Hours after LGD’s Gaming defeat in the Dota2 Asia Championships (DAC), Pan Fei, the team manager made a lengthy and emotional post on Weibo. It’s rare to see someone close to a team speaking about the insides while sharing all the emotions that come with either failures or a story of success. From training regime, going through how LGD “made an obsession” to defeat Team Liquid and Virtus.pro, to what players talked backstage during the DAC grand finals and what impact the loss vs Mineski had on them, Fei takes us through the entire journey of the team since PGL Open Bucharest to the present day.
DAC is the Beginning, Not the End
2-0 win over EG, 2-1 comeback victory vs Liquid, 0-2 defeat to Mineski, 2-1 VP, 2-3 defeat to Mineski. And with that, the DAC tournament has come to an end.
On the final day, the moment when we won the series against VP, 357 and I started crying tears of joy backstage. Unexpectedly, just a few hours later, tears fell once again, sad ones this time.
Thinking back to the Chinese New Year period when we just reformed, PGL was our first big tournament. Back then, our team went to Romania with the mentality of learning. Team Liquid was our role model as our team severely lacks a strong mid-game tempo. Even now, this is still our weakness which we need to put in more effort to work on. Thereafter, VP became our teacher as they began exerting their dominance. Their invincible laning phase often destroys their opponents right from the get-go. Moreover, their impeccable team fighting ability is also the main reason why they were able to win back-to-back Majors. After getting eliminated at PGL, the team spent about 8 hours in the practice room to evaluate the matches and study the differences between them and the strongest teams. Ultimately, the team returned to China with the belief that they will be able to defeat their teachers – Liquid and VP.
Upon returning to China, the players were given a short break to reunite with their families as they weren’t able to do so during Chinese New Year.
After the short break, the team gathered back for intensive training. Taking into consideration that our training previously was lacking in some way, I started looking for an analyst. Many analysts private messaged me on WeChat and among them, I selected a former sports analyst to join us as. At the same time, coach 357 formulated a very strict training regime.
- 12:00 -13:00 Wake up, wash up, eat
- 13:00-14:00 Each person solo queues a pub game as warm up
- 14:00-17:00 A BO2 or BO3 scrimming session
- 17:00-19:00 Teamwork activities, led by the teacher of the national female basketball team
- 19:00-21:00 BO2 scrimming session
- 21:00-24:00 Watch replays
- 24:00-03:00 Pub ranked games
There are 3 points that are worth talking about:
With such a strict training regime set up, we must strictly follow it. Any players who are late or disobey during training will be severely punished. At the same time, to implement this entire regime, we, the management staff, need to lead by example. As a result, here are the punishments that we implemented. If the players are late, they are fined RMB500. As for the captain, he will be fined RMB1000. For the coach and me, we will be fined RMB2000.
Our teacher will lead all of us to perform team-bonding activities to increase our teamwork. At the same time, we work with a psychologist to ensure that the form and mentality of our players are at their best. Our team consists of young players from age 16 to 25 and all their energy is focused on the game and on competing. As a result, their general knowledge is naturally lower than other people of the same age. I treat every player who joined our club as my own child. During their journey as a professional player, what they become eventually or what values they possess are all dependent on the management of the club. These players are like a white piece of paper and the club’s management is like the pencil. We have to bear some of the responsibility as how we scribble on these papers determines the values of these players.
Previously, there were some things that we did not do well enough and made some mistakes along the way. We thought that as long as we achieved good results, nothing else matters. But now, we realized where the root of the problems is and we are willing to put in the effort to make the necessary changes. The reason why I am so angry today is because of Danche. As a public figure, the Weibo post that he made could have deeply affected a young player’s mentality. I do not wish to see that a player with huge potential gets his future destroyed because of a public opinion. This is why I am exceptionally angry now.
