Prelude for a Champion 2018: A TI8 Team Profile – PSG.LGD

Kings of China: Top ranked Chinese squad PSG.LGD look to claim the Aegis of Champions in Vancouver for the region’s 4th TI title.

Another year of Dota 2 action has come and gone, and the stage is now set for the Dota 2 world to once again come together to enjoy and celebrate the game on the biggest and most prestigious of stages: The International. With The International 2018 fast approaching, it seems appropriate to offer fans both new and old some information on the squads that will be fighting in Vancouver for a chance to lay claim to the Aegis of Champions and cement themselves a place in Dota 2 history. Each post in this series will provide a brief profile of one of the 18 teams that have earned a place in the field at TI8, including a small overview of the team/organization’s history, a breakdown of its 2017-2018 season, a look at the players on the team’s roster, and expectations entering TI itself. Whether you’re deep into the pro Dota scene already or just looking to get your feet wet in preparation for TI8, the hope is that these profiles will give you a bit more insight or a refresher course for the teams that will be playing in Vancouver in August. With that in mind, we will be takiung a look at a 2 time Major Champion and the top ranked squad in the entire Chinese region: PSG.LGD.

PSG.LGD PSG LGD

Region: China

Dota 2 Pro Circuit Rank: 3rd (7332 Qualifying Points)

Qualification Method: Direct Invite (DPC Top 8)

2017-2018 Pro Circuit Event Appearances: 10 (6 Top 4 Finishes)

Previous TI Appearances: [As LGD Gaming] TI2 (3rd), TI3 (9th-12th), TI4 (5th-6th), TI5 (3rd), TI6 (9th-12th), TI7 (4th)

2017-2018 Season Notable Achievements:
Dota 2 Pro Circuit Majors
1st – EPICENTER XL
1st – MDL Changsha
2nd – Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018
3rd – China Dota2 Supermajor

Dota 2 Pro Circuit Minors
2nd – PGL Open Bucharest
2nd – StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 4

Non- Pro Circuit Events
5th-6th – Dota2 Professional League Season 4 – Top
5th – Dota2 Professional League Season 5 – Top

Team History

PSG.LGD, or LGD Gaming as it had previously been known, is one of the longest standing teams within the Chinese region with roots stretching back to before the beginning of the professional Dota 2 scene altogether. The organization got its start back in 2009 in the original DotA, serving as a sponsor for a team playing under the name For The Dream. That squad was able to earn some success early, but the organization itself was somewhat hesitant to make an immediate switch to Dota 2 once the game was fully revealed. In March of 2012, the LGD Gaming roster joined a handful of its regional rivals in making the transition into Dota 2 officially. Just a few short months later, LGD Gaming was playing on the Dota 2 world’s biggest stage, earning a 3rd place finish at TI2. In October of 2012, LGD Gaming made its first overtures outside of the Chinese region, signing an international squad to play under the name LGD.int. Both of the organization’s squads ended up putting together incredible runs to start 2013 and ended up in the field for TI3, LGD.int via a direct invite and LGD Gaming through the Eastern Qualifier. Despite the solid performance of both squads during the year, both LGD Gaming and LGD.int finished in the 9th-12th place position at the event. Those rough performances prompted change from the LGD organization, as LGD Gaming underwent a couple of roster changes entering 2014 while LGD.int disbanded. 2014 would prove to be a difficult year for the organization, as the LGD Gaming roster underwent multiple roster changes over the first few months of the year. Despite these changes, the team managed to put together a string of strong performances, but rapidly lost momentum as it headed into the pre-TI period. In April, the LGD Organization attempted to reform its second squad, picking up a new roster under the LGD.CDEC. The new squad missed the mark to qualify for TI4, but the main LGD Gaming squad did make it to Seattle and claimed a 5th-6th place finish at the event. Following its TI performance, LGD Gaming announced a complete overhaul of its roster by introducing 5 new players. 2 months later, LGD.CDEC opted to leave the LGD organization, re-branding itself as CDEC Gaming. With one roster gone and the other featuring a near completely different lineup, LGD Gaming entered 2015 with an uncertain future to say the least.

