After a lackluster day one, Team Aster is looking like a contender in the The International 2021’s group stage thanks to a win over OG.
Team Aster just handed OG its first series loss at TI10, which also stands as OG’s first losing series at The International since 2018. OG won tied or won all its group stage matches at TI9 and cleared the upper bracket en route to winning the championship at the event. The last time OG lost a series at TI was in the group stage of TI8 when it was given a 2-0 loss to Team Liquid.
In TI10’s group stage, Aster took a strong win to open the series and managed a comeback victory to take the series 2-0. For the first day of the group stage, Team Aster was forced to use assistant coach Chen “86” Yuxuan as a stand-in mid-laner. Liu “White丶Album_白学家” Yuhao has returned and will be playing in his proper position for the rest of TI10.
The Chinese team received a direct invite for its performance in the Dota Pro Circuit while OG once again qualified through regionals.
Aster’s Du “Monet” Peng was the star of game one. 49 minutes as Ursa produced 26 kills and over 53,000 hero damage. Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng’s Io was the final nail in OG’s coffin. The hotshot carry played a major role in LFY’s unprecedented bronze finish at The International 2017. At this rate, Monet could exceed his previous record with Aster.
Game two was much more perilous. OG carried a ton of momentum out of the group stage and began chipping at Aster’s tier two towers. A crucial defense spearheaded by Aster off-laner Lin “Xxs” Jing put a halt to OG’s offense. From then onwards, victory was only a matter of time. WhiteAlbum’s trademark Lina build with Boots of Travel and Silver Edge netted him 12 kills to just three deaths.
Most Western fans think of Chinese Dota 2 as being by-the-book and thoroughly planned in advance. While some teams certainly fit that mold, Team Aster does not. The squad’s playstyle so far at The International 10 has involved plenty of offbeat picks not unlike OG’s own strange drafts.
Today’s matches featured support Monkey King and Weaver for Ye “Borax” Zhibiao. Yesterday even featured a roaming, jungling Pudge for the playmaker.
While Aster isn’t afraid to chart unexplored territory, the squad also mirrors OG when it comes to counter picks. Aster’s responsive heroes are deceptively straightforward. Xxs’s Doom was a direct counter to Syed “SumaiL” Hassan’s fragile Clinkz build. When Undying picks Spectre, Aster goes Terrorblade. Why play around the enemy Phoenix when Snapfire can melt Supernova in an instant?
Aster is currently ranked seventh in group A with a 1-0-2 match record. OG is tied for second with a 7-3 record. Both teams have plenty of matches to go before TI10 playoffs begin on October 12. Invictus Gaming currently leads the group with a 9-1 record.
While OG’s loss to Team Aster was shocking, it wasn’t the first gut check for the defending champions. Eastern European giant Virtus.pro managed a 1-1 scoreline in its day one series against Johan “N0tail” Sundstein’s squad to give OG its first game loss at the tournament. Virtus.pro is currently tied with Evil Geniuses, Team Undying, and OG itself for second place in group A.
Game one was complete domination from VP from start to finish. Egor “Nightfall” Grigorenko’s carry Dawnbreaker controlled the pace. He used Solar Guardian to create a global presence similar to carry Spectre, but he brought a stun and healing along too.
OG’s combination of Lycan and Clinkz made it difficult for VP to play the map. A handful of late team fights went in favor of the bears, but a final clash gave OG just enough time to take the throne with all six barracks standing. While OG is still a popular pick, the squad isn’t completely dominating the preliminary stage.