Tennessee Titans 2017 NFL Draft

Tennessee Titans 2017 NFL Draft Profile

Welcome to day five of TGH Draftmas. Coming up today we have the Tennessee Titans.

Titans Summary

2016 was a year of nearly’s for the team out of Tennessee. Missing out on the playoffs because of a poor divisional record will have left a sour taste in the mouths of Titans fans. Tennessee ranked 30th in pass defense last year, which is simply not good enough for a team with playoff aspirations.

Logan Ryan Tennessee Titans

Logan Ryan during his time at the Patriots. Courtesy of the bostonherald.com

As a result, the Titans have begun to strengthen the defensive backfield during the free agency period. Adding cornerback Logan Ryan from the Patriots and safety Johnathan Cyprien from the Jaguars, have shown an intent to rectify the defensive issues. However, it is still a need that will likely be addressed in the draft.

In addition to Ryan and Cyprien, the Titans have brought in another five players so far during free agency. Other notable pickups include Super Bowl winner Sylvester Williams at nose tackle. The Titans have put a lot of emphasis on defensive and special teams pickups, which could lead to them addressing some of the more pressing offensive needs over the course of the draft.

 

 

Titans Picks and Needs

Tennessee has eight picks in this draft, including two in the first round. This is a perfect chance for them to pick two solid starters that can push them into the playoffs in 2017.

 

First Round:(2) No.5, No.18

Second Round: No picks.

Third Round:(2) No.83, No.100

Fourth Round:(1) No.124

Fifth Round:(1) No.164

Sixth Round:(1) No.214

Seventh Round:(1) No.236

With four picks in the first three rounds, the Titans have an excellent opportunity to add some much-needed depth all over the field. Tennessee’s activity throughout free agency leans towards an offense-minded draft.

With this in mind, these are some of the biggest needs in no particular are.

Offense

Wide Receiver – A No.1 receiver to pair with Marcus Mariota is a must in this draft.

Interior Offensive Lineman

Defense

Safety

Cornerback

Defensive Tackle

Titans Targets and Thoughts

As with all the other Draftmas profiles, we will take a look at the first three rounds and there will be no trades.

First Round:

Pick #5: Marhson Lattimore CB, Ohio State

Mashon Lattimore Tennessee Titans Draft

Image courtesy of bleacherreport.com

If Lattimore is still available, Tennessee will surely take him. In a stacked class for cornerbacks, Lattimore is certainly one of the best. Last year he recorded 41 tackles, four interceptions and nine passes broken up. With these figures, Lattimore would be a welcome addition to a defense that struggled against the passing game in 2016. If Lattimore goes early, as some predict, Tennessee will likely look to secure either Jamal Adams or Marlon Humphrey.

Pick #18: John Ross WR, Washington

Tennessee have two major needs early in the draft one is depth in the backfield, the other is a strong No.1 receiver and John Ross will provide that. In Marcus Mariota, Tennessee have a strong quarterback who managed to rack up over 3000 passing yards without a standout receiver. Ross has blistering pace, which he showed off at the combine, he is agile and will be perfect as a mismatch receiver.

Third Round:

Pick #83: Adam Shaheen TE, Ashland

Tennessee ran more two tight end sets than anyone in the league during 2016, however they have lost Anthony Fasano in free agency. At 6-6, 278 pounds Shaheen is a freakish athlete. Combine him with Delanie Walker and they could be a pair to be reckoned with. Also with just sheer size, he will likely create mismatches with most defenses.

Pick #100: Duke Riley LB, LSU

At linebacker the Titans have two strong starters, beyond that they do not have much else. Riley will provide them with the depth they require. Finishing 2016 with 93 tackles, 9 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in 12 games, Riley looks to be a good option to give the Titans some much needed depth in the linebacker position.

Conclusion

The 2017 draft will be a chance for the Titans to pick up some real talent with four picks in the first three rounds. Falling short in 2017 will not be an option and some strong draft picks will show a signal of intent to the rest of the league.

