Creating Chaos in Shanghai: The recently formed roster of Chaos Esports Club looks to take an unsuspecting Dota 2 world by surprise with a strong showing at TI9
With the conclusion of the second even Dota 2 Pro Circuit campaign, the attention of the Dota 2 world now shifts to the game’s biggest and most prestigious of stages: The International. The 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season set the stage, but now the time has come for 18 of the world’s best teams to take their shot at earning immortality as they look to cement their place in Dota 2 history with a victorious run at The International 2019 in Shanghai, China. For the first time in its history, TI moves away from the western world into the waiting arms of the Chinese scene, with TI9 set to be hosted in the Mercedes-Benz Arena as the venue will transform into the crucible from which one squad will emerge with the Aegis of Champions in hand. With the even itself fast approaching, this series will serve to highlight each of the 18 participating squads that will be making their way to Shanghai in the hopes of becoming TI9 Champion. Each post will focus upon a specific team in the field for this event, with a small overview of the organization’s history, a review of its 2018-2019 season, a run down of the members of its roster, keys to success entering TI9, and expectations for the squad at the event itself. Whether one is a newcomer to the pro scene or an avid Pro Circuit spectator, these posts will hopefully serve as a useful source of information or a refresher course on the teams that will be battling it out in Shanghai in August. With that in mind, we’ll take a look at 1 of the 6 European representatives at TI9, a team that moved from the South American region to Europe midway through the 2018-2019 season, and the winner of the TI9 Europe Qualifier: Chaos Esports Club.
Chaos Esports Club
Pro Circuit Rank: 17th (288 Pro Circuit Points)
Qualification Method: TI9 Europe Qualifier 1st Place
2018-2019 Pro Circuit Event Appearances: 4 (0 Top 4 finishes) [4 appearances as a South American team, 0 as a European team]
Previous TI Appearances: TI6 (2nd, as Digital Chaos), TI7 (9th-12th, as Digital Chaos)
2018-2019 Season Notable Achievements:
Pro Circuit Majors:
9th-12th – The Chongqing Major
9th-12th – DreamLeague Season 11 Major
13th-16th – MDL Disneyland Paris Major
Pro Circuit Qualifiers:
1st – DreamLeague Season 11 South America Qualifier
2nd – MDL Disneyland Paris Major South America Closed Qualifier
Non-Pro Circuit Events:
7th-8th – ESL One Katowice 2019
The origins of the Chaos Epsorts Club organization go back to 2015, when the team was first founded under the name Digital Chaos as a North American squad. The team got itself off to a strong start over the final months of 2015, but by March of 2016 its initial roster has effectively fallen apart. At the end of the month, the squad announced the formation of a new roster, with said new lineup emerging as a leading force in the North American region. The squad reached its peak with a 2nd place finish at TI6, following that performance up with a 3rd-4th place showing at The Boston Major 2016 in December. However, the roster itself encountered issues with the organization, and in April of 2017 Digital Chaos saw its entire roster leave the organization.
At the same time that its previous roster left, Digital Chaos signed the roster of Team Onyx to play under the Digital Chaos name, but that new roster put together some inconsistent results over the following months, including a 9th-16th place performance at The Kiev Major 2017 and a 9th-12th place run at TI7. In September, the organization added a pair of new players in MoonMeander and MSS, as it completed its roster for the start of the 2017-2018 season. Over the final months of 2017, the squad managed to put together 10 straight Top 4 finishes, but even those results weren’t enough to save the squad from its ongoing roster issues. After a litany of changes over those months, the team ended up disbanding entirely, leaving the Digital Chaos organization without a roster.
In March of 2018, Digital Chaos would briefly return to the Dota 2 world with the signing of the Animal Planet roster, but the squad would remain with the organization for just over a month before parting ways with Digital Chaos. With no players signed under its roster, Digital Chaos effectively went inactive, removing itself form the Dota 2 scene.
Season in Review
For most of the 2018-2019 season, the organization remained inactive in the Dota 2 world, but in January the organization announced a return to the game under the name Chaos Esports Club and a new roster made up of the former paiN Gaming lineup. While the team was able to maintain its position as a leading team in the South American region under its new organization wit ha pair of Top 4 finishes in regional qualifiers, its play on the international level was not nearly as strong. The squad made appearances at 4 international events after being signed by Chaos Esports Club, and failed to finish any higher than the 7th-8th place position at any of them. Just days after a 13th-16th place performance at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major, the organization made a massive announcement. Chaos Esports Club parted ways with Brazilian players tavo and Kingrd, while w33 was set to take a break from the professional scene. With just 2 players on its roster, the organization also announced that it would be moving to the European region, and would be rebuilding its roster with mostly European players.
