TI4 Team Presentation: Empire

posted by Vekus,
The International 2014 is around the corner, and one of the invited teams will be ru Team Empire skyrocketing themselves back inbetween the Tier 1 teams after a prolonged slump. However, for some the question remains: Who is Empire? We will try our best to answer that in the following article.


Team Empire is one of the oldest names in professional Dota 2, picking up a variety of teams that brought everything: dwindling success and heartbraking failure. The question is: How did the team develop until today, to become one of the most feared teams in the world?

Empire made their first appearance in the Dota 2 scene, as they switched over their Heroes of Newearth-team on December 25 in 2011. Just after new year, on January 17, 2012, Empire decided to bring in se Gustav 's4' Magnusson and 'BADO' who replaced 'eLight' and 'Spize'. The roster was rather experimental to create a team that could stick together, which lead to ru Vladislav 'Blowyourbrain' Morozyuk replacing s4 in late March.

Due to lack of success, Empire decided to change the team once more at the end of May, taking in ua Andrey'ALWAYSWANNAFLY' Bondarenko, 'Lega' and by Maksim 'Jackal' Doroshenok. Lega didn´t stay for longm as he got replaced by 'j4' for the SLTV StarSeries S2 Finals.

The squad showed its raw potential in the next months, however the results were still lacking, leading to Empire changing its roster again on September 13 in the post TI2-reshuffle. ALWAYSWANNAFLY, Jackal and j4 were kicked from the team, citing that the goals were not reached and got replaced by ua Artur 'Goblak' Kostenko, ua Gleb 'Funn1k' Lipatnikov and ru Airat 'Silent' Gaziev. with this lineup, Empire finally achieved what they were hoping for, winning tournaments such as the ASUS Open2012 or RaidCall Dota 2 S1, as well as placing second in the SLTV StarSeries S4 only losing against Na´Vi.

As Empire looked like they would be dominating the scene soon, the next rosterchange followed at the end of February: Funn1k left them for the likes of ua Natus Vincere to replace ru Dmitriy 'LighTofHeaveN' Kupriyanov in the ukranian squad. As a replacement, Empire reached out to oldschool russian Dota legend ru Ivan 'Vigoss' Shinkarev, who joined the team on March 19, after playing as a standin for a long time.

However, the loss of Funn1k seemed to break the synergy existing within the team, and Empire started losing more and more games, producing poor results, which lead to other rosterchanges in April. Citing their lack of performance, Goblak and Silent leave the team mid April, with Vigoss retiring just a few days later. As replacements, no Visar 'twiSta' Zymberi and hr Damir 'Mitch' Skaricic join the team soon after, getting accompanied by LighTofHeaveN, who cancelled his retirement plans.

Even though the initial results looked rather, the squad didn´t work well together and the performance was lacking soon after, leading to Empire failing to qualify for The International 2013, twiSta and Mitch leaving, and LighTofHeaveN joining the ranks of ru Virtus.Pro in late August. To fill the gaps, :ru; Airat 'Silent' Gaziev joined from eu Quantic Gaming and ru Ivan 'VANSKOR' Shorokhod came in from ru RoX.KiS.

On the first of September, another member of Empire left in the shape of ru Valdislav 'blowyourbrain' Morozyuk, setting the number of players back down to three, with the two remaining players getting announced in the following week. Just a day later, ua Andrey 'Mag~' Chipenko joined and with him, he brought a former teammate with him: ua Andrey 'ALWAYSWANNAFLY' Bondarenko.

The last rosterchange was made in mid November 2013, when Scandal left the team, to make room for the young aspiring ukranian hope ua Roman 'Resolut1on' Fominok to take over the midrole. Since then, Empire slowly and steadily gained momentum, leading to them steamrolling through the european scene in early 2014, placing second in the ESP Shock Therapy Cup and the MLG T.K.O. Europe as well as the SLTV StarSeries S8.

Although they didn´t manage to deliver as good results on LAN stages as of recent, they have developed their unique playstyle and are always a tough opponent to go up against. This was proved by quite a lot of Top 3 placements. Despite they don´t dominate the scene as they used to, there is no doubt that they are top contenders for the fourth International.

