Is Chinese Dota 2 in crisis?

There are some facts of life in esports that will never change. Koreans are going to be good at any game they focus on, CIS players in CSGO will have great aim and questionable manners online, and Chinese Dota 2 will always be strong. However, results from the Kuala Lumpur Major suggest it might be time to revisit our old assumptions about CN Dota 2.

There are a few names missing, of course, with Newbee having made changes after a terrible TI8 and still trying to find their way, but right now there is a single spark of hope for China, and it’s half French. Outside of the wonderful PSG.LGD squad that made it to the TI8 final, only to lose in Game 5 to an inspired OG, Kuala Lumpur is now free of Chinese teams at a relatively early stage.


The first and perhaps most urgent story from Chinese Dota has to be Team Aster, Xu ‘BurNIng’ Zhilei’s organisation, which was formed this year. While BurNIng’s legend is untouchable, he has so far not been able to parlay that into good results for his new young charges, as they finished third in their group in Malaysia before crashing out in round one of losers to the J.Storm boys. Even the team they beat in groups, TNC, have gone further at this point …

It’s a far cry from the days when Chinese Dota was a force to be feared

Likewise, Vici Gaming will be massively disappointed, not just because they are out of the competition, but with the way they exited the tournament. A runners-up spot at ESL Hamburg looked like a positive sign for them going into the new DPC season, but they went out to TNC Predator after dropping into the lower bracket, having lost to Secret, and didn’t look like winning either series.

There is still the lone hope of PSG.LGD, of course, who sit in winners' half of the bracket and are due to face the impressive Team Secret for a place in the Upper Bracket finals, but it’s a far cry from the days when Chinese Dota was a force to be feared. Newbee’s plight, from winning TI in 2014, to finishing second in 2017 and then not even making it to KL this year is particularly worrying, but Aster have done no better and Invictus crashed out of TI this year in 17-18th position.

How it is fixed is a tough one and, with the demanding nature of the Chinese support, it may be that there is a cultural issue as the players feel more and more pressure each year, but whatever the reason, it needs to be addressed for Dota’s sake. China is a superpower in this game, and the world of esports generally, and PSG need help flying the flag for them as we move into 2019.

Image: Dota 2 TI