would see yet another fast gg from For. Love, with Xiao8, Sylar, and Yao combining to net 23 kills and only 3 deaths. With the loss, For.Love went 0-2 in Group A, and their prospects began to look rather bleak.
Invictus Gaming vs Vici Gaming
The star of Game 1 of this much anticipated matchup wasn’t Zhou or ZSMJ, but ChuaN. In his first competitive game as Silencer, ChuaN picked up 9 kills, leading his team and ensuring the success of iG’s aggressive trilane. With ZSMJ’s farm hampered by the heavy contesting coming from iG, the Dota dynasty was able to dominate the midgame and force a 31 minute gg. Game 2 also saw the trilanes going head to head, with iG running the aggressive one once again, with similar results. However, despite ZSMJ having his farm heavily contested by iG, VG’s other lanes picked up the slack and the killscore was even 11 minutes in. That wouldn’t last for long though, as a string of pickoffs by iG would lead to the second tower of the game falling, granting the map control needed for them to take a very early Roshan. It was all Invictus from this point on and they handed Vici Gaming their first loss of the Group Stage while moving up to 2-0 themselves.
LGD.cn vs TongFu
This Bo3 was an absolute slugfest. Both teams are playing fantastic Dota at the moment and it showed in this matchup. Game 1 lasted 63 minutes and saw Sylar accumulate 716 cs as Anti-Mage. SanSheng’s Visage rack up 15 kills. In the end, TongFu winning an extremely long engagement at LGD’s top Tier 3 tower made the difference, and they took the first match. Game 2 played out very similar to the first, but with a complete role reversal. TongFu’s Hao farmed up the Anti-Mage in this game, collecting 704 last hits and 11 kills but ultimately losing the game after a 59 minute contest. The deciding game stuck with the theme, with Anti-Mage picked up for the third time straight, farming ridiculously well, and still losing. Xiao8 played a fantastic game on Kunkka for LGD, amassing 17 kills and leading them to the victory in the only Match of Group A that went to the third game.
Vici Gaming vs TongFu
In VG’s last match of Group A, they went with what worked earlier in the tournament: the Keens in Machines strategy, drafting Clockwerk and Gyrocopter. It was Xtt on a support Clockwerk this game however, not Cty, and it showed as Xtt connected on only 40% of hookshots. Consequently, despite both teams having solid ganking lineups, there were only 4 kills in the first 20 minutes. Then, VG took the kill lead in a quick burst of activity, but TongFu was able to whittle away at that lead through efficient farming and Mu’s Storm Spirit pickoffs. They would eventually take the game on the back of a near team wipe in the Radiant jungle. In Game 2, Xtt’s Batrider kept TongFu on their toes, getting in position to Lasso 10 different times (2 more than the average), but TongFu held fast, pushed hard, and forced the GG after taking VG’s middle barracks, killing Roshan, and winning the consequent team fight.
TongFu vs iG
Game one of this matchup was an interesting affair, with ChuaN picking up a support Alchemist. It started out well for iG, as ChuaN was able to contribute to two kills very early on, including First Blood, but as the game continued his effectiveness as a support dwindled and Hao’s Gyrocopter became nearly unstoppable, leading to TongFu taking game 1. The second game saw the most lopsided loss iG had faced in months, with TongFu’s agressive early game combination of Juggernaut, Shadow Demon, and Jakiro netting 7 of the team's 9 kills and forcing a 18 minute gg. This Bo3 loss was the first for iG in months and was the first sign of the struggles that were to come in the G-1 LAN finals.
TongFu vs For.Love
Game 1 between these two teams started off with a lot of aggression, with nine kills happening in 5 minutes. Then, the flurry of kills slowed, though the game remained relatively active. However, when all was said and done, TongFu’s three cores were able to out farm For.Love and 8k’s Kunkka never really got going, getting only one kill. Even after getting a kill on Roshan, For.Love lost 4 heroes in a big team fight that secured the win for TongFu. In game 2, Hao showed the world that Luna is still as strong as ever, even after the Tranquil Boots nerf. He picked up Power Treads, and survived a strong middle game showing by For.Love to amass 9 kills and secure the game and the match for TongFu.
iG vs For.Love
iG started the game off strong, grabbing the first two kills and taking two very early Tier 1 and 2 towers due to For.Love abandoning their hard lane. iG capitalized on this early dominance and took a quick Roshan. They lost a couple of heroes just after the attempt, but would not have a hero die again after that engagement. They would go on to win the game. The second match showed an even more dominant iG, as Faith’s Shadow Demon was able to participate in 83% of iG’s kills and YYF’s Clockwerk managed to hit 9 heroes on only 7 hookshot casts and amass 9 kills before the 22 minute gg. iG would improve to 2-1 in Group A with the win and ensure themselves a spot in the playoffs with the win. For.Love would finish 0-4 in the Group and be eliminated.