Rosterchanges, so far


December 25 - Empire.HoN switches to Dota 2


January 17 - s4 and BADO replace eLight and Spize

March 22 - Empire adds Blowyourbrain

May 25 - Empire adds ALWAYSWANNAFLY, Lega and Jackal

June 10 - j4 replaces Lega for Star Series Season 2 Finals

September 13 - Goblak, Funn1k, Silent replace ALWAYSWANNAFLY, j4 and Jackal citing that the goals of the old squad was not reached


February 27 - Funn1k leaves Team Empire

March 19 - After a few weeks as a standin, Vigoss officially joins the team

April 16 - Citing recent poor results, Goblak and Silent leave the team

April 28 - Empire announces new recruits twiSta and Mitch, and Vigoss goes inactive

April 29 - Empire announces the addition of Natus Vincere veteran LighTofHeaveN

August 28 - LighTofHeaveN leaves Empire to instead join Virtus.pro, he is replaced by Silent

August 30 - VANSKOR is announced

September 1 - blowyourbrain leaves the team

September 2 - Mag~ joins the team, for the offlane role

September 12 - ALWAYSWANNAFLY joins the team

November 11 - Scandal leaves the team and is replaced by Resolut1on


3rd Place - M5.Dota2 Open (2012) - $200
1st Place - 4PL Play4DotA2 Cup (2012) - €500
5th Place - SLTV StarSeries Season Two (2012) Kiev, Ukraine - $500
1st Place - Dota 2 LostWorld Cup #1 (2012) - $1,000
2nd Place - SLTV StarSeries Season Three (2012) Kiev, Ukraine - $3,000
1st Place - GosuLeague Season 4 (2012) - Qualfication GosuLeague5
1st Place - joinDOTA Masters Special Edition II (2012) - €1,000
1st Place - atoD Showdown 2 (2012) - $649.79
1st Place - EG RaidCall Dota 2 League Season 1 (2012) - $5,000
3rd Place - Dreamhack Winter 2012 Corsair Vengeance Cup Jönlöping, Sweden - 25,000 SEK
1st Place - ASUS Open Final Battle of the Year 2012 - $6,000
2nd Place - GosuLeague Season 5 (2012) - $1,500
2nd Place - SLTV StarSeries Season Four (2012) Kiev, Ukraine - $4,000
1st Place - The Revenge #4 (2012) - $500
1st Place - The Premier League Season 3 (2012) - $3,000
2nd Place - RaidCall EMS One Season 1 - Cup 2 (2013) - $200
1st Place - Techlabs March 2013 Moscow, Russia - $5,000
4th Place - SLTV StarSeries Season Five (2013) Kiev, Ukraine - $1,000
3rd Place - EG RaidCall Dota 2 League Season 2 (2013) - $2,000
2nd Place - Bigpoint Battle 3 (2013) - €500
2nd Place - Bigpoint Battle 7 (2013) - €500
2nd Place - RaidCall EMS One Season 3 - Cup 1 (2013) - $200
1st Place - RaidCall EMS One Season 3 - Cup 2 (2013) - $600
1st Place - Eizo Cup 8 (2013) - €1,250
3rd Place - SLTV StarSeries Season Seven (2013) Kiev, Ukraine - $3,000
1st Place - Electronic Sports World Cup 2013 Paris, France - $12,500
2nd Place - Eizo Cup 9 (2013) - €1,000
4th Place - WePlay Dota 2 League Season 2 (2013) - $2,000
2nd Place - Techlabs Grand Finals 2013 Moscow, Russia - $7,500
1st Place - Eizo Cup 11 (2014) - €1,250
2nd Place - Electronic Sports Prime Shock Therapy Cup (2014) - $2,000
3rd Place - Dota 2 Champions League S2 - $19,000
2nd Place - SLTV StarSeries S9 Kiev,Ukraine - $38,500
3rd Place - DreamLeague Season 1 Jönköping, Sweden - $31,500
1st Place - Dota 2 Champions League S3 - $33,900
4th Place - D2L Western Challenge - $5,250

Gameplay and Strategies

Empire often plays a healthy mix of teamfighting and ganking, rotating their both supports around the map to secure kills. With top coordinated ganks as well as a willingness to help out each teammate with massed teleports, they sure try to end the game rather early than late.

Resolut1on often plays less farmintensive mid heroes in the mid, e.g. his signature Puck, which gives his team a bit more room to play greedy on other roles. Especially Mag~ profits from the space given, as he is able to play a more farmorientated offlane role to join his team, when they go for the midgame steamroll.

Similar to Na´Vi, Empire pressures their enemies early to drive them back. As soon as they are on the ropes, the russians go in one last time to break the defenses. Although their supports are roaming a lot, they nearly never end up underleveled, since they always try to let no experience go to waste. This makes the team strong as a whole, and hard for the enemy to win fights.


ua Andrew Chipenko

Signature Heroes: :d2_cw: :d2_ds: :d2_ld: :d2_bh:

Player Position: 3 - Offlaner

Mag started his career in competitive gaming with none other than ua Natus Vincere in October 2010, together with ua Alexander Deff- Stepaniuc and ua Artur Goblak Kostenko, who took over the captains role. The three got joined by the remains of ua Planet X, after they split up after a loss to ua DTS, namely ua Alexander XBOCT Dashkevich and ua Bogdan 'Axypa' Boychuck. While the initial results were promising, the organisation wasn´t satisfied with the roster and decided to switch Mag~ and Deff- for Dendi and Artstyle.

