Moscow was the host of the first ever Major in Russia and the third EPICENTER event. History was made at the Ice Palace as PSG.LGD became the first Chinese team to win a Major outside of The International.
The Chinese claimed the trophy under the banner of Paris Saint-Germain, the French football club which acquired the Dota 2 team in April. PSG.LGD won the trophy in spectacular Finals against the defending champions Team Liquid to earn $500,000 as well as 750 more DPC points, aiding their path towards The International.
How LGD won their first Major
PSG.LGD emerged second from Group A with a single defeat to Team Liquid (1-2) and four victories over FlyToMoon (2-0), Mineski (2-1), compLexity Gaming (2-0) and Team Empire (2-1). As the second-best team in the group, PSG.LGD began the next stage in the Upper Bracket where they prevailed against Virtus.pro (2-1) and followed this up with a 2-0 win over Team Liquid in the Upper Bracket Finals.
The Grand Finals featured Team Liquid yet again, who eliminated the dark horses of the tournament FlyToMoon in the Lower Bracket Finals. PSG.LGD therefore had an opportunity to get revenge for their 1-3 Grand Final loss to Liquid in the StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 4 back in February.
As expected, both teams went into the match with passion and a desire to win, which produced an opening game that was highly contested. The balance swung from one team to the other, but ultimately Ame and his incredible Morphling play made the difference.
LGD built up an advantage from the laning stage in the second game, but two questionable engagements in the mid game turned the tie around for Liquid, who proved more efficient this time and managed to close the encounter.
Game Three was equally as thrilling as Team Liquid gradually built their advantage and were seemingly on the verge of winning the clash. However, they overcommitted to a push in the late stage of the game, allowing LGD to eliminate them unexpectedly and to raze their Ancient in the following counter-attack.
PSG.LGD lost the laning stage in the fourth game, however Ame and his Slark had enough space to farm. Ultimately, this proved to be the key to victory as Liquid could not counter an increasingly powerful Slark and LGD closed the series in the late stages of the game rather comfortably. This secured them the series.
Getting back on track
PSG.LGD have significantly improved since the beginning of the year after making a number of key changes. The roster was transformed with xNova, Chalice and support star fy joining the ranks. As a result, the team had reached two DPC event finals (StarLadder iLeague Invitational 4 and DAC 2018) before winning here.
In terms of play style, the most striking metamorphosis that the Chinese team underwent is that they are no longer reliant on Somnus ` M as the central figure to direct the game. PSG.LGD now usually play either a four-protect-one strategy with Ame as a core and Somnus丶M playing a utility/team fight hero or both of them having farming cores and sharing the responsibility for carrying.
PSG.LGD are comfortable playing both early game and late game-focused drafts. Having strong lanes is normally a priority during the drafting phase, combined with late game viable heroes such as Morphling or objective focused heroes such as Terrorblade. The team are either active in the laning stages looking for ganks or they group up as a four or five (with Ame abandoning farming and joining the rotations) in the mid game in search of kills. PSG.LGD also proved quite adept at neutering enemy aggression – on more than one occasion they managed to turn the outcome of enemy aggressive rotations into their favour. The team often seemed to anticipate their opponents’ moves and counter them quite successfully, demonstrating solid defensive play.
Some of the most memorable individual plays in the tournament were made by Ame. He is the player who has arguably grown the most in the team. Ame demonstrated that he can play an efficient core farming role or join the team for rotations when needed. His individual performances were key to securing fights and he even outshone Somnus ` M, who is generally considered to be the flashy player on the team. Arguably the most memorable play from Ame was his one man stand in Game One of the Grand Finals when he killed four enemy heroes by himself.
Somnus丶M is the person around whom the LGD organisation has been building line-ups since 2015. Normally seen in the playmaking role, here Somnus ` M played more utility heroes – pushers or team fight heroes such as Kunkka and Death Prophet. True to his nature, he still did some spectacular play, such as one-shot kills with Kunkka.
Chalice is the offlaner of the team and can either play as part of a dual lane or as a solo offlaner, providing key assistance in team fights with heroes such as Axe or shutting down the enemy core farm in the laning stage, as well as rotating for ganks. On other occasions he successfully played farming cores such as Beastmaster.
The support duo consists of another player of superstar status – fy, who has returned to top form in this LGD line-up. The legendary Rubick player is now also helping with the team’s drafting alongside coach QQQ. Alongside xNova, fy roamed in the early game and played a key role in team fights. xNova, on the other hand, usually played pushing heroes such as Chen or Shadow Shaman. The team also relied on his Bounty Hunter to provide intelligence across the map, as well as to outfarm the enemy team with successful Track kills. This would serve as a comeback mechanism for LGD whenever they found themselves at a disadvantage after the laning phase.
With Majors aplenty this season, it was surprising that no Chinese powerhouse had claimed one yet. Looking at LGD’s progress, this win comes as no surprise though. The team didn’t have it easy and won the tournament all the way from the qualifiers, demonstrating consistency over a high number of matches. Their maturity as a team has significantly developed and it can be seen that they are a side which can achieve victory in various ways.
With this win, LGD are drawing closer to The International and with only four Dota Pro Circuit tournaments remaining, their prospects of finishing inside the top eight in the DPC rankings are looking good. Judging by their performance here, fourth-placed LGD will earn more points going forward and will be able to secure a coveted spot.