LGD vs iG
As the last game in Group A, this would be the game that would determine who would place second in the group and thereby be automatically placed in the Round of 4. Game 1 started off well enough for iG, as Zhou’s Gyrocopter was able to get 2 kills on Yao’s Clockwerk. It would go downhill from there though, with LGD.cn’s Chaos Knight/Wisp combo ganking heavily and amassing 18 kills and 29 assists total, leading to a 33 minute gg. Game 2 was no better for iG. They allowed LGD to draft the CK/Wisp combo and it would once again prove highly successful, with Sylar’s Chaos Knight finishing the game 12-0. This game would even finish 14 minutes faster than the last. The win secured second place in the group for LGD.cn, and relegated iG to third.
Fenrir, Cty, ZSMJ, Xtt and Fy
Despite surprises in a number of individual series, the final outcome of DSL Group A fell roughly along expected lines. Going in, most fans would have expected IG, LGD, and TongFu to advance, and eventually those are the three that advanced, albeit not quite in that order. But what of ViCi Gaming? In the inaugural games of the Dota Super League, they trounced LGD.cn 2-0 in a stunning upset that acted as one heck of a statement of intent. Yet not long after that, with a 2-2 record, they were prevented from advancing out of Group A by head-to-head tiebreaker rules. As if their Super League woes weren't enough, VG tumbled disappointingly out of the East Qualifiers with a 3rd place finish when most compendium predictions had rated them in the top two. Let's look at what makes this fan favourite team tick, what made the ticking briefly and heartrendingly stop at such a critical juncture, and how it can be started again.
The announcement of ZSMJ’s movement to the primary VG squad, the removal of Sydm and CTY’s role switch from 1 to 2 came on 28th March. The move made abundant strategic sense. Sydm was listless in mid, with low kill thoroughput and rare lane wins; CTY was restless in the 1 slot, diving into unfavourable situations too spiritedly and was famously indecisive on item pickups. His win at the Genius Youth Cup solo mid competition showed that he at least had the mechanical chops for the solo mid position, while his behaviour as a carry showed he also had the temperament. With ZSMJ on speed dial via a stint in VG2, there was an opportunity to inject veteran blood and adult supervision into the squad as well as fill the hole at 1 with a legend. This would of course increase hype and worldwide interest in the organisation. The switch was quickly proven to be more than just strategically healthy: the new VG performed ably in the first tournament they entered, placing 2nd behind MUFC in the Netolic Pro League.
At their best, VG display their much-discussed pub matchmaking roots only stylistically. The team's default pace is a rollicking, sometimes shambolic aggression that transitions quickly into 4- and 5-man engagements, reminiscent of no scene so much as “Rusdoto.” Their hero pools are sometimes redolent of the same Slavic elan: Queens of Pain and Linas dot their lineups, and they were the very first Chinese team to embrace the Chaos Knight & Io combo that was the darling of the Western scene months earlier.
Two pairs shine brightly in VG's most dominant games. FY and Fenrir are an extremely strong roaming/ganking support pair. They use Smoke of Deceit frequently to sabotage mid or the opposing trilane and frequently favour set-up-knock-down support pairs like SD + Lina. On the other hand, Xtt and CTY can both single-handedly take over a game (CTY is particularly adept at doing so), and are both 1v1 specialists; in games where both their solo lanes go well, the players sometimes seem to trade off game-changing plays in engagement after engagement. As for ZSMJ, in addition to being the primary play-caller for the team, he slots in well when piloting midgame carries, and this can help lay on the pressure required to convert early advantages into wins.
ViCi's wins in the Super League all broadly fit into this pattern. Game 1 against LGD had VG blindside the more conventional team with its CK + Io play to earn a solid early lead. Game 2 put ZSMJ on Storm in a display of hero range while still holding on to midgame potential as CTY's Clockwerk romped around the map as a secondary little ball of lightning. The games against ForLove showcased Xtt's ability to take apart a game from the off-lane with systematic, sustained farming on Weaver and FY's ability at #4 to convert farm allocation from kills into an extremely high impact mid and late game.
