Another Major, another roster shuffle. Following the Shanghai Major, roster changes were bound to happen. This was the last chance for teams to reform before not only the Manila Major but also TI6 and be considered for invites. Especially the Chinese teams were expected to shuffle a lot, given their poor performances in Shanghai. They certainly met these expectations, but the Western and CIS shuffle was bigger than expected.
Shuffles are a weird thing. You might think a team is doing perfectly fine, but in the pursuit of greater things, transfers take place that cause a chain reaction and affect teams that were happy with themselves.
Vici Gaming has changed a total of 4 players. iG.BurNIng stayed and reunited with VGJ.rOtk, who brought along EHOME.Cty from EHOME. They’re joined by HYNB, a youngster that has played for academy teams as well as Wings, and EHOME.hym, a pubstar with similar academy team experiences but less recognition.
Vici Gaming has already been active since their reformation. Participating in the qualifier for ESL One Manila, the team showed that they lacked team practice, but were also lackluster on an individual performance basis. While they played 4th in the qualifier, they only beat TRG and CDEC.Y, two teams that they were expected to beat. In fact, Vici Gaming was eliminated by their former academy team VG.Potential, now VG.Reborn.
It’s difficult to compare the current VG line-up to the former, as it drastically changed as opposed to just improving certain roles. It certainly fits the trend of incorporating younger talent with hym and jdh, but the question is, if it’s a good decision to have that young talent take on the support roles. CTY is a player that can decide games and tournaments, but needs to be enabled. And while Burning has changed his hero pool and playstyle to be much more active and aggressive than he used to be, it will be upon the newcomers to step up to the plate and give their carries the support they need.
Vici_Gaming Reborn shows a lot of promise on paper. The ever so popular PSG.LGD.fy has joined the squad from the main roster, as well as veteran VGJ.T.ddc. VG.Yang and EHOME.END, the carry player formerly known as zyf or YJ, are the only two VG.P players left in the squad. The last member to join is former CDEC.A player and midlaner Sr.
A lot of talent, combined with the expertise and class from both fy and ddc looks good on paper and they did show what they were capable of in the qualifier for ESL One Manila. They not only beat their main team, they also took out LGD. In the finals however, they didn’t stand a chance against Wings Gaming and lost 0-3. However, ever since then, VG.Reborn has won every single game during the H-Cup, a China only tournament, including beating teams such as Wings, Newbee.Y and CDEC.A.
Together with coach Mikasa, who formerly coached LGD and Newbee during their TI4 victory, the team seems to has all the tools they need to succeed. While the loss against WIngs was bad, just reaching the finals was already a good showing and first test. Unlike Vici Gaming’s main team, this Reborn squad has the veterans and expertise on the support positions, giving the talented carries, although End is at this point quite experienced himself, the space and time to unfold their potential. This is a team to look out for.
As expected, PSG.LGD built yet another team surrounding their superstar PSG.LGD.Maybe. Newbee.B.xiao8, also known as Director 8, returns yet again to lead the team. He in fact returns to the offlane position, as opposed to the support position that he previously occupied. The spot next to MMY! is filled by youngster 黑色大猫, a former CDEC.A player. The role of the carry will be assumed by non other than CDEC’s former carry Agressif:
The squad had a rough start and dropped all of their first four games. They lost 0-2 vs. VG.Reborn and then 0-2 against CDEC.Y. Worst of all, the performances were not promising in the least.
LGD is still a promising squad regardless. Xiao8 has proven time and time again that he is capable of fielding a title contender at TI and they have a healthy mixture of experience and talent in the squad. The loss of coach Mikasa could weigh in, but it is difficult to measure how important he was to the team’s prior success. Instead, former Newbee player banana is now the team’s coach.
Losing calibres such as rOtk and CTY would usually leave any team quite hopeless, but EHOME has signed high quality players in Fenrir and Fnatic.iceiceice. Interestingly enough however, Iceiceice will assume the role of support and LaNm is said to be the carry of the team. There have been cases where role swaps certainly have worked out and CTY’s transition from mid to carry in EHOME worked close to flawlessly as well. However, there have been just as many cases of failed role transitions, which is something EHOME will have to look out for.
It’s difficult to judge the team without having seen any performances from them yet, but on paper it is at least a contender for qualifier spots and potentially invites.
Just a few days before the roster lock, Virtus.pro announced drastic changes to their squad. Silent has been moved to a substitute position due to health concerns and both Lil and DkPhobos are now part of a second VP team. Instead, former Team Empire players and tryouts ALOHADANCE, Nofear and yoky have joined.
Virtus.Pro now fields a second team again, called Polarity. Na`Vi.Lil and TSpirit.DkPhobos lead the charge with a mixture of other notable CIS players, such as Vega’s former carry VP.9pasha, HR’s former Afoninje and pubstar Jenya.
