PSG.LGD, the team that everyone regards as the favorite to win The International 10, has been eliminated from i-League 2021. Keep in mind that this is not a single-bracket tournament. It’s a double-bracket one. So the team had to lose twice to be eliminated from the race. And the matches are Bo3, so there’s no possibility of an accidental upset.
Why This Result Is Relevant
i-League 2021 is just a regional Dota 2 tournament, but it still features the strongest Chinese teams. Losing here, against opponents you know well, means that your chances of winning at the international level are even lower. A team needs to at least dominate its region to have a real chance against the world’s best.
PSG.LGD won the Group Stage of i-League 2021 with a very good record: 11 W – 2 L. But in the Playoffs, the team was hard to recognize. The champion of the second DPC 2021 Major lost against Aster, went on to defeat EHOME, but then lost again against RNG. And in both cases, the games they lost were complete stomps: 34, 31, 22, and 35 minutes. That’s all their opponents needed to make them gg out. What’s going on here?
One hypothesis that attempts to explain this failure is that PSG.LGD does not care about this tournament and is focusing on winning The International 10. That may be true, but we’ve never seen Chinese teams throw games except when the matches were fixed. Given Newbee’s match-fixing scandal from 2020, I don’t think that any other team in the region will ever dare to deliberately engage in unprofessional behavior. And by that, I don’t necessarily mean match-fixing. I mean not playing up to your standard ability and pretending to be weaker than you are.
Playing possum is something we saw Europeans do a few times. In particular, Puppey is known to make people focus on other competitors by losing matches prior to an important event. But I don’t think that PSG.LGD can afford to use those kinds of tricks.
One More Chance
Assuming that PSG.LGD’s defeats in i-League 2021 were authentic, the team will have one more chance to redeem itself before The International 10. And that chance is called OGA Dota PIT S5: China. Just like i-League 2021, this tournament will bring together the strongest competitors in the region.
If PSG.LGD fails to win this title as well, then I think it’s safe to say that their chances of winning The International are nowhere near what the public believes. Sure, they may be one of the strongest teams in China, but they are not the strongest team in the world.