Thank you for joining us on our fifth day of TGH Draftmas! Check back tomorrow where we will be bringing you the Draft Profile of the New York Jets

You can read all of the previous days of Draftmas below!

Draftmas Day 3: Chicago Bears

Draftmas Day 4: Jacksonville Jaguars

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Joe!

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DAC Group Stage Preview

Dota 2 Asia Championships 2017 Group Stage Preview

The last stop on the road to Kiev is the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2017. Hosted in the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center, DAC will take place March 27th – April 4th. With 9/12 teams competing at the end of April in the Kiev Major, this is a perfect opportunity for teams to get in some practice. With the event set to take place over nine days, let’s check out the DAC Group Stages.

DAC Prize Pool

The prize pool for DAC was set at $500,000 USD, but with crowdfunding, this has risen to $564,261 USD, split as follows:

Place $ USD Percent Team
1st $225,704  40% TBD
2nd $84,639  15% TBD
3rd $67,711  12% TBD
4th $50,783  9% TBD
place 5 to 12
5th-6th $33,855  6% TBD
TBD
7th-8th $16,927  3% TBD
TBD
9th-12th $8,463  1.5% TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD

Courtesy of teamliquid.net/Dota_2_Asia_Championships

DAC Group Stage Format

The DAC Group Stages will take part March 27 – 29th and will consist of 12 teams split into two groups. The DAC Groups will have a Bo2 round-robin format with the top two teams from each group advancing to the winners bracket. The bottom four teams from each group will have to progress through the grueling losers bracket.

DAC Group A

Wings Gaming – Direct Invite

Wings DAC Group

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Shadow

Position 2 (Mid) – Blink

Position 3 (Offlane) – Faith_bian

Position 4 (Support) – y’

Position 5 (Support) – iceice

Wings currently have two things going for them. One, they are Chinese. Two, they won TI6. If not for these two things they would not have received an invite to DAC. Since November, they have only had two top three finishes.

In this event, Wings will be fighting to remain relevant. They are currently falling behind other Chinese teams, as shown in the Manila Masters Qualifier where they failed to qualify. Wings will be hoping to rediscover that spark that made them so threatening for a part of 2016.

Prediction – 4th in Group A

 

OG – Direct Invite

OG DAC Group

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Notail

Position 2 (Mid) – Ana

Position 3 (Offlane) – s4

Position 4 (Support) – JerAx

Position 5 (Support) – Fly

OG head into DAC with their eyes on capturing their fourth Major crown. After falling short in the last two major tournaments, OG hope to regain their impressive form.

OG have been matched up against newly formed VG.J, who beat them at StarLadder. OG will have their sights set on revenge. They are widely considered as one of the top three teams in the world. They didn’t make it to the top by accident. This iteration of OG is measured less by flashy plays, and more by death by starvation. Where other teams may falter, OG will hold fast and use their experience to grind out victories.

Prediction – 1st in Group A

Team VG.J – China Qualifier 

VG.J DAC

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Agressif

Position 2 (Mid) – Freeze

Position 3 (Offlane) – rOtk

Position 4 (Support) – fy

Position 5 (Support) – Fenrir

VG.J had a point to prove going into StarLadder. Were they able to compete on an international stage? The answer, yes. VG.J looked dominant throughout the event but could not overcome the powerhouse that is Liquid.

VG.J are one of the hottest teams in China and hope to continue this into DAC. The one question that still remains is whether Liu “Freeze” Chang can make the transition for pub-star to top tier player. At points during StarLadder, Freeze was guilty of making some reckless plays which cost his team several maps. He will be looking to turn it around heading into DAC.

