Xu Burning Zhilei is one of China’s most treasured Dota icons. The veteran, after all, has been around since 2008 with Dota 1. After nearly a decade of high-quality Dota, Burning will bring his godly carry ability Philippines alongside Invictus Gaming, his team of young Chinese stars for the Manila Masters.
Invictus Gaming have been on fire. That much is sure. They have been since the start of 2017. Winning many of the Chinese Qualifiers and securing top half finishes in their LAN. It roots back to the robust competitive scene in China. While the Western and other scenes takes lengthy breaks between LANs, for the Chinese esports never stops with tournaments such as China Top, Dota 2 ACE – Provisional, among many others happening nearly all year-round for the country. This in turn always pushes their players to constantly improve for any chance at repping their country at international LANs with top-tier teams.
Bringing in the young guns
The triumvirate of young blood of IG in Ou Op Peng, Lin Xxs Jing, and Ye Boboka Zhibiao show so much quality at their age. Boboka’s mere presence creates drafting problems for their opponents. His Monkey King has a 75% win rate since the start of 2017 and his opponents respect ban it from him nearly every time. While his Monkey King was nerfed or could be banned out his prowess on Riki and Earth Spirit cannot be underestimated. That gives Burning and OP free reign to get heroes that they are comfortable with. OP gets his Lina? Burning gets his Lifestealer or Juggernaut? It’s almost a guaranteed up-hill battle for their opponents from the draft. Oh, and let’s not forget Xxs on the Magnus, a hero you truly cannot overlook. Known for his explosive Reverse Polarities, the young Chinese player turns heads with almost every game he uses the hero.
This iteration of IG has won an upward of 70% of their matches in 2017. The amount of confidence that they have with each other is extremely high at the moment. Their average match time clocks in at around 40 minutes for both wins and losses. It shows how decisive they are as a team. They may not take games early often but they know how to close it out in the mid-game capitalizing on Boboka’s impact.
The team also knows how to play to each other’s strengths as they average 61 assists a game in 2017. This ranks them at number 4 when compared to all the teams coming into the Manila Masters that like to share their wealth. A large part of this is Boboka who constantly provides the team with valuable information.
Beating Invictus Gaming is so much more than focusing on one player. They have to keep Burning’s farm in check, they can’t let OP snowball, and they can’t commit too much on containing Boboka’s early game shenanigans. IG is a complete team that you really have to outplay. They can’t go all-in preventing one strategy. That’s what makes this Chinese squad so formidable.
Their opposition in the Masters is not new to them, nor is their opponent unaware of what IG can do. Any team with Burning cannot be taken lightly after all, more so if he has four top-flight players with him. IG have beaten American powerhouse Evil Geniuses in four of their last five outings. While against the boys of #DreamGreen OG, IG have a budding rivalry against them posting an 8-5 record.
A winning record against the 4-time Major Champions is not something you can just look over. While OG beat them in their elimination match in the Kiev Major, Burning and his boys can still upset the Israel-based squad on any given day.
Clutch Gamers remains a mystery for IG as they have not faced each other before. They have encountered the likes of Team Secret and Team NP for draws before but as they are brandishing new line-ups for the Masters we can’t make assumptions just yet.
Invictus Gaming has a real good chance of taking it all in the Masters as their roster has been together since late 2016. In the world of esports that’s a terribly long time. If they do stumble and not take it all, then a top half finish is the worst that could happen.