Prelude for a Champion: A TI Primer – Newbee

Newbee leading the charge for China as squad seek second TI victory

 

With this year’s iteration of The International fast approaching, it seems appropriate to offer fans both new and old a breakdown of who it is they’re going to be watching in Seattle. This series of posts will each be dedicated to one of the 18 teams that will be participating in The International 2017, with the aim of giving readers a brief overview of the teams, their position coming into TI, and what their expectations might be. Please note that these posts will not contain a comprehensive history of the teams, nor will they go into minute detail for each of the players. There are more thorough breakdowns for teams and players available out there, a la SirActionSlacks’ “TI Down Low” series. These posts aim to provide something more akin to an “in a nutshell” level of information. Today we look at our second Chinese participant and the last of the directly invited teams – Newbee

Newbee come into TI7 riding a high of confidence stemming from strong play and solid results. The team’s recent performance has it placed among the top teams in the world, hence the direct invitation to Seattle. By this point though, the organization must be used to its position as a direct invitee. The International 2017 will mark the 4th straight year in which Newbee has been directly invited to the event. Newbee are no strangers to the International stage, nor are they unfamiliar with success at this highest level of competition. Newbee are one of 3 teams at TI7 to have previously won the Aegis of Champions, as a Newbee squad made an incredible run to win TI4 back in 2014. While this current iteration of Newbee does not contain any members of that former team, they do have a TI winner on the roster in the form of Faith. Faith is a veteran of the Dota scene, having been a part of competitive Dota 2 since its inception in 2011. Faith was a member of the Invictus Gaming squad that won The International in 2012. He brings experience, leadership, and a winning culture to an already talented Newbee roster.

One aspect of Newbee’s success that is perhaps overlooked by some stems from the squad opening up its roster to “foreign” talent. For years, Chinese teams have kept their rosters mostly, if not strictly, Chinese. Even today, seeing non Chinese players on a Chinese roster is a bit of a rarity. To explain why this is so would require delving into the intricacies of how the Chinese Dota 2 scene operates and its many differences from the western scene, something that absolutely cannot be done in this small a post. However, suffice it to say that if there does happen to be a non Chinese player playing for a Chinese organization, then that player has the skill to make up for these usual reservations. Enter Newbee’s offlane player, Kpii. While Kpii may be of Chinese descent, he is officially listed as an Australian player, and his career began playing for the all Australian squad Can’t Say Wips. Kpii gives Newbee the kind of reliable and stable performance in the offlane that the team needs to be a truly threatening team. He rounds out a squad that essentially has no weak link, which makes planning against them incredibly difficult for prospective opponents.

Newbee has high hopes and high expectations heading into TI7. Newbee are a team of incredibly talented players, there’s no doubt about that. However, what makes them particularly strong as a team is how well rounded the team is and how well they play together. Newbee never have to rely on a single player to step up and lead the team in a particular match. The team’s style is often predicated on playing around 3 or 4 core heroes, leaving opponents at a loss for which player or position to prioritize. This balanced attack forces opponents to play with the smallest possible margin for error, and it sets Newbee up to make a serious run for the Aegis of Champions in Seattle.

Newbee started out the year strong with 5 straight finishes in the Top 3, but a big stumble mid season put them out of mind for a brief time. The team finished 3rd at DAC 2017, losing out in the lower bracket finals to eventual champion Invictus Gaming. Newbee brought in 2 2nd place finishes at ESL One Genting and China Top 2016, as well as 1st place finishes in Seasons 2 & 3 of the Top Division of the Dota 2 Professional League in China. The team looked to be hitting their stride, but the Kiev Major proved to be a significant hurdle for Newbee, with the squad losing in the first round of the single elimination bracket to finish in the Bottom 8. Newbee missed the mark in two regional qualifiers immediately following its poor performance at Kiev, and many began to believe that the team was losing its edge. However, Newbee’s recent performance leading up to TI has gone a long way to show that the team’s stumble around the Kiev Major is a thing of the past. Newbee managed a 3rd/4th position finish as the StarLadder i-League Invitational #2, then came in 2nd place at the Manila Masters after losing 1-3 against Evil Geniuses. The team rounded out its pre-TI tournament season with back to back wins at The Zotac Cup Masters and Galaxy Battles, followed by a 3rd place finish at MDL 2017. Since Newbee’s struggles at Kiev and the subsequent qualifiers, the Chinese squad has won 13 of its 21 series against fellow TI teams.

Newbee are perhaps one of the most dangerous teams in the TI field this year. The team excels in just about every category, which makes identifying weak points a nightmare for their opponents. We’ve already seen the squad hit a bit of a rough patch so far this year, but the team’s quick and decisive response to these struggles are an encouraging sign the Newbee have worked out the kinks heading into TI. Should those problems come back to haunt Newbee, the squad could easily slip down the standings at TI. However, if these issues are truly in the past for Newbee, then the Chinese squad could potentially dominate the field in Seattle.

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