On May 12th, the orgnaization revealed its new roster, with the duo of hFn and MISERY being joined by Gunnar, KheZu, and MiLAN. Unfortunately, that roster failed to make it through the open qualifiers for both the EPICENTER Major and the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2, ending its regular season on something of a low note. However, the squad still had a chance to reach TI9 through the regional qualifiers, and the organization opted to put together an updated roster for said qualifiers. hFn and Gunnar were both removed from the team, and in their place Chaos Esports Club added VtFaded and MATUMBAMAN, along with Coach j4. The team proceeded to post a 13-5 record in the TI9 Europe Qualifier to claim its place on the TI stage in Shanghai.
Cheng “vtFαded” Jia Hao (Carry)
Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 6.11 kills, 7.79 assists, 1.74 deaths per game (19 matches)
As the most recent addition to this Chaos Esports Club lineup, vtFaded comes into TI9 with some sizable expectations set out before him, which is incredible considering the fact that he has only been playing professionally for around 2 years now. His career begin at the start of the 2017-2018 season as a member of Chinese squad Sun Gaming, but after just 4 months with the squad he would move to the Southeast Asian region. In March of 2018, vtFaded reappeared as a member of Clutch Gamers, helping notch 5 straight Top 4 finishes with the squad but failing to actually qualify for an event. In May, vtFaded moved to the roster of Geek Fam for a run in the TI8 Qualifiers, but failed to earn a place at that event as well. At the start of the 2018-2019 season, vtFaded left Geek Fam, remaining as a free agent for around 2 months before returning to China in November as a member of For The Dream. Following a string of largely unimpressive results with the squad, vtFaded moved back to Southeast Asia with the squad Power of MYSG+AU for a handful of impressive qualifier runs. Before the start of the TI9 Qualifiers though, vtFaded found himself on the move once again, this time shifting to the European region as a member of Chaos Esports Club. With his new team, vtFaded has largely stuck to hard-farming, high damage heroes along the lines of Morphling, Juggernaut, Phantom Lancer, and Weaver. His results on those heroes have been pretty impressive so far, with vtFaded averaging 378 Last Hits per game, an average that sits as the second highest among all TI9 players. In addition to finding significant numbers of Last Hits, vtFaded has averaged 6.11 kills and 7.79 assists on just 1.74 deaths per game. That incredibly low death per game average is the second lowest among all players at TI9 as well. Of course, those high averages likely stem in part from the fact that vtFaded has played just 19 games for Chaos Esports Club. However, what we have seen from him so far has been exceptionally impressive, and if he can come even close to matching those stats at TI9 itself, then Chaos Esports Club will be in a very favorable position at the event.
Lasse Aukusti “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen (Mid)
Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 7.68 kills, 8.84 assists, 2.74 deaths per game (19 matches)
For the first time in nearly 4 years, MATUMBAMAN will enter an event as a member of a team not named Team Liquid. The TI7 Winner has spent the vast majority of his career with the Team Liquid organization, but his time as a professional did not begin with the legendary organization. His career began back in June of 2014 as a member of Veni, Vidi, Vici, though he would remain with that squad for just 3 months before founding the all-Finish squad 4 Anchors + Sea Captain. Over the next year, the squad would pop up in minor regional events and qualifiers, but never fully advanced to become a consistent power in Europe. In August of 2015, MATUMBAMAN left 4 Anchors + Sea Captain to join the roster of 5Jungz, remaining with the squad for 2 months before the roster was signed by Team Liquid. For nearly 4 years, MATUMBAMAN helped Team Liquid emerge as one of the elite teams in the entire Dota 2 world, attending 13 Majors and 2 TIs with the squad while winning the China Dota2 Supermajor and TI7 with the team. In June of 2019 though, MATUMBAMAN was shifted to an inactive role within the Team Liquid organization, and was moved to Chaos Esports Club soon after. With his new squad, MATUMBAMAN has focused upon high damage, team fight oriented heroes, with heroes like Death Prophet, Dazzle, Dragon Knight, Lone Druide, and Ember Spirit being among his most played. The TI7 winner has averaged 7.68 kills and 8.84 assists on just 2.74 deaths per game, with that death average being the sixth lowest among all players at TI9, and the lowest among Midlaners. Of course, those stats are probably due to the fact that MATUMBAMAN has played just 19 games with his new team, but between his impressive stats so far and his extensive experience and success on the international level, Chaos Esports Club appears to be a fairly formidable force coming into TI9.