The training of a professional team is divided into 3 steps. The first step is to play a large amount of ranked games to increase one’s individual skill and techniques. For example, 7500 MMR (old system) is our benchmark for hiring newcomers into our youth team. You are only eligible to the doors of becoming a professional player after achieving that MMR. (Some of the older players have added advantage due to their experience and macro game-sense which can make up for the lack in MMR). By solo queueing constantly, one can ensure that the player’s individual level can be maintained or even increased. We even have a reward system for players achieving a certain level of MMR (Ame did achieve number 1 on the ladder once and we gave him RMB5000. We also rewarded Ame for exceeding our requirements on the number of Dota games played during the holidays). The second step is to duo queue which is mainly to boost the chemistry between two players. For example, the solo mid player and the position 4 player will have a lot of interactions during a game. As such, we would request for them to queue together. However, as the matching system for duo queueing is not so good, we decided to change it into a time for team discussion. The 3rd step is to scrim against other teams. When we consistently practice against the stronger teams, we are able to spot our weaknesses. Thereafter, we look at the replays to make sure everyone has the same understanding of the game. For example, in a scenario where the position 3 player is faced with 2 choices – to participate in team fights or continue pushing the lane. Either choice may benefit the overall game plan in certain ways, or the team might lose a huge fight due to a wrong choice. Watching replays has become the best time for us to unify our thoughts about the game.
When DAC started, our aim was to achieve top 4 before fighting for 1st place as we all wanted to gain some DPC points leading to TI. Also, being able to defeat Liquid or VP has become another goal of ours. We were constantly learning from the playstyles of both Liquid and VP and defeating them became our obsession.
In the loser’s bracket when we defeated VP, the whole stadium started chanting “LGD”. At that moment, I could no longer control my emotions. We have never felt so close to a championship title. Since I joined LGD in 2014, this is the first time we made it to the grand finals of such a big scale tournament. At that moment, my mind only had one thought: “Even though our enemies are really strong, I have the means to defend our country flag”. When our players joined us backstage, all of us were really excited. I jokingly told Ame that if we managed to win the tournament, he must type out the sentence: “This is DAC, my name is Burning”.
However, as per what the fans have been ridiculing about, LGD once again fell short at the last moment. At TI5 and TI7, I thought that I will have the chance to go up on stage with my players to lift the trophy. During the entire playoffs, I dream of that image every single day. Nevertheless, we fell short once again. Our team had to play 8 straight games in a row. With the lack of stamina, we started losing focus and our team fight executions were off. This was a huge test for the coach and for the players. After the tournament, many fans messaged me to point at the problems of our team.
To those people that have been helping me, I am full of gratitude. It is true that with our performance in the finals, we didn’t deserve the championship. In the finals, Mineski’s flawless execution did not give us many chances at all. When we had the advantage, we were dazed and did not capitalize on it to get the victory. Our itemization was incorrect, team fight execution in the mid game was lacking and we started to be confused during the draft. All of these, including the lack of stamina, are factors that we need to improve on.
However, as what 357 said, not many people actually understand how mentally draining it can be to play 8 straight games at such a high level. The perfect example of the lapse of focus would be game 4 of the grand finals.
If Tusk did not steal the Cheese and Refresher Shard, the Underlord Dark Rift play would not have even happened.
If Disruptor was not as calm and patient as he was, the Dark Rift play might not have worked so well.
Without that play, we will not even be in the grand finals! Maybe some people noticed that Ame and Maybe did not perform well, but there are even more people who noticed it when they carried the game.
I create the opportunities for you, you create the miracles for me. We will witness victory together! This is Dota!
When we lose, there is no blame. There is only self-examination, reflection, and improvement! This is a team!
I hope that this failure will help us continue to improve!
Lastly, all members of my team are really strong!
When Heaven is about to place a great responsibility on a great man, it will always frustrate his spirit, exhaust his muscles and bones, expose him to starvation and poverty, harasses him with troubles and setbacks so as to stimulate his spirit, toughen his nature and enhance his abilities.
One failure will not stop us from moving forward. We still have Epicenter, Super Major, etc coming up in the future. And of course, we have TI8 waiting for us. If trying once isn’t enough, we will try a second time, third time, until we get the ultimate victory!
DAC is the beginning, not the end.
I always believe there are more to come for LGD’s future!
PS: I would like to take this chance to tell everyone about our team’s upcoming schedule. Taking into considerations that we have to compete in ESL Birmingham and MDL qualifiers, and also traveling to Russia on 24th April for Epicenter, such a tight schedule will also affect our training schedule. Moreover, xNova still has to return to Malaysia to handle his work VISA in China. After discussing with the team and communicating with the organizers, we have decided to forfeit our spot at StarLadder ImbaTV and will be focusing fully on the upcoming Majors. I would like to take this chance to sincerely apologize to all LGD fans and to the tournament organizer.