Roster issues be damned, say the members of heavily stacked Chinese squad Elephant, who are the OGA Dota PIT Season 4 China champions. The team led by decorated veteran support player and team captain Xu “fy” Linsen showed what such a frighteningly talented lineup can do against their neighbors in the region, particularly against PSG.LGD Gaming — currently one of the best teams in China.
.@ElephantDota2 complete their comeback and take game 4, the series and the 🏆tournament! Congratulations!
— OGA Dota PIT (@OGADotaPIT) December 12, 2020
Elephant’s road to the Dota Pit Grand Finals wasn’t exactly easy, mind you, as they were forced to play an extra round due to Dota PIT’s seeding system from the group stage. Placing second behind LGD in Group B meant that they had to start from the first round of the upper bracket, rather than receiving an automatic second round berth. Moreover, they were bumped down into the lower bracket by LGD in the upper bracket finals, and were nearly removed from the tournament after EHOME tied their elimination series at one game apiece.
Nevertheless, fy’s captaincy and the collective competitive experience of the roster helped them stay afloat through tense moments in the event, allowing them to claim the trophy at the end of the 10-day affair.
The Long Way ‘Round
As mentioned above, Elephant had to take a longer road to the Dota Pit Grand Finals than they probably hoped for, playing their first playoff match against Royal Never Give Up. Elephant swept their upper bracket opponents aside easily, requiring just two games and less than an hour’s worth of game time to send them careening into the elimination rounds.
The first game had a low total kill score of just 29, but there were enough key pickoffs on the side of Elephant to give them space to farm away. Zhang “Eurus” Chengjun in particular enjoyed being able to gather his strength through most of the game as Sven, dying just twice on his way to 676 gold per minute by the end of the contest. This was of course crucial to Elephant’s success in this game, as RNG were able to get their hands on Troll Warlord, Sven’s worst nightmare.
An easy win for Elephant in game 1. @RNGRoyal need to win this one or they drop down to the lower bracket.
Game 2 is live!
— OGA Dota PIT (@OGADotaPIT) December 7, 2020
There was a touch-and-go moment for Elephant in the waning minutes of the laning phase, where they lost out on a teamfight that saw them trading four heroes (including Sven) for just one on the side of RNG. This caused the net worth graph to dip ever so slightly in favor of RNG, but in the end it proved inconsequential as the game returned to relative silence for the next 10 minutes or so. Eurus used this time to farm some more, which resulted in a 19 minute Black King Bar followed by an Assault Cuirass by the 25 minute mark.
From there it was a simple matter of taking advantage of Lu “Somnus丶M” Yao and his early Blink Dagger to take objective after objective. With the map completely closed off to RNG, there was little they could do to get back in the swing of things. Advantage Elephant.
The second game was more smooth sailing for Elephant, especially for Eurus who once again got his hands on Sven, the poster hero of the patch. The two-time Dota 2 Asia Championship solo mid champion posted a comfortable 10-2 in this map, dishing out the majority of his team’s damage when it came to fighting against RNG’s heroes. His lightning quick 18 minute Aghanim’s Scepter timing allowed him and the rest of Elephant to impose their will on the battlefield early on, which eventually turned into an advantage that RNG could not contend with. Elephant finished their opponents off just five minutes later.
Fending Off Vici
They then faced Dota PIT China Season 3 winners Vici Gaming in the second round, which went the distance this time with all three games played. VG were first to strike in the match, their win fueled by a monster performance by Yang “Erica” Shaohan as Lifestealer. The former Keen Gaming carry player notched 11 kills with just one death in tow, and his fast 16 minute Heaven’s Halberd timing proved instrumental in the duel between him and Eurus’ Troll Warlord. Somnus丶M did have quite a good game as Queen of Pain, but could not stem the tide as he was quite underfarmed in the mid game.
Interestingly, the advantage was on Elephant’s side for more than 10 minutes through the mid game, thanks to a four-for-nothing trade going their way at the 26 minute mark. Disaster would strike at 35 minutes in though, after VG gave away nothing but their Io in exchange for four heroes right back. From there, VG would hold onto the lead and increased it way past what Elephant could handle, closing things out just shy of 42 minutes total.
