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PSG.LGD: Excellence in All Things

Aug 132018

PSG.LGD has been one of the most successful orgs of all time in Dota 2. 3rd at TI2, 5th/6th at TI4, 3rd at TI5, and 4th at TI7 — they have almost always been one of the best teams in the world for the past 7 years. Xiao8, Sylar, MMY, Xiaotuji, Yao, and DDC are among the high profile names that have at one time or another been active on the roster for PSG.LGD. During TI2 the western world was shocked when LGD Gaming went all the way to the winners’ bracket finals without dropping a game, a record of 18-0. With that result came the wide spread knowledge and respect for anyone wearing the team's emblem.

Fast forward to just after TI7; Yao has gone inactive, Eleven has left, and a replacement would also be needed for Victoria shortly. This leaves only the core duo of Ame and Somnus`m, better known as Maybe, left on the team. As fortune would have it one of the greatest captains in Chinese Dota was looking to make a switch and Xu “fy” Linsen joined the team. Fy is well known for his time on Vici Gaming during 2014/2015 when they were undoubtedly the strongest team in the world for a short period of time. His skills on Rubick and Sand King are legendary and to top it all off he has even won some solo mid tournaments among the professionals in China. Fy’s talent cannot be measured by normal means.

Joining Ame, Maybe, and fy would be the newcomer Chalice and shortly after him the Malaysian xNova, who made waves in Southeast Asia while playing for Warriors Gaming.Unity. Although Chalice is inexperienced compared to his fellow teammates, his skill in the offlane is already at the level of a seasoned pro. By listening to the advice of fy and the other more experienced members on the team it helps fill the void and allows him to focus on what he does best. Compared to Chalice, xNova is a seasoned professional, captaining one of his old teams and playing in an extremely volatile region has shaped him into the player he is today. His Bane, Jakiro, and Witch Doctor have made quick work out of anyone who wants to interfere with Ame’s farm and his rotations have also secured the team many kills throughout the mid game. The addition of these two have turned PSG.LGD into the de facto best team in China and no one else is even close. On top of picking up some of the best talent China has to offer LGD entered a partnership with the French football giants Paris-Saint Germain in April of 2018 which is when they rebranded as PSG.LGD.


While Chalice and xNova have a hand to play in their successes, it would be an understatement to say fy’s leadership, Ame’s carry and Somnus’ stability were not the primary factors in why PSG.LGD is so strong. Fy’s nickname was ‘The Crown Prince’ in China until the legendary Burning ‘abdicated’ his throne, making fy “the new Emperor” of Chinese Dota. Under fy’s guidance the team finished 3rd overall in the DPC, winning Epicenter XL — where fy was named as the tournament MVP — and MDL Changsha at the end of the season. PSG.LGD has a 6th man as well, their coach QQQ who primarily drafts for the team. It is due to this that we sometimes see Ame playing a duo-offlane setup with fy and letting Chalice take the safelane if the hero matchups allow for it. This flexibility has benefited PSG.LGD across their victories and was even key in defeating Team Liquid during the Epicenter XL grand finals.





The Breakdown


Somnus got his start playing with YaphetS in WC3 Dota for Vici Gaming. He was picked up by LGD after playing in the Chinese Dota Elite Community league. It was shortly after this that it was clear that he would be one of the most promising mid players in China. Be it his Storm Spirit, Invoker, Shadow Fiend, or Death Prophet, Somnus was carrying his team from the mid lane game after game. Due to the expectations Somnus has had placed upon him he has always had a lot to prove. Somnus was instrumental in what Chinese fans called the ‘Mahjong Strategy’: giving up all six outer towers and then letting Somnus farm outside, leaving the other four players to defend the base. Eventually they would turn the opponent’s siege against them and take back control of the map before finishing the game. While that strategy is no longer viable it speaks to how much faith the team had in Somnus to win them games.


With the change in patches the mid lane has once again become more of a 1v1 with supports rarely straying from their lanes to assist unless absolutely necessary. This benefits Somnus as he has a similar playstyle to Suma1L from EG in the way they both like to play aggressively and force the opposing mid out of lane, even if it does cost them a few cs early on to do so. Somnus manipulates the creep wave to give himself better positioning to trade with his opponent, often getting free damage while they attempt to get cs under their tower, or while he sits on his own high ground. 


