The 2021 Dota Pro Circuit season is finally kicking off. The Asian scene is the first to run qualifiers, and China has already found their first Lower Division entrants in CDEC Gaming
and new stack, Fishing. As for the prestigious Upper Division, the first four invites have already been delivered to Elephant, Vici Gaming, PSG.LGD, and EHOME. Each of them earned Valve’s attention with excellent placings throughout the online era.
If you’re just tuning into Dota’s esports scene now that the DPC has returned, here’s what you need to know about the CN Upper Division invites before they square off against the challengers from the Closed Qualifier.
Calling Xu “fy” Linsen’s
Elephant anything other than a superteam is an understatement. The spring shuffle’s first major shakeup was the departure of Lu “Somnus” Yao
and fy from their longtime sponsor PSG.LGD. Vici also lost two stars to fy’s project in Zhou "Yang" Haiyang
and Zhang "Eurus" Chengjun.
After a long period of speculation, the squad finally debuted in November to a solid second place, under LGD. After consecutive victories at CD2 Pro Cup S2 and OGA Dota Pit S4, Elephant are the current kings of Chinese Dota.
Their reign is not entirely uncontested. LGD can definitely hold a candle to the roster, and the teams are currently 3:3 in tournament matches. The Major in March will be the team’s first real test; it’ll ignite old rivalries between East and West and ring in the new era of Elephant and Team Secret. Expectations are sky-high for the stack, which is both a blessing and a curse. Anything less than DPC dominance will be a disappointment.
The former flagship PSG.LGD is still a dominant force in Chinese Dota despite losing their entire roster in the shuffle. The organization chose to sign the old EHOME roster with Wang “Ame” Chunyu
on carry, a position he previously held for LGD’s TI8 and TI9 podium runs. The team has earned three championships and five podium placings since their return in October, including a $30,364 victory at CDA-FDC S2.
LGD is in a unique position as the clear second-best team in China. They're first in line to contest Elephant, and a 5-2 tournament record puts them squarely above Vici. The team has largely retained their slightly offbeat playstyle of the old EHOME with plenty of cheeky Techies drafts for Zhao "XinQ" Zixing.
The addition of Ame has also brought a brand new flavor of late-game dominance. Unseating Somnus and Eurus as the premier Chinese core player will be his personal goal through 2021.
Vici Gaming is still a part of China Dota’s holy trinity, but the loss of Eurus and Yang to Elephant greatly impacted the team’s strength. Bringing in former LGD offlaner Ren "eLeVeN" Yangwei
was a logical choice, but the team’s carry role is in limbo. Originally, Nuengnara "23savage" Teeramahanon
was supposed to take the reigns after Yang "Erica" Shaohan’s
tenure as a sub, but the SEA icon never played a game before his January 3rd dismissal.
Vici will be starting the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit without a fully formed roster. There isn’t much free talent in the region, but Erica’s performance has been pretty good so far. The remixed roster earned their first victory at OGA Dota Pit S3, though a duo of 6th places at CD2 Pro Cup S2 and CDA-FDC S2 have put them in a precarious position. Through the roster troubles, Vici will fight to remain a fixture of China’s top tier.
After winning $85,507 at DPL-CDA S2 and selling their entire lineup to LGD, EHOME became a very fancy misfits club. Former LGD captain Jian Wei "xNova" Yap
and offlaner Yang "Chalice"' Shenyi
were quickly snatched up to lead the new venture. Some much need firepower was found in Song "Sccc" Chun,
whose late-game prowess is backed up by midlaner Guo “Xm” Hongcheng’s
slightly less greedy hero pool. Though the team debuted to great results, they’ve yet to win a championship since their formation.
The reactivation of renowned soft support Pan "Fade" Yi
in November brought another layer of consistency to the explosive roster. The team does a good job of avoiding upsets, but they have a very difficult time against the three teams mentioned above. In a region known for its hierarchy, EHOME has the potential for a Cinderella story. Their worst-case scenario is getting usurped by the up-and-coming Team Aster.
The DPC Closed Qualifier for China begins on January 8.