Prediction – 2nd in Group A

LGD.Forever Young – China Qualifier

LGD.FY DAC

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Monet

Position 2 (Mid) – Super

Position 3 (Offlane) – Jixing

Position 4 (Support) – White

Position 5 (Support) – lpc

Let’s be honest here, LGD.FY are only at this tournament because there were four qualifier spots available for Chinese teams. Domestically, LGD.FY have looked uninspiring. Internationally, they have not been seen since the Boston Major.

LGD.FY will have to hope that they can catch a few teams unaware. Four teams in their group are going to have one eye on Kiev. This may be enough for LGD.FY to take a map. This is going to be a baptism of fire for the new look LGD.FY.

Prediction – 6th in Group A

Team Faceless – SEA Qualifier

Faceless DAC

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Black^

Position 2 (Mid) – Jabz

Position 3 (Offlane) –iceiceice

Position 4 (Support) – xy-

Position 5 (Supprot) – NutZ

2017 has been the year of Faceless, at least in Southeast Asia. The SEA powerhouses have placed first in the last three domestic qualifier events. They also placed third at DotaPit, the only international event they have attended in 2017.

Faceless have shown they should be feared on the international stage, but they have a tough task ahead of them. With two of the best teams in the world in their group, this will be excellent practice for Faceless before Kiev. Faceless should expect to make it late in the tournament, but they will require a good losers bracket run.

Prediction – 3rd in Group A

Team Empire – CIS Qualifier

DAC Empire

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Chappie

Position 2 (Mid) – fn

Position 3 (Offlane) – Ghostik

Position 4 (Support) – Miposhka

Position 5 (Supprot) – KingR

Team Empire are another team that is not attending Kiev. With this in mind, they will be looking to make a major statement at DAC. Can they do it? Sure. Will they do it? Probably not.

Team Empire will be up against the best competition in the world, and at this point, they should not expect anything amazing. On the other hand, Empire possesses some decent pocket picks and have been known to pick Meepo should the chance arise. Empire will hope that they can give a good showing of themselves and not suffer too much throughout the event.

Prediction – 5th in Group A

DAC Group B

Newbee – Direct Invite

Newbee DAC

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Uuu9

Position 2 (Mid) – Sccc

Position 3 (Offlane) – Kpii

Position 4 (Support) – Faith

Position 5 (Support) – Kaka

Newbee started the year as the Chinese team to fear, as they finished second at ESL One Genting. Since then, however, they have been missing from the competitive scene.

With just seven competitive games since January, Newbee is coming into DAC without much competitive experience. They are currently performing well domestically and will be hoping to regain the form of early 2017.

Prediction – 4th in Group B

Evil Geniuses – Direct Invite

DAC EG

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Arteezy

Position 2 (Mid) – SumaiL

Position 3 (Offlane) – UNiVeRsE

Position 4 (Support) – Zai

Position 5 (Support) – Cr1t-

EG are coming into this event with very little game time since their win at DotaPit in January. However, with a team full of superstars, a lack of games should not have that great of an impact. This will be the first time that the new-look EG have faced off against the new-look Team Liquid. In a clash for the title of best team in the world, EG hope that experience will carry them through.

What EG have that most other teams don’t is star power. They possess quality at each position. There is no weak link in the EG armor. They will be hoping that they can battle through a tough group and progress to the Winners Bracket.

Prediction – 1st in Group B

Invictus Gaming – Chinese Qualifier

IG DAC

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – BurNing

Position 2 (Mid) – Op

Position 3 (Offlane) – Xxs

Position 4 (Support) – BoboKa

Position 5 (Support) – Q

Heading into DotaPit, many people were unsure of how IG would perform. They shocked many by finishing in the top four in a strong field. Since then they have qualified for the Kiev Major and the Manila Masters. IG are heading into DAC Group Stages with a lot of confidence. They hope to build a solid foundation for the upcoming Kiev Major. They are in the stronger of the two groups, so this will be a good test of their ability.

