Two Major title holders, Invictus Gaming and PSG.LGD will set foot in TI10 as the favorites; both on a mission to earn China its long-yearned TI title.
The International 10 (TI10) is approaching closer after a series of unfortunate cancels and delays. Fans are excited to finally see the return of the world championship featuring a live audience, and there are tons of things we can expect. However, the elephant in the room is definitely China’s entrance to TI10 as the strongest region.
The earliest iterations of The International saw a classic rivalry between the two sides, West and East. Every year, the sides won in turns; Na’Vi from EU claiming the first title, Invictus Gaming from China winning the second, Alliance from EU winning the third, and so on. However, the pattern broke in 2018, when OG, a European team, defeated PSG.LGD in the grand finals. In 2019, the Chinese region's redemption fell short, not even making it to the grand finals. But this year, it emerges stronger than ever.
The whole season witnessed the Chinese region showcasing dominance, with both the Major titles crowned to two Chinese teams, Invictus Gaming and PSG.LGD. The region’s outstanding performance throughout the year earned them five slots to The International 10 and right now, the Chinese region is anticipated to shine in the championship.
The two Major winners are undoubtedly under the limelight so let's preview both Invictus Gaming and PSG.LGD's form coming to The International 10.
There is no question mark to Invictus Gaming's stellar form
Invictus Gaming is one of the earliest organizations to compete in The International. It rose to prominence after winning the second TI title and has ever since established itself as a powerhouse from the CN region.
The organization had a tough time the last couple of years, placing the bottom rank in TI8 and failing to qualify for TI9, losing the qualifier run to RNG. Following their upsetting run in the TI9 qualifier, Invictus Gaming went through a slight roster change, adding a new position four. Invictus Gaming’s roster that we’ll see in TI10 is as follows;
- Jin "flyfly" Zhiyi
- Zhou "Emo" Yi
- Thiay "JT-" Jun Wen
- Hu "kaka" Liangzhi
- Chan "Oli~" Chon Kien
Invictus Gaming's spectacular journey to TI10
Invictus Gaming dominated the first DPC season in China, claiming the top rank ahead of powerhouses such as PSG.LGD, Vici Gaming, and Elephant. The team had a convincing run, only dropping one series to Team Aster.
Securing first rank in the CN region, Invictus Gaming booked a slot to the Singapore Major, which was the first Dota 2 LAN event by Valve since early 2020. However, IG’s impressive run wasn’t enough to mark them as the favorites and they came to the Singapore Major with a lot to prove.
Invictus Gaming started their marathon from the Playoffs, winning 2-1 against their regional counterpart, Vici Gaming. They were then defeated by the North American top dog, Evil Geniuses, and dropped from the upper bracket, which forced them to make the lower-bracket run. The Chinese team managed to secure a revenge match in the grand finals after defeating Thunder Predator, Team Secret, and PSG.LGD. Hope seems faint in the final series as they lost two consecutive games and were seemingly lost in the third game. But with a single question mark, Invictus Gaming slew Evil Geniuses in an intense reverse sweep to triumph in the Major.
The Singapore Major witnessed Emo establishing himself to not only be a spectacular midlaner but also a confident individual. The young player serves as a crucial playmaker for the team, often enabling his two cores on the sidelanes with signature heroes such as Void Spirit and Storm Spirit. The offlane duo for Invictus Gaming showcases exceptionally smooth chemistry. Kaka, always opting for the disabling supports, excels well on these heroes and coupled with JT-’s dominant gameplay, creates a chef's kiss combination on the offlane.
Flyfly is what anyone would describe as a good carry. He farms well even under difficult situations, he makes the right decisions, he lands the right Chronospheres; there’s little to what can be better. And with the thorough support of Oli, who seems to promptly blast his opponents with Ancient Apparition every game, they both make a solid safelane. The five players showcase sleek teamwork and communication; with beautiful teamfight setups and counter-initiations.
IG tapers off in the next Major
Following the Singapore Major, the team rose to its deserved repute, however, the second Major didn’t look too well for the squad. Oli faced issues with traveling as he had to follow Covid-19 restrictions and was replaced by IG’s coach, Su "super" Peng. The team entered the Major and battled in the brutal Wild Card to lose just barely behind Team Nigma, facing elimination and placing 15th. The team’s form was possibly affected by the sudden change in the roster but considering so, they still gave a great performance.
