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China's final showdowns: DPC matches to watch

By Kenneth WilliamsMarch 3, 2021
China’s Dota Pro Circuit division operates on a different schedule from the rest of the world. Players and staff enjoyed a two-week break for the Lunar New Year in February. While most of the world has already finished up their DPC divisions, CN teams get two more weeks to climb the leaderboards. All four of the Upper Division direct invites still have something left to prove, and the two brightest rising stars will finally get to face off. If you’re tuning into Chinese Dota now that the other regions have finished up, here are three must-watch matches still remaining.

Elephant vs. Vici Gaming

For Xu “fy” Linsen’s superteam Elephant, greatness seemed inevitable. The roster boasts an icon in every lane, and even their prospective hard support Ru "RedPanda" Zhihao holds his own. However, the team is just barely in the upper half of the leaderboard. They’re on track to redeem themselves, winning their last three matches handily. Vici Gaming have been trying to overtake Elephant and LGD since the start of the online era. They’re currently in second place with a 4-1 match record. All that remains are their two toughest rivals; Elephant and LGD. The DPC is their chance to surpass rivals old and new.
Elephant has greatly influenced the DPC metagame. Void Spirit looks completely broken in the hands of Lu "Somnus" Yao. While extremely popular in other regions, the Hero has grown very popular in the latter DPC half. Outside of that comfort pick, Elephant’s drafts have been the least predictable of the season. Vici captain Ding "Dy" Cong and Xiong "Pyw"' Jiahan might be the strongest support duo in the region; their gank mastery on Heroes like Shadow Shaman and Clockwerk make their team a mid-game terror. The battle between CN’s best tempo teams starts March 6.

EHOME vs. PSG.LGD

The sole match of the March 7th gameday features two invited teams, both on the bottom half of the scoreboard. A match between EHOME and LGD is usually over a podium placing, but neither team is guaranteed a slot in the next season’s Upper Division. They sit at 1-4 and 2-3 records, respectively. Another loss would put either team on the brink of relegation.
DPC points won’t be the only thing at stake. EHOME is still striving for a permanent place in China’s top tier. Lai "AhJit" Jay Son’s greedy playstyle could come back to haunt LGD, who benched him after a five-day stint last February. Captain Pan "Fade" Yi is one of the most bloodthirsty supports on the CN circuit, averaging 14.82 assists a game. PSG.LGD’s squad will also be facing their former banner, but with the stellar addition of carry superstar Wang “Ame” Chunyu. His 709 average GPM and staggering 526 last hit average make him the final boss of CN Dota. EHOME will have to rely on their stellar midgame coordination to avoid staring down a six-slotted Ame.

Team Aster vs. Invictus Gaming

While Aster is no second on the leaderboards after a clean loss to Vici, they are still one of the event's breakout teams. Multiple upsets over Vici, Elephant, and LGD gave them a lot of momentum going into the DPC. Their unexpected success is topped only by Invictus Gaming, who have managed to go undefeated in the Upper Division. They’re on track to join Virtus.pro and Team Secret in the exclusive clean sweep club.
The two teams will get their showdown on March 13th as the DPC finale, an honor both teams have rightfully earned. Aster has been betting their matches on carry Du “Monet” Peng, who should now be in the same discussions as Ame, Somnus, and Eurus. He’s backed up by two of China’s most versatile supports in Ye "Borax" Zhibiao and Zhang "LaNm" Zhicheng. Meanwhile, Invictus leans very heavily on both cores. Jin "flyfly" Zhiyi and Zhou "Emo" Yi currently rock 10.38 and 9.11 KDAs compared to Monet’s 8.21. While they enjoy picking up a meta-approved core early in the draft, one-off counterpicks like Kunkka and Bristleback have become a staple of iG Dota.
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