IG hope that veteran Xu “BurNing” Zhelei will be able to carry them to a decent group position. Unfortunately, being in a group with Newbee, EG and Team Liquid means that qualification into the Winners Bracket looks slim. The main worry for IG is the dreaded Losers’ Round One, in which all the games are best of one. Should IG prevail, they look to go late into the tournament.

Prediction – 3rd in Group B

iG Vitality

iG.V DAC

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Paparazi

Position 2 (Mid) – Sakata

Position 3 (Offlane) – InJuly

Position 4 (Support) – Super

Position 5 (Support) – dogf1ghts

IG’s younger brother has not been able to find a similar form to that of their older sibling. Domestically they have been very hit and miss. Qualifying for one tournament, but missing out on the next. Their only recent international tournament was StarLadder, in which they finished a disappointing 7-8th. IG.V have not been helped by the fact they are in a strong group, with four teams all fighting for the top two spots. This will be the advantage that IG.V have. They are looking to fly in under the radar.

IG.V is a team that is built around strong team play, rather than overly flashy plays. They hope that they can use this this to their advantage and take a few maps off the stronger teams in the group. In a similar vein to IG, if they can make it out of the best of ones, they can look forward to a deep run in the tournament.

Prediction – 5th in Group B

Team Liquid – European Qualifier

Team Liquid DAC

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – MATUMBAMAN

Position 2 (Mid) – Miracle-

Position 3 (Offlane) – MinD_ContRoL

Position 4 (Support) – GH

Position 5 (Support) – KuroKy

Team Liquid in 2017 can be summed up in one word, “Dominant.” The new look Liquid have taken 2017 by storm, finishing first place in every event they have competed in, including qualifiers. At StarLadder, they swept aside everyone in their path to victory. They did not at any point look to be in any trouble. Liquid are currently 16 matches without a loss. They look set to continue this run as they are one of the favourites to win the event.

The addition of Maroun “GH” Merhej to the roster has propelled Liquid to the top of many people’s power rankings. This will, however, be Liquid’s first opportunity to test themselves against a top contender in EG. In what will likely be one of the best series of the group stages, the winner of EG and Liquid will likely take the top spot in Group B.

Prediction – 2nd in Group B

Team NP – Americas Qualifiers

DAC NP

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Aui_2000

Position 2 (Mid) – Eternal Envy

Position 3 (Offlane) – MSS

Position 4 (Support) – SVG

Position 5 (Support) – Rose aka 1437

Team NP are heading into this event in a slump. They had high hopes heading into the Kiev Major qualifiers. However, they failed to advance as they were knocked out by Team Onyx. In what could be the team’s last event together, they hope that they can regain their form and put in an impressive performance. It has been announced that veteran Theeban “Rose” Siva, will be handling the drafting during the tournament. This may be the change that reignites Team NP.

The failure of the Kiev Major qualifiers was a bitter pill to swallow, but NP will have their eyes firmly on the DAC crown. With crowd favourite Jacky “EternalEnVy” Mao, NP will have a strong backing in China. EE is famous for his enigmatic plays, and NP hope that he can carry them to victory, rather than destruction. The road for NP will be difficult, but a good performance at this event may keep the roster together.

Prediction – 6th in Group B

DAC Group Stages Final Thoughts

The DAC Group Stages are filled with strong teams. With nine teams preparing for the Kiev Major, the DAC Group Stages will give an indication of what we can expect to see at Kiev. Group B is surely the stronger of the two groups, and the winner will likely come from this group. The DAC Group Stages kick off March 27th, and fans should be excited for what is in store.

Who do you think is going to finish as first in each group? Let us know in the comments below.

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7.03 Patch Notes Analysis - The Bladeform Legacy Update

7.03 Patch Notes Analysis – The Bladeform Legacy

Following the recent Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers, Valve has released the 7.03 patch. The Blade Form Legacy patch includes the much awaited Juggernaut Arcana, which we will get to later. Similar to 7.01 and 7.02, 7.03 is a minor balancing patch, so don’t expect anything dramatic in the patch notes. The majority of heroes have received minor tweaks, with only a small amount of heroes missing out. Let’s take a look at some of the larger changes and how they may affect the current meta.