The team would be affected by even more roster changes to start the year, and it took until March of 2015 for the team to officially announce its finalized roster. Once the roster was stable though, LGD Gaming went on a tear both within its home region and on the international level with a slew of high profile performances including victories in back to back seasons of i-League and wins at the Chinese League of the MarsTV Dota 2 League 2015 Spring and G-League 2015. Those performances earned the team a place at TI5, where it fell to eventual Champion Evil Geniuses for a 3rd place finish. The team closed out the year with a 7th-8th place finish at The Frankfurt Major 2015, and it appeared that the team had stabilized and put its struggles from the previous year behind it. 2016 began with LGD Gaming qualifying for The Shanghai Major, but after a 9th-12th place finish at the event, the team was looking to make some changes. In March, the organization announced a new roster that began its tenure with a handful of solid performances in regional qualifiers as well as a 3rd place finish in Season 1 of the StarLadder i-League Invitational. The team followed those performances up with a 4th place run at The Manila Major and earned itself a direct invite to TI6. Unfortunately for LGD Gaming, the team finished in the bottom half of the standings with a 9th-12th place position overall, prompting another roster overhaul for the Chinese squad. At the same time, the organization announced that it would serve as a sponsor for a new squad known as LGD.Forever Young.  Both squad started 2017 with a couple of less than impressive performances, but those early struggles were quickly overcome as the 2 teams rose to dominate the Chinese scene and earn success on the international level as well. Both squads ended up qualifying for TI7, where LGD.Forever Young finished 3rd while LGD Gaming finished 4th. With both teams performing spectacularly on the Dota 2 world’s biggest stage, the LGD organization entered the Pro Circuit season with confidence that 1 or both of its squads could maintain its position at the top of the international hierarchy.

 

Season in Review

LGD Gaming opened the season with a roster change, as Ren “eLeVeN” Yangwei left the team to join Vici Gaming, with Xu “fy” Linsen replacing him at the offlane position. The team began its Pro Circuit campaign with 5 straight Top 4 finishes in regional qualifiers, including a 1st place finish that qualified it for The Perfect World Masters Minor. In October, LGD Gaming made its Pro Circuit debut with a 2nd place finish at the PGL Open Bucharest Minor, and followed that up by qualifying for the DOTA Summit 8 Minor just a month later. Outside of the Pro Circuit, the team also managed to put together a 5th-6th place finish in the Top Division of the Dota2 Professional League Season 4 in China. Those performances helped to instill confidence that LGD Gaming had carried over the momentum that it had earned in the run up to TI7, but that momentum has about to evaporate rapidly for the Chinese squad. In the final 2 months of the season, LGD Gaming posted 3 straight finishes at Pro Circuit Minors in the bottom half of the standings, and appeared to be experiencing significant internal issues. Those issues finally reached a boiling point, and at the end of December the team announced sweeping changes to its roster. Yang “Chalice”‘ Shenyi and Luo “Sea mew” Bin were both brought in on a trail basis, while Wang “Ame” Chunyu shifted to an inactive role and fy was shifted from the offlane back to his usual support position.

