Team Aster is heading to the ESL One LA Major.
The Chinese squad will maintain its spot as a steady presence at majors by taking first place in the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 3. A 3-1 victory over Alliance capped a near-perfect run through the tournament for the team.
Aster took command of game one early. Kee “ChYuan” Ng jumped out to a massive early lead with three kills in the first 10 minutes on Death Prophet. Alongside this, Song “Sccc” Chun got very strong farm as Morphling, with Power Treads, Manta Style, and Ethereal Blade by 21 minutes.
That gave Aster complete control of the mid game, which they leveraged effectively for a long while. The game swung around for a brief time around the 25-minute mark as a kill on Sccc allowed Alliance to cleanly win a team fight, setting up a mid lane push that claimed Aster’s mid lane barracks. Unfortunately, the rough mid game put Alliance carry Nikolay “Nikobaby” Nikolov into a position where he wasn’t able to live up to his potential.
Instead of rushing his way to a farming item in Battlefury, he had to instead pick up a survival item in Black King Bar. That saw Nikobaby’s team fight potency fall off with time, allowing Aster to retake control of the game and seal up the game one win.
Game two once again saw Aster get an incredibly strong early lead, this time thanks to Sccc getting four kills in the first 10 minutes as Arc Warden. This gave him great early gold and experience, setting him up with a 17-minute Mjolnir. ChYuan was no less effective as Storm Spirit, bottle rushing in the mid lane to take control against Linus “Limmp” Blomdin.
Alliance had no answer to Aster’s cores in the mid game and that saw the game end at that point, with Aster advancing to match point in just 23 minutes.
Alliance got on the board in game three. The laning phase and mid game were fast-paced, back-and-forth affairs with the two teams making frequent aggressive maneuvers. Sccc’s Anti-Mage spent most of his time farming from a safe distance. He emerged after some time and gave Aster a huge team fight win.
While that seemed like it would be a backbreaker for Alliance, the team turned around and found a pick on Sccc after. The rest of Aster rushed in to fight in response, which only saw them fall one after another. Alliance rushed to the Roshan pit, took the Aegis of the Immortal, and used it to claim two lanes of barracks. That put Aster into a deep hole that it just couldn’t climb out of, allowing Alliance to avoid a sweep.
That would prove to be all that Alliance could muster. Aster’s cores once again got out to a hot start, with Sccc and Lin “Xxs” Jing topping the net worth chart for almost the entire game. Alliance couldn’t find any kills while Sccc’s Gyrocopter became a bigger and bigger threat over the course of the game.
Aster racked up objectives and set up an impregnable siege outside of Alliance’s base. Alliance tried to make plays to open things up, but Aster’s strong positioning never gave Alliance the chance. This allowed Aster to break high ground and take the deciding third victory.
By winning the grand finals, Aster takes home $72,000 and 140 DPC points. It also has the chance to add on even more DPC points at the ESL One LA Major.
Team Aster has been around the top of the Dota Pro Circuit scene to this point in the season. The team qualified for both majors in the 2019-2020 season, but was eliminated in ninth place in both. Alongside this was an early elimination from the ONE Esports Dota 2 World Pro Invitational Singapore.
Despite those poor performances, Aster’s roster has always been positioned to do more. The organization brought together star players from other Chinese organizations and has enough star power to potentially become a juggernaut.
Aster finally started living up to that potential in the StarLadder Minor, but the team faces a tough test in the ESL One LA Major.
Though the minor has a strong lineup of competition, the ESL One LA Major will bring together all the best teams in the world for the first time this season. While the minor can also sometimes serve as a warmup for the winner, they won’t be alone on that front as elites like Evil Geniuses and Team Secret will be able to limber up at Dota Summit 12.
That said, Aster went 11-1 on maps in the minor. If they can show up in this form for the ESL One LA Major, they should be able to put some strong points on the board regardless.
The ESL One LA Major might also serve as a huge statement for Chinese Dota 2. Though questions were abound about what state the region was in after PSG.LGD showed serious cracks in the first two major cycles, other teams have stepped up in a big way.
Aster is looking very strong, but it’s Vici Gaming that’s in the hunt for being the best Dota 2 team in the world right now. Invictus Gaming isn’t far behind, while Royal Never Give Up and EHOME are both looking very good as well and could make noise at the ESL One LA Major.
Europe remains among the strongest regions on paper. Team Secret is coming off a win in the DreamLeague Season 13 Major, while the new OG should be a terrifying force in Dota 2. Alongside them are a number of other teams that could be comfortably ranked as top-10 squads.
The ESL One LA Major will have a number of storylines at the event, but it will primarily serve as an important step on the road to The International 2020. The event kicks off on March 15.