7.03 Patch Notes – Major Changes

Rat Dota, Best Dota

Rat Dota Patch Notes

Image courtesy of twitter.com

If 7.00 was the resurgence of five-man Dota, 7.03 may well be the death of it. The new changes to tower armor seem geared towards solo pushing towers.

  • All towers base armor reduced by 4
  • Towers now gain 2 armor per nearby enemy player within a 1200 AoE

Whilst towers have lost four base armor, this will immediately be regained if you have at least two heroes pushing together. With this in mind, a five man push strat would grant each tower 10 additional armor.

The changes to tower armor are a direct buff to strong split-push heroes such as Lycan, Nature’s Prophet, and Broodmother. Will we see a resurgence in rat Dota? Will this be the return of Admiral Bulldog? Is Alliance ever going to be good again? These are all questions that will be answered in the coming weeks.

Please Use Scan.

Since introducing the scan feature into the game, it has remained widely underused. Icefrog has made it clear in this patch that he would really like people to use the feature.

  • Scan cooldown reduced from 270 seconds to 210

Taking a full minute off the scan cooldown will probably have little effect on its usage, considering many players are still unsure of how it works. This change will likely affect the pro-scene as teams can be more liberal in their scan usage.

The King Has Arrived

It has happened, Monkey King has been added to Captains mode. Don’t panic, however, as his addition to Captains Mode comes with a few nerfs.

  • Jingu Mastery buff now has a max duration of 35 seconds
  • Tree Dance night vision reduced from 800 to 400
  • Wukong’s Command duration rescaled from 13/14/15 to 13

The change to Jingu mastery is a welcomed one. Whilst it is still a very strong passive, you no longer have to worry about being one hit killed by a Monkey King hidden in fog. In addition, the change to Tree Dance makes chasing and scouting using the spell a bit worse.

The change to Wukong’s Command is minimal, although the reduced duration may be the difference between a kill and an enemy escaping on 1% HP. Expect to see lots of Monkey picks/bans in the upcoming DAC and Major tournaments.

Video courtesy of youtube.com/noobfromua

So I heard you Liked Support?

CM 7.03 Patch Notes

Courtesy of twitter.com

Playing Support is an art that only the most patient among us can master. Icefrog has decided that he wants to make Supports poorer than ever before.

  • XP required to go from level 1 to level 6 increased by 15, 300 total.
  • AoE hero kill Gold and XP bounties reduced by 10% (including comeback gold and XP)
  • Tier 1 Team Bounty reduced from 160 to 120
  • Passive gold income reduced by 10%

In the last few patches, Icefrog has added functionality to make the games easier for new / lower-skilled players. The changes to passive gold income and AoE hero kill gold and XP will have a severe impact on lower-skilled players. These changes will require Supports to maximize their time more efficiently and focus on stacking and pulling slightly more than rotating.

The changes to comeback gold and XP are welcomed, as in recent patches it seemed as if it was better to be behind in the early game. Whilst 10% is not a huge amount, expect to see a reduction in the number of large comeback victories.

Drums or Helm?

Helm of the Dominator 7.03 Patch Notes

Image courtesy of reddit.com

Drums of endurance 7.03 Patch Notes Analysis

Image courtesy of reddit.com

In 7.00, Helm received a rework, and it suddenly became the best item in the game. Helm became the go-to item for both Cores and Supports, due to its low cost, excellent stats, and making any hero into a better version of Chen. Valve has been redressing this imbalance since the rework.

  • Reduced All Stats modifier from +4 to +2
  • Recipe cost increased from 725 to 800

Whilst the item is still good, at a cost of roughly 2000 gold, it may see considerably fewer purchases than before.

