Spurred on by Invictus Gaming’s
Singapore championship, the Chinese Dota Pro Circuit is more competitive than ever. Four of the eight teams competing in the Spring Upper Division are within one match of first place. These last two weeks are the most suspenseful yet. Just one match could flip most of the leaderboard upside down.
Standing atop the fray with a nearly perfect 5-1 record is Team Aster.
Western fans might remember the roster as Singapore flunkies with a scandalous Position 4, but they’ve demonstrated nearly complete dominance over their home region for the entire DPC season. In less than six weeks, Aster has gone from humiliated Major dropouts to Season 2 championship favorites.
The fall of Aster
Believe it or not, Season 2 is far from Aster’s breakout performance. The squad was a constant fixture of the online era, earning podium finishes at CD2 Pro Cup S2 and DPL-CDA Pro League S2. Their nearly flawless 6-1 record in the Winter Upper Division earned them a tiebreaker duel against Invictus to determine the regional champion.
That crucial best-of-three was there the team began to falter. An ambitious smoke before the horn backfired, handing first blood to Invictus. The squad seemed unusually static, with slow responses to the Lion shenanigans of iG captain Hu "kaka" Liangzhi.
A 50-minute loss gave way to a stomp in game two.
The troubles didn’t end there. Just days before the Singapore Major, superstar soft support Ye "Borax" Zhibiao
was arrested for soliciting an escort. Assistant coach Cheng "Mad" Han served as a stand-in, but Borax’ absence greatly impacted the team’s performance. They bombed out at 12th alongside Fnatic
and Quincy Crew.
From tanks to cannons
Aster’s Hero pool has changed radically since Patch 7.29. In the previous version, they relied heavily on tanky cores to outlast team fights. Mars, Phoenix, Abbadon, Wraith King, and Death Prophet was their default lineup with the occasional caster mid for Liu "WhiteAlbum" Yuhao.
Now, the squad is all-in on glass cannons. WhiteAlbum plays an extremely objective-focused Leshrac, racking up 50,750 building damage throughout the patch. Borax has returned with a vengeance, scoring 41 kills with 27 deaths on Skywrath Mage. Lin "Xxs" Jing
is still adept at absorbing enemy initiations, though counter-initiators like Axe and Legion Commander have taken the spotlight away from Mars and Brewmaster. It’s often Du “Monet” Peng’s
Spectre bearing the brunt and returning it in kind.
These Heroes demonstrate Aster’s complete 180° on drafting philosophy. They’ve become the ultimate aggressor, blitzing enemy players and towers before a proper reaction can be mounted. That speed forces the enemy team to make less-than-optimal answers to Aster’s relentless questions. Something as innocent as an aggressive TP Scroll can become a game-ending mistake against Aster. If things go south, Monet’s knack for sky-high GPMs makes him the ultimate contingency plan.
The ultimate goal of a Major victory is still a ways away. Aster have one final match to go before the Upper Division finishes, and it’ll be their hardest clash yet. They‘ll close out the season on the 21st with a showdown against Xu “fy” Linsen’s