Faith_bian returned to pro Dota 2 because China is suffering a new player drought

Where have the Chinese Dota prodigies gone?
Faith_bian competing on-stage at TI11.
Photo via Valve

Many Dota 2 fans were surprised when they learned Chinese veteran Zhang “Faith_bian” Ruida was returning to the competitive Dota 2 scene after a year of “retirement.” But now, it has been revealed the region’s worrying lack of new talent may be the cause.

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During his team’s run at BetBoom Dacha Dubai, Faith_bian provided some insight on his un-retirement and decision to use a new username inspired by legendary composer Bach in an interview with Escorenews on Feb. 9. The more interesting statements, however, covered his return to pro Dota and the reason why he was back on the server—namely due to the lack of new players in China.

Faith_bian shaking hands at TI11.
Competing on the biggest stage is casual work for Faith_bian. Photo via Valve

Faith_bian claims it was a “50-50” shot that he was going to return to play again after stepping away and living abroad in Munich where he spent time as an analyst in 2023. One of the main factors for his return is the lack of new players populating the Chinese Dota scene. He even noted that he “wouldn’t come back” if new faces were forming strong teams in the region. 

“It seems like there are no new players to play Dota 2 in China, not enough new players. Maybe it’s because people don’t have time to play, or they prefer to play mobile games,” Faith_bian said. “There may be lots of different reasons, but the result is there are no newcomers. We have high-rank players, yet they are not playing on the Perfect World server because there are no players to play against.”

If you look at the state of China’s top teams right now, outside of some young LGD Gaming talent, the names populating the rosters are all veterans. This might mean the region’s strength has stabilized in the short term, but it doesn’t bode well for the future if veterans like Faith_bian decide to step away again.

While he doesn’t have an answer for why new players aren’t picking up the game in China, Faith_bian does think that this year will see the top Chinese teams work even harder because “the region is not in a good state right now.” Considering several other players like Ori and Ame are back competing again after taking some time off, he hopes the active pros can show off the game’s appeal to potentially attract more players to give it a try. 

Faith_bian at the PGL Arlington Major playing Dota 2.
Faith_bian hopes for a swift return to form with Azure Ray. Photo via PGL

According to Faith_bian, XinQ and Ame asked him to join their squad when it was still going to be involved with LGD in some form before the move to Xtreme Gaming in December 2023. The former LGD captain revealed he had “doubts” because LGD still owes at least some of its former players salary dues. He also refused their offer again in late December because he thinks XinQ and Xxs have “really good chemistry” and he didn’t want to break it up on the new XG lineup. The trio did ask y’ to join them in a stack; however, the LGD mainstay decided to stick with the organization because of coach xiao8.

Even after denying his former teammates, Faith_bian “went with the flow” and joined Azure Ray because Fy and Ori were “reliable players” and he felt that it was time to give playing another shot. He felt a lot of pressure at first and thought he was “very noob” after not having touched Dota for most of 2023, but now, after competing for a bit, he feels he is slowly getting back to where he was before retirement.

“The first qualifier we played, I was kind of amazed by myself because I haven’t played for one year and only practiced for three days,” Faith_bian said. “When we played the first qualifier, I was like… wow, I can click the buttons and I looked decent. So yeah, it’s quite an amazing feeling. I think it’s quite easy to approach an “okay level”, but to reach a very good level… I know I’m not the best player right now.”

Faith_bian and Azure Ray begin their BetBoom Dacha Dubai playoff run against Team Liquid on Sunday, Feb. 11, and will be hoping they, alongside LGD and Xtreme, can put China back at the forefront of the Dota 2 pro scene once more.

Author
Cale Michael
Lead Staff Writer for Dota 2, the FGC, 笔辞办é尘辞苍, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and more who has been writing for Dot Esports since 2018. Graduated with a degree in Journalism from Oklahoma Christian University and also previously covered the NBA. You can usually find him writing, reading, or watching an FGC tournament.
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