On the other side of the coin is Drums of Endurance, which has received a much-needed buff. The item was nerfed in 7.00, and as a result was very rarely picked up. However, a reduced recipe cost may have made the item viable once again.

  • Recipe cost reduced from 700 to 575

At roughly 1700 gold, Drums is now a much more affordable item for supports or heroes looking to fight early. Players may now be wise to choose Drums over Helm in some cases.

7.03 Patch Notes – Quality of Life

Valve Pleases Everyone?

Patch Notes include new Jugg Arcana

Image courtesy of reddit.com/rdota2

When it was announced that Valve had realized a new patch, many people were surprised that the Juggernaut Arcana was finally released. However, once the dust had settled, many fans took to Reddit to highlight their displeasure with the new Arcana.

Whilst the Arcana has literally no effect on Jugg as a hero, many see it as a status symbol. The set looks like they combined Jugg and Io together in an attempt to please the community. Is it the nicest Arcana? No. Will it make Valve a lot of money? Yes. It’s as simple as that.

The only positive to the Arcana being realized is that they didn’t buff Juggernaut to make sure he is picked more. Reading through the patch notes, the only serious change received for Juggernaut is that his Healing Totem now grants 75 Gold and XP if it is destroyed.

Another New Model

In the 7.00 patch, Valve updated some of the older hero models. One hero that missed out was Jakiro. As fans read through the patch notes, they will be greeted by the changes to Jakiro’s base model that are well overdue.

For a full breakdown check out PurgeGamers full patch notes analysis here

What was the biggest change, and how have your favorite heroes been affected? Let us know in the comments below.

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Joe!

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UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals preview

UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Preview

The draw for the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals took place on March 17th. With some of the best teams in the world entering the draw, the quarter-finals look set to be highly competitive. Let’s take a look at what we can expect in the next round of the competition.

Champions League Quarter-Final Draw

The teams that are in the hat for the quarter-final draw were:

  • Atletico Madrid (Spain)
  • Barcelona (Spain)
  • Real Madrid (Spain)
  • Bayern Munich (Germany)
  • Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
  • Leicester City (England)
  • Monaco (France)
  • Juventus (Italy)

Here is the fixture list for the quarter-final:

  • Atletico Madrid (Spain) v Leicester City (England)
  • Borussia Dortmund (Germany) v Monaco (France)
  • Bayern Munich (Germany) v Real Madrid (Spain)
  • Juventus (Italy) v Barcelona (Spain)

With such strong teams making it through to the latter stages of the competition, there is no such thing as an easy draw. Atletico, however, has the closest thing to an easy matchup against Premier League Champions, Leicester.

Atletico Madrid v Leicester City – Champions League Quarter-Finals #1

Champions League Quarter Final Leicester v Atletico

Image courtesy of twitter.com

Leicester is the team that constantly defies expectations. From surviving relegation in 2015 to winning the Premier League in 2016. They are now trying to defy people even further, by trying to win the UCL. This will not be easy, however, as they are the only team that is outside of the top four in their respective leagues. Standing in their way, however, is a strong and organized Atletico Madrid side.

Under Diego Simone, Atletico has been to two finals in the last three years. They are currently sitting in fourth position in La Liga, and with the likes of Antoine Griezmann, they should have more than enough class to overcome Leicester.

Borussia Dortmund v Monaco – Champions League Quarter Finals #2

Image courtesy of twitter.com

Monaco is coming into the quarter-finals off the back of an amazing 6-6 game with Manchester City in the last round. They are looking strong domestically and currently sit atop Ligue 1, with Falcao finding the form that moved him to the UK. Monaco hope that they can continue their strong push in the tournament.

Dortmund had a slight scare in the first leg of their round of 16 tie against Benfica. They did, however, manage to bounce back and win the second leg 4-0. Combine this with decent league form and four wins in their last five games. Dortmund hope they have what it takes to reach the semi-finals.

