China's mid lane exemplars: Ori and Emo

By Kenneth WilliamsAugust 18, 2020
The Chinese metagame for Patch 7.27 has evolved over the course of Moon Studio Asian League and OMEGA League: Asia. We’ve seen several upsets in the Chinese region since the patch’s release, but things are finally starting to settle down. Deathball vs. four-protect-one is still the dominant strategy, but more teams are beginning to experiment in the new meta.
The mid lane is also largely defined by those two techniques. Regardless of who wins the early advantage, one player spends the early midgame farming while the other forces objectives. Mid players tend to specialize in one of those two roles. Zeng "Ori" Jiaoyang from Vici Gaming and Zhou "Emo" Yi from Invictus Gaming are the most committed of them all.
These two players represent the archetypes of Chinese midlaners in 7.27. Ori’s by-the-book style is fundamentally flawless, focused on giving his team a second carry. Meanwhile, the flashy hero picks and mid-game clutches of Emo represent an equally strong but wildly different approach. These two players define the Chinese solo-mid strategies of 7.27.

Ori: Valedictorian

As the midlaner of Vici Gaming, Ori is a reminder that consistency wins championships. He’s quiet in interviews, often discussing his teammates more than himself. He prefers to let his gameplay do the talking. Unlike his more outspoken rivals, Ori regularly expresses gratitude toward his coach: legendary Chinese offlaner, rOtk.
Ori's career started with a short stint on Tier 2 team DUOBAO before being called up to the big leagues in early 2017. His tenure on Vici is one of the longest player-organization partnerships in the region. He’ll sometimes swap roles with carry, Zhang “Eurus” Chengjun, a symptom of his late-game-centric approach.
His primary hero pool consists of Puck, Ember Spirit, and Void Spirit. The last one is his particular favorite, winning a staggering 78.6% of 14 games played on 7.27. He greatly values the ability to split push and leave the jungle for his carry. His item builds on all three heroes maximize mobility at the expense of a later peak. Ori can somehow make Blink into Boots of Travel into Octarine Core look like a reasonable Puck build.
Average game length has been slowly ticking up since Patch 7.25, and Ori is loving the opportunity to flex his late-game muscles. It helps that Eurus is often somehow more farmed than Ori himself. Vici Gaming is one of the few teams left sticking to dual-core strategies, and it’s mostly paid off. They landed silver finishes at both OGA Dota Pit Season 2 and BEYOND EPIC: China.

Emo: Delinquent

When he’s not getting called the next big thing by TI winners or shattering professional records on Invoker, Emo serves as the X-Factor for Invictus Gaming. Greedy but tempo-focused play is a rarity in professional games, but Emo isn’t afraid to show his Ranked roots. He’s peaked as high as second on the Chinese MMR leaderboards.
Emo was promoted from iG.Vitality onto the main roster in the post-TI8 shuffle. He’s since proved himself a worthy investment, earning more than $400,000 USD with the team. He has no carry pool to speak of; he’d rather take Morphling to the mid lane. It helps that captain Hu “Kaka” Liangzhi pays special attention to giving him a good start.
His hero pool is less focused than many of his contemporaries, but the real variety in his play comes from his unique item builds. Necrobook Puck in 2020? It’s more likely than you think. While mostly focused on the mid-game, Emo is no stranger to taking things past an hour. He currently holds the regional record for most Rapiers in a pro game.
While he is far from the most consistent midlaner in China, Emo possesses an incredibly clear understanding of how to win a game of Dota 2. His close connection with Kaka allows him to pursue victory with the rest of Vici behind him. Even if that victory includes mid Shadow Demon.

Hallmarks of mid lane play

With their dueling focuses on late-game dominance and mid-game tempo play, almost every Chinese pro player can be put on a scale between Ori and Emo. While their more unorthodox picks remain outliers, their go-to heroes are common among their regional rivals.
The Ori side of the spectrum consists of classical midlaners with an emphasis on the late game like Royal Never Give Up’s Liu “白学家” Yuhao or Team Aster’s Song "Sccc" Chun. Aggressive playmakers like Sparking Arrow Gaming’s Gao "Setsu" Zhenxiong and Guo "Xm" Hongcheng of CDEC Gaming find their home on Emo’s side of the bench.
It’s also worth noting how the drafting changes of 7.27 have impacted this spectrum. Fewer early bans mean teams are more willing to risk counter picks and get their midlaner locked early. Evergreen picks like Storm, Ember, Void Spirit, Templar Assassin, and more are being picked up earlier than ever before. Midlaners need to commit to a game plan fast. Ori and Emo are the most well-adapted players to the draft metagame.

Bringing their meta worldwide

Vici Gaming and Invictus Gaming have had their fair share of rivalries throughout the years with Ori and Emo involved. With both players in-game, Vici Gaming holds an impressive 14:5 record against Invictus Gaming. Vici is considered a small step above Invictus in the pecking order, but remember that consistency builds championships.
These two players represent the extremes of the Chinese midlane, and their influence can be seen deep into their region’s Tier 2 scene. With international play resuming between China and Southeast Asia, we’ll see the world learn from the examples they set.
Watch Ori, Emo, and the rest of China’s top tier players clash with the titans of Southeast Asia in ESL One: Thailand, beginning August 20.
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