Time to Shine: After a breakout season on the Pro Circuit stage, Vici Gaming is ready to cement its place among the Dota 2 world’s elite squads and claim a place in history with its first ever TI title in Shanghai
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 shift or focus to 1 of the 4 Chinese teams that will be playing on home soil in Shanghai, and a squad that claimed multiple Major Championship titles this season: Vici Gaming.
Pro Circuit Rank: 3rd (11,250 Pro Circuit Points)
Qualification Method: Direct Invite (Pro Circuit Top 12)
2018-2019 Pro Circuit Event Appearances: 6 (3 Top 4 Finishes, 1 Minor Championship Title, 2 Major Championship Titles)
Previous TI Appearances: TI4 (2nd), TI5 (4th), TI6 (13th-16th, as Vici Gaming Reborn), TI8 (9th-12th)
2018-2019 Season Notable Achievements:
Pro Circuit Majors:
1st – DreamLeague Season 11 Major
1st – EPICENTER Major
7th-8th – The Kuala Lumpur Major
7th-8th – The Chongqing Major
7th-8th – MDL Disneyland Paris Major
Pro Circuit Minors:
1st – StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 1
Pro Circuit Qualifiers:
2nd – The Kuala Lumpur Major China Qualifier
2nd – The Chongqing Major China Qualifier
2nd – StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor China Qualifier
3rd – MDL Disneyland Paris Major China Closed Qualifier
3rd – EPICENTER Major 2018 China Closed Qualifier
5th-6th – DreamLeague Season 11 China Qualifier
Non-Pro Circuit Events:
2nd – ESL One Hamburg 2018
5th-6th – MDL Macau 2019
5th-6th – ESL One Birmingham 2019
1st – 2018 Sanya DOTA2 New-Stars Play
1st – Dota2 Professional League Season 6
3rd – World Electronic Sports Games 2018 China Finals
9th-11th – H-Cup Season 10
Today, Vici Gaming stands as one of the titans of the Chinese Dota 2 scene, but the organization started from fairly humble origins, with its first Dota 2 roster being put together back in 2012 with a group of players with nearly no professional experience. Over the course of 2012 and the first half of 2013, the new Vici Gaming roster appeared to be building up momentum for itself in the Chinese region. In the final months of the year though, the organization opted to make changes in the hopes of pushing its team over the top, bringing in a trio of more experienced players in Super, rOtK, and Sylar. The changes appeared to work out for the squad, as Vici Gaming settled into a fairly consistent and impressive form across 2014 that saw the squad expand its influence outside of its home region and onto the international level. Those efforts culminated in a stunning 2nd place performance at TI4, where the squad lost an all-Chinese Grand Final 1-3 to Newbee to just barely miss out on claiming the Aegis of Champions.
In the aftermath of TI4, Vici Gaming underwent some changes to its roster, as rOtK retired from the competitive scene and Sylar parted ways with the organization. In their place, the duo of Black^ and iceiceice were added to the lineup, and Vici Gaming was quick to reassert its place as a leading team in the Dota 2 world with its new roster. The team closed out 2014 with 11 Top 4 finishes in its final 12 appearances, and began 2015 with a 2nd place showing at DAC 2015. Shortly after the end of that event, Black^ was replaced in the roster by Hao, but the change didn’t do much to throw off the team’s considerable momentum. Between March and July, Vici Gaming claimed Top 4 finishes in 9 of its 12 total appearances, including event wins in the VPGame Pro League Season 1 and StarLadder StarSeries Season 12. Those performances earned the squad a direct invite to TI5, where the team put together a 4th place performance after being knocked out of the event by regional rival LGD Gaming. With the onset of the new Major system, Vici Gaming opted for a change to its roster in the post-TI5 period, with Hao leaving the team and being replaced by legendary Carry BurNIng. The squad closed out 2015 on a relatively high note, claiming 6 Top 4 finishes while putting together a 5th-6th place showing at The Frankfurt Major 2015.
