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It’s the last year when Valve allows the organizations to participate at The International with more than one team and Vici Gaming are the only ones who managed to qualify all their three squads for TI8.

VGJ.Storm are coming to Vancouver after claiming their spot in the regional qualifiers while VG and VGJ.Thunder had enough second place finishes in the Dota Pro Circuit tournaments to land a direct invite via DPC rankings.


Despite being one of the eight teams to secure a direct invite to TI8, VGJ.Thunder’s performance during the season was anything but consistent. They started the Dota Pro Circuit with a top six finish at the PGL Open Bucharest Minor, then they qualified for a few other DPC tournaments. Their first LAN victory came in January  2018 at Galaxy Battles II, however the competition at that tournament was not exactly the toughest and because the event got his Major status revoked, Thunder didn’t get any DPC points from it. After a top eight finish at ESL One Genting, the team decided to make a roster change and kicked Fan “Ayo” Tianyou to welcome aboard a veteran of the scene, a man who has been at all the previous TIs, the one called by the Chinese community “the ticket man.” Leong ‘ddc’ Fat-meng joined VGJ.Thunder in the last official shuffle of the season, but interestingly enough, he didn’t take the captain duty from Pan “Fade” Yi.


VGJ.Thunder roster:

– Liu “Sylar” Jiajun
– Liu “Freeze” Chang
– Zhou “Yang” Haiyang
– Pan “Fade” Yi
– Leong “ddc” Fat-meng


With DDC’s arrival, Thunder aligned with the trend of having a mix of veterans with youngsters in a team’s line-up. However, most of the squads are using this kind of strategy by having the veterans in the support lines while the trio cores are usually young players. VGJ.Thunder have one of the most iconic Chinese carry players in Liu “Sylar” Jiajun. Along Xu “BurNIng” Zhilei and Chen “Hao” Zhihao, both retired now, Sylar is regarded as one of the greatest in his role.


His TI history features a third place in 2013, a second place in 2014, when the TI grand final was a full Chinese battle and another third place in 2015. Sylar’s absolutely outstanding The International record along with DDC’s eight TIs streak should put this team in a very special spot this year. However, most of the Dota 2 fans are tempted to think that VGJ.Thunder don’t stand a chance at making it even to top eight in Vancouver, and that’s because of their DPC inconsistent performance. Even their coach, Bai “rOtK” Fan expressed his frustration with the players at the end of the season when Thunder finished 9-12th in China at the Supermajor. “If we are behind, we are just waiting to call the GG; if we are ahead, the throw seems inevitable and it keeps happening over and over again. I’ve always seen myself as a tireless warrior but now I feel like I can’t fight anymore,” he said last month when the Chinese fans were blaming his weak drafts for VGJ.Thunder’s losing streak.


VGJ.Thunder by numbers February – June 2018

  • Games played: 88
  • As Dire: 58
  • As Radiant: 30
  • Win rate: 48,86%
  • Wins: 43
  • Losses: 45


What seems to have been the problem for them was the ever changing meta combined with a ridiculous packed tournament schedule. In the beginning of the season Thunder were the first to implement the safe lane Death Prophet. While most of the teams were using it in the mid lane and were playing around the 9-10 minute push time, Sylar took the hero into the safe lane and itemized for early skirmishes, Power Treads – Drums or Eul’s Scepter – BkB being the starting items he always built, depending how much control the opposite team had. When Sylar was playing DP, the hard carry was Freeze, getting his farm and levels in the mid lane on heroes like Gyrocopter, Phantom Assassin or Medusa. This was Thunder’s way to play the fast paced Dota from early to mid DPC season and while they were doing fairly well with it, they got figured out pretty fast and they seemed unable to adapt as fast as their opponents.


Sylar is a world-class carry. Even in a lost game he can finish with zero deaths to his name. This can be a boon but it is also the biggest problem of VGJ.Thunder. Their opponents can decide from the beginning what to do in a game. Either focus him and force the team to play from behind, or destroy the other lanes and hope he cannot carry alone the entire game for his team.


Usually, VG J. Thunder end up in weird situations where all the pressure is on Sylar and on the supports to find the right initiations. Through the entire DPC season, Thunder relied on Fade’s Tusk, Sand King, Naga Siren or Earth Spirit to set up the kills and on DDC’s team fight control with heroes like Witch Doctor, Disruptor or Jakiro.


VGJ.Thunder’s most successful hero combos

Heroes Total Count Wins Losses Win Rate
Death Prophet + Disruptor 8 5 5 62,50%
Witch Doctor + Earth Spirit 6 6 0 100%
Naga Siren + Jakiro 6 4 2 66,67%
Lina + Omniknight 5 4 1 80,00%
Death Prophet + Witch Doctor 5 3 2 60,00%


DDC and Sylar make an interesting duo where they function based on the trust in each other’s skills. So far, they have been the key factors for their team’s success.  Each lost battle is an opportunity to learn something about your enemy, and if VGJ.Thunder took this past month to study what happened to them in the many lost battles they had, they have a pretty good chance to surprise us again. From the just four players to make their eighth comeback at Valve’s annual event, DDC is the only one still waiting to lift the Aegis above his head. It’s hard to believe it will happen for him this year, but we should keep in mind that except for TI6, he never placed below top 6. We already mentioned Sylar’s top three streak and if these two players are coming eager to remind the Dota 2 world who they are, VGJ.Thunder can show more than a decent run this year in Vancouver.

More TI8 team profiles:

– The Silence before VGJ Storm
OG Learning to Fight Through Adversity
 – – The CIS Team’s Final Frontier
– When Patience Pays Off: Mineski
– Beware of paiN Gaming
– China’s Best Hope: PSG.LGD Gaming
– Rise and Fall of a Chinese Giant: Newbee
– On the Verge of Making History: Team Liquid

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