Invictus Gaming is definitely one of the favorites going to The International 10. Barring beastcoast, Invictus Gaming has the longest standing roster attending TI10 since Kaka joined in late 2019. They have three first-timers, JT-, Oli, and Emo, and two experienced players. Kaka was the runner-up in TI7 under Newbee’s banner and flyfly attended TI8 with Team Serenity.
The five players have proven themselves on the global stage of Dota 2 but it’ll be exciting to see what they bring to the table for the grandest stage of them all.
Preview: The TI10 CIS teams are hungry, but are they ready? ft. insights from TI analyst Cap
Virtus.Pro and Team Spirit are the two teams representing the CIS region at TI10. While extremely talented, both teams lack experience, something that might hold them back at the $40 million event.
Undeniable favorites, PSG.LGD reigns supreme
As the heavy favorites, there is really nothing to say regarding PSG.LGD.
The organization is a veteran in the scene, having attended all TIs since 2012. It is a prominent name not only among the Chinese teams but also in other regions. PSG.LGD holds a jaw-dropping record and not many can match its outstanding reputation. 2016 was the last time PSG.LGD finished less than 4th at TI and 2017 was the last time they finished less than 3rd.
Ex-TI champions and a fresh face; road to TI10
The Chinese powerhouse has shown formidable dominance throughout 2021, both in regional leagues and on international stages. Since the beginning of the season, the team showcased an astounding rise. In Season 1 of CN Upper Division, PSG.LGD settled at fourth place, then won third place in the Singapore Major, behind EG and Invictus Gaming. As if the results weren’t impressive enough, the bloodthirsty team emerged stronger in Season 2 to become the champions of the WePlay Animajor.
Here is the roster of PSG.LGD we will be seeing in TI10;
- Wang "Ame" Chunyu
- Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang
- Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida
- Zhao "XinQ" Zixing
- Zhang "y`" Yiping
The team has an insane synergy that is not quite apparent in other teams. PSG.LGD’s gameplay portrays fearlessness towards their opponents, and they’re not afraid to be unconventional. They can draft beautifully according to meta and they are also able to deliver quirky lineups.
Ame is one to pay attention to as he is possibly the best Dota 2 player right now (according to the King himself) Not many can disagree as the fellow has put forth impressive, bloodthirsty carry plays. Ame was the talk of the town throughout the WePlay Animajor with a meta-defining Axe carry. He fervently dominated their matches, speed farming like a mad man and slaughtering his opponents with his timely calls. Together with NothingToSay - a TI first-timer, both of them define the core roles.
NothingToSay proves not only is he the king on the pub leaderboards, but he is just as potent when it comes to competitive Dota 2. Commanding the midlane with his spectacular mechanics and executing flawless rotations; NothingToSay is no doubt one of the best midlaners at the moment. Faith_bian, in charge of the offlane, dictates most teamfights. He delivers amazing initiations and sets up perfect teamfights for his allies. But the strongest structures would not survive without their support. XinQ and y’, bearing a versatile pool of supports, keep the team intact. During the WePlay Animajor, XinQ had accumulated the highest average assists per game.
PSG.LGD is quite the bizarre team, with none of its members outshining the other. Every single player in the team seems to bring equally great value and mixing these players together like puzzle pieces, they form a magnificent picture. And that is the current team we witness constantly outplaying their opponents in what seems to be plain sailing for them.
PSG.LGD also has all the experience they need. Faith_bian and y’ were previous TI6 champions under the Wings Gaming banner. Their coach, xiao8 was a TI4 winner. Ame and XinQ had their experience on The International stage. And with all of them guiding the prodigious NothingToSay, a TI win is not only possible but anticipated.
PSG.LGD grows stronger by the day
The recent tournaments, ESL One Fall and OGA Dota Pit saw PSG.LGD participating without its crucial midlaner, NothingToSay. Due to his travel issues, Zhang "xiao8" Ning, had to stand in for the Malaysian playmaker, and nevertheless, the team still shined throughout the events. PSG.LGD remains on top form, showcasing amazing teamwork, and ultimately won the OGA Dota Pit Invitational.
With NothingToSay absent from the team’s recent performances, other teams might find difficulty in reading the team’s future strategies and gameplay. If so, that only boosts the already high stakes of PSG.LGD claiming this tenth title.
But what remains to be seen, is if they manage to maintain their form in the upcoming The International 10. With the potential of double Aegis' on the line for half of the team, PSG.LGD will have to reward the faith the world has put in them.
The International looms above us all with only a week before it kicks off. By then, we will have the joy of witnessing the best Dota and perhaps, a legendary redemption from the Chinese region.