After a short period with an amatuer team of the name ua Burn1, he got invited to join ua Darer alongside ua Gleb Funn1k Lipatnikov, Artstyle, as well as his former captain Goblak, with whom he attented The International 2012 in Seattle, placing 9th to 12th in the tournament.

However, the results afterwards were lacking and the team disbanded September 2012, leaving Mag without a team once again. Just a week later, ArtStyle put together a new fully ukranian team under the name ua Team Kharkiv, which got sponsored by Eclypsia in early October.

What looked like one of the best possible sponsorships on paper, soon turned out to be a giant mess with delayed payments, shady contracts und unfulfilled promises, leading to everyone leaving the team by the 11th of November 2012 and ArtStyle considering retirement.

Together with two of his former teammates ua Vitaliy 'Dubas' Luthan as well as ua Andrey ' ALWAYSWANNAFLY' Bondarenko, Mag~ formed the new team ua iLuminate to participate in the upcoming season 4 of the SLTV Star Series. Due to good results, the squad soon got attention from bigger organisations, leading to ALWAYSWANNAFLY, Mag~ and Resolut1on joing ua iCCup in March 2013, a team originally founded by ru Vladimir PGG Anosov, who got booted due to lack of results.

While the team was doing fine and the results looked quite promising, the organisation iCCup decided to withraw itself from the Dota scene in Agust 2013. However, the squad stayed together under the name of ua Terrible Terrible Damage, keeping their performance up.
This started to attract interest from bigger teams during the post-TI3 shuffle, leading to the tricore of ALWAYSWANNAFLY, Mag~ and Resolut1on getting picked up by ru Team Empire in November 2013.

Mag~ is an incredibly experienced and skilled hardlaner with huge versatility. He possesses an exceptional level of analysis of the game and has the ability to make important and necessary decisions in every situation. His non-standard play and timely initiations often enough lead Empire to victory.

ru Airat Gaziev

Signature Heroes: :d2_gyro: :d2_luna: :d2_naix:

Player Position: 1 - Carry

Silent got his start in competitive Dota in March 2012 with ru Moscow 5. Upon first, Silent was an up and coming carry player, but slowly and steadily he transitioned into the support role. While he attended the second International with M5, it didn´t last for long. True success would come as he joined Empire in September 2012, where he played as a support player, occassionally switching to a carry or even offlane when Funn1k took up the Io.

Even in Empire though, Funn1k was often playing in the shadows, disregarded by the vast majority of the community, so it came as a big suprise to see him switching to eu DD.Dota in late April 2013, which in June got sponsored by Quantic Gaming. With the new team, the big achievements followed, as they got 2nd place at Dreamhack Summer 2013 as well as another 2nd place at the TI3: Western Qualifiers which qualified them for the wildcard match, they unfortunaly lost to cn RaTtLeSnAkE.
In the post international reshuffle, Quantic Gaming split up, with Silent rejoining Empire at the end of August 2013.

Silent has proved himself as a versatile player that can fulfill multiple roles on numerous occasions. Although switching back into the carry role for Empire, he proved he is as good supporting his team as well, however he excels on farming orientated heroes with a sense when to attend teamfights. However, also aggressive carries suits his style, with especially Weaver standing out, although he hasn´t seen much play as of recent.

ua Roman Fominok

Signature Heroes: :d2_puck: :d2_storm: :d2_invoker: :d2_bat:

Player Position: 2 - Midlaner

Resolut1on is yet another player who got into competitive Dota comparatively late, however, he proved himself as a talented and promising midplayer on more than one occassion. He made his first appearance in the competitive scene, as he joined ua iCCup in mid March 2013, where he first met his later teammates Mag~ and ALWAYSWANNAFLY. The results were promising, as they managed to place 2nd in the Techlabs Cup as well as the SLTV StarSeries S6, losing to Empire as well as Alliance respectively.

However, the organisation soon lost interest in sponsoring and released the team in the middle of August 2013. Still, the team decided to stay together, at least until the end of the month. At this point, Resolut1on joined ru Virtus Pro alongside ua Artur Goblak Kostenko and ru Sergey God Bragin. Just a month later though, Resolut1on left once again, getting replaced by ua Sergey ARS-ART Revin.