With such unique strengths on their side, how could VG narrowly lose both the opportunity to advance in the Super League and a berth to Seattle? Inexperience, cohesion, and lack of variety/adaptation of play are the watchwords, but more can be said.
CTY's remarkable facility in mid has not gone unnoticed by other teams. One approach taken by opponents is to simply heap oppression onto him, as TongFu did in their Super League Game 1 against VG, with Mu on Storm Spirit rushing Orchid (aided by SanSheng's support Doom) to lock CTY's Puck out of all the fights. Without CTY as a spearhead for midgame engagements, FY & Fenrir's roaming ganks grind to a halt and VG find themselves playing someone else's game. Further, CTY's propensity to treat the mid matchup as a duel, almost like a 1v1 competition, did not go unnoticed by VG's opponents; it's only after he feels the lane is secure from ganks or he farms up a critical item that he really steps out to create opportunities on the map. A savvy team can exploit this tendency, as RattleSnake did to turn Game 2 of the International Qualifiers East Losers' Bracket Finals. Seeing CTY's Kunkka and suspecting he would stay put until at least Shadow Blade, RattleSnake knew they'd have a window of time in which to dominate the game with a safe lane Shadow Fiend, as long as FY's Smoke ganks were fended off early.
On the other hand, the recent complaints directed at ZSMJ have all revolved around a lack of farm, and this is a somewhat unfair accusation. Given VG's usual aggressive ganking approach, ZSMJ's farm is never going to approach that of the carries of more 4-protect-1 centric teams. However, in a lineup where the carry receives relatively little in the way of security and protection from the #4 and #5 on a minute-by-minute basis, getting caught out of position with no safety net is far more likely and this necessitates that more precautionary measures are taken. In critical matches, ZSMJ has been caught out too close to the river in safe lanes, and has been otherwise mispositioned while free farming later in the game. Further, he was often not on a murderous hero like Anti-Mage, Phantom Lancer, or Lifestealer, but on the Gyrocopter that VG leaned on heavily in the past few weeks, a hero that lacks escape options in the absence of a rushed Shadow Blade. BurNIng's average death count in Dota 2 tournament matches is only 2.2; ZSMJ's is 2.9. In Game 2 against IG in the Super League, an otherwise eminently winnable game, ZSMJ was caught out 7 times on Luna and IG used the pickoffs to drive a wedge under VG.
Some blame for the team's recent shortfalls must also be apportioned to VG's drafting strategy. Of all the Chinese teams on the scene, the absenteeism of the roaming-focused supports and the propensity to use dual or even tri-cores put VG among those least well-adapted strategically to a 4-protect-1 strategy. Yet, perhaps out of wishful thinking or fueled by nostalgia for tje Sacred Relic rushes of yore, the team sometimes eschews giving ZSMJ solid midgame carries and puts him on pure farmers like Anti-Mage, and do so without any shift in the team's overall strategy. This is a recipe for disaster. Case in point: in Game 2 against TongFu, VG, having already picked up Clockwerk, Batrider, and Dark Seer, drafts a Phantom Lancer fifth pick to dual lane with a Rubick against a likely aggressive trilane. After Fenrir gives up first blood on the DS and finds the entire friendly jungle warded with no counter-wards of his own, he's forced into the opposition jungle for a pseudo 2-1-2, leaving ZSMJ to earn all of 8 or so last hits in the first 10 or more minutes of the game. Despite fantastic play from Xtt on Batrider and an admirable recovery from ZSMJ later, VG were always unlikely to win the match after such an opening.
These issues are entirely addressable. VG is a team that plays exciting DotA. They have flair, and their play makes them stand out from their peers. The individual talent of their players is above reproach, and the team improves in noticeable ways at each tournament. Let's hope that the largely unsourced gossip about internal strife in the squad doesn't amount to anything, as this is a team we'd love to see grow and continue impressing fans East and West alike, well past The International 3.
We're grateful to you, Nada, for accepting SGamer.com's interview. Before we start, do you want to introduce yourself?
VG.Nada: Hi everybody, I'm VG.DotA's Manager Nada
There was a rumor yesterday regarding Cty leaving the team that's spreading like wildfire without any official announcement. As manager, could you tell us what the situation is? Have you talked with him?
