Despite struggling in both Dota Pro Circuit seasons, Xu “fy” Linsen’s superteam Elephant has qualified for The International 10.
Elephant dominated the upper bracket until a close loss to EHOME in the winner’s final. Elephant earned a rematch in the grand finals where they opted for team fight-focused drafts. They will compete against 17 other teams for more than $40 million in Bucharest in October. Elephant is the fifth Chinese team to qualify for TI10.
Elephant was the most exciting product of China’s online era shuffle. fy and Lu “Somnus丶M” Yao shocked the Dota 2 scene when they left PSG.LGD and joined up with Vici Gaming carry Zhang “Eurus” Chengjun and off-laner Zhou “Yang” Haiyang to form the most stacked team in China. Alongside Xie “Super” Junhao Elephant has one of the most decorated rosters in the world. Despite that, Elephant has looked underwhelming in practice and has struggled throughout 2021.
— Wykrhm Reddy (@wykrhm) July 10, 2021
Elephant’s upper bracket run in the TI10 qualifiers began with a dominant win over Team MagMa. The team’s series against Royal Never Give Up was a matter of endurance. The first match was the longest TI10 qualifier match of any region, going for 107 minutes. A 2-1 victory over Royal Never Give Up put fy’s squad against EHOME, the other qualifier favorites. Elephant lost the close series but surged in the lower bracket, defeating MagMa and advancing to the grand finals.
Despite excellent scorelines from Elephant’s cores, game one went to EHOME following an 11/2/8 performance by mid-laner Guo “Xm” Hongcheng on Lina. fy fired back by pivoting to team fight drafts, which enabled their farmed cores to flex their net worth advantage. An awkward Roshan fight and Aegis steal in game three was the tipping point, solidly positioning Elephant to win the best-of-five.
From a talent perspective, there’s no question that Elephant has the potential to make a very strong run at TI10. In fact, all of the players have done so in the past.
Fy and Somnus were crucial for PSG.LDG’s historic runs at The International 2018 and 2019. Super made the finals of TI4 and took third at TI7. Yang and Eurus placed in the top six of The International 2019 with Vici Gaming, and won multiple majors before that. Each individual player has had success on Dota 2’s grandest stages in the past, the issue is if they can finally have success together.
Elephant just hasn’t lived up to the expectations or its potential since coming together. This isn’t just a matter of competing in the DPC either, with the team flopping in other regional events alongside this. Elephant will have a few months to dig deep and find their chemistry together and they’d be a very scary team if they can find it. But if they can’t make some serious gains, they’ll likely not go too far in TI10.