And finally, here we are. The Shanghai Major group stages officially kick off in less than 24 hours, and what better way to end our preview series by taking a closer look at the host region? The Chinese are very passionate about Dota 2, and you can expect them to show up to the Mercedes-Benz Arena in droves to support their fellow countrymen in their quest for a Major title.
With the fans backing them up, the Chinese teams are going to be a wall to their Western opponents. Even though Chinese Dota hasn’t been at the same level as it was back in, say, 2012, flashes of their former glory have been seen lately. If there’s one thing you can count on when it comes to the Chinese, it’s their work ethic and how much time and effort they devote to this game. Perhaps that grind-it-out mentality is paying off once again — and it might pay off big time here at the Major.
CDEC Gaming (50/1 Skybet)
Once upon a time, CDEC Gaming was considered to be one of the best teams in the world, despite supposedly coming from humble beginnings in the semi-pro/amateur tiers of the Chinese scene. Originally named “LGD.CDEC” as part of LGD Gaming’s player development program, they left the LGD brand in October of 2014 in order to establish a name for themselves the following year.
The move paid off hugely. In 2015, they placed second at G-League, placed top 4 at ESL One New York and the MLG World Finals, and top 6 at the Frankfurt Major. The most impressive of their accomplishments last year? Qualifying for TI5 through the wildcard games and reaching the grand finals of that tournament in incredible fashion. It looked like they were totally poised to win it all and make history as the first wildcard qualifier team to ever win an International. Unfortunately, EG put a stop to that in the grand finals.
Hopes were high for the young team even coming out of TI5. They continued to play well through the rest of the year, but this year, they’ve been struggling to find any significant success. Yes, it’s only February, but so far there hasn’t been a lot for their fans to cheer about. Their limited hero pool as a team is affecting them heavily, and in this meta where their signature heroes aren’t exactly strong, they’ve had to come up with new drafts that don’t really work for them. This leaves the team crippled in several places, and with a fairly low chance of making a run comparable to their success last year. It is for this reason that we recommend staying away from them in this market.
LGD Gaming (10/1 bet365)
As one of the oldest and most storied organizations in Dota, LGD Gaming always have big shoes to fill regardless of the roster. This time, they don’t have their usual mainstays like xiao8 and Yao, but their current lineup is still packed with some great Chinese Dota veterans like Sylar and MMY!. Out of the home court teams in the competition, LGD stands as one of the more solid squads out there.
The fact that they were snubbed out of a direct invite to this Major despite their former sister team (who got a slot straight into the tournament) playing far worse than they are speaks to place that LGD are in right now. They found some success last year after winning i-League Season 3 (bagging more than $400,000 in prize money for it), G-League 2015, and they even placed a very respectable third place at TI5 considering the competition they had to go through. Although they fell really short at Frankfurt and the MLG World Finals, they managed to pick themselves back up somewhat at WCA 2015, where they took Alliance to five games in the grand finals. That last one was played on 6.86, mind you.
This lineup is capable of making it to the grand finals of nearly any tournament they join, and this one is no exception. At 10/1 odds they’re a pretty good bet for this market based on what they’ve shown us in the past. They will have to contend with their fellow Chinese teams and the Western powerhouses, but these guys can make it happen.
ViCi Gaming (8/1 Skybet)
ViCi Gaming are a fan favorite team, even outside of China. Having personalities such as iceiceice and BurNIng in your roster certainly helps you attract more than just a few supporters from foreign soil. They come into the Shanghai Major with a few doubts hanging above their heads, but this is a team that nobody should underestimate. With perhaps the most stacked lineup in China in terms of raw talent and skill, they have the capacity to outplay just about anyone in the tournament.
ViCi took second place at the Nanyang Dota 2 Championships last year, and fourth place at TI5. Prior to that, they fell short of the title at the Dota 2 Asia Championships, which isn’t surprising considering that was Sumail’s breakout tournament. Top 6 at the Frankfurt Major was kind of a disappointment for the team, but now they’re looking forward to making a deep run in this one.
VG are quite reliant on their star support duo Fenrir and fy, who both have stellar reputations as two of the best support players in the entire world. Seriously, the plays these guys pull off can be downright amazing and astounding. They serve as the pillars on which the BurNIng/Super core usually stands on, while offlaner iceiceice usually plays initiator heroes. When all the pieces fall into place and VG are working in complete harmony, they’re very difficult to beat despite being forced by the meta to play a more farming-based game rather than playing off of their support duo’s rotations.
If they can get it rolling in Shanghai, they will be hard to stop. Hell, even when they’re down, somehow their stars BurNIng and iceiceice find ways to pull themselves out of holes. A grand finals appearance would not be that surprising at all, and at the very least they’re likely going to finish in the top 6. At 8/1 they’ll give you lower returns than LGD, but VG are definitely a safer bet.
Newbee (28/1 Skybet)
Although the years since their TI4 victory haven’t been kind to Newbee, they have improved a bit since the time they bombed out of TI5 without even reaching the Bo3 part of the losers bracket. They reached second place at the Shanghai Dota 2 Open, eventually losing to LGD after four games. They also narrowly avoided getting crushed at the MarsTV Dota 2 League LAN Finals this year, and they even beat Team Secret to make it to the top 6.
Even so, they’re probably not going to win the Shanghai Major. This team lacks the power to make a particularly deep run in a long tournament like this, and their lack of significant results in this patch makes it hard to be confident in them. At 28/1 odds you’d have to have plenty of faith in Hao and Mu (two players who haven’t been at their best since TI5), or in ChuaN’s Enchantress seeing how she’s a fairly popular pick in 6.86 if you want them to win in this market. We’d suggest holding out until the group stages kick into gear before considering placing money on Newbee.
EHOME (10/3 bet365)
The final team in our preview series is the one and only EHOME. An organization even more fabled than LGD, EHOME used to be at the very top of the world before Dota 2 was even released. They won many championships back in the day and were considered one of the strongest teams at TI1, even though the ended up losing to Na’Vi in a history-defining grand final match.
Nowadays, they run with a nice mix of young, rising talents and wise, seasoned veterans — and it’s a formula that has already proven to be successful. From the explosive plays we’ve come to expect from Cty to the fantastic guidance and mentoring of team captain LaNm, this team is complete from top to bottom. Since forming this lineup, they’ve been in six major tournaments, three of which they won. Their most impressive achievement to date: stomping EG into the curb at MDL with a clean 3-0 victory.
In this region, they’re the team to beat at the Major. They look like they’ve settled well into the meta and have refined their teamfight execution to a razor sharpness. Trying to take EHOME on in a 5v5 situation almost seems like a death wish at times, and even when they’re down a hero, their stellar movement and spacing in big team clashes help pull them out of sticky situations more often than not. They’ve also found ways to counter split-pushing in this meta by never giving up on their towers. This allows them to keep the momentum going their way without having to give a lot of their own up.
The returns on an EHOME bet are low compared to the other Chinese teams, but with the momentum they have going into this tournament and the talent they have on their roster, it’s easy to see them getting to the grand finals and even defeating whomever they meet there. Betting on them in the outright winner market almost seems too safe, but remember that this isn’t EG we’re talking about. Either way, they slide into our recommended bets as far as the Chinese squads go.
The recommended bets above are arranged from the riskiest to the safest. To be honest, all three of these teams are grand final caliber, so it will come down to composure, experience, and individual skill between them. LGD and VG are more profitable bets, but with the way EHOME are rolling right now, you should consider your choice carefully.