Every year in the month of August we had a bunch of players who got their International baptism. TI8 has also a few names who will make their first appearance at Valve’s most prestigious tournament and although the event will not be in Seattle this time, Rogers Arena from Vancouver, Canada, will surely become the most important venue for this year ’s debutants.
Unlike previous editions, The International 8 features a lower number of players who will make their TI debut. For example, at TI7 a total of 44 players entered The International stage for the first time, while this year we have just 28 set to break the ice.
One of the main favorites to claim The International 2018 trophy is PSG.LGD Gaming. Third in the DPC rankings, the Chinese juggernauts didn’t find their stride at the beginning of the competitive season and they were forced to undergo a few roster changes. In late December they brought in a young offlaner whose competitive experience was pretty insignificant.
Yang “Chalice”‘ Shenyi played for nearly one year and a half with Team Max before LGD found him. He was recruited mid-December last year and as soon as he joined, the team started to pick up on their Champions form.
By the end of February 2018, LGD were already qualified for two Majors, DAC and ESL One Katowice and one Minor, SL i-League Invitational Season 4. In the following months, the Chinese team were once again one of the scariest squads out there and they were slaying left and right, claiming two Major Championship titles back to back to end the season with a decent third place at the China Supermajor.
Chalice became a decisive factor in his team success. From lane dominating heroes like Underlord, Axe or Tidehunter during his first few months at LGD, the young offlaner shifted to level dependent and playmaking ones. Along Fy, he is now the X factor in PSG.LGD’s team fights with heroes like Clockwerk, Brewmaster, Beastmaster or Sand King. At times, he is also trusted to actually carry the team from his offlane position with Faceless Void, Razor, Lycan or Bloodseeker. So, looking at his heroes played since he joined PSG.LGD, we would notice a vast pool which allows his team to develop multiple strategies and makes the drafting against them fairly hard. Since his arrival, PSG.LGD’s enemies don’t have to only focus Maybe or Ame or Fy, they now have to pay attention to Chalice as well.
Chalice played 186 games so far with PSG.LGD winning 127 of them which translate into a 68.28% win rate for his team. His top five heroes played are as follows:
|Heroes||Games in Total||Wins||Win Rate|
|Sand King / Batrider||11||8||72,73%|
Note that he has the same amount of games played on the Sand King and Batrider, with exactly the same win rate. One very interesting stat is the Clockwerk games, a hero which he played in the MDL and EPICENTER Majors, both won by PSG.LGD. Chalice boasts a 100 % win rate on this hero from six games in total.
The youngster will turn 20 years old while he will be fighting for the first time at The International. He will probably celebrate his birthday after the group stage in Vancouver will be over, as he is born on the 16th of August.
His teammate Jian Wei “xNova” Yap is also 20 years old and also at his debut at The International. However, before joining PSG.LGD Gaming, xNova had a tad more competitive experience. He came at the Chinese team from the Malaysian squad WarriorsGaming.Unity.
xNova made his competitive debut at the beginning of 2015 but his far most known teams from the starting days are Mineski-X and WG.Unity. He participated at his first Valve event back in December 2016, when he placed top 8 with WG.Unity at the Boston Major. He was still with the Malaysian squad at the beginning of the DPC season, playing with a new line-up the organization was testing, as he told VPEsports a few months ago: “I was still playing for WG.Unity with a new lineup back then, but we were not doing too well. During that time, LGD was undergoing a roster change and they were looking for players to try out. Ah Fu from LFY, who I had played with in WG.Unity suggested LGD to try me out. It ended up working well for me and the team,” said xNova to us at the end of May, just before LGD were about to enter the Supermajor battle.
Interestingly enough, at the time LGD were giving him a tryout, xNova was somewhat overlapping with captain Fy in play style and heroes. Of course, there is just one Fy God but before joining LGD, the Malaysian support was playing a lot of Rubick and Io at WG.Unity. So clearly, once he was announced to have officially joined the Chinese team at the beginning of January this year, he had to change his supporting habits.
Io vanished completely from his pool since he joined LGD, as for Rubick, he got to play it just four times. His top five heroes now are Witch Doctor, Bounty Hunter, Bane, Disruptor, and Chen.
xNova played a total of 184 official games with PSG.LGD so far and he boasts an impressive 80,95% win rate on Bane, a hero he played 21 times since January till now, winning 17 of those matches. His most played hero with PSG.LGD, however, is Witch Doctor, 42 games from which he won 29, which translates into a 69,05% win rate.
PSG.LGD Gaming had a pretty stacked season, and these two TI debutants, Chalice and xNova, have already played in a very high competitive environment. They already know how it feels to play and win a grand final versus Team Liquid or how to deal with Virtus.pro’s aggression. They played LAN events all over the world this year and Vancouver should be just the final pin on this season’s map. Questions like “will they cope with the pressure”, “will they get particularly anxious when playing against that or that team” have been already answered by the results they got so so far, results which sent them to The International 2018 from the top of the 2017-2018 Dota Pro Circuit rankings.