TI3 draft analysis: The Chinese Dota

Dota 2 Danio “xiaoduizhang” Liu

Written by Ning and xiaoduizhang

We are three days away from The International 3 and we think it is good for the folks to know the competing teams a little better, not your love and feelings for the team but purely quantitative data. We pulled the drafts from their games from the 4th of June, the first day of 6.78 patch, until today and from there, we analyzed team patterns and their tendency to run certain heroes.

This article is the last part of our five-series article highlighting teams' playstyle.

  1. Europe
  2. South East Asia
  3. Wildcards
  4. North America
  5. China

Today, we present to you Invictus Gaming, TongFu, DK, LGD.cn and LGD.Int.

We also took enemy ban % against X team ban % to really highlight the sort of respect bans these teams were facing. The higher the % difference, the higher the % these heroes got respect banned. High numbers mean how scared the opponents are against these heroes when facing a particular team.


It's the holy grail of The International 3 coverage!




Invictus Gaming


iG winning The International 2. Photo by GosuGamers.

Hero Pick
Rubick 35.7
Gyrocopter 32.1
Visage 28.6
Lifestealer 25.0
Prophet 25.0
Treant 21.4
Puck 21.4
Shadow Demon 17.9
Outworld 14.3
Enchantress 14.3
Hero Enemy Ban % iG Ban % Difference in %
Lifestealer 42.9 10.7 32.2
Gyrocopter 25.0 7.1 17.9
Spectre 17.9 0.0 17.9
Visage 28.6 10.7 17.9
Prophet 17.8 3.6 14.2
Batrider 50.0 39.3 10.7
Outworld 21.4 10.7 10.7
Rubick 21.4 10.7 10.7
Nyx Assassin 28.5 17.9 10.6
Juggernaut 10.7 3.6 7.1


















Needless to say, iG is one of the most versatile and balanced teams among the Chinese professional scene, and trying to counter iG in drafting is tougher than you might think. If we look into the top 10 heroes iG’s enemies fear, the top five placers range from solo-mid to supports, indicating that iG has no real shortcoming to counter. Going up against iG in drafting can be misleading and confusing as well. Lifestealer for example, when picked up by iG, could either be played by YYF as offlane solo or by Zhou as safe-lane carry. In fact, iG can always decide how this hero will be played by looking at the enemies draft and get better trade-offs. As a result 42.9% of the teams chose to take Lifestealer out of the deal, ranking first in the top ban list.

iG also has very typically Chinese Doto draft preferences. Just like most other Chinese teams, two popular Chinese supports, Rubick and Visage, top their pick list. On the ban list, Zhou has proven his dominance with the top three places all going to his hard carry heroes(Lifestealer sometimes being played by YYF, as mentioned above). Clearly Gyrocopter has been the most effective hard carry for iG, ranking second in both tables.

It is also worth mentioning that iG tends to pick heroes without stuns. This might explain why, rather than swift teamfights, iG is more comfortable with prolonged, back and forth ones, during which personal skills are likely to be more important than teamwork. 






TongFu pre-TI3 photoshoot. Photo by Perfect World.


Heroes Picks %
Rubick 43.2
Dragon Knight 29.7
Weaver 29.7
Visage 27.0
Clockwerk 24.3
Gyrocopter 24.3
Lifestealer 24.3
Alchemist 21.6
Chen 18.9
Enchantress 16.2
Heroes Enemy ban % Tongfu ban % Difference in %
Dragon Knight 40.5 2.7 37.8
Alchemist 40.6 18.9 21.7
Visage 35.2 18.9 16.3
Lifestealer 29.7 13.5 16.2


21.6 8.1 13.5
Clockwerk 16.2 2.7 13.5
Shadow Demon 24.3 10.8 13.5
Outworld 13.5 0.0 13.5
Magnus 13.5 2.7 10.8
Naga Siren 13.5 2.7 10.8
















Tongfu’s recent uprise is closely related to the solid and stable performance of Hao and Mu. As you can see from the right table above, Hao's heroes took up 3 slots (Alchemist, Lifestealer, Weaver), while Mu took 3 (Dragon Knight, Outworld Devourer, Magnus). All of the 6 heroes have significant pick rates, leading to our conclusion that the core strategy of Tongfu’s drafting is to secure Mu and Hao heroes they are most comfortable with. On the other hand, TongFu's recent success in several Chinese tournaments have to be attributed to KingJ, despite his tendency to give away First Blood. However, what KingJ brought to the table is a solid initiator, especially with Clockwerk (24.3%), which is banned 16.2% of the time by their opponents.

