iG.Vitality: The Rising Stars of Chinese Dota
This article is part of a series on the 18 teams participating in The International 7 on Aug. 2.
Chinese Dota teams used to consist mainly of experienced players who had been around since the Allstars days. Brands like LGD, ViCi Gaming, TongFu, and Team DK saw regular rotation among these veterans. Even Newbee, formed in 2014, had seasoned players like Zhang “xiao8” Ning and Wang “SanSheng” Zhaohui.
After Newbee won TI4, China dominated the top slots at TI5, with four out of the top five positions. On the surface, things looked great for the Chinese scene. However, their reliance on older players made the big-name teams vulnerable. This led to the unexpected rise of CDEC, a team comprised of young players, who qualified for The International that year and surpassed everyone’s expectations.
CDEC, one of the two wild card teams, didn’t make it through the regional qualifiers, but they impressed everyone by reaching the grand finals through the upper bracket. Ultimately, they came in second place, losing to Evil Geniuses. This unexpected success marked the start of the “academy squad” revolution in China, as CDEC’s young players achieved more than anyone thought possible.
The season following TI5, top-tier Chinese teams heavily invested in new talent. Academy teams became more prevalent, but it wasn’t until TI6 that these investments paid off. Wings Gaming, a team that has since disbanded, shocked the world by bringing the Aegis of Champions back to China that year. Wings’ story marked an important milestone in Chinese Dota history.
The Vitality of Youth
iG.Vitality, the sister squad to Xu “BurNIng” Zhilei’s Invictus Gaming, embodies the new formula for Chinese teams. They combine up-and-coming talents with experienced players who are willing to adapt to the current meta. While they didn’t qualify for last year’s International, they have been a consistent presence in premier LAN events this year. Although they haven’t achieved significant results yet, they have the potential to make a deep run in TI7.
Balance in All Things
iG.Vitality strikes a great balance between skill and experience across all five positions. They have explosive young cores in Zhang “Paparazi” Chengjun and Xu “Sakata” Zichen, while Yang “InJuly” Xiaodong anchors the team with his offlane expertise. The support duo, Su “super” Peng and Gao “dogf1ghts” Tianpeng, further contribute to the team’s success.
Expect iG.Vitality to rely heavily on the synergy within their lineup throughout the tournament.
Burdened by Mediocrity
Despite their skill and chemistry from playing together for over a year, iG.Vitality has struggled to achieve victory. They face strong and consistent teams that outshine them. To perform well at TI7, they must learn from past mistakes and use their experience to fuel their performance. Simply forgetting their failures will not benefit them.
Player to Watch
Paparazi, iG.Vitality’s position 1 player, is a standout performer to keep an eye on. While he primarily plays the carry role, he has also displayed great skill as a midlaner. He showcased his skills by defeating renowned midlane players like SumaiL and Miracle- in the one-on-one mid mini-tournament at DAC 2017.
iG.Vitality faces a significant challenge due to their relative weakness compared to other teams at TI7. They have potential, but unleashing it will require more than what they have shown in tier 1 events so far.
iG.Vitality receives a C, or perhaps a C+ if we are optimistic. They possess talent and chemistry, as demonstrated by their regular presence in premier tournaments. However, overcoming the favorites in Seattle will be a daunting task.
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