Xu “fy” Linsen is one of the most storied players in all of Dota 2. He is a player who was hailed as the chosen one, the heir to Xu “BurNIng” Zhilei. From 2014-2015 he fulfilled that potential on his time under VG Gaming, but his a downwards slump soon after. By the first half of 2017, he looked to be washed up, another archaic relic. Respected for what he once was, but no longer to be counted amongst the best of the current day. Then he joined PSG.LGD and soon he and the team rose to great success and are now one of the best teams in the world. Within the last few months they have won EPICENTER XL and MDL Changsha Major. They are one of the best teams in the world and are seeded into The International 8. As for fy he finally returns to compete for the Aegis.
The last time we saw fy at The International was TI6. It was a resounding disappointment made all the more so if you understood the legacy and expectations of fy. He is nicknamed “The Prince” for two reasons. The first is because BurNIng was “The Emperor”. A nickname that was bestowed upon him for being the greatest Chinese player of his generation and arguably the greatest Dota player ever. He carried his teams as a superstar and defined Dota during his prime.
Fy was supposed to be the heir to that legacy. He was that spectacular of a player, someone everyone in the world acknowledged as one of the greatest playmaking and spellcasting supports Dota 2 has ever produced. So these nicknames that were bestowed upon these two players acknowledged their greatness, but they also force a certain type of responsibility on these players.
In French it is called Noblesse oblige. It is the responsibility of those that have been bestowed with power, prestige, and wealth to help those less fortunate around them. In Dota 2 terms though, it means that they are the superstars. They must carry their games, their teams, and China to victory.
This is a critical point as the Chinese hold a lot of national pride, especially when it comes to their skill in Dota 2. When Chinese Dota 2 was on the decline, Wings became the savior of the scene as they won TI6 and players like Bai “rOtk” Fan have come out and said that the only team he was a fan of was that team. Earlier this year, Wang “SanSheng” Zhao believed that Virtus.Pro was deriding the strength of Chinese Dota and released a guide on how Virtus.Pro ward the map and ended the article with,
“I am Newbee.SanSheng, and my name is engraved on the Aegis.”
So to be given the title of Prince is a grave responsibility and at the beginning fy, fulfilled that promise. The Vici Gaming teams from 2014-2015 were amongst the best we have ever seen in Dota 2. They were explosive, aggressive, and showed the sheer might of what fy and that team could do on a server. However fy could not do it all. He was tasked with being the drafter, caller, and superstar player and it was far too much to do. He was always teetering the edge and that is one of the reasons as to why many of the Vici lineups were never able to get the wins that they wanted. Even in the best iterations of his VG teams, fy could not convert that form into TI victories. In TI4 he fell short to Newbee in the finals, at TI5 the team got fourth place.
Then the slump began. At the beginning of 2016 the team broke up and the legendary partnership of fy and Lu “Fenrir” Chao went their separate ways. Fy then played around a much lower level on Vici Gaming Reborn and it was underwhelming. Fy was always a player who could do it all. He was a superstar player and he could lead the team. The problem though was that he could never do both at once. It took far too much concentration to both lead his team and to perform well on his highly mechanical support heroes like Rubick. He was always stuck trying to bring both aspects together.
Eventually Fy and Fenrir did reunite under VGJ. There was a brief glimpse of hope as they got second at Starladder i-League Season 3, and on paper it made a lot of sense. With rOtk being the leader, fy could focus on being a star player. But it never worked out and the age of fy and Fenrir as a duo was clearly done and at this point it felt like the age offy as a superstar support was over.
Even when he moved over to PSG.LGD, the initial report was that he was to take over the offlane role, to try and reinvigorate his play. It didn’t work out, but you could see that there was real potential in the team. Wang “Ame” Chunyu was a strong carry player. Lu “Maybe” Yao is one of the all time great mid laners of China. Yap “xNova” Jian Wei showed a lot of promise as a 5 support. The final piece they needed however was a strong offlaner and they found one in Yang “Chalice” Shenyi at the very end of 2017.
That was to be the catalyst as all of the right pieces came together. Fy started to lead the team through the grueling Dota 2 Points Circuit as they qualified for event after event. They were able to make up for lost time and at the very end punch their ticket with incredible results at Dota 2 Asia Championships where they got 2nd, and two first place finishes at EPICENTER and MDL.
As a team it was clear that they tried to play around either Ame or Maybe with Chalice being the sacrificial offlane player. However Chalice is a survivor and even though he has been sacked over and over, he still brings large impact to the game and is never a liability. This in turn has opened up fy and xNova as they are able to focus more on helping the other cores of the team. As for fy he has finally done it as he has become both an effective leader and a superstar player once again. Perhaps it is a breakthrough for fy as a player or it could be because coaches are now allowed in the booths to draft and with Yao “QQQ” Yi helping him, fy can now focus more on his individual game. This incredible skill as a caller and leader was most transparent at MDL Changsha where he won the MVP award when PSG.LGD took the title home.
Now PSG.LGD and fy go to the International. For fy it has been two years since he has attended and three since he was a legitimate contender for the crown. Fy has been able to fulfill his noblesse oblige as the Prince of China. He has returned to the throne as the rightful heir apparent to BurNIng’s legacy. He has returned as the superstar support player we all knew him for. He has taken the leadership mantle and has led PSG.LGD to the heights of the Dota 2 World. Now he returns to TI8 to prove that he can win a TI as a superstar, that he can lead his team to victory, and that he can bear the burden of China’s hopes and deliver a TI victory.