Lately however, the team has not needed to rely so heavily on Somnus to single handedly carry games as Ame is a reliable partner in that regard. Ame’s Gyrocopter, Phantom Lancer, and Terrorblade are used regularly to great effect. Like Somnus, Ame plays a rather aggressive style of carry and is not afraid to dive a tower or two to push the offlaner away so he can get uninterrupted farm. Chalice will sometimes rotate to Ame’s lane early to ensure they succeed in any kill attempt that may happen. This is a vital part of PSG.LGD’s strategy as Chalice, fy, and xNova all try to give Somnus and Ame space to farm. 


PSG.LGD is also one of the few teams that still stacks for their core heroes regularly. They prioritize the ancients much more than other teams even with the reduced bounty and we have seen it pay off for them throughout the first DPC season. Ame and Somnus both take full advantage of the position they find themselves in and use their farm priority to take control of the mid-game after taking objectives while the enemy team is being picked apart by fy and Chalice’s rotations. The precision required from the supports and offlaner to ensure that this doesn’t end poorly for PSG.LGD and that they don’t end up wasting their time is incredible. The way they are able to hit openings time and time again showcases fy’s strong abilities as a captain and shot caller. 


Fy also has a tremendous amount of influence over the draft. You would assume with how well Ame and Somnus play that their heroes would be the focus of bans by the teams they face but that would be wrong. If we only look at the Supermajor we can see that fy’s Io was first banned in every game that PSG.LGD had first pick, aside from the two games VP allowed the hero through the draft — and they subsequently lost to it. His Rubick, Naga Siren, and even Clockwerk are often also banned early in the draft which allows Somnus to get a favorable matchup mid more often than not. Fy’s playmaking heroes have always been a boon for the teams he has been on and PSG.LGD is no different. 


Another aspect that helps QQQ with drafting is that certain heroes are played by multiple members of the team. As far as popular heroes for the team go, Clockwerk can be played by both fy and Chalice, and Mirana can be picked up by Chalice or Somnus. When the team first picks these heroes along with a support for xNova like his Bane or Witch Doctor it makes teams question where the heroes will be played. This is a choreographed advantage which is what allows them to pick their laning matchups and assign heroes to players after they can see what they are going up against. 


The dual lane meta has been embraced quickly and seemingly effortlessly by PSG.LGD, in part due to the flexibility of their cores and heroes. xNova was a perfect fit to the lineup at the perfect time because of this. Not only did he bring in a different way of looking at things, as he played in SEA instead of China, he is also used to critically thinking about the best way to approach a situation and communicating that to his lane partner so any lane he is in will not need to be micromanaged by fy, which lets him focus on his own tasks. xNova’s presence doesn’t diminish as the game goes on either, his Death Ward or Fiends Grip is often used either to force attention on himself or to lockdown and kill important heroes on the enemy team. He has also recently started to play Jakiro which assists with tower pushing and once again is a strong dual laner.


Ame is usually paired with xNova and has been on PSG.LGD for the majority of his career. While his hero pool has changed over time the nature of how he plays has not. His love of illusion heroes is still represented by Phantom Lancer and occasionally Terrorblade as he split pushes around the map while farming safely behind a wall of illusions. His map awareness, perhaps because of how often he is controlling units away from his main hero, is extremely impressive as he accurately predicts when ganks will be attempted on his hero. While Somnus is the flashy player Ame is the one who sits back and ensures the game cannot be thrown. That does not mean he does not take part in his fair share of dives and chaotic team fights, however.


This once again brings us to Chalice. Someone has to take the hit to allow Ame and Somnus to farm as freely as they do and Chalice is usually that person. Due to this he usually plays heroes that require less items and less farm to be effective as an offlaner. Blink initiators like Batrider, Sand King, or Brewmaster have all been used to create space around the map while he also plays heroes like Beastmaster, Omniknight, and Underlord to offer his team the sustain and utility they need to survive team fights. Not every offlaner can play the sacrificial style that Chalice has adopted for PSG.LGD, but it is a large part of the reason why their style of play works.


PSG.LGD will be heading into TI8 as the Chinese favourite to win the tournament. It’s a lot of pressure on the players, especially Chalice who has never competed at The International before but considering how well they have done at different Majors throughout the year he should be able to handle himself. For the rest of the team they know what they have to do in order to win. Fy has placed 2nd before with QQQ coaching him during TI4 on Vici Gaming, and this year they hope for things to go much better. Even though PSG.LGD can look back at the inaugural DPC season and be proud of what they have accomplished, there know that excellence demands constant proof. They head to Vancouver as one of the best teams in the world, and the best team in one of the strongest regions.