As the 2018 section of the season began, the other half of LGD Gaming’s roster changes took shape. Ame returned to the active lineup, while Yao “Yao” Zhengzheng became inactive and later joined LGD.Forever Young. Sea Mew’s trial run came to an end and he returned to his original team, and Malaysian player Jian Wei “xNova” Yap was brought in to complete the new LGD Gaming roster. The team’s changes had been fairly drastic, but they proved to be worth it in the end, as LGD Gaming dominated the Chinese region to open the year. The squad claimed 1st or 2nd place finishes in its first 7 Pro Circuit qualifiers, and made a triumphant return to the Pro Circuit stage with a 2nd place finish at the StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 4 Minor. The team’s recovery hit a small speed bump in the form of a 9th-12th place finish at the ESL One Katowice 2018 Major, but LGD Gaming quickly put that poor performance behind it with a 2nd place finish at the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018 Major a little over a month later. In April, the team announced a partnership with French football club Paris Saint-Germain, with the squad officially rebranding itself to PSG.LGD. With a new name and a new partner to represent, PSG.LGD set about putting together a run to close out the Pro Circuit season. A 5th place finish at the Dota2 Professional Legaue Season 5 – Top qualified the team for the MDL Changsha Major, marking the beginning of one of the most spectacular stretches of play from any team this season. The team broke through on the Pro Circuit stage with a 1st place finish at the EPICENTER XL Major in May, and just 2 weeks later claimed its second Major Championship on home soil at the MDL Changsha Major. A 3rd place finish at the China Dota2 Supermajor closed out PSG.LGD’s Pro Circuit season with the Chinese squad sitting in 3rd place in the overall standings. In the matter of just a couple of months, the team had transformed itself from a recovering squad in the Chinese region to a superpower on the international stage and one of the best teams on the Pro Circuit heading into TI8.

 

Roster

Wang “Ame” Chunyu (Carry) – For a team with such a long and storied history within the Dota 2 world, the core of the team’s lineup are surprisingly new to the professional scene. Ame has become one of the biggest faces of the organization through PSG.LGD’s rebuild and return to prominence, and the young superstar was already shown a remarkable level of composure and ability for the team. He has shown himself to be a versatile carry player, comfortably playing both the traditional hard farming hyper carries while and the early fight-and-farm heroes that have become powerful parts of the current meta. Ame serves as a powerful reminder of the potential value of the developmental system in China, as the young carry’s career began just a few years ago in 2015 with CDEC Youth. Ame spent nearly a year with the developmental team of the CDEC organization, posting a number of solid performances within the Chinese region and even making his debut at an international event with a 4th place finish at the Nanyang Dota 2 Championships Season 2 in July of 2016. Though CDEC Youth never became a leading name within the Chinese region in Ame’s time with the squad, the impressive play of the young carry player earned the attention of LGD Gaming. In September of 2016, Ame was picked up to join the team’s new lineup in the post-TI6 Chinese roster shuffle, and he has remained with the organization ever since. PSG.LGD has embraced a youth movement this season, with the average age of the team’s roster being just 21. It’s a bit unorthodox for a team to rely upon so many young players, and even less expected for that team to find the level of success that PSG.LGD has enjoyed. Ame has played an absolutely massive role in that success, serving as a cornerstone of the team’s lineup that has been relied upon for consistent production at the carry position. If PSG.LGD wants to make a run at claiming the Aegis of Champions in Vancouver, than Ame will have to continue providing the team with a stable presence and consistent contributions in the face of some of the best teams in the Dota 2 world.

Lu “Somnus丶M” Yao [formerly known as “Maybe”] (Mid) – It seems somewhat strange to say that a team’s longest tenured player is one that stands at just 22 years of age, but Somnus丶M has been a member of PSG.LGD throughout its myriad of roster changes over the last few years. He has served as the foundation of the organization’s lineup for quite some time now, and looking at his play it’s easy to see why. Somnus丶M has long been regarded as a prodigy within the Chinese region, and the past few years have seen him rise to a position as one of the best mid laners in the world. Even with his incredible level of talent, Somnus丶M didn’t begin his career at the top, with the Chinese mid laner beginning his time in the Dota 2 world in the Chinese Dota Elite Community (CDEC) in 2013. In February of 2014, Somnus丶M was picked up by LGD Gaming for the first time, though his stint with the organization’s main lineup would not last long. Though Somnus丶M was extremely talented, his lack of experience in a professional environment proved to be a bit of a liability, and he was transferred to the roster of the team’s developmental team, LGD.CDEC, just 2 months later. Somnus丶M remained with the team through its departure from the LGD organization and transition into CDEC Gaming, helping the squad earn a handful of strong finishes in Chinese events along with its first international appearances at MASI Beat IT 2014, the Dota 2 League Season 5, and the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2015. In March of 2015, LGD Gaming reacquired Somnus丶M from CDEC Gaming to complete its new roster, and the Chinese carry has remained with the organization ever since. Throughout his career, Somnus丶M has earned himself a reputation as an explosive player, and a mid laner with a penchant for active and aggressive play. His ability to dictate the pace of a match from the middle lane is an ability that many of his constituents lack, and his dominating presence in game has made PSG.LGD once of the most feared and respected squads in the Dota 2 world. If his team wants to make a run for the Aegis of Champions in Vancouver, then Somnus丶M will have to lead PSG.LGD from the front and show the world why he is considered one of the world’s best mid laners wit ha super star level performance at TI8.