Maurice “KheZu” Gutmann (Offlane)
Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 2.74 kills, 10.74 assists, 3.42 deaths per game (19 matches)
KheZu comes into TI9 as something of a journeyman player in the European region, as the Offlaner has seen action with quite a few squads over the course of his career. His time as a professional began back in December of 2015 with the squad COOKISS, but in March of 2016 he got his first big break as a member of the No Diggity roster that would go on to be signed by Escape Gaming. With that squad, KheZu would attend his first TI at TI6, though the squad finished in the 13th-16th place position at the event. In November, KheZu left Escape Gaming to join Team Secret, claiming a 9th-16th place finish at The Kiev Major 2017 and a 9th-12th place showing at TI7 before parting ways with the squad in August. The final months of 2017 and most of 2018 would see KheZu bounce between a number of different European squads, with the Offlaner spending time with MidOrFeed, Mad Lads, Five Dogs, and BlinkPool. At the start of the 2018-2019 season, KheZu founded Team Lithium, with the squad performing fairly well in the European region and earning enough notoriety to be signed by Vega Squadron in October. Just 4 months later following a period of less consistent results, the team was dropped by Vega Squadron, leaving KheZu as a free agent in the European region. In May, KheZu reappeared as a member of Chaos Esports Club, closing out the regular season with the squad. Over his 19 matches with the team, KheZu has emphasized initiating power and team fight control, with Axe, Mars, Dark Seer, and Centaur Warrunnner featuring in this most played heroes. While his production has not been overly impressive at 2.74 kills and 10.74 assists per game, his average of just 3.42 deaths comes in as the lowest average among Offlaners in the field at TI9. Whether or not KheZu will be able to maintain that efficiency at TI9 itself remains to be seen, but having a player that can initiate fights and find pick offs the a squad without putting himself in danger will certainly be a welcome advantage for Chaos Esports Club on the TI stage.
Milan “MiLAN” Kozomara (Support)
Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 3.32 kills, 11.89 assists, 4.26 deaths per game (19 matches)
MiLAN is a player that comes into this event with a high level of experience, but his name is one that many fans likely won’t have heard of before. While he has played professionally for nearly 5 years now, he has down so primarily on lower tier teams in the European scene, and he has not remained with a single team for all that long over the course of his career. Said career began in August of 2014 as a member of mYinsanity, with MiLAN remaining with the squad for around a year while finding relatively limited success. After closing out the year with the roster of No Logic Gaming, MiLAN would embark on a tour across an intense number of squads in 2016 and 2017. Over the course of those 2 years, MiLAN played for 11 different squads, with the most prominent among those squads being the Prodota Gaming/Planet Dog/HellRaisers lineup that attended TI7, finishing in the 17th-18th place position at the event. While HellRaisers would begin he 2017-2018 season with its roster intact, the organization opted to drop its team in December of 2017, leaving its former players to return to the Planet Dog name. In February of 2018, the Planet Dog roster was signed by Double Dimension, but just 1 month after that signing, MiLAN parted ways with the organization. After making an unsuccessful TI8 Qualifier run with Wind and Rain, MiLAN began the 2018-2019 season as a member of marchoutofarmy in North America, with the squad being signed by J.Storm soon after qualifying for The Kuala Lumpur Major. Unfortunately, the squad didn’t find much success at the event itself, finishing in the 9th-12th place position, and by December of 2018 MiLAN had been replaced in the J.Storm lineup. In March of 2019, he would briefly return with the roster of Winstrike Team, but left in April only to be picked up by Chaos Esports Club in May. As a Position 4 Support, MiLAN has often looked for aggressive, play making heroes, with his most played for Chaos Esports Club featuring Dark Willow, Tiny, Phoenix, Nyx Assassin, and Enigma. With an average of just 11/89 assists per game (46th among all TI9 participant), those efforts have not always proven successful. However, having an experienced player in a play making role will certainly be an asset for Chaos Esports Club, so long as MiLAN can manage to increase his production on the TI stage in Shanghai.
