The International 2019 team analysis: China and SEA

Dota 2 analyst Leamare takes a look at the stats from the previous few months' play to break down the playing styles of TI9 teams from China and South East Asia qualifying regions, including two of the tournament favourites, Vici Gaming and PSG.LDG. How will they play and how can they be stopped?

Related: TI9 schedule confirmed


Vici Gaming

Roster: Paparazi, Ori, Yang, Fade, Dy
Matches recorded: 58, 64% winrate


Vici Gaming right now are the unstoppable beast of China. The team wasn’t in a necessarily great shape at first but quickly started gaining the critical mass after the new competitive season started and rOtK joined the squad as a coach. VG ended up with the third place in DPC ranking this season and proved to be one of the most favorable teams to win TI9.

The team prioritizes playing around objectives and usually builds its game around midlaner. While Ori gets his heroes picked last and his heroes are usually flashy and hard to stop, which naturally translate into unstoppable snowball. Heroes for other positions get to be picked relatively early in the draft. Naturally, all those heroes are usually generally strong meta picks or something versatile.

The most picked heroes of the team demonstrate this trend perfectly: Shadow Shaman (14, 85.71%), Disruptor (12, 66.67%), Leshrac (11, 72.73%), Centaur Warrunner (11, 81.82%), Templar Assassin (10, 80%). It’s a bit harder to talk about VG’s pairs: the three most popular pairs are Rubick + Centaur (5, 80%), Doom + Grimstroke (5, 60%) and Warlock + Centaur (4, 100%), while the next five combos on the list include Shadow Shaman.

The most successful heroes against VG are the ones who are capable to slow down the snowball our turn it around with the most successful and popular heroes against the team being Shadow Shaman (7, 57.14%), Jakiro (7, 71.43%), Nature’s Prophet (8, 75%), Sven (8, 62.5%). Arc Warden wasn’t picked as much (2, 100%), but deserves a mention since he’s possibly one of the best heroes to deal with this kind of snowballing strategies.


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Roster: Ame, Somnus丶M, Chalice, fy, xNova

Matches recorded: 60, 63% winrate


While being vice champions of TI8, PSG.LGD haven’t been as exciting in terms of performance during this competitive season. But even while the team usually got around 4th and 6th places, overall stats of the team still look pretty decent.

LGD’s playstyle may be described as “Classic Chinese Dota”: every attack is precise, every action serves a purpose and everything looks methodical and well-trained. The team loves to play relatively fast, while playing around strong lategame cores and trying their best to get them to their critical points as soon as possible. It’s interesting to note that positions 3 to 5 of the team all act as supports, creating space and getting ready to play around teamfights later on. These positions are always utility type heroes and it’s rare to see a common for other regions three core lineup.

The most picked heroes list is mostly populated with offlane utility cores, while the cores of the team are usually more versatile: Nature’s Prophet (14, 71.43%), Shadow Shaman (13, 61.54%), Pangolier (12, 83.33%), Sven (11, 81.82%), Storm Spirit (11, 81.82%), Doom (10, 70%). With the only cores in the top-6 list being Sven and Storm Spirit, it’s also worth to note that a bit lower in the list there are Dark Seer and Batrider who are also the heroes with the highest draft ranks of the team. Another thing worth mentioning is Pangolier who is usually played as position 4 support by the team which became a visit card of PSG.LGD.

The heroes who naturally work great against PSG.LGD are the ones who are able to either interrupt the team’s tempo or turn it into advantage. There aren’t much interesting cases since heroes picked against the team are a bit more spread out in terms of popularity, but some heroes worth mentioning are Mars (2, 100%), Sven (4, 100%), Spirit Breaker (3, 100%), Templar Assassin (7, 42.86%).

Keen Gaming

Roster: old chicken, yi, eLeVeN, kaka, dark
Matches recorded: 76, 61% winrate


A team of Chinese legends who had an impressive run at The International 2018 has returned. KEEN Gaming didn’t show as great performance during competitive season this time, but they still had enough highlights and achievements to get a direct invite to The International 2019 by getting to the top-12 in Pro Circuit ranking.

The team’s playstyle seems a lot like a classic Dota right from 2012, but shifted a bit towards currently popular heroes. There aren’t much to talk about in terms of KEEN Gaming signature picks since a lot of their most beloved heroes are just some of the most popular heroes both competitively and in ranked: Doom (15, 46.67%), Sand King (14, 57.14%), Ember Spirit (14, 71.43%), Disruptor (14, 64.29%), Troll Warlord (14, 64.29%), Razor (13, 61.54%).

However, the team not only knows how to perform with those heroes, but also has a relatively high versatility. Some of the combos worth noting are Razor + Disruptor (5, 80%), Sand King + Leshrac (5, 60%) and Doom + Disruptor (5, 60%). Another hero to look after is Puck: the most favorable pair of the team is Doom + Puck and the hero has relatively high pick rate. However, Puck isn’t that interesting because of its great success, but because of having overwhelming 25% winrate over 8 matches.

The team’s strategy is usually based around getting a pick off and forcing an objective. Naturally, their most banned hero is Oracle (47 bans). Some of the most successful heroes against KEEN at the same time are either elusive and can force enemy movement around the map like Nature’s Prophet (6, 83.33%), Templar Assassin (10, 70%), Lone Druid (4, 100%) or can initiate first and turn the fight around like Sven (6, 83.33%), Doom (11, 63.64%), Earth Spirit (6, 83.33%) and Disruptor (10, 60%).

Royal Never Give Up

Roster: Monet, Setsu, Flyby, LaNm, - ah fu -
Matches recorded: 63, 65% winrate


RNG is the Chinese dark horse and the team of legendary players. The team didn't have much success during the Pro Circuit season. For a long time the team wasn't even considered as a possible TI Attendee. But the team has shown some great performance after all.