Yang “Chalice”‘ Shenyi (Offlane) – We’ve mentioned several times before that PSG.LGD’s current lineup has a particularly young feel to it, and offlaner Chalice is no exception to this. At just 19 years of age, he will enter TI8 as one of the youngest players in the field, but he has already shown himself to be a valuable and steady contributor for the squad. Chalice has displayed a useful level of versatility from the offlane, playing both team fight controllers and greedier, farming offlane heroes. Like many of the other offlane players in the field at TI8, that flexibility stems from the fact that Chalice has transition from a carry position into the offlane role with PSG.LGD. His professional career began back April of 2016 as the carry player for MAX.Y, the youth squad of MAX club (later Team MAX). After nearly a year with the team but somewhat limited success, Chalice became a member of the rebranded Team MAX, but as the team’s offlaner rather than at his previous carry position. The new Team MAX was able to put together a string of improved results within regional qualifiers and events, headlined by the team earning a promotion from the Secondary Division to the Top Division of the Dota2 Professional League in China. After finishing at the bottom of the standings in the TI7 China Qualifier, Chalice began the 2017-2018 Pro Circuit season with Team Max, but participated in just 1 Pro Circuit qualifier with the squad. Outside of the Pro Circuit, the team made an appearance at the ROG MASTERS 2017, but finished at the bottom of the standings at that event as well. With the team struggling in its home region, Chalice opted to leave Team Max in December to join the rebuilding LGD Gaming. Chalice has remained as the offlaner for the Chinese squad ever since, and has played an important role in helping the squad become one of the leading teams in the Dota 2 world. With teammates Ame and Somnus丶M often taking the spotlight for PSG.LGD, Chalice is rarely looked at as a linchpin for the Chinese squad. However, when Chalice is playing at the top of his game, PSG.LGD go from one of the world’s best teams to a squad that is nearly unbeatable. Chalice’s wide hero pool gives his team the ability to dictate the pace that it wants the match to be played at, and that kind of control is exactly the kind of advantage that the Chinese team will need to exploit as much as possible if it wants to claim its first TI title in Vancouver.