Together with Goblak, he decided to join ru RoX.KiS in late October, replacing both Solo and Nexus. Once more, Resolut1on didn´t stay for long, as the team didn´t synergysed as well as he thought and he left the team in mid November, joining Empire, which he hasn´t left since.

Resolut1on is yet another rising star in the Dota 2 scene, who impresses with his already stellar performances despite his young age. With an incredible sense for the pace of the game as well as a formidable laning ability, he won Empire the game more than one time. It is to no question, that he will go big in hs Dota career, when he pursues it further.

ru Ivan Shorokhod

Signature Heroes: :d2_rubick: :d2_sd: :d2_dazzle: :d2_chen:

Player Position: 4 - Semisupport

VANSKOR joined the competitive Dota scene incredibly late, as he joined ru RoX.KiS in late March of 2013, first as a stand-in, then as a full member, after hardEEv- left. RoX.Kis had some upcoming harships, especially in the various cups of EMS One, where they fell short in the first three rounds, only to do well in the fourth, placing 9th in the whole tournament.

The online tournament of WePlay went a lot better for the russian team, as they managed to place 2nd behind the ukranian team Natus Vincere. However, as the team started producing results, disagreements amassed as well, eventually leading to VANSKOR leaving the organisation in early August 2013.

Barely a month later, VANSKOR joined ru Team Empire in the post-International reshuffle and has since stayed with them. VANSKOR is a renown Silencer player, a hero which hasn´t seen much play in the competitive scene. He has to be considered one of the most talented players in what should be called the "new wave" and makes up for the lack of competitive experience with quickly getting a grip on every situation. VANSKOR is extremely atentive and willing to sacrifice his farm in the interests of the team.

ua Andrey Bondarenko

Signature Heroes::d2_visage: :d2_aa: :d2_lesh: :d2_bane:

Player Position: 5 - Hardsupport

ALWAYSWANNAFLY continues the trend of the current Empire players to start relatively late with Dota. In late May 2012 he joined Empire, playing together with famous russian player ru Vladislav Blowyourbrain Morozyuk. This however didn´t last for long, as he left in mid September 2012, leaving Empire, stating that the goals of the squads weren´t reached.

Just a few days later, he joined ua Team Kharkiv, the new team of ua Ivan Artstyle Antonov, where he also met ua Andrew Mag~ Chipenko the first time. In early October, the team got sponsored by Eclypsia. Despite the sponsorship looking good in the beginning, the organisation unfortunaly didn´t keep their original contracts, leading to everyone leaving the team by the 11th of November 2012 and ArtStyle considering retirement.

Together with his former teammate ua Vitaliy 'Dubas' Luthan and Mag~ he formed the team ua iLuminate to participate in the upcoming season 4 of the SLTV StarSeries. Due to good results, the squad soon got attention from bigger organisations, leading to ALWAYSWANNAFLY joinng ua iCCup alongside Mag~ and Resolut1on in March 2013.

Although the results were promising, the organisation iCCup decided to not continue their pursues within Dota, but the squad decided to stay together under the name of ua Terrible Terrible Damage, keeping up their good run.
During the post-TI3 reshuffle, they attracted attention from bigger teams, leading to the tricore of ALWAYSWANNAFLY, Mag~ and Resolut1on getting picked up by ru Team Empire in November 2013.

ALWAYSWANNAFLY has vast experience due to his participation in numerous tournaments and the special ability to let his teammates draw from it. He has to be considered as one of the best supports in the CIS scene, with the ability to qualitatively farm the forest alongside an incredible map awareness, which makes him such a valuable part of the team.

Predictions for The International

Empire is one of the oldest organisations in Dota and more than one time they managed to stay on top of the scene. Especially as of late they are on fire again, dominating the scene in February to April, beating top teams like Alliance and Na´Vi on a regular basis.

Although the direct comparison with the chinese scene is lacking, they most likely will fare well against them, as both scenes are incredibly close in terms of their skill at the moment. How far Empire in the International go will most likley be determined in the next two months and by their bootcamp prior to it, but they have shown the massive potential slumbering in the team and if they manage to keep their performances up, a Top 3 finish is definitely achievable.

How far do you think Empire will go at this years International?

This article was written by de Markus Fischer, joinDOTA's Senior Writer. Vekus started to follow Dota rather late, as he joined the community in 2012. From then on he tried to get a job in Esports and found it later at joinDOTA. Reallife is mostly spend at university trying to understand physics and running. Avid wearer of Bandanas.Location: Chemnitz, GermanyFollow him on @VekusDota.