Rasmus “MISERY” Filipsen (Support, Captain)
Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 2.00 kills, 11.74 assists, 6.16 deaths per game (19 matches)
Chaos Esports Club’s Captain is no stranger to the TI stage, as MISERY is set to make his seventh appearance on the TI stage in Shanghai, though it will be his first since TI6. The veteran has a long and storied history within the game stretching back for over 11 years between DotA and Dota 2. His Dota 2 career began in 2010 as a member of Meet Your Makers, with MISERY earning a 4th place finish at TI1 with the squad. Soon after the event though, MISERY was on the move, joining up with EG in October of 2011 and remaining with the squad for around 7 months before moving to Counter Logic Gaming, with whom he would attend TI 2 and finish in the 9th-12th place position. Just 2 weeks before that team’s disbanding, MISERY left CLG to join the newly formed LGD.int, claiming another 9th-12th place finish at TI3. before the squad disbanded in December of 2013. At the start of 2014, MISERY returned as a member of the Team Dog roster that would be signed by mousesports, though the squad would disband shortly after a 11th-12th place finish at TI4. After spending the rest of 2014 as a stand-in for Alliance and Team Secret, MISERY began 2015 on the Cloud9 roster, earning an impressive 5th-6th place finish at DAC 2015 before struggling on the TI stage once again with a 9th-12th place finish at TI5. Shortly after TI, MISERY officially joined the Team Secret roster, making winning 3 LAN events with the team including The Shanghai Major 2016, earning MISERY his first ever title at a Valve event. In February of 2016 though, MISERY left Team Secret, joining up with Digital Chaos and leading the squad to a slew of victories in North American events and qualifiers. MISERY served as the Captain of Digital Chaos over the course of its 2nd place run at TI6, and also led the squad to a Top 4 finishes at The Boston Major 2016 in December. He would remain with the squad through its transition to Thunderbird and Planet Odd, but when that squad disbaned, MISERY made his way to the lineup of The Dire, the team that would go on to be signed by OpTic Gaming. After just 2 months with OpTic Gaming though, MISERY jumped ship to another North American squad in Evil Geniuses, though he would leave that team at the end of May. After an unsuccessful TI8 Qualifier run with BlinkPool, MISERY opted for a move to South America, becoming the coach of paiN Gaming in July of 2018. By the start of the 2018-2019 season though, he had been shifted into an active role on the paiN Gaming roster, remaining with the squad through its signing by Chaos Esports Club and its move to the European region. With his new squad, MISERY has emphasized heroes with team fight power and lock down capabilities, with his most played featuring the likes of Bane, Chen, Ancient Apparition, Omniknight, Crystal Maiden, and Magnus. Like his fellow Support MiLAN though, MISERY has not quite made the level of contribution that he would likely prefer, averaging just 11.74 assists per game as a member of Chaos Esports Club. While the team’s efforts were enough to push it through the TI9 Qualifiers, the team, and MISERY himself, will need to step things up rather significantly if it wants to find any success on the TI stage in Shanghai.
Alexei “j4” Lipai (Coach)
j4 comes to TI9 as a player with a fair bit of experience at the professional level, as the former Support has seen action across a litany of European and CIS squads from 2013 to 2019. However, the veteran does not come to this event as a player but as a coach, a role that j4 has significantly less experience in. In this scenario, “significantly less” translates into “none”, as j4 has never officially coached a team prior to Chaos Esports Club. However, having an experienced player working behind the scenes and making critiques and adjustments to the team’s strategies will almost assuredly be an advantage for Chaos Esports Club as the squad looks to put together a strong run on the TI stage in Shanghai.
Keys to Success at TI9
Coming into this event, the term “success” has a number different meanings depending on which team one is discussing. Obviously, the ultimate measure of success for any of the squads attending this event would be to walk away from Shanghai with the Aegis of Champions in hand and the title of TI9 Champion. Considering the fact that only 1 of the 18 participants at TI9 will be able to do that though, and also considering that not all of these teams are regarded as being on an equal footing in terms of skill and experience, a “TI Champions or bust” mentality won’t fit for every squad in the field. With that in mind, this section is not a “do these things and win TI” sort of list in terms of keys to success. Instead, success in this section will be marked in a team’s ability to play its best level of Dota and put itself in the best possible position to push as far up the event standings as it reasonably can.
Take advantage of vtFaded and MATUMBAMAN’s efficiency
The duo of vtFaded and MATUMBAMAN come into TI9 with two of the lowest death per game averages among all players at the event. vtFaded’s 1.74 deaths per game is the second lowest average among players in the field, while MATUMBAMAN’s 2.74 average comes in as the sixth lowest among all players, and the lowest among Midlaners. Before we go any further with this though, it should be noted that both vtFaded and MATUMBAMAN have played just 19 official matches with Chaos Esports Club, and it is possible and even likely that their low death averages stem from the fact that they have not played enough games for the team for their stats to have fully normalized. While we could certainly look at the players’ stats from their previous squads this season, those numbers would not accurately reflect their current situations and wouldn’t give us a clear prediction of their capabilities on this current roster. So for now, the only numbers we have to look at are those that vtFaded and MATUMBAMAN have put up as members of Chaos Esports Club, and those numbers show that the duo has been exceptionally skilled at avoiding deaths. The only problem with that is that the duo’s low death count also comes with relatively low kill averages as well, with the duo averaging just 13.79 kills per game combined. That average is the seventeenth lowest among 18 Carry/Mid duos at TI9, which means that vtFaded and MATUMBAMAN will have to step things up if they want to lead the squad to success in Shanghai. The important thing for Chaos Esports Club coming into this event will be balancing a more active or aggressive level of play for the Carry/Mid duo without sacrificing the efficiency and safety of said duo. We will have to wait and see whether the squad is able to make those adjustments in time to have a significant impact at TI9.