Xu “fy” Linsen (Support, Captain) – The youth movement has served PSG.LGD well over the course of its rebuild, but a large part of the team’s incredible success this season has been due to the veteran leadership of fy. Though he may not trace his Dota 2 roots as far back as some of the other top captains in the scene, fy has already raised himself to near legendary status within both the Chinese region and the international level. Considered by many to be among the best in the world in terms of individual skill, fy has made a name for himself with some of the most spectacular and consistent play at the support position. It’s a position that the Chinese captain has held since the very beginning of his professional career back in 2012 with the very first Vici Gaming Dota 2 roster. Alongside teammate and fellow support player Lu “Fenrir” Chao, fy remained with the Vici Gaming organization for over 4 years, with the 2 players gaining a reputation as one of the best support duos in the Dota 2 world. In 2013, fy and Vici Gaming was largely contained to Chinese and Southeast Asian events, aside from a 1st place finish in the RaidCall EMS One Fall Season. 2014 saw the team take a huge leap forward in terms of its presence on the international level, with the team making appearances at the Dota 2 League Season 4, WPC 2014, The Summit, and ESL One Frankfurt 2014. Those performance culminated with a breakthrough performance at TI4 in which the squad finished 2nd overall. Fy and the rest of Vici Gaming closed out he year with wins at both ESL One New York 2014 and The Summit 2, solidifying their position as one of the leading teams in the Dota 2 world. The team’s success continued into 2015, with Vici Gaming claiming a 2nd place finish at the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2015 and a 4th place finish at TI5. 2016 would be a year of change for fy though, as Vici Gaming broke up its legendary support duo in March after Fenrir was acquired by EHOME. Fy opted to take the reigns of the organization’s developmental squad, which was rebranded under the name Vici Gaming Reborn. Under fy’s captaincy, Vici Gaming Reborn put together a string of strong regional performances and claimed 1st place at the StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 1. Those performances earned the team spots at The Manila Major and TI6, but Vici Gaming Reborn was unable to put together strong showings at either event. In September, Vici Gaming Reborn was rebranded as the main Vici Gaming squad, but fy would end up being traded to VGJ a few months later in December. VGJ was able to make a handful of appearances on the international level, but failed to qualify for TI7. With the 2017-2018 Pro Circuit season looming, fy opted for another change by joining the lineup of LGD Gaming, eventually taking over as the team’s captain. PSG.LGD has flourished with its new lineup under fy’s direction, and now stands as one of the top squads in the Dota 2 world. The team’s cores often attract the most attention from fans and even from opponents, but fy has shown himself capable of dictating the outcome of a match through his own support play. Very few other support players have proven capable of taking over a match like fy, which provides the team with an incredible asset aside from his significant experience. Both his experienced leadership and incredible support play will need to be on display in full force in Vancouver as PSG.LGD look to bring the Aegis of Champions back to the Chinese region for the 4th time in Dota 2 history.

Jian Wei “xNova” Yap (Support) – As the most recent addition to the lineup of PSG.LGD, xNova had some immediate expectations to deal with. Chinese squads often express a hesitance to bring in players from outside of the region, and the ones that make the cut usually do so due to an incredible level of talent. As a Malaysian player being acquired by a Chinese squad, xNova was expected to perform at a high level, and he was more than able to deliver on that front. The young support has proven himself a capable position 5 player, providing PSG.LGD with a high level of activity and a stable contribution with an incredibly limited amount of resources. His affinity for the hard support role is especially interesting for xNova considering the fact that he was a midlaner prior to the start of his professional career. After spending some time with a few amateur and semi-pro teams in Southeast Asia as at the mid position, xNova joined his first professional squad in 2015 with Who2Bet while transitioning into the support role. After over a year with the team and limited success, xNova was picked up by Mineski-X, the secondary squad of the Mineski organization. That team proved unable to find much success either, as xNova’s most prominent performances with Mineski-X were 2 2nd place finishes in Open Qualifiers for The Manila Major and TI6. In August, xNova departed Mineski-X to join the roster of WarriorsGaming.Unity. His new team found near immediate success with its new roster, winning the ProDotA Cup Southeast Asia #2 and qualifying for The Boston Major in December where it finished in the 5th-8th place position. The team closed out 2016 with victories in 2 regional tournaments, and continued that strong performance in Southeast Asia through the beginning of 2017. In February of 2017, xNova and his teammates were briefly signed by Team Bazaar, but returned to WarriorsGaming.Unity just under 2 months later after a contract dispute. The team remained a formidable opponent in the Southeast Asian region, but was forced to go through the Open Qualifiers for TI7 due to changes to its roster. The team failed to win either of the Open Qualifiers, and entered the 2017-2018 Pro Circuit season as a relative afterthought in its home region. The team did not start the season in particularly strong fashion, and xNova ended up leaving the roster in December. After serving as a stand-in for Clutch Gamers in the ESL One Genting 2018 Southeast Asia Qualifier, xNova was acquired by LGD Gaming as part of its roster rebuild in January of 2018. He has remained with the team ever since, and has become part of a dangerous support duo alongside team captain Xu “fy” Linsen. The young support player has proven himself capable serving both as a roamer and secondary initiator to fy on heroes like Bane and Bounty Hunter, and as a team fight controller like Witch Doctor and Disruptor. No matter what hero he plays, xNova plays a large part in helping PSG.LGD establish its preferred pace in a particular match. The ability to facilitate the rest of his team is one of xNova’s most vital contributions to PSG.LGD, and will be absolutely essential for the Chinese squad if it want to have any chance at finding success in Vancouver.