2016 is where things would start to get weird and somewhat complicated for the Vici Gaming organization. The team’s year did not begin in the most auspicious of fashions, with the squad putting together a disappointing 13th-16th place performance at The Shanghai Major 2016 in March. In the aftermath of that event, the changes started rolling in for the squad, as 2 of Vici Gaming’s players were acquired by rival organization EHOME before the end of the month. The team also moved Support fy out of the team’s main roster, shifting him within the organization to head up the newly formed Vici Gaming Reborn that had been created from the former roster of Vici Gaming Potential, the organization’s youth and development team. With those changes, the organization also announced what amounted to a new roster, with 4 new players joining its lineup. Unfortunately, the changes did little to help the squad in the end, as Vici Gaming failed to qualify for both The Manila Major 2016 and TI6 while posting some wildly inconsistent results in regional events and qualifiers. While the main Vici Gaming squad had not been met with success, Vici Gaming Reborn had managed to earn itself a place at TI6, though it finished in the 13th-16th place position at the event. In the aftermath of TI6, Vici Gaming consolidated its two rosters, shutting down Vici Gaming Reborn and moving the majority of its roster under the main Vici Gaming banner. That move still wasn’t enough to stop the squad’s downward slide though, with the squad closing out 2016 with just 3 Top 4 finish in 11 total appearances.
2017 would see the roster experiments continue for Vici Gaming, as the squad cycled through more players through the first half of the year. After failing to qualify for TI7 though, the organization parted ways with the vast majority of its roster, with only Ori remaining in the lineup. Around him, Vici Gaming built a new roster, bringing in Paparazi灬, eLeVeN, and Fenrir while moving LaNm from coach to support. The team’s new lineup was quick to make a name for itself in the first Pro Circuit season, making 3 Minor appearances over the final months of 2017 and earning 2nd place finishes in 2 of them. The 2018 section of the season saw the squad make an additional 2 Minor appearances, as well a 6 Major appearances that helped earn the team a place at TI8. However, a 9th-12th place finish at the event itself prompted the organization to rethink its lineup as it prepared for its second season on the Pro Circuit.
Season in Review
The 2018-2019 Pro Circuit campaign began with a fair bit of change for Vici Gaming, as the organization announced a new roster for the upcoming season. The duo of Paparazi灬 and Ori returned from the previous roster, while the duo of Yang and Fade were brought in from VGJ.Thunder and Dy was added from the roster of Taichi Gaming. Right from the start of the season, it was clear that this new iteration of the team’s lineup was a strong one, as Vici Gaming claimed Top 4 finishes in its first 3 regional appearances and followed up those performances with a 2nd place run at ESL One Hamburg 2018 and a 7th-8th place showing at The Kuala Lumpur Major. Over the final 2 months of the year, the squad racked up another 3 Top 4 finishes in 4 appearances, giving it 7 in total over its first 9 appearances of the season.
The 2019 section of the season began with a 7th-8th place showing at The Chongqing Major, but soon after that the team ran into its first significant setback of the season. The team failed to qualify for the DreamLeague Season 11 Major with a 5th-6th place showing in the qualifier, and just managed to earn itself a spot in the field for the Minor with a 2nd place result in that regional qualifier. However, the squad proved itself capable of quickly bouncing back from those stumbles, as Vici Gaming proceeded to put together a 5th-6th place performance at MDL Macau 2019 before winning both the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 1 and the subsequent DreamLeague Season 11 Major, claiming the organization’s first ever Major Championship title in the process. In the wake of that incredible showing on the Pro Circuit stage, Vici Gaming appeared to be back in form, with the squad claiming Top 4 finishes in its final 2 regional appearances of the season in May while also claiming a 7th-8th place finish at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major and a 5th-6th place showing at ESL One Birmingham in the same month. The team’s season finale though would prove to be even more impressive, as Vici Gaming claimed its second Major Championship title of the season with a 1st place finish at the EPICENTER Major, becoming just the fifth team to ever win multiple Major Championships and tying the record for most Majors won by a Chinese squad with 2.
