4 Angry Men have room for growth after debut

By Kenneth WilliamsNovember 6, 2020
China’s Dota 2 scene is infamous for the veil of mystery between it and Western fans. Their strategies become exaggerated whether they’re relying on early-game deathballs or ultra-late game carries. Their memes are borderline studied. The only translated interviews usually happen at TI, making their perspective on the state of Dota in 2020 even less transparent.
If there’s one thing China has been working towards throughout the online era, it's reorganizing their domestic talent. Several key coaches and players have been swapped around either to re-establish themselves in the Tier 2 scene or get a vantage point on prize money. Regardless of the current situation, the $40 million bomb set to drop at The International 10 is all the impetus needed to create a new superteam.
OG has made it easy to forget that the Aegis swapped between East and West every year before The International 8 in 2018.
4 Angry Men is the latest and greatest attempt to dethrone Team Secret as the number one team in Dota, though it will likely be months before the two teams ever play each other. For now, 4AM will be sharpening their swords against the rest of the Chinese scene. Their debut at CDA-FDC Professional Championship gave us our first glimpse of the East’s new monster.

Not-so-humble beginnings

The impact of Lu “Somnus” Yao and Xu “fy” Linsen leaving PSG.LGD in September cannot be understated. Both players had been on the team for almost three years achieving consecutive podium finishes at The International 8 and 9. The effective dissolution of LGD’s old roster was only a matter of time, with Ren “eLeVeN” Yangwei leaving for Vici just days afterward and EHOME transferring their remaining talent. The two role-codifiers leaving at the same time was no coincidence, and the rumor mill immediately went to work about fy’s new superteam.
After more than a month of talent scouting, the final roster underwent one more snag after it had been formally announced. Liu “Sylar” Jiajun, who had joined from EHOME, would be replaced with Zhang “Eurus” Chengjun. The brutal last-minute transfer only heightened the anticipation; Vici Gaming’s star was considered the best carry in China, contested only by the now LGD-christened Wang “Ame” Chunyu. Along with up-and-coming hard support Ru “RedPanda” Zhihao and Vici-playmaker Zhou “Yang” Haiyang in the offlane, the team is easily the most stacked in the region.

First or nothing at CDA-FDC

Expectations for the team were extremely high going into CDA-FDC Professional Championship. Anything less than a victory would be a disappointment. I wrote that the event was destined to be taken by either 4AM or PSG.LGD, and both squads faced off in a five-game grand final.
While a rivalry with LGD was inevitable, the biggest threat to 4AM’s tournament run was actually Royal Never Give Up. Contrary to most predictions, 4AM’s debut series was a loss. It wasn’t even close. Game one saw Gao “Setsu” Zhenxiong’s Puck take over from minute one, racking up almost 32,000 hero damage in just under 40 minutes. Game two was even more one-sided, with just three kills for 4AM after an awkward Position 1 Nightstalker draft. Their series in the semi-finals was slightly more competitive, but RNG once again simply outplayed fy’s new superteam.
Fy’s boys eventually bounced back to defeat RNG in the lower finals in under an hour, but that just shows the volatility of the matchup. 4AM’s race to the top against LGD will probably steal the spotlight within a couple of months, but I’m looking forward to any rematches against Royal Never Give Up.
As for 4AM’s grand final series, they looked completely even with LGD. Two rounds, including the final match, went past the 50-minute mark. A rough mid lane matchup snowballed into victory for LGD in game five. Their series could have gone differently depending on what Somnus had for breakfast that day.
When it comes to the squad’s playstyle, they’re incredibly adept at converting the slightest early lead into a victory. The squad boasted not just the first, but also the second shortest match of CDA-FDC at 16:59 against MagMa in the group stage and 18:39 in the loser’s finals against RNG. Other teams were quick to copy their draft strats; Leshrac and Templar Assassin became the go-to heroes to disrupt Chronospheres and counter initiate against flying Svens.

Will they usurp LGD’s throne?

For now, LGD can still claim to be China’s best team despite completely replacing their roster. The target has shifted since fy and Somnus first left their former banner, but 4AM has already proven their viability. I don’t see their second-place finish at CDA-FDC as a disappointment at all. 4 Angry Men took their biggest rival to game five of grand finals at their very first tournament. I predict they’ll continue to hover around the podium for a month or two before solidly unseating LGD as China’s flagship Dota team.
Watch 4AM take on PSG.LGD, Royal Never Give Up, Vici Gaming, and more at China Dota2 Pro Cup Season 2 starting November 14.
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