Elephant turn things around and take game 2!
The decider is starting!
— OGA Dota PIT (@OGADotaPIT) December 8, 2020
Elephant didn’t back down from the challenge presented to them early in the Dota Pit series however, punching back strong in the second game with a statement win. While Eurus was of course the star of the show once more, Zhou “Yang” Haiyang also showed why he is on this team with a stellar performance as Night Stalker. As if playing with a chip on his shoulder against his former team, Yang clocked in 17 assists as the offlane Balanar, creating tons of havoc and space for his teammates to move around and execute their game plan. His 17 minute Aghanim’s Scepter pickup was also important, as it increased his farming rate to almost 500 GPM.
VG actually held a small lead through the laning phase and the first few minutes of the mid game, but this was pretty much down to just Erica and Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang sucking down all the farm on their side. This lead would quickly evaporate 21 minutes in, thanks to a big teamfight victory going the way of fy and his crew. From there, Elephant scored 14 kills that went almost entirely unanswered, which put the game far out of VG’s reach.
Hurdles In The Upper Bracket
This result set them up against LGD, who would proceed to brush them aside in two games to send Elephant to the Dota Pit lower bracket. The thrashing Elephant received at their eventual Grand Final opponents’ hands indicated that LGD were still the team to beat at this tournament — and for good reason. LGD will always be home to some of the toughest players in the region after all, and this iteration of their roster is no different.
The first game was as good as it could have been for LGD, as they held Elephant to seven kills while scoring 20 for themselves. It was all about Wang “Ame” Chunyu and young hotshot Cheng “NothingToSay” Jin Xiang in this one, as both cores put Elephant’s players to the sword with 75 percent of their team’s kills between them. There was nothing that Elephant could do to stop their rampage, even with Eurus getting a decent start as Sven. True enough, LGD gave up just one tower the entire game, indicating their iron grip on the map as a whole.
The second game was a tad bit more competitive with a few lead changes here and there, and with Eurus farming up a storm as Anti-Mage things definitely were a bit more interesting compared to the first map. Both teams traded blows constantly throughout the early to mid game, with LGD eking out a tiny advantage in each teamfight as time went on. LGD blew the game wide open at the 22 minute mark however, wiping the floor with Elephant’s heroes and definitively taking the net worth lead for themselves.
From there it was all up to former International champion Zhang “Faith_bian” Ruida, who pumped out massive amounts of damage as the offlane Lina. In fact he was just around 600 points of damage behind NothingToSay and his Templar Assassin — which is kind of nuts when you think about the kind of items that the latter was carrying by the end of the game. With Elephant’s supports woefully underfarmed and underleveled, closing the game and series out was just a formality for LGD.
Surviving Another Close One
With their bid for a Grand Finals appearance now hanging in the balance, Elephant set their sights on surviving their lower bracket match against EHOME. EHOME actually sent Elephant’s previous opponents in VG packing in a three-game series, which meant that fy and his teammates had an even bigger challenge to face.
Indeed, this series also used up all three maps. Elephant got on the board first in a 35-12 massacre, which saw Somnus丶M piloting his signature Storm Spirit to perfection. The legendary Chinese mid laner ran roughshod over EHOME, collecting 12 kills and generally being a huge nuisance on the map. This likewise afforded Eurus a ton of space to farm as Drow Ranger, which then allowed him to score 11 kills of his own. The game was all Elephant all the way, and EHOME simply could not turn the tides at any point.
Game 2 is starting!
— OGA Dota PIT (@OGADotaPIT) December 11, 2020
They did force the series into a deciding final game in the next round, in much the same fashion that Elephant did in the first game. This time it was EHOME’s turn to do the stomping, with Guo “Xm” Hongcheng and TI7 runner-up Song “Sccc” Chun scoring 30 (yes, thirty) kills between them as Pugna and Juggernaut respectively. Elephant just could not halt their immense momentum at all, and they soon found themselves with all of their towers disappearing from the map. It was nothing but misery for them the rest of the way, forcing them to concede and go to a do-or-die situation after just 31 minutes of play.