Zhang “Paparazi灬” Chengjun (Carry)
Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 8.11 kills, 9.59 assists, 2.69 deaths per game (145 matches)
Over the course of the past 2 years, Paparazi灬 has come to be one of the faces of the Vici Gaming organization, as the young Carry has earned himself a reputation as one of the most skilled players in the Chinese region. He began his career as a relatively unheralded player though, first appearing on the professional level in 2015 as a member of Immortal Magneto Gaming. After just 3 months with the team though, Paparazi灬 left the squad to join the roster of Team Fantuan, though the team met with little success over his 4 month stint in the lineup. In January of 2016, Paparazi灬 was picked up by Invictus Gaming, though he would appear in just a single event with the team before being shifted to the organization’s youth and development squad, Invictus Gaming Vitality (a.k.a iG Vitality). Paparazi灬’s time with the team got off to a somewhat rocky start, as iG Vitality struggled to find much success for itself in the Chinese region. However, the squad finally started to build up some momentum in the later half of 2016, putting up impressive results in regional events and qualifiers and even making an appearance at The Boston Major 2016. With Paparazi灬 helping to lead the way, iG Vitality continued to perform above expectations over the first months of 2017, earning a 4th place finish at DAC 2017 and making another Major appearance at The Kiev Major 2017. Those efforts where capped off by a successful run through the TI7 China Qualifier, earning iG Vitality and Paparazi灬 their first appearance on the Pro Circuit stage at TI7. In the aftermath of that event though, Paparazi灬 opted to leave iG Vitality, moving over to the roster of Vici Gaming where he would become the focal point of its lineup. Throughout this 2018-2019 season, Paparazi灬 has favored the high volume farmers and high damage heroes that have exemplified the hyper Carry style of play. Heroes like Terrorblade, Luna, Phantom Assassin, Morphling, and Troll Warlord are Paparazi灬’s most played this season, with the Carry holding a 65.45% win rate on those heroes in 110 matches played. While Paparazi灬 has shown a willingness to shift towards earlier engagements when needed, his primary strength has been on display when he has had the time and space necessary to get the most out of his usually greedier hero picks. That strength can be seen in Paparazi灬’s average of 8.18 kills per game this season, an average that comes in as the 6th highest among all players at TI9. So long as Vici Gaming can secure the time and space Paparazi灬 needs, then the Carry should be more than capable of leading the team to success in Shanghai.
Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang (Mid)
Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 7.03 kills, 9.52 assists, 3.21 deaths per game (145 matches)
If Paparazi灬 has emerged as one of the main faces of the Vici Gaming organization, then so too has Ori, as the duo has come to epitomize the new Vici Gaming after the organization’s various roster rebuilds over the last few years. Ori’s rise to prominence within the Dota 2 world has been incredibly impressive so far, especially when one considers just how quickly he came to be one of the focal points of one of the biggest organizations in the Chinese scene. Ori’s professional career began back in September of 2016 as a member of DUOBAO, but he was only with the squad for a period of around 4 months before his talent was noticed by the Vici Gaming organization. In January of 2017, he was announced as a member of the team’s new roster, and he has remained a part of said roster ever since. While Paparazi灬’s play style may emphasize a slow build focused upon high levels of farm, Ori’s preferred style in this 2018-2019 campaign revolved around played two different roles for the squad. The first role was that of the high damage, team fight oriented core, with the likes of Medusa, Death Prohpet, Outworld Devourer, Kunkka, and Dragon Knight featuring heavily in this group. With that pool of heroes, Ori focused upon being the focal point of team fights and engagements, providing a degree of sustained damage that the rest of the Vici Gaming roster could rally around to overpower opponents. The second role that Ori frequently played this season was that of the high damage assassin, with a focus on hitting 1 or 2 enemies as quickly as possible and as hard as possible. This group of heroes featured the likes of Lina, Necrophos, Puck, and Templar Assassin, with the emphasis for Ori centering around picking off a key piece of the opponent’s roster within the opening moments of an engagement. The shift between those play styles didn’t always lead to the highest of kill counts for Ori, with the Midlaner averaging 7.48 kills per game over the course of the season, which puts him at a tie for the 18th highest average among players at TI9. However, the style has certainly resulted in success for Vici Gaming as a whole, and the consistent damage and versatility that Ori brings to the table will be a welcome advantage for the squad on the TI stage in Shanghai.
