TI 7 profile: LGD the two-headed dragon
This TI 7 team profile will focus on the long road to The International 2017 for LGD Gaming, who will send two teams to Seattle in the form of their main team, and LGD Forever Young.
LGD Gaming’s history goes back to the original DotA times which make them one of the oldest and most storied organizations in the Chinese scene. Being present at six out of the seven Internationals, LGD’s records include a top three finish at TI2, a top six finish at TI 4, and 3rd place at TI5. Last year’s International ended with a disappointing 9th/12th place for them and since then LGD have chopped and changed, all with one big goal in mind: The International 2017.
September 2016, the start of the long road to The International 7
Being extremely fortunate to have one true Dota 2 living legend in their TI 6 roster, namely Zhang 'xiao8' Ning, and one remarkably talented youngster in Lu 'Maybe' Yao, LGD took a big decision in the post TI6 shuffle and split the two of them into two different teams. Xiao 8, a TI4 Champion and one of the most valued Chinese players of all times, was given a new mission at the beginning of September 2016. LGD took him off their main team roster and put him in charge of building a brand new squad for the Chinese esports giant.
LGD Forever Young (LFY) was formed on the 17th of September 2016 with xiao8 swapping from the offlane role to support to make room for Yao 'Yao' Zhengzheng, another Chinese veteran who joined the first iteration of LGD Forever Young. When they finalized the roster, it became quite clear to everyone that this secondary squad is, in fact, the place where had LGD focused all their attention and soon after its inception it was regarded as LGD’s main team. The first roster benefited from the great experience of Xiao8, a TI4 Champion with Newbee, Yao, who finished on the 3rd place at three different Internationals, and Xie 'Super' Junhao, TI4 runner up with Vici Gaming. To complement the veterans, fresh blood was introduced in the form of Luo 'Lpc' Puchao from the less successful TongFu and Du 'Monet' Peng, a 16 years old up and coming carry player.
With the LFY project set in motion and a clear and immediate target ahead of them, namely the Boston Major, the LGD Gaming main roster became the experimental ground for the organization who officially stated that they were looking to create a team around Maybe, who had signed a four-year contract with them after The International 2015. By the end of the post TI6 shuffle window two players from CDEC Youth were brought to LGD Gaming, Chen 'Victoria' Guanhong and Chen 'Xz' Zezhi, the last to join being Xiao 'Jixing' Zhihao from Dream Gaming.
The initial LGD Gaming roster didn’t manage to qualify for any of the events ahead of the Boston Major, nor did LFY. The two team project seemed to be totally failing for the first few months. However, LFY did qualify for the Boston Major and a stroke of luck saw Maybe’s team also traveling to Boston as replacements for Execration, who failed to get their visas. However, Lpc and Monet from LFY couldn’t secure visas either so the team was allowed by Valve to come with two stand ins, one of them being Leong 'DDC' Fat-meng, who later would become the new captain of LFY.
Ironically, after the group stage, LFY finished at the bottom of their group while LGD were topping their own group and this led to an awkward situation in the main event where the two LGD teams were pitted against each other in the first round of the single elimination bracket. LGD Gaming were the first eliminated, while LFY were sent home in the quarter-finals by the ones who would eventually become the Boston Major runners up, Ad Finem.
Post-Boston Major Xiao8 left LFY and for the next couple of months, the organization started to play musical chairs with the two rosters. In January 2017 Yao was moved from LFY to LGD and Jixing was sent from LGD to LFY in Yao’s position. DDC was brought in for the entire season from Vici Gaming and was given the leadership at LFY. January to April 2017 the two teams did even worse than before Boston and both failed to qualify for Kiev Major.
Having two teams fighting all the time in all the event qualifiers seemed like a losing move, and often they would end up fighting against each other, making room for others to rise to the top. In the Kiev regional qualifiers LGD and LFY finished fifth and sixth respectively and right after the qualifiers were over, LGD benched Xz and brought in Ren 'eLeVeN' Yangwei from EHOME. A few weeks later LFY made their last roster change ahead of TI 7 as well. Tue Soon 'AhFu' Chuan from Warriors Gaming Unity and He 'Inflame' Yongzheng from CDEC Youth joined the LFY rankings and immediately after this last change, both LGD and LFY started to gain some notable results.
LGD Gaming and LFY rosters:
LGD Forever Young
With the new roster LGD reached the grand finals of Manila Masters qualifiers, but lost to IG. They then managed to get into the finals of the Dota 2 Professional League Season 2 but also lost the series, to Newbee this time around, and at the beginning of May the EPICENTER Chinese qualifiers grand finals were LGD vs LFY with LFY prevailing. The first event of this year where the sister teams would both qualify was Mars Dota 2 League and they went all the way up to the grand finals. On their path to the MDL grand finals, LGD took down OG twice, once in the group stage and then scored a 2-0 victory over the four times Major Champions in the first round of the double elimination main event bracket. LGD and LFY first fought against each other in the upper bracket finals with LFY again winning the encounter, then LGD won the lower bracket finals vs Newbee to fight their sister once more in the grand finals where they finally scored the first LAN victory against LFY.
