G-1 Phase 3 Preview: Champions, Challengers, and Chains
After a well-fought Phase 2 that saw some major upsets, we're on the eve of the Phase 3 of Season 5 G-1 Champions League, 2013. With this marks the first appearance of the so-called 'Big Three' of China, in the form of iG, DK, and LGD.cn, accompanied by the lone non-Chinese top four finisher of last G-1, Orange. With only four spots available for Asian teams at the LAN finals, competition promises to be fierce, upsets possible, in G-1 as newcomers and the old kings of Dota alike fight it out for the right to compete offline for the largest Chinese Dota 2 prizepool to date. Season 5 of the G-1 Champions League continues with Phase 3.
Group A sees the two LGD squads lining up against one another in what is sure to be one of the most anticipated matchups seen so far this year. In LGD.int, finalists of the recently-ended G-League, there is something for global fans, while LGD.cn are the defending champions of G-1 and must be looking to repeat. Will LGD.cn's recent lack of core player DD affect their form at all? Can LGD.int continue their dominant qualifying performances upon meeting their brothers and training partners in LGD.cn? A true spectacle of "east versus west" Dota, perhaps, or simply an evolution of Chinese Dota?Whatever it is, the leadoff matchup between these two is sure to be intense, entertaining, and spectacular.
For LGD.cn, key points will be xiao8, whose aggressive laning often helps them snowball from early game, yet also sometimes overextends. Their need to use LongDD as a standin will also be an interesting point to watch, was LongDD tends to favor jungle heroes such as Chen, Enigma, and Nature's Prophet, yet he has been hit or miss recently.
In RattleSnake, this relatively new team has shown some strong play, and strong results, as they became the first team to officially progress from phase 2 and advance to phase 3. Led by veterans Kabu, luo, and fan-favorite LaNm, their journey so far has included an impressive win over SEA powerhouse and TI2 invites MUFC. Just how far can this team go? They've arguably captured the tentative support of fickle fans who hope to see success from such old veterans of the scene, and their early results have been solid. But to any average fan抯 view, the two LGD squads in Group A will ultimately serve as the real pace-makers of the group ?whether RattleSnake can keep up remains to be seen.
LaNm specifically deserves a mention and fans' attention in RSnake's upcoming matches, as his bans and picks so far have been good, and his role as a 3 has seen him playing very flexibly based on his team's needs. Luo seems as flashy and creative as he's always been. Their carry player, Icy, might be the most obvious weakness, as his lack of experience might be exposed; this will be something to watch out for.
Orange, a top four finisher at last season's G-1, and top 8 finisher at TI2, rounds out this indisputably fearsome looking group. Although they placed impressively last season, their roster this go-round looks significantly weaker, as stalwarts YamateH and Ice left earlier this year for Zenith. Nonetheless, they've kept hold of their superstar solo mid player Mushi, and all eyes must now be on him for those watching to see whether Orange can build on their solid G-1 performance of 2012.
Can LGD.cn's xiao8 successfully direct a sequel to their autumn blockbuster of 2012? Or is this group a launching ground for another upset in the form of RattleSnake? Storylines abound?G-1 Season 5 Group A kicks off at 7:30PM Chinese time on March 27, 2013 with the LGD derby, one for the ages.
- Chains Stack
This is a group with three top 6 finishers at TI2 in 2012 in iG, Zenith, and DK, rounded out by a scrappy, yet effective new team that has knocked down two favored Chinese teams in Chains Stack. A group of giants, and one aspiring giant-killer. Who will stand, who will fall?
For many fans, this group might begin and end with the presence of World, G-League, and WCG champions ?iG. It wouldn抰 be folly to even expect iG to take the entire tournament, yet, it should be remembered: this is G-1, and in the previous season of the G-1 Champions League, the same iG that stormed to three other major titles in the space of half a year placed a merely mortal fourth. This season of G-1 League has seen favored teams such as TongFu, and For.Love crash out to much lesser-known opponents. Other Chinese teams upon which higher expectations were placed, such as RisingStars and VG, also failed to make their presence felt. And so it is with this background that the current titans of world Dota embark on their G-1 journey. Will they fulfill their destiny, or will G-1 continue to be their misery?