Zhou “Yang” Haiyang (Offlane)
Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 4.39 kills, 12.51 assists, 4.46 deaths per game (145 matches)
With the Carry/Mid duo of Paparazi灬 and Ori receiving most of the attention on this Vici Gaming roster, Yang is often overlooked in terms of his own individual skill. However, the Offlaner certainly stands as a formidable player in his own right, and serves as an example of Vici Gaming’s ability to scout and foster talent within its organization. Yang has spent the entirety of his professional career with the Vici Gaming organization, getting his start back in March of 2015 as a member of Vici Gaming Potential. After about a year as a member of the squad, Yang was moved to the newly formed Vici Gaming Reborn in March of 2016, where he would get his first chance to truly shine both within the Chinese region and on the international level. With Vici Gaming Reborn, Yang attended his first Major with a 7th-8th place performance at The Manila Major 2016, but the true achievement for the young Offlaner was his helping his squad qualify for TI6. Unfortunately, Yang would not attend the event itself due to visa issues, but his run with the squad had demonstrated his value to the organization, and Yang was transferred to the main Vici Gaming roster in September of 2016. The new Vici Gaming roster would struggle to match the results of Vici Gaming Reborn though, as the team put together a relatively inconsistent stretch over the end of 2016 and most of 2017 and ended up failing to qualify for TI7. As Vici Gaming shuffled its players around in preparation for the first Pro Circuit season, Yang found himself moved to the roster of VGJ.Thunder, where he would make a total of 4 Minor and 3 Major appearances while helping to earn the squad a direct invite to TI8, where he and the squad would finish in the 13th-16th place position. The start of the 2018-2019 season saw Yang return to the main Vici Gaming roster, where he has remained throughout the entirety of the pro Circuit campaign. Throughout the 2018-2019 season, Yang has been placed in the role of both team fight controller and initiator, and single target damage and lock down specialist. On the team fight front, he has employed heroes like Centaur Warrunner, Brewmaster, Magnus, and Dark Seer, posting a 72.15% win rate in 79 matches on those heroes. In terms of damage and lock down oriented picks, Yang has seen frequent action with Necrophos, Doom, Nature’s Prophet, and Axe over the course of the season, claiming a 66.67% win rate in 54 matches on said heroes. Regardless of which style he has gone with, Yang has made consistent contributions for Vici Gaming, with his average of 12.61 assists per game sitting at 7th highest among Offlaners at TI9. His ability to make plays and set up his teammates for success has been invaluable to Vici Gaming throughout this recent season, and Yang figures to play a substantial role in the squad’s run in Shanghai as it looks to claim its first ever TI title.
