Why VG Won The One Esports World Pro Invitationals
Vici Gaming’s victory at the ONE Esports World Pro Invitational Singapore was the result of a brilliant lower bracket run that saw them eliminate five different teams on route to their first championship of the season.
While the World Pro Invitational wasn’t a Dota Pro Circuit tournament, it held valuable insights to the current state of Dota 2 and how the professional meta might develop. It was the first major offline competition played in the Outlanders patch and was also our first look at top teams that missed out on the MDL Chengdu Major.
Thus, it’s worth taking a closer look at just how VG won the World Pro Invitational. Here are five reasons as to how they accomplished the feat.
Playing and countering Templar Assassin
Templar Assassin was undoubtedly the hero of the tournament. The mid hero evolved from a late gotcha pick into a first-phase selection and still retained an insane win rate of 84 percent over 19 games. The hero’s ability to recover rapidly in the jungle and start fighting early proved to be a godsend in this brawling meta.
Plus, VG’s Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang is one of the best Templar Assassin players in the world. VG was wary about giving Templar to other teams, but were also keenly aware that their own mid player is more than capable of excelling on the hero. Plus, Ori was equally comfortable on playing Viper, a hero that could crush Templar throughout the game.
The Chinese team exploited these two facts. If they did not have first pick available, they would instantly ban out the hero. If Viper was available in the pool, they would pick it to practically deny the Templar Assassin pick for their opponents.
It isn’t rocket science, but sometimes, the best things to do in Dota 2 doesn’t need to be the flashiest or most complicated option. Just ask Secret, who got crushed in two games vs. Abed’s Templar Assassin.
Solid prep work against opponents
VG lost against Gambit Esports and Evil Geniuses in the group stage. Tailoring their drafts towards their opponents helped the Chinese squad to sweep both teams in the main event. VG banned out specific player-hero combos in which they believed were capable of taking over the game or prepared counter-picks and strategies around the teams instead of blanket banning meta heroes.
VG lost to Danil “gpk” Skutin’s immense Puck in the group stage. In the main event, VG banned Puck for the first game, but allowed it through in the second. They proceeded to take the first and only Night Stalker pick of the tournament as a direct counter to the hero even with a poor lane match up. It worked.
The grand finals vs. Evil Geniuses was the perfect microcosm of their overall drafting approach, especially against Templar. The first game saw them let Templar through but first-phased the Viper. They banned the Templar in the second game even when they had first pick, because their priority ban list was Doom at all costs followed by banning Tiny against EG because of Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen’s fearsome performances on the hero, and Vengeful Spirit. Basically, they didn’t have enough ban slots to guarantee themselves either Templar or Viper. With amazing momentum after winning two games, they allowed Tiny to go through, but still refused to let Templar through because of how well Abed plays it.
Diverse hero pools
Diversity is king when it comes to drafting. VG’s players are capable of playing multiple in-game roles, like being the primary initiator or hard carry. With 39 uniques heroes picked this tournament, tied with TNC Predator for most in the event, VG showed off their deep hero pools that allowed them to pick the perfect hero for the situation.
We’ve already talked about Zhou “Yang” Haiyang’s Night Stalker that countered gpk’s Puck. VG also picked up a safe lane Leshrac for Zhang “Eurus” Chengjun that took advantage of Gambit’s weak early game by ramping up the pace of the match. Or Yang’s Underlord and Eurus’ Carry Magnus in the same game that rendered EG’s Phantom Lancer ineffective at both dealing damage or staying alive.
Versatility within players
One hallmark of a great team isn’t just about how many diverse strategies they can bring out. Several heroes in the Dota 2 roster can be played in multiple roles. At the highest level, having multiple players that can pilot a hero with equal effectiveness is a huge boon to the team’s drafting ability. OG showed us at The International 2019 with heroes like Tiny, Pugna, Enchantress… the list is practically inexhaustible with that monstrously experienced team.
VG’s players might be young, but they play a multitude of roles immaculately. In this tournament, we saw Timbersaw played by both Ori and Yang, Puck being played by Ori and Xiong “Pyw” Jiahan, and Razor by Eurus and Ori. Several of these heroes are played by Ori and there’s a reason for that.
It’s especially important for non-mid players in a team to be able to deputize mid heroes in a pinch. It’s a solo match up that can heavily decide the tempo of the game, with the mid player having a disproportionate amount of responsibility to both push the pace and be effective in the late game.
A classic example would be OG’s showing at TI9. While Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen greatly expanded his hero pool, he was still a spammer with highly specialized heroes. OG worked around it by usually giving him the last pick, but also was able to fake out opponents by utilizing their highly experienced supporting cast to back him up. A Tiny or Pugna could easily go to Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka, while a Troll or Ember Spirit could easily be Anathan “ana” Pham’s.
Multiple play makers and initiators
The brawling meta increases the need for players who can take good fights on their own terms. VG has no lack of them, with all five players capable of initiating and play making on their signature heroes.
Eurus, owing to his past mid lane experience, is more than capable of picking up a carry Leshrac or Magnus and take team fights. Ori loves to farm with heroes like Medusa and Sniper, but remains a proficient fighter with Puck and Kunkka. Yang is one of the best Centaur Warunners in the world, and is excellent with saving heroes like Abbaddon and Omniknight as well. Pyw is a pure play making support with heroes like Rubick and Lina. Ding “Dy” Cong, who started his career as a position four, is excellent on Nyx Assassin and Elder Titan.
Basically, no matter where you look, VG’s players will not shy away from a fight.
The Chinese juggernaut have experienced success recently, even winning two DPC Majors last season. They’ve already gotten off to a hot start this year, finishing second in the first Major of the year and winning the World Pro Invitational. The ultimate prize of the Aegis of the Immortal still eludes them, however. Right now, they are the best team in China. The next step? Best team in the world.
Main image via Sam Chang