LGD Forever Young, better known as LFY, was perhaps the most talked about team of The International 2017. At least, next to Newbee and the eventual winners, Team Liquid. And, for good reason, they dominated their group, ripping off 13 straight wins en route to a 14-2 win-loss record during the group stages and finishing in 3rd place overall, losing only to Newbee and Team Liquid in the main event itself.
For a team that made little to no noise for much of last season, even making it to the main stage of The International 7 was already a feat in on itself for LGD Forever Young. That they made it so far and to not make any changes to their roster amidst the ever-so-chaotic annual shuffle meant they had nowhere else to go but up.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, LGD Forever Young have not achieved the same level of success since — they haven’t even qualified for any Pro Circuit LAN at all.
Have LGD Forever Young Reached Their Peak?
It’s not unusual for teams in Dota 2 to reach a certain peak and fall off right after. This is sometimes caused by chemistry issues and the lack of motivation, but more often than not, it is the result of their best heroes going out of meta after receiving multiple small nerfs or one huge nerf or even a combination of both.
To say that LGD Forever Young have reached their peak and that their style “doesn’t fit the current meta”, however, is quite disrespectful. After all, it’s not like their performance has drastically fallen off since placing 3rd at The International 7. In fact, they have come close to qualifying many times since, having played in the Grand Finals of a Pro Circuit Qualifier three times already.
With that said, is it safe to say that they’re simply a victim of an extremely competitive region? Well, in some ways, yes.
In between LGD Gaming and Newbee, as well as the rise of Vici Gaming, there just aren’t enough slots to go around these days. However, saying so sounds more like an excuse, especially since they’ve also lost VGJ.Thunder, who definitely aren’t as good as them. Besides, all those three teams mentioned above have qualified for a tournament already and LFY are arguably better than them, or should at least be just as good.
So really, what is wrong with LGD Forever Young?
The Performance of Ah Fu
Throughout patch 7.06e — the patch played in MDL 2017, the TI7 Qualifiers and at The International 7 itself — opposing teams prioritised banning the heroes that Tue ‘ah fu‘ Soon Chuan excelled in, namely Night Stalker and Earth Spirit. Although his Earthshaker and Sand King were both excellent as well, teams gladly let him have either one of the two if it meant not having to deal with godly plays such as his Aegis Steal against Virtus Pro at The International 7 and the near-global presence of his Night Stalker.
After The International 7, however, teams haven’t banned his heroes as much, often letting him play his comfort picks, and yet, LFY still failed to win. Although having bans targeted specifically for your heroes is not a definitive measure of how well you’re playing, it is indicative of how much teams respect your current level of play on certain heroes, and teams just don’t worry as much about Ah Fu anymore.
At least, not until the most recent patch hit.
While the sample size is small and mostly only against Chinese teams, there’s enough evidence to point out that Ah Fu‘s play has begun to pick up, with more and more teams starting to ban his Night Stalker and Earth Spirit once again. Coincidentally, LGD Forever Young are starting to win more, highlighted by a win against Newbee in a tightly contested series that went down to the wire, which secured them the DPL Season 4 title and a spot at the MDL Macau Minor.
Ah fu may just be 1/5 of LGD Forever Young, but he’s a big part of what made them so successful at The International 7 and the months before it.
What Can We Expect from LGD Forever Young?
Well, winning DPL Season 4 was a good start. Although, if not for the argument between Xie ‘Super‘ Junhao and He ‘Inflame‘ Yongzhengo that ultimately led to them calling “gg” earlier at the Captains Draft CN Qualifier, they might have had secured their second qualifier of the season.
Either way, what’s done is done and LGD Forever Young are set to make their season LAN debut as one of the direct invites at the Perfect World Masters Minor, which starts this Sunday (November 19).
At 9/2 odds, as per bet365, to win the whole thing, odds makers clearly still believe a lot in LFY. And, why shouldn’t they? They are not a bad team by any means, and Ah fu underperforming recently may have something more to do with the team trying to diversify his hero pool more — he has played 13 different heroes in 22 matches in 7.07b compared to just 12 in 43 games in 7.06e.
Without Team Liquid to keep them in check — Team Secret and Mineski mirror the same play style of Team Liquid that often gave LGD Forever Young fits, but they’re not the reigning TI champions — who knows just how well LFY will perform at the Perfect World Masters Minor? They might just go and win the whole thing!
What do you think of LFY’s chances of winning a Minor in their first try this season? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.