Pan “Fade” Yi (Support, Captain)
Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 3.55 kills, 14.72 assists, 4.55 deaths per game (143 matches)
As a member of a Vici Gaming roster that is largely led from the front with Paparazi灬 and Ori, Fade doesn’t always attract much attention, but the young Support and Captain has established himself as an incredible talent with one of the more impressive campaigns in this 2018-2019 season. Of course, putting up career numbers if somewhat easier when one’s career is relatively short, as Fade’s time at the professional level began back in March of 2016 as a member of Thunderrobot Gaming. After just 2 months with the squad though, Fade was picked up by the Vici Gaming organization to join the roster of Vici Gaming Potential, where he stayed until the start of the 2017-2018 season. That season was spent as a part of the VGJ.Thunder roster, where Fade picked up his first significant levels of experience on the international level while making his first TI appearance as part of the team’s 13th-16th place run at TI8. Prior to the start of the 2018-2019 season, Fade was transferred to the main Vici Gaming squad, where he has served as the team’s Position 4 Support over the course of its Pro Circuit campaign. Throughout said campaign, Fade has largely been placed on aggressive heroes, with the Support looking for any possible opportunity to create openings for his cores on heroes like Shadow Shaman, Rubick, Tusk, Phoenix, and Earth Spirit. Those efforts have proven successful more often than not, with Fade holding a combined win rate of 71.65% on those heroes across 127 matches. Fade’s intentions no matter what hero he plays is always to create opportunities for his teammates to succeed, and in that regard he has proven himself to be among elite company coming into this event. His average of 14.87 assists per game is the second highest among all players attending TI9, and his ability to consistently set the rest of his squad up with kill opportunities has been a large part of the success of the Carry/Mid duo of Paparazi灬 and Ori, and of the success of Vici Gaming as a whole. If the squad wants to have a shot at claiming the Aegis of Champions in Shanghai, then Fade will have to continue to play his usual aggressive style and continue to exploit every possible weakness that he can expose in the team’s opponents on the TI stage.
Ding “Dy” Cong (Support)
Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 2.33 kills, 14.21 assists, 5.77 deaths per game (145 matches)
Like fellow Support Fade, Dy is often a player that is overlooked on this Vici Gaming roster. Dy also shares another similarity with his fellow Support in that he has also risen to a position of relative prominence in the Dota 2 world in a fairly short span of time. His career began in October of 2016 as a member of the minor squad Young Elite Gaming, where he remained for around a year before being picked up by Vici Gaming Potential in October of 2017. The squad was unable to find much success in the 2017-2018 Pro Circuit season, and in May of 2017, the roster was acquired by Taichi Gaming. Dy would close out the season with Taichi Gaming, but once the 2018-2019 season began, he opted for a return to the Vici Gaming organization as a member of its new roster. While teammate Fade has preferred the faster and more aggressive style of the Position 4 Support, Dy has settled into the more defensive, lock down oriented style of the Position 5 Support. His most played heroes over the course of the 2018-2019 season include the likes of Disruptor, Grimstroke, Nyx Assassin, Bane, and Silencer, with Dy holding a win rate of at least 60% with each of those heroes. Though their Support styles differ significantly, Dy has managed to keep up with Fade in terms of his contributions to Vici Gaming on a game by game basis, as the Support has averaged 14.67 assists per game across the 2018-2019 season. That average is the fourth highest among all participating players at TI9, putting Dy into some elite company in terms of his ability to protect and create opportunities for this cores to find success. While the duo of Paparazi灬 and Ori will likely draw the most attention coming into TI9 itself, Dy has put together a career year for Vici Gaming, and his continued contributions to the team’s game plan will be absolutely vital to the team’s chances of finding the ultimate success on the TI stage in Shanghai.
Bai “rOtK” Fan (Coach)
Vici Gaming come into TI9 with the benefit of having one of the most experienced and respected Dota 2 minds working behind the scenes, as Coach rOtK has built up quite a reputation for himself as both a player and a coach. After playing Dota 2 professionally for over 6 years with some of the biggest organizations in the Chinese scene, rOtK took a step away from active play in September of 2017, transitioning from a player to a coach for Team VGJ. Since then, he has served as a coach for Invictus Gaming and VGJ.Thunder, coming over to the Vici Gaming organization in September of 2018 for the 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season. Under his guidance, Vici Gaming successfully rebuilt itself around the duo of Paparazi灬 and Ori, and reclaimed its position as one of the leading teams in both the Chinese region and the Dota 2 world as a whole. The squad’s 2 Major Championship titles during rOtK’s tenure as coach has tied the organization with PSG.LGD for the most Major victories by a Chinese squad, and now he looks to guide the squad to the ultimate success in the Dota 2 world with a win on the TI stage on home soil in Shanghai. With his extensive experience working behind the scenes, Vici Gaming becomes an even more formidable force as it prepares to take on the Dota 2 world’s top squads at TI9.