Rubick, almost always handled by Sansheng, tops Tongfu’s pick list with a surprisingly high pick rate (43.2%), although Sansheng is hardly known for his Rubick plays. Such a high pick rate may be the result of Sansheng's limited hero pool although Sansheng has been seen running jungle support Doom - buying the Mekansm - as of late. This can be confirmed by the relatively low enemy ban rate on Rubick (8.1%), showing the enemies’ lack of respect towards Tongfu’s Rubick picks.

Looking at Tongfu’s top picks and their opponents' top bans, one can easily draw the conclusion that Tongfu prefer sticking to their typical dual core strategy, with Hao farming on the safe-lane and Mu on the mid-lane. Such a consistency could be one of Tongfu’s biggest weaknesses because if TongFu gets outdrafted, they are pretty much, for lack of a better term, screwed. If Tongfu cannot come up with different strategies in TI3, it may be questionable as to how far they can go in such an intense tournament.





DK pre-TI3 photoshoot. Photo by Perfect World.

Heroes Picks %
 Weaver 32.4
 Alchemist 29.7
 Dragon Knight 29.7
 Visage 29.7
Magnus 27.0
 Rubick 27.0
Gyrocopter 21.6
 Nyx Assassin 21.6
 Dark Seer 18.9
 Clockwerk 16.2
Heroes Enemy ban % DK's ban % Difference in %
 Batrider 54.1 24.3 29.8
 Enchantress 29.7 5.4 24.3
 Slark 18.9 0.0 18.9
 Clockwerk 16.2 2.7 13.5
 Rubick 18.9 5.4 13.5


16.2 5.4 10.8
 KotL 13.5 2.7 10.8
 Chen 21.6 10.8 10.8
 Alchemist 37.9 29.7 8.2
 Nyx Assassin 21.6 13.5 8.1


















DK’s recent transition from their classic 4-protect-1 strategy to running tri-core has been very successful. In the old days, rOtk, Super, QQQ and MMY were said to be sent to the sidelines, waiting for engagements to happen while Burning collects his farm. The new play style, however, allows for the supports to get more involved, which ultimately shows in the rate of enemy bans.

Given more resources, rOtk has proven his value with spectacular Batrider and Clockwerk plays. As stated on the bans table, Batrider (29.8% difference) received the most hate against DK followed by another of rOtk's signature heroes, Clockwerk, in fourth place (13.5% difference). Although DK still pick up those off-lane heroes a fair bit, they seem to have moved on to other off-laners such as Weaver, Magnus and Dark Seer, while their opponents do not seem to have caught up with that.

After moving away from the traditional 4-protect-1 strategy, DK's active teammates made it problematic for DK's opponents to limit the number of carries Burning  can choose from. Only Alchemist (29.7%) was banned regularly, even though Burning has a very large hero pool he is proficient with. Aside from Alchemist, Anti-Mage (8.1%) and Gyrocopter (26.1%) are most commonly used by Burning. Besides, notice how DK's Anti-Mage pick rate has dropped in the past two months. Burning is looking to get more involved in fights.

Knowing that there is no way they can completely shut down Burning in the drafting phase, DK's opponents in the past two months focus on banning out the supports more than the carries. Some of the supports making the top 10 opponent bans include Enchantress (24.3% difference), Rubick (13.5% difference), Treant (10.8% difference), etc. The most interesting part about the ban table is undoubtedly the high rate of bans on Treant Protector which DK has only picked up twice in 39 games. The reason for this may be due to the old-fashion thinking of their opponents that DK will play it defensively.





LGD.cn pre-TI3 photoshoot. Photo by Perfect World.