RNG's most favorite heroes are Tidehunter (14, 78.6%), Outworld Devourer (12, 75%), Grimstroke (11, 63.6%), Ember Spirit (11, 81.8%), Earthshaker (10, 70%) and Doom (10, 60%). One thing that comes to mind after seeing all those heroes together is playing around big cooldowns and teamfights. The most notable hero combos are Witch Doctor + Centaur Warrunner (6, 66.7%), Tidehunter + Nature's Prophet (5, 80%) and Chaos Knight + Grimstroke (4, 100%), all three of them being a brawling type of hero paired with somebody who can provide a lockdown.

The most successful heroes against RNG are Centaur Warrunner (12, 58.3%), Shadow Shaman (12, 66.7%), Storm Spirit (4, 75%), Grimstroke (13, 53.9%) and Sven (6, 66.7%). It seems like the best way to get around RNG's strategy is to just get some heroes who can turn prolonged games to their advantage.



Roster: Jabz, Abed, iceiceice, DJ, DuBu
Matches recorded: 31, 52% winrate


The second, third and fourth positions in Dota are often the backbone of the team. They are usually the ones who make plays happen and set the tempo and it is usually players on these positions that are required to be flashy, bold and unpredictable. Fnatic certainly doesn’t lack in this regard.

They are constantly looking for ways to engage the enemy, to get a kill, to take an objective.
For more casual viewers, there is no better team to follow than Fnatic — one way or the other they will make things happen.

Fnatic is not one of the favorites coming into TI9

The current Fnatic roster is one of the most unique and exciting to watch teams on professional Dota 2 scene. The reason to that is the team’s approach to play around iceiceice and DJ, the space creating duo, while also playing for Abed. This roster is also famous for being unpredictable in drafts, being able to set the game tempo and being a great spectacle overall.

The team’s most picked heroes list is mirroring this approach pretty well. The list is mostly populated by position 3 and 4 heroes and cores who don’t need to actively engage – Sand King (8, 50%), Leshrac (7, 57.14%), Nature’s Prophet (6, 50%), Drow Ranger (6, 83.3%), Rubick (6, 66.67%). The only exception is probably Ember Spirit: while the hero is popular overall, it doesn’t really work with Fnatic playstyle and has 28.57% winrate across seven matches.

The team is usually looking for a pickoff to later on use the advantage to get an objective. Of course, the only reliable thing to hold this kind madness is to use “fight resetters”, however another approach is to get heroes who can punish opponents for being too agressive and making even a slightest mistake. Grimstroke (5, 80%), Batrider (6, 66.7%) and Templar Assassin (5, 60%) are probably the best heroes to get in this kind of situation.

TNC Predator

Roster: Gabbi, Armel, Kuku, Tims, Eyyou
Matches recorded: 52, 58% winrate


TNC Predator started to shine this season, thanks to Lee “Heen” Seung Gon who joined the squad as a coach. Lee has shown a way to TI champioship once while being a coach of Team Liquid. Now it seems like he has all the chances to try it again, making TNC Predator stronger than ever before.

It seems like the team doesn’t make as much emphasis on core positions and their impact, but is focusing on map control, creating space and shutting enemy down instead, which seems a lot like Team Liquid from 2017. The most picked heroes of TNC are Batrider (19, 63.16%), Earthshaker (19, 57.89%), Oracle (13, 53.85%), Sand King (10, 60%), Ancient Apparition (10, 70%). All the heroes at the top of the list are “jacks of all trades” who can be good at teamfighting, picking enemy off or just controlling the map. However, a bit below in the list there are hard-farming heroes (Sven, Wraith King, Medusa, Templar Assassin) as well as heroes like Nature’s Prophet and Dark Seer. All of them are good at either using map control advantage or creating it.

Enemy picks against TNC look a bit more chaotic and spread out, but it’s no surprise to see better fighters and “group up” type heroes to be the most successful: Warlock (4, 100%), Beastmaster (4, 75%), Disruptor (5, 60%), Earth Spirit (7, 42.86%). It’s hard to find any gems in draft stats against TNC because of much more chaotic picture, but some of the heroes who took my attention are Dark Seer (6, 66.67%), Winter Wyvern (4, 75%) and Centaur Warrunner (6, 50%) who may be successful because of ability to reset teamfights and use enemy networth lead against it.


Roster: Nikobaby, Moon, kpii, Bimbo, ninjaboogie
Matches recorded: 68, 54% winrate


Mineski, while being one of the strongest SEA teams and probably one of the most interesting teams to watch during TI, the team wasn’t in great shape during the competitive season. However, the team still has one of the most interesting and unique playstyles on the tournament while also being able to impress viewers during regional qualifiers.

The team’s playstyle, unlike other teams, favors teamfights a lot, while also having wide hero pool of 88 hero picks in 64 matches. It also helps the team to create a unique identity: a lot of heroes who got picked a lot by Mineski weren’t as appreciated by other teams. There are a lot of heroes to note, but it’s worth putting your attention into Naga Siren (11, 36.36%), Outworld Devourer (9, 66.67%), Juggernaut (10, 60%), Enigma (7, 57.16%).

The team also has a lot of interesting combos to look after. Some of the most notable ones are Phantom Assassin + Grimstroke (3, 33.3%), Juggernaut + Beastmaster (3, 66.7%), Juggernaut + Shadow Shaman (4, 50%), Anti-Mage + Shadow Demon (3, 66.7%).

In enemy draft stats there are four heroes who work exceptionally well against Mineski: Nyx Assassin (9, 66.7%), Leshrac (10, 60%), Necrophos (6, 83.3%) and probably the most important one – Sand King (17, 52.94).

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