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.
Set Paparazi灬 and Ori up for success at every possible opportunity
The Carry/Mid duo of Paparazi灬 and Ori are the heart and soul of this Vici Gaming roster, that much was painfully obvious when the organization rebuilt the entirety of its lineup around the pair heading into this 2018-2019 season. The move certainly appears to have paid off for Vici Gaming as well, with the two players establishing themselves as some of the most skilled players in the game at their respective positions. Paparazi灬 comes into TI9 with the sixth highest average among all participating players in terms of kills per game (8.18), and also holds the seventh lowest average in terms of deaths per game (2.83). While Ori comes in a bit lower than his teammate with averages of 7.48 kills and 3.30 deaths per game, the real strength of this duo comes not from their individual stats, but their combined output for Vici Gaming as a whole. Together, Paparazi灬 and Ori have combined to average 15.66 kills per game across the 2018-2019 season, which it tied for the seventh highest average among all Carry/Mid duos in the field for TI9 (tied with Nisha and MidOne of Team Secret). Time and time again, the duo has proven themselves capable of carrying Vici Gaming to victories against top level opposition, and Vici Gaming has come to rely upon them to consistently lead the team to success. If the squad is going to make a run for the Aegis of Champions in Shanghai, then Paparazi灬 and Ori will have to continue to maintain a high level of play and will need to bear the brunt of the responsibilities for the squad in terms of finding farm and kills. Throughout the entirety of this 2018-2019 season, Vici Gaming has been a squad that has been led from the front, and it will need to continue to rely upon its Carry/Mid duo while also taking every possible step to ensure that Paparazi灬 and Ori have the smoothest path to success that the team can possibly provide them.
Put Yang on the frontline whenever possible
With the duo of Paparazi灬 and Ori usually being responsible for generating the lions share of Vici Gaming’s kills and gold across a given match, Yang has not often been pushed into a position in which he must take up the true third farming core role that we’ve seen other squads employ more and more in this 2018-2019 season. Instead, the Offlaner has been free to pursue a strategy that focuses on team fight power and sustained strength on the front line of engagements. Across the entirety of the season, Yang ended up on heroes that either brought massive team fight power to the table, or had the ability to stand in the front line of a fight and endure high levels of damage while dishing out his fair share of damage as well. His most played heroes include the likes of Centaur Warrunner, Brewmaster, Necrophos, Doom, Magnus, Dark Seer, and Axe, with Yang holding a win rate of at least 50% with every single one of those heroes in the 2018-2019 campaign. In the most simplistic of terms, Yang has excelled as a distraction for the other cores on the team, but his impact goes far beyond simply being a damage sponge for the duo of Paparazi灬 and Ori. No matter the hero that he has been put on, Yang has proven incredibly skilled at surviving for as long as possible in engagements and ensuring that he has contributed as much damage and lock down as he possibly can. When he does end up falling in a fight, he often does so in a way that gives the rest of his squad the best possible chances of either winning the fight without him or successfully retreating from a failed engagement. While that kind of contribution is hard to quantify in terms of statistics, the impact of Yang’s game can certainly be felt and seen in Vici Gaming’s overall style. It’s those intangible aspects of Yang’s style that make him so valuable to Vici Gaming, and he will need to continue making those kinds of contributions for this squad if Vici Gaming want to have a shot at claiming the Aegis of Champions in Shanghai.