Heroes Picks %
 Gyrocopter 37
 Dragon Knight 32.6
 Visage 28.3
 Nyx Assassin 23.9
 Alchemist 23.9
Magnus 23.9
 Jakiro 21.7
Prophet 21.7
 Dark Seer 19.6
 Rubick 19.6
Heroes Enemy ban % LGD.cn ban % Difference in %
Nyx Assassin 37 15.2 21.8
Kunkka 17.4 0 17.4
Bane Elemental Beastmaster 19.5 2.2 17.3
 Visage 36.9 19.6 17.3
 Jakiro 19.6 4.3 15.3

Dark Seer

34.7 19.6 15.1
Alchemist 32.6 19.6 13
Prophet 15.3 4.3 11
Spectre 17.4 6.5 10.9
Batrider 43.5 34.8 8.7


















Looking at the numbers for LGD.cn, you can clearly see the big respect the Chinese teams have for Xiao8 with all three of his signature heroes Nyx Assassin (21.8% difference), Kunkka (17.4% difference) and Beastmaster (17.3% difference) making up the top bans. Despite the respect given, only Nyx Assassin made top 10 picks and the fear of Kunkka and Beastmaster is mostly an after-effect of Xiao8's excellent play with the heroes during TI3 qualifier, which was over two months ago. LGD.cn's favourite solo mid is now Dragon Knight (32.6%).

Their favourite carry is the Gyrocopter (37.0%), followed by the Alchemist (23.9%). While these two heroes are the most common carries, LGD.cn's opponents seem to have a fear of Spectre (10.8%), which LGD.cn picks up occassionally. Coupled with mobility heroes such as Nature's Prophet (21.7%) and Dark Seer (19.6%), Spectre can be a real threat during the mid-game phase. However, Spectre is very weak during its laning phase and assuming that they face an offensive tri-lane, Spectre would almost definitely get crushed. This may explain LGD.cn's tendency to pick strong tri-lane supporters such as Visage (28.3%) and Jakiro (21.7%). With that said, LGD.cn do invest a lot to make their tri-lane successful. Therefore the tri-lane composition took no less than 6 slots out of the top 10 picks.




LGD International


LGD International at Shanghai airport, flying to Seattle. Photo by LGD.


Heroes Picks %
Sand King 34.5
 Lifestealer 27.6
Dark Seer 27.6
Io Io 27.6
Prophet 27.6
Gyrocopter 27.6
Visage 24.1
Chen 20.7
Alchemist 20.7
 Earthshaker 17.2
Heroes Enemy ban % LGD.INT ban % Difference in %
Lifestealer 44.8 13.8 31
Batrider 51.8 31 20.8
Slark 20.7 0 20.7
Dark Seer 31 20.7 10.3
Lifestealer Nyx Assassin 31 20.7 10.3

Storm Spirit

10.3 0 10.3
Visage 24.1 13.8 10.3
Io Io 24.1 13.8 10.3
Undying Chaos Knight 10.4 3.4 7
Prophet 17.3 10.3 7


















Different to the rest of the Chinese teams, the European boys are the only team in China who pick up Io (27.6%) a decent lot. However, LGD.Int do not couple the Io with high potential ganking heroes such as Chaos Knight but with Lifestealer and Alchemist instead. Although the Lifestealer and the Alchemist are fine ganking heroes, they lack the instant burst damage and mobility Chaos Knight provides. As a result, these ganks may not be as successful as the conventional CK-Io combo, often making Io a wasted pick.

Looking over the bans, we can clearly see that the Chinese teams ban very differently against LGD.Int. Apart from the first two bans, opponents tend to ban Slark (20.7% difference) as well as Io (10.3% difference) and Chaos Knight (7.0% difference). Considering Io and Chaos Knight have never really made it into the Chinese scene, the respect ban is clearly attributed to LGD.Int's versatility in draft and may also be caused by LGD.Int's many role switches the past few months. Funny enough, Slark was only picked a total of 3.7% times, while Chaos Knight was never picked.

After LGD.Int's initial hype in G-League earlier this year, they have fallen in terms of performance ever since because they do not have a set playstyle. Well, either that or their current playstyle just doesn't work as well. According to the top 10 picks, LGD.Int seem to be adapting more to the conservative and cautious Chinese playstyle although they are aggressive by nature. LGD.Int also recorded a significant kill death ratio drop after 35 minutes, from 0.92 to 0.78. The main reason for the drop boils down to execution and their hero choices such as Sand King, Visage, and Chen losing its effectiveness heading into late-game.