VG.Nada: This entire thing is a misunderstanding. Cty is just feeling down and complained a bit to friends. There are no major issues. Everybody on the team are good friends and there are no real issues. In terms of the rumor, I will make things more structured for them so less misunderstandings like this happen.
Fenrir's Weibo said "Only disappointment is left." Is that a hint that his position will be adjusted?
VG.Nada: No, we foresee no roster changes in this period, and all of our players have the abilities to excel at their roles.
There's a sentiment that ZSMJ isn't suited for his role and that he might be better as a coach. Is that something you're going to consider?
VG.Nada: ZSMJ has proven that his ability isn't a problem. It's our team's latent problems that causes his middling performance in games. We've already gone over a lot of things after our loss and have almost finished adjusting. You will see a different ZSMJ and a different VG in future games. As a coach, I feel like ZSMJ is more suited for general charging into the enemy as opposed to being a strategist. *(cough ROTK references cough)*
Ever since Cty won the "Genius Youth Cup" (2009's Solo mid tournament), people seem to have been expecting more and more out of him.
VG.Nada: Cty should be one of the best players in lane. At the moment his playstyle is still too farm-intensive and this causes a lack of protection for the rest of the team. Once he resolves his problems by changing his playstyle, he will catch up to the top-tier mids. Since it hasn't been long since his transition from first to second position, Cty hasn't fully grasped his midgame rhythm. Thus, I hope everybody will give him some time to adjust, and plenty of encouragement.
Are you satisfied with the team's recent performance?
VG.Nada: Not satisfied, but I still think we have the ability to contend with the traditional DotA franchises of China.
If you're not satisfied, why haven't you got them to train more instead of giving them a 20 day vacation?
VG.Nada: The first consideration was the stringent discipline as of late. They haven't had a vacation in 2 months and browsing the web, watching movies, and using QQ have been prohibited. The second is that losing in both TI3 and DSL mean that we have no major tournaments to play, and ECL's scheduling is very spread out. This break is mostly to allow the players to relax and change themselves, combining work and pleasure so they can be more committed to the training ahead.
What are your thoughts on Fy?
VG.Nada: Fy is a very adaptable player. He can play every position, from one to five, and is currently in the prime of his pro career. He is a handsome player we can't get enough of, but his weakness is that he's not very good at heroes he's unfamiliar with.
What will you focus the team's training on after their vacation?
VG.Nadal: Outside the game we will be focused on nurturing the relationships between the players to create a strong team atmosphere. Unity is the key to results, after all. In terms of in-game focus, we will analyze the top teams in and out of China while learning from others to create our own style. We will focus on the ECL in July and ACE in September with all our strength, and think of it as a chance to repair the mistakes of the past.
Can you tell us about the situation with the VG B team?
VG.Nada: Due to a prolonged lack of results, they've stopped training, though a few players are staying at the base to individually practice.
Does that mean they've disbanded?
VG.Naga: Yes, having no tournaments to play means the team is wasting the valuable professional lives of the players. It's better for them to choose their own path.
Does Alliance's undefeated run at G-1 mean that Chinese DotA has come down from its pedestal? Alliance's strategies have also been praised by many players. Have they inspired you in any way?
VG.Nada: I think [A] is a team that's willing to fight and do what it takes to win. Since Chinese teams don't watch many Western tournaments, they weren't focused upon at all. While [A] certainly belongs in the top echelon of teams, they should not be too hard to take care of if Chinese teams do their homework before TI3.
The debate between LoL and DotA is boiling over at the moment. As part of an organization that has teams in both, which game is the club favoring at the moment?
VG.Nada: Dota2. Since VG is a club that started with Dota2, we will naturally focus on it more. Even though LoL's appeal seems to be more widespread than Dota2 at the moment, I feel like Dota2 can stage a comeback on the back of everybody's enthusiasm for DotA. Personally I still hope that Dota2 will be more popular.
How do you feel about the Chinese beta servers for Dota 2?
VG.Nada: The game experience and punishment for toxic gamers are both done very well. The game plays very comfortably with a lot of freedom. With the right settings, one can even fully replicate the control they had in DotA. The main issue is that there are too few keys and that matchmaking takes too long to find games.
How do you like the Chinese voices?
VG.Nada: The voices for the Chinese are quite good; some are quite legendary while others lose a lot of their meaning after being translated from English. I hope that PW will go into open beta soon, as only with a huge support base of new players can the game develop faster and better!
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