Yao “QQQ” Yi (Coach) – PSG.LGD’s lineup is filled with young talent, but at the end of the day every team needs an experienced, veteran presence on its side. Some of that has come from team captain Xu “fy” Linsen, but much of the team’s leadership also stems from QQQ, who has been a part of the professional Dota 2 scene stretching back all the way to very beginning of the game. In 2011, QQQ participated in the very first iteration of The International as a member of the EHOME roster that finished 2nd at the event. 1 year later, QQQ and an altered EHOME lineup finished 5th-6th at TI2, which prompted QQQ to leave the squad in order to join Team DK. With DK, QQQ put together a string of solid performances in the Chinese region and earned an invite to TI3. QQQ and his team once again finished in the 5th-6th place position, and Team DK’s post TI shuffle led to him moving to the roster of Rising Stars. After just 2 months though, Rising Starts disbanded and QQQ took a hiatus from professional Dota 2. He would return nearly a year later as the coach of Vici Gaming, guiding the Chinese squad to its 2nd place finish at TI4 and its victory at The Summit 2 a few months later. He continued to sporadically serve as the team’s coach through 2015 and 2016, before moving to coach LGD.Forever Young following its formation in September of 2016. In January of 2017, QQQ was replaced as LGD.Forever Young’s coach, and moved into the vacant coaching role for the main LGD Gaming squad. Under his guidance, LGD Gaming made its impressive streak in the run up to TI7 and claimed a 4th place finish at the event itself. QQQ had also helped the team work through its early issues this season, serving as a stand-in for a few events and qualifiers and continuing to provide leadership for the squad through its rebuild in late 2017 and early 2018. QQQ had even entered the booth for PSG.LGD on a frequent basis to assist fy with drafting strategies, giving him a slightly more active role than many other coaches in the Dota 2 scene. Whether in the practice room or the drafting chair, QQQ’s impact on this PSG.LGD roster has been massive, and he will likely be an important factor in the team’s performance in Vancouver as it looks to claim the first ever TI title for the LGD organization.

Expectations at TI8

PSG.LGD enters TI8 as one of the top squads in the Pro Circuit standings and one of most formidable teams in the Dota 2 world. 6 months ago, that statement would have been absolutely mind boggling to make or write, but the squad has undergone an unbelievable transformation that we all got the chance to watch play out on the Pro Circuit stage. Given the rapid rise to prominence for the squad, many people looking at the field of teams for TI8 may write PSG.LGD off as a fluke or doubt that their position at the top of the Dota 2 hierarchy in sustainable. Frankly, those opinions simply don’t make much sense when one looks at how the team has been playing over the past few months. The squad has completely altered its style of play, still focusing around its cores in Ame and Somnus丶M but avoiding becoming overly reliant upon them. Instead of putting itself in positions where those 2 players had to carry the squad to a win, the rest of PSG.LGD’s lineup has taken a proactive approach to facilitate those core players and establish a pace that it can benefit from. Chinese teams often seem hesitant to push the pace of a match, and the old stereotype of Chinese Dota with a slower, more methodical style is still somewhat prevalent. However, PSG.LGD has shown a willingness to branch out from that older style of play, and the results speak for themselves. The team’s consistent performance over the past few months should dispel the notion that its success is some sort of fluke, and the fact of the matter is that no team lucks its way into back to back Major Championships. Of course, the TI stage is a whole other animal in comparison to the Pro Circuit, and we’ve seen Major Champions stumble before on the Dota 2 world’s biggest stage. That being said, such a collapse from PSG.LGD in Vancouver would come as a significant shock, as the Chinese power house will be considered to be heavily favored against just about every team in the field at TI8 save for maybe Virtus.pro and Team Liquid. When you have a team being mentioned in the same breath as the defending TI Champion and the Pro Circuit regular season winner, it’s safe to say that PSG.LGD are a favorite to make a run for the Aegis of Champions and bring the TI tile back to the Chinese region.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s