China's Upper Division DPC challengers from the Closed Qualifier

By Kenneth WilliamsJanuary 10, 2021
The qualifiers for the Dota Pro Circuit have marked the beginning of a new year for Dota. China’s scene has developed quite a bit during the online era with regular tournaments and a massive shuffle. The majority of teams that competed in the Chinese Closed Qualifiers were professional, sponsored squads with talent and history. Four of them ascended to the Upper Division, joining four direct invites, while the remaining teams are guaranteed spots in the Lower Division. If you’re just checking in on Chinese Dota now that the DPC is underway, here’s what you need to know about the Upper Division challengers.

Team Aster

Aster scored a handful of incredible upsets at the tail end of last year, but the team initially appeared to have been hurt by the early autumn shuffle. Ng Kee "ChYuan" Chyuan’s retirement and Song "Sccc" Chun’s move to EHOME left them without much star power. Former Royal Never Give Up carry Du “Monet” Peng and Liu "DD斩首" Yuhao were brought in as reinforcements. The team is late-game focused, but Monet is more willing to let DD斩首 take mid-game farm. Even position three Lin "Xxs" Jing can take over a game, as he proved in their series against Dalanjing Gaming. Those upsets combined with a swift 4-0 in the qualifiers have Aster on the fast track to China’s top tier.

Team MagMa

Team MagMa is the result of a youth development program organized by an octet of legendary retired Dota players called Old Boys. Undisputedly, they have the coolest origins of any team in the DPC. The squad’s name is a combination of the dueling squads that preceded it: Ocean and Blaze. MagMa hovered around the tier two scene for much of 2020, scoring their first championship at the Perfect World Dota2 League recently. Their swift takedown of Invictus Gaming in the qualifier’s first round is an even bigger upset in retrospect. Position one Tang "k" Kaiwen drew attention with an 835 GPM Terrorblade performance to seal the second game. Whether they can recreate it against PSG.LGD or Elephant is yet to to be seen. Of all the teams in the Upper Division, MagMa has the most to prove.

LBZS

As an assembly of players from China’s various development rosters, the highest level of the DPC is not LBZS’s natural environment. They scored their first big upsets at the original CD2 Pro Cup over names like LGD and Team Aster, leading to a $20,000 championship at Moon Studio Autumn League within the month. Their wonky style includes offbeat picks like right-click Arc Warden and safe lane Medusa for Yang “MS” Yongjie, while Liu “EX” Shaojunmid seems to greatly enjoy 7.28’s magic-vulnerable Ancient camps as mid Batrider. The group's misfit nature juxtaposes them with the classically developed Team MagMa, who defeated LBZS in a close three-game series to clinch their spot. Will nature or nurture triumph in the Upper Division?

Invictus Gaming

Invictus has struggled in the online era, but a duo of fantastic games from offlaner Thiay "JT-" Jun Wen secured iG a spot at the champion’s table. The team received a minor upgrade in the shuffle with the introduction of former Keen captain Hu "kaka" Liangzhi on soft support. iG pulled the biggest seeding-shaker of the tournament to secure their spot in the big leagues, going 2:0 against favorites Royal Never Give Up. The team is known for taking games and even the occasional set off big names like LGD and Vici. If kaka can bring consistency, Invictus could harken back to the glory days of TI2 in 2020.
Both the Upper and Lower Divisions of the China Dota Pro Circuit will start on January 18.
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