Fortunately for Elephant, the third and final game was another easy one. Eurus and Somnus丶M crushed EHOME’s hopes of making it to the championship match, with both cores scoring nearly two-thirds of their team’s 33 kills as Lifestealer and Ember Spirit. Somnus丶M in particular had a grand old time with one of his favorite heroes, slicing and dicing through EHOME’s lineup with ease. This was of course with Yang’s assistance, whose fantastic showing as Magnus helped a ton in terms of Somnus丶M’s farming speed and damage output.
Though it took a bit more time for Elephant to close this one out compared to the first game, we’re sure they breathed a sigh of relief once they saw EHOME call GG 32 minutes in.
A Show Of Brute Strength
Elephant’s escape from the Dota Pit elimination rounds seemed to light a fire under them, as they went into the Grand Finals with a level of confidence that not even a Game 1 loss could shake. While they did give up the first map after a grueling 54 minute contest (in which they were treading water more than anything else), Elephant summoned an unbelievable amount of strength and mental fortitude thereafter — locking down the rest of the series with three straight victories.
Eurus and fy shone the brightest in the final match, with both leading their team in terms of making the right moves and decisions. Eurus’ Terrorblade was key to winning the second game, for example, but fy was the glue that kept the rest of the team together thanks to his red-hot performance as the position 4 Lina. His impact cannot be understated, especially since Somnus丶M wasn’t really having the best game of his life as Pugna. He ended up with eight kills and only three deaths by the end of the 32 and a half minute game, proving that the legend of fy-god was still alive and kicking.
A great game by @ElephantDota2! The series is tied with 1:1!
Game 3 is live!
— OGA Dota PIT (@OGADotaPIT) December 12, 2020
Elephant followed this right up with another standout Dota Pit game, with Eurus and fy once again at the helm. Eurus’ Monkey King dealt the bulk of Elephant’s damage, while fy’s fabled Rubick took center stage with six kills and 15 assists. The best Rubick player of all time, fy was even responsible for a momentum-shifting triple kill at the 15 minute mark, which saw LGD lose their Earthshaker, Mirana, and Undying in quick succession.
LGD could very well have won this game in all honesty, but it was fy’s sick plays that added up to a huge advantage on Elephant’s side. With Ame’s Morphling sorely lacking in big damage items, it was just a matter of keeping it clean for Elephant from then on. It was clear that LGD could not get themselves back in the game after 37 minutes, and suddenly it was match point for Elephant.
.@ElephantDota2 take the lead in the grand final!
Game 4 is starting!
— OGA Dota PIT (@OGADotaPIT) December 12, 2020
It was in the fourth and final Dota Pit game that Elephant showed their discipline and poise, not allowing themselves to be taken out of their element while they were far ahead of their opponents. This time around, fy took the backseat to let Somnus丶M do some work as Void Spirit. The man formerly known as Maybe dug deep to get his mojo back in Game 4, lopping the heads off LGD’s heroes 13 times while having his life snuffed out just twice throughout. Following closely behind was Eurus on his Drow Ranger, which provided tons of pushing power that led to LGD losing a ton of map control early on.
Even with their unique draft consisting of the Zeus/Elder Titan combo and an offlane Chaos Knight, there was little LGD could pull out of their bag of tricks to repel Elephant and force a Game 5. The game was entirely out of their hands by the 30 minute mark — and with Elephant making sure not to throw their advantage away, it was only a matter of time until the trophy was likewise out of LGD’s reach.
An impressive showing for a team that formed just two months ago, for sure — though this is actually Elephant’s second Chinese online tournament title in a row after China Dota 2 Pro Cup Season 2. Their chemistry and teamwork is obvious, and they could very well become the biggest threat over in China if LGD lose to them in future events. It just goes to show that even teams without a large corporation backing them can still perform very well when it matters most, especially when they’re led by such an experienced captain and have plenty of talent to work with.