The VP roster changes do not seem to be well received by CIS analysts and casters and there is a case to be made that they got weaker in certain positions. It is however also valid to say that the squad needed a refresher, as they had been stagnant for a while now.
Steak Gaming is no more and instead Escape Gaming is here. syndereN and Era stuck together and reformed with the help of former Mamas Boys player Secret.YapzOr, returnee Liquid.qojqva and former HoN pro turned Dota2 pubstar Chaos.KheZu, the squad is aiming for the top. While on paper it seems like a clash of roles, as qojqva has primarily played carry and offlane for his former teams, he and Era both seem flexible enough to adjust to the situation given the picks, as KheZu stays in the offlane.
Only a few games have been played so far but No Diggity has already shown that they are very much capable of contesting the established teams. A 1-1 against Team Spirit and a 2-0 over Vega, but more so the performances in those games show a lot of promise. The team may have renamed to No Diggity, but they certainly seem to have all the steak to their sizzle.
Kaipi is back yet again. bOne7 tried to make it work with a strictly Romanian team, but has given up that idea quite a while ago. He teamed up together with OG.7mad for the Shanghai Major Open Qualifiers but the team did not succeed. Now, two former Kaipi players return in form of SingSing and ComeWithMe. Together with canceL^^, the team will be looking to bring the name Kaipi back to where it was once: the top.
Kaipi has brought forth many established pros, such as EternalEnvy, pieliedie and Arteezy. Much like them, bOne7 found his first success under the Kaipi flag, but can he do it again? In terms of raw skill, the team seems capable enough to prevail, but the question remains whether the chemistry and communication are right to make it work.
If you haven’t heard of what happened here, odds are you’ve lived under a stone for the last 3 days.
Thus, Digital Chaos was left without a team, especially since captain 1437 left to coach Secret again. As a result of this shuffle, MiSeRy and w33ha joined the remnants of Digital Chaos, Resolut1on and NiP.Saksa, as well as former Archon player J.Storm.Moo to reform a new squad under the Digital Chaos banner.
For almost 3 years, Universe has been part of the Evil Geniuses brand. Leaving them marks the end of an era for him and the brand, an era that included the TI5 victory. Arteezy returns yet again to Secret after leaving them after TI5. He joins EternalEnvy after almost 3 years of not playing together. Back then, the two were part of Kaipi and as a stand-in for Speed Gaming, Arteezy helped the team claim their first and only LAN title at MLG Columbus.
Aui and Bulba both return to Evil Geniuses. While Aui only recently was kicked from EG following their TI5 success, Bulba’s last dance with Evil Geniuses dates back to TI2.
While many question the ethics behind the very sudden roster shuffle, especially so close to the lock date, the intention behind the move from Secret seems quite clear. Universe and Arteezy are both world class players in their positions and despite Secret’s victory at the Shanghai Major, there are cases to be made that several circumstances led to it, not all of which speak to Secret’s supreme class at the event.
Quite similarly to how EG dropped Aui post TI5, it makes sense for a team to not be stagnant but instead look to improve themselves. Whether or not this will ultimately lead to improved performances though remains to be seen. On paper, Secret looks like a scary all-star line-up. However, so did their TI5 squad and that didn’t end well for them.
As with EG, the team seems rather promising and according to ppd, “there never really was much bad blood between Aui and me after The International 5.”, which means the team should be able to focus solely on the game. Communication should not be an issue, as Bulba acted as coach for the team during TI5 and is thus rather familiar with the players, but especially with how ppd thinks as a captain.
As for DC, the squad was put together last minute. Each and every one of the players have shown how skilled they are individually, but a team needs time to grow together and work on their cohesion. If they can be patient, the squad has a lot to offer. They will supposedly play in the North-American region from here on out and should be expected to be amongst the top teams there - not that this star studded line-up wouldn’t be a top team in Europe, but there will be less pressure to perform from the getgo in NA.
And here I thought the Western Shuffle was crazy. pic.twitter.com/Q22URDA9M7— Nahaz (@NahazDota) March 27, 2016
The shuffle was huge, much larger than what we’ve seen prior to Shanghai. It makes sense though, as this is the last chance for teams to make any changes. Every team has to be locked from here on out if they want to be considered for the Manila Major and TI6.
There are several more cases of notable roster swaps that weren’t mentioned here, the new Empire, hyhy’s and ZSMJ’s White Fries Gaming or kpii and kaka joining Newbee.
It’s almost as if there has been a new season in Dota now and everyone will be hungry and eager to prove their worth. However, there are only little opportunities for teams to show their strength and be considered for Manila invites, so every little opportunities that comes their way will have to be seized. We could speculate on winners and losers in this shuffle, but ultimately only the teams, the players themselves, can show us who truly were the winners and losers here.