Although at the end of the long journey to TI 7 it looks like LFY were the more successful team, the LAN results of the two teams are hardly placing one ahead of other. LFY landed a top 4 finish at EPICENTER 2017 and a second place at MDL but LGD Gaming finished on the 2nd place at DPL season 2, 3rd place at Dota Summit 7, and won the MDL 2017 title against an enemy that knows them the best. More than that, the statistics also show a different story when it comes to head to head results between these two.
Since September 2016, when the LFY team was created, they played a total of 34 official matches against LGD Gaming and won only 12 of them. In the 7.06 patch, which was released on the 15th of May 2017, the two teams meet in 10 official matches and again LGD have the advantage with 6 wins over LFY. Luckily for them, the TI7 Chinese qualifiers offered three tickets to Seattle and LGD and LFY claimed two of them.
LGD and LFY in numbers in the 7.06 patch
31 matches as Radiant
14 matches as Dire
57,78% winrate, 26 wins/19 losses
LGD Forever Young
22 matches as Radiant
20 Matches as Dire
64,29% winrate, 27 wins/15 losses
What did we learn after nearly nine months of LGD and LFY battles
Although both are emphasizing the five man push, they have very different playstyles. One difference would be LGD’s preference for the Radiant side while LFY look like they feel comfortable on either side of the map. To understand where the strengths of these teams are, we need to look at their head to head encounters. What LGD prioritize in the banning phase against LFY is exactly what make the little sister scary. LFY’s support AhFu is their tempo dictating factor. His Night Stalker and Earth Spirit are deadly in their early roamings, especially when paired with an Inflame Batrider.
Unlike many other teams, LFY’s mid lane success is not that important and often the supports would not even bother to protect Super in the first minutes of the game. The offlane and Inflame’s fast level and item progression is prioritized. As one of the first teams to spam the Night Stalker immediately after he got the flying movement ability, LFY were often denied the chance to play the hero by LGD. If they are given the opportunity, LFY would not hesitate to draft both NS and Lycan and here is why. Lycan is arguably one of the best counters to NS. Lycan’s Howl is global and grants bonus damage and bonus health to all allied heroes and all units under their control. On top of that, the bonus is doubled during the night time.
LFY’s most played heroes in the 7.06 patch
LFY’s most successful hero combos in the 7.06 patch
|Death Prophet + Earth Spirit||5||5||0||100%|
|Death Prophet + Batrider||4||4||0||100%|
|Bristleback + Zeus||5||4||1||80.00%|
|Zeus + Dragon Knight||4||3||1||75.00%|
|Batrider + Earth Spirit||6||4||2||66.67%|
Through the 7.06 patch, the older sister, LGD Gaming developed very mobile hero drafts, and for them the tempo is dictated byt Maybe, from the mid lane. Maybe usually plays flashy heroes that can start rotating as soon as they hit level six, three of his most played ones being Storm Spirit, Queen of Pain and Puck. LGD’s carry is also a key factor in the team transition to the mid stage game. While many utilize their supports to ensure early dominance, LGD Gaming are usually giving Ame carry heroes that ensure a good teamfight from early stages. Ame’s most played and at the same time, most successful heroes are Faceless Void and Chaos Knight on which he boasts a 100% winrate (in five and four games played respectively) followed by Gyrocopter on which he has a 75% winrate in four games played.Their team fight oriented drafts are most of the times rounded up with two supports that either give a strong combo with Ame’s carry or provide good control and push power. Ancient Apparition and Kunka are two heroes that they like to pair with Faceless Void and Chaos Knight while Shadow Shaman is paired with Gyrocopter.
LGD Gaming’s most played heroes in the 7.06 patch
|Queen of Pain||7||6||1||85.71%|
LGD Gaming’s most successful hero combos in the 7.06 patch
|Faceless Void + Ancient Apparition||5||5||0||100%|
|Storm Spirit + Ancient Apparition||4||4||0||100%|
|Earthshaker + Ancient Apparition||5||4||1||80.00%|
|Shadow Shaman + Gyrocopter||4||3||1||75.00%|
|Faceless Void + Kunkka||4||3||1||75.00%|
stats gathered from datdota.com
One can argue that having two teams of the same organization in an event is not a healthy thing for the professional scene as they can easily decide the result of any match between themselves in house, with the chance of outside discovery very low, potentially calling the entire intergty of the event into question. However, 2016-2017 is not the first year when LGD is dual wielding through the events. Back in 2013, the organization went to TI3 with two teams as well, LGD Gaming and LGD.International. And despite having the weapons to fight for the Aegis that year the organization ended up bottom eight with both of their teams.
Hopefully, for LGD history won't repeat itself this year. But unlike all other TI 7 participants, LGD’s road to TI7 and especially the Mars Dota 2 League (which was played on the exact same patch that TI 7 will be played on), gave us tons of information about both LFY and LGD Gaming. Information that will surely be dissected by all their opponents, and if neither of the sisters change something in these few days leading up to the biggest event of the year, they might find themselves once again outside of the top eight, looking in at the stage they dream of gracing.
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