IG's players have each been praised to high heaven and back for the recent successes and players like 430 and YYF who are often in the spotlight need not be highlighted more here, but there are still a few standout points to make and watch for here at G-1. Faith's bans and picks often secure an advantage for iG from the very beginning, while Zhou has completely embraced his teamfight carry type of role, something iG has fullly taken advantage of. Even if iG is expected to steamroll their group, any match with these players is still a treat for fans and scholars of the game.
Chains Stack... where to begin? Their play has been ragged, ritzy, and effective all simultaneously. This amateur team of SEA and Oceania pub players, led by former N9/aL player r1sk, successively took out heavily favored Chinese teams For.Love and RisingStars, the latter encounter unexpectedly lopsided. This is a team with potential - or at least, a team that's feeling it, and an in form team can often trade blows with even the biggest of titans.It'll be interesting to see how they hold up against true veterans in DK and iG, and a much improved Zenith side, but with r1sk revealing in an interview that they'll have to play with multiple standins for some matches, Chains Stack's chances of finishing above last place look very small indeed. And that's not a negative - they've done spectacularly to get this far, and here in Group B, they are surrounded by top 6 finishers at TI2.
Zenith has looked strong recently, after taking the DotaTalk League earlier this month. Zenith, famously, was the one non-Chinese teams that many Chinese teams at TI2 were most afraid of, and for good reason. After some changes and restructuring late last year which saw the departure of captain hyhy, their additions of former Orange stars YamateH and Ice makes it hard to ignore what they're building to maintain their place as a top SEA team.
YamateH specifically brings a level of flashiness and individual brilliance that can and should be a great complement to the always-solid, always excellent play of iceiceice. Led by these two, with a strong supporting cast, look for Zenith to be legit challenger for a spot out of Group B.
Champions of G-1 Season 3, an event that seems so long in the past - yet was only a year ago - DK has been through some rough patches lately. Two disappointing falls in the finals of both Season 4 G-1 and WCG 2012 were deflating not only in that they lost, but more so in the way they lost, with mistakes and missteps a regular theme throughout. Some of their issues can be attributed to their players -- XB/rOtk has been out of form for quite a while and the feeling is that he sometimes needs to take a step back during a game and be more patient. BurNing maintains is royal income as DK's carry, but some major mistakes during teamfights should not be seen again if DK are to find success here. And overall, we hope that DK has worked out the kinks and bumps here and there in their team understanding that have been cropping up in their past couple tournaments.
A team full of veterans, led by arguably the best carry Dota has seen in BurNing, DK will no doubt be looking to make amends this season. Poor form, mistakes, bad decision-making... whatever you want to attribute their recent failures to, remember: form is temporary, class is permanent, and we'll be looking for DK to display that kingly aura fans have come to know and love them for here at G-1 Season 5.
Will iG's supertitans claim the one title that has eluded them on their dominant run of late? Can BurNing and co show their former brilliance, or will the likes of iceiceice and Zenith cool their flaming desire? All these questions and more, as underdogs Chains Stack seek to transform into true dark horses... G-1 Season 5 Group B kicks off at 7:30PM Chinese time on March 28, 2013, with iG versus Chains Stack, a true David and Goliath Dota story.
G-1 Champions League
Phase 1: Bracket | Schedule | VODs
Phase 2: Bracket | VODs
Phase 3: Bracket and Schedule | Preview
NA/EU Qualifier: TBA
LAN Finals: TBA
RSnake.Icy | LGD.CN.Xiao8 | TongFu.Mu | VG.CTY |
ChainsStack.Johnny | RattleSnake.LaNm | For.Love.KingJ |