Vici Gaming take top prize at DreamLeague Major, earn spot at TI9

Steven R. March 25, 2019

After years as a top Dota 2 brand, Vici Gaming has finally become a major champion.

Competing at the DreamLeague Major, the Chinese organization posted an epic run to capture its first ever major title. After toppling Team Secret and PSG.LGD, Vici Gaming asserted itself as one of the best teams in the world with a 3-2 win over Virtus.pro.

The first game was an uncharacteristically lackadaisical effort from Virtus.pro. While the team is known for its overwhelming aggression, VP struggled to get any offense in, notching just one kill in the first 24 minutes of the game. The looming threat of a Roman "RAMZES666" Kushnarev Phantom Lancer kept Vici Gaming from feeling comfortable, but it still managed to whittle down Virtus.pro’s base and take the first point.

The second game started off as a shot-for-shot remake of the first. From the drafts to the lanes, VP once again looked out of sorts against Vici. But while Ramzes’s Phantom Lancer failed to hold the line in game one, his Anti-Mage was up to the task in game two. Vici Gaming’s limited crowd control and burst options essentially gave Ramzes free farm, which he converted into a 1,000 GPM game. Vici Gaming survived for a while but couldn’t take the fight to Virtus.pro and ceded the game as a result.

Vici Gaming turned the tables in game three with a crafty core pick of its own. Playing against a highly mobile Virtus.pro, Vici made jaws drop with a last-pick Bloodseeker. The hero allowed Zeng "Ori" Jiaoyang to dominate the mid lane and completely neutralize Vladimir "No[o]ne" Minenko’s Pangolier and Pavel "9pasha” Khvastunov’s Dark Seer. That draft allowed VG to score a second win and set up series point.

A rough outing in game three seemed to wake up No[o]ne in game four. Playing as Storm Spirit, he posted one of his best games of the tournament, dragging Virtus.pro out of another slow start with amazing individual plays. This win allowed VP to force a fifth game, but Vici Gaming brought its best effort for the decider.

Despite drafting a team for the late game headlined by a rare Medusa pick for Ori, Vici Gaming continued to play intense, smashmouth Dota 2. Much like the series opener, Virtus.pro seemed to be caught off guard by the aggression and rarely returned fire. Vici Gaming went for the jugular early and forced the GG call at just 21 minutes to seal up the series 3-2.

That victory is a monumental one for Vici Gaming. Though the organization has long been one of China’s best, it has settled into a bridesmaid position with a string of second-place finishes in prominent events. Vici burst onto the top of the scene as the runner-up at The International 2014 but then faded away for a time, only to reestablish itself as a force in 2018. Though VG made the grand finals at four events in the Dota Pro Circuit, it failed to hoist a trophy in any of them.

Its fortunes began to change earlier in March. After a solid start to the season that included top-eight finishes at the Chongqing Major and Kuala Lumpur Major, Vici Gaming won its first Valve-sponsored tournament ever at the StarLadder Minor. That victory gave Vici the look of a serious contender, but it cemented itself as a bona fide elite with its performance in Stockholm.

The first-place showing gives Vici Gaming a guaranteed spot at The International 2019 alongside a select few teams. Ori and friends won't have a chance to celebrate this win as they will head home and immediately turn their attention to the Chinese qualifiers for the MDL Disneyland Paris Major.

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