Try to get MiLAN and MISERY more active and involved
Much like the team’s Carry/Mid duo, the Support duo of Chaos Esports Club find itself in need of improvement as well, as MiLAN and MISERY have been only mildly effective in their roles as facilitators and opportunity creators. The duo has combined to average just 23.63 assists per game for the team, with that average coming in as the seventeenth lowest among the 18 teams at TI9. Even when factoring in the added assist per game average of Offlaner KheZu, Chaos Esports Club remains at the seventeenth highest assists per game average. Obviously, a squad with the second lowest assist per game average doesn’t stand much of a legitimate chance of winning TI, which means that the duo of MiLAN and MISERY are going to have to be more active and pump up their production on the TI stage in Shanghai. Of course, the fact that the duo have played just 19 games for Chaos Esports Club may have something to do with their averages, in the same way that the lack of matches likely factor into the exceptionally low death per game averages of vtFaded (1.74) and MATUMBAMAN (2.74). Even with that being the case, Chaos Esports Club does not have the luxury of playing any additional matches to normalize the stats of its players before the squad takes the stage in Shanghai. For now, the only obvious thing that could change those averages are the performances of its players, and the duo of MiLAN and MISERY will have to find some way to create more opening and opportunities for their teammates if Chaos Esports Club is going to have a real shot at success at TI9.
Expectations at TI9
Chaos Esports Club may be a name that has been on the Pro Circuit for most of the season, but the current iteration of the organization’s roster has come together incredibly recently. The team enters TI9 with just 19 official matches played, which leaves us with more than a few questions in need of answering as the squad makes its way to Shanghai for the biggest event in the Dota 2 world. The team’s roster has quite a bit of experience on the roster, with its lineup including a player that will be making his seventh TI appearance in MISERY, and a player that has previously won TI in MATUMBAMAN. However, the squad also comes into this event with a relatively unproven talent on its roster, as Carry vtFaded will be making his first TI appearance in Shanghai after spending the majority of his career in the Tier 2 and 3 scenes in both China and Southeast Asia. The mix of youth and veteran experience is certainly an interesting one, but the question for the squad is whether that mix will prove strong enough to find success at TI9.
Considering the fact that Chaos Esports Club has played just 19 official matches with its current lineup, gauging just where they stand compared to some of the other teams in the field for this event is incredibly difficult. All 19 of those matches came in the TI9 Europe Qualifier, which means that all of the team’s recent experience has come against its own regional rivals, with not matches on the international level and no matches against the other TI9 participants. The only thing we have to look at are the previous performances of the team’s individual players, but those past results are not likely to give us an overly accurate prediction of the capabilities of the team as a whole. Uncertainty is almost always something that we try to avoid in the Dota 2 world, and the fact that Chaos Esports Club seems to bring nothing but uncertainty into TI9, it’s hard to have a particularly high level of confidence in the squad prior to the start of this event.
With that in mind, Chaos Esports Club comes into TI9 with relatively low expectations, with the team not appearing likely to push itself out of the lower half of the event standings in Shanghai. Of course, the fact that the team has quite a bit of experience on its roster could always play a significant role for the team, and it is possible that the duo of vtFaded and MATUMBAMAN put together some highlight worthy performances at the event to put the squad in a more favorable position. However, the running theme for this squad is that everything hinges on hypothetical situations and “maybe, ifs”, and the inherent problem with hypothetical scenarios is that they can’t be relied upon to actually happen. In terms of potential, Chaos Esports Club will always be a threat in this field, as the squad has the mix of young talent and veteran leadership that we’ve seen many teams thrive on in the past. However, the line must be drawn between potential and expectation, and in the case of Chaos Esports Club that line is a rather thick one. Perhaps the squad can put together a strong showing in Shanghai and make a deep run on the TI stage, but until we actually see for certain that the squad is able to put that kind of run together, the uncertainty will keep the expectations low for the team.