Is 2024 a comeback year for Chinese Dota 2?

Star players have returned from retirement, rosters have shuffled and Azure Ray took the first LAN title for the 2023-24 season, so will 2024 be China’s year?

China used to be a powerhouse in the Dota 2 scene. Seizing the Aegis every other year from The International 2 with Invictus Gaming through The International 6 with Wings Gaming.

The even number years were always earmarked for China. Until OG decided to throw a monkey wrench in and flip the narrative on its head. From TI8-TI10 LGD took two runner-up positions and a bronze.

The International 2022 and China

The International 11 was a low point with Chinese teams assuming fourth (Team Aster) and fifth place (LGD).

Team Asters coach Cheng “Mad” Han pointed out during the TI11 press conference that he felt younger players were flocking to play mobile games. There had been talk speculating that China’s restrictive gaming curfew laws made it difficult for organizations to find new players, and more aspiring and casual gamers might have been transitioning to gaming on their phones instead of PCs.

Players such as Lu “Somnus/Maybe” Yao, Zhang “Faith_bian” Ruida, and Wang “Ame” Chunyu retired. Many believe that Faith/Bach was one of the greatest offlane players to have ever graced the game and one of the most successful in his role. In his eight-year career, he took home the most coveted Dota 2 trophy, the Aegis of Champions, in 2016 with Wings Gaming and was one game away from repeating the feat at TI10 with PSG.LGD.

With him and so many others exiting, the Chinese pro-Dota 2 scene was now officially starving for talent.

China in the DPC 2022-23

With the new Dota 2 year filled with a new generation of players, China suffered in the DPC 2022-23 season.

The region had its first setback with accusations of match-fixing and scripting, resulting in a massive ban across the region. More than 45 players, mainly from China, received a ban from Valve and Perfect World as reported by Dota 2 official Weibo account. That was nearly the entire new generation of Chinese professional players. Of particular interest to fans and the community was that of former Team Knights and the players from EHOME — both of which went to the Lima Major and were the first two teams to drop.

Then only one team, LGD, was directly invited to The International 2023 via DPC points.

And when it didn’t seem as if things could get worse, they of course did. The region was hit with the news they would have only one slot allocated to them through qualifiers. That meant only two teams from China would be heading to The International in Seattle.

This was the least amount of Chinese teams to represent the region at The International ever. 

Is 2024 China’s year?

It would be an understatement to say that the decline in success left China’s teams and players hungry for change.

Retired players made their way back to the Dota 2 map. Organizations looked to capitalize on the experience of older players and Chinese-Malaysian players outside the region.

Invictus Gaming aimed high this year with Du “Monet” Peng, Cheng “NothingToSay” Jin Xiang, Thiay “JT-” Jun Wen, Yap “xNova” Jian Wei, and Ye “BoBoKa” Zhibiao joining them in the post-TI12 shuffle.

After a disastrous run in The International 2023 regional qualifier where they got eliminated in the lower bracket rounds, the revamped Invictus Gaming took full revenge over Team Zero to claim the only spot for China to ESL One Kuala Lumpur 2023.

But it was Azure Ray that took the lead for the new season in Malaysia. In a thrilling reverse sweep, AR claimed the first Chinese title at a LAN in over a year.

Even though ten days later Azure Ray star players and the coach left the team to join Xtreme Gaming —shocking many although the shuffle is reported to have started even before the event began in Malaysia — the new lineup is looking to be fire with veteran players and retired stars coming together under the guidance of Zhang ‘LaNm‘ Zhicheng.

Off to a great start, fans can check and follow the region’s success and journey with their new lineups again soon.

Moving into the new year, February brings around BetBoom Dacha Dubai, a $1,000,000 LAN event in Dubai from February 4-16th. The open qualifiers begin right after the new year. In addition, the EPT will resume in February with DreamLeague Season 22, followed by an ESL One LAN tournament hosted in Birmingham in the second part of April.

Azure Ray Roster

Zhen “lou” Lou
Jiaoyang “Ori” Zeng
Zhang “Faith_Bian” Ruida
Xu “fy” Linsen
Jiang “天命” An

Xtreme Gaming Roster

Wang “Ame” Chunyu
Hongcheng “Xm” Guo
Jing “Xxs” Lin
Zixing “XinQ” Zhao
Cong “Dy” Ding

G2.iG Roster

Du “Monet” Peng
Cheng “NothingToSay” Jin Xiang
Jun Wen “JT-” Thiay
Zhibiao “BoBoKa” Ye
Jian Wei “xNova-” Yap

LGD Gaming Roster

Xuanang “Shiro” Guo
Yi “Emo” Zhou
Kongbo “Niu” Li
Jiahan “Pyw” Xiong
Yiping “y`” Zhang