Let Fade and Dy create opportunities and make plays
We’ve talked about the ability of Paparazi灬 and Ori to both generate farm for themselves and find a high number of kills, but more often than not, that duo is not finding those opportunities from their own efforts alone. That’s where the Support duo of Fade and Dy come into the picture, as the two players have each put together superb campaigns over the course of this 2018-2019 season. Fade and Dy come into TI9 with the second and fourth highest assist per game average, respectively, so it should come as no surprise at all to find out that the duo has the highest combined assist per game average (29.54) of any Support duo in the field for TI9. Much of the attention given to this Vici Gaming lineup ends up focusing on the duo of Paparazi灬 and Ori, as those two players are often seen as having the most visible impact on the team’s overall success. However, the opportunities that Fade and Dy are able to create for their cores is one of the main reasons why Paparazi灬 and Ori have been able to put together the strong seasons that they have. If Vici Gaming is going to take a legitimate shot at claiming the Aegis of Champions in Shanghai, then the duo of Fade and Dy must continue generating those opportunities and making the plays necessary to set up the rest of the team for success. Though their work is rarely flashy or visible to the same degree as their teammates, Fade and Dy will be one of, if not the driving force behind a successful TI9 run for Vici Gaming.
Expectations at TI9
Vici Gaming comes into TI9 having carved out a place for itself among the top teams in the Dota 2 world, with the team’s new lineup having proven itself capable of taking on the elite teams on the Pro Circuit. Though the team’s roster is not quite as experienced as some of the other squads in the field, Vici Gaming’s players have displayed a tremendous level of skill that has translated into one of the best campaigns ever put together by a Chinese squad. The team became just the fifth squad to ever win multiple Major Championship titles with its victories at both the DreamLeague Season 11 and EPICENTER Majors, and tied regional rival PSG.LGD for the record for most Major titles won by a Chinese squad. At this stage, there is only one prize left for Vici Gaming to claim in order to complete what would effectively be a perfect season, and the Chinese powerhouse has that final prize in its sights as it prepares to take to the TI stage on home soil in Shanghai.
The question for Vici Gaming coming into TI9 itself is whether the squad has what it takes to fins success on the biggest stage in the Dota 2 world. In all honesty, it’s incredibly hard to find many reasons to argue that Vici Gaming isn’t one of the top teams in the Dota 2 world, and one of the most formidable teams in the field for TI9. The squad’s Pro Circuit campaign was incredibly impressive, with the team attending all 5 Majors in the 2018-2019 season and finishing in the top half of the event standings across all of them. That achievement in an of itself would already be a fairly impressive accomplishment, but when one adds on the fact that Vici Gaming won 2 of those Majors, it is hard to see the squad as anything other than an elite team in the Dota 2 world. In fact, against the other participating squads at TI9, Vici Gaming has put together a 70-58 overall record, including a 48-38 mark against teams from outside of the Chinese region.
Considering that the team has both the event results and the overall record to put it among elite company in the Dota 2 world, should Vici Gaming be considered one of the favorites to claim the Aegis of Champions and earn its first ever TI title in Shanghai? While the team is certainly not without some weaknesses, examples of opponents exploiting those weaknesses have been fairly rare over the course of this season, with Vici Gaming holding its own and finding success against the other top squads on the Pro Circuit in this 2018-2019 campaign. Perhaps the team is still a step or two behind the likes of Team Secret or Virtus.pro, but if that is the case then the Chinese squad is trailing those squads by much. Given the fact that Vici Gaming is coming off of a season in which its claimed 2 Major Championship titles, it would appear that the team is at the top of its game coming into TI9, and has perhaps its greatest opportunity to claim the Aegis of Champions at this event. With that in mind, expect Vici Gaming to find itself in the upper sections of the event standings, with the Chinese squads sitting among the favorites and legitimate contenders for the title of TI9 Champion in Shanghai.