Bayern Munich v Real Madrid – Champions League Quarter Finals #3

Champions League Quarter Final Bayern v Munich

Image courtesy of twitter.com

Well, this is the game that most people would have been happy to see in the final. Instead, we are treated to this game in the Champion League quarter-finals. This is the opportunity for current Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti, to go up against his former employers. Bayern is coming into the quarter-finals following the 10-2 demolition of Arsenal. The winner of this game will surely make the final, and should possibly be considered the favorites for the title.

Real are one of the best teams in the world. They are currently two points clear at the top of La Liga, with a game in hand. After defeating Napoli 6-2 on aggregate, Real should be full of confidence heading into the quarter-finals, and look to show once again why many consider them the best side in the world.

Juventus v Barcelona – Champions League Quarter-Finals #4

Champions League Quarter-Finals Juventus v Barceclona

Image courtesy of twitter.com

The quarter-final between Juve and Barca may turn out to be the one to watch, as the best defense faces off against the best attack. Juve comes into the quarter-final having only conceded two goals throughout the competition. Juve is dominating domestically and is likely to take home the Serie A title. They hope that with a strong defense, they can frustrate Barca who looked vulnerable in the last round.

The round of 16 was a time to forget for Barca. Losing 4-0 to PSG in the first leg was something that should never have happened. They managed to turn it around with an emphatic performance at home, but things will not be so easy against Juve. Barca is currently the leading goalscorers in the competition with 26 in total. They hope that the MSN trio can carve Juve open, as they have done with so many other teams this year.

Who do you think will make it through to the next round? Let us know in the comments below.

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Kiev Regional Qualifiers Recap

Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers Recap

The Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers are finished. The qualifiers for SEA, China, Europe, CIS, North America, and South America took place March 10th – 14th. With the addition of two new regions, the qualifiers looked set to be the most competitive in Dota history. They did not disappoint one bit. Let’s take a look at what we learned from the amazing Kiev Major qualifiers.

Kiev Major Regional Qualifier Winners

North America – Onyx are stone cold under pressure

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Heading into the North American qualifiers, most fans had Team NP advancing to Kiev. Unfortunately, Onyx had other ideas. After forming in January in the post-Boston shuffle, many were unsure of whether Jimmy “DeMoN” Ho and the rest of the squad could make it big. Onyx made the qualifiers look very difficult. They finished group stages with a 4-2 record, losing to both Complexity and NP. Finishing third in their group, they ended up facing off against Complexity again in the semi-finals, a game which they would lose.

The lower bracket was, however, where Onyx came alive. Beating Team Freedom and NP, the latter thanks to Abed “Abed” Yusop’s outstanding Meepo play. This set up a rematch with Complexity, a team that Onyx was 0-2 against in the qualifiers. Onyx again turned to the Abed Meepo, and again he carried them to victory. Heading into Kiev, teams will have to ban Meepo consistently or else they will likely be punished.

South America – New Region, New Winner?

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

For the first time in the history of the Major’s, Valve decided to split the North and South American qualifiers. This change allowed the world to get an insight into the relatively unknown South American Dota scene. With roster changes galore, only two teams were given direct invites to the regional qualifiers. With several new teams, the qualifiers were hard to predict. Group stage finished with three teams tied 8-1, showing how unpredictable the region was.

SG esports would eventually take the crown and become the first SA team since 2015 to compete in a Valve event. SG hope that they can bring the unknown to the single elimination bracket and potentially cause a few upsets.

Europe – Secret show their class.

Image courtesy of teamsecret.gg

Heading into the qualifiers, most people expected B)ears to advance with relative ease. Secret, however, showed that they are still one of the top teams in the world. Secret looked dominant throughout the qualifier, dropping only one map through all their games.

Clement “Puppey” Ivanov managed to lead his team to an unlikely finish with relative ease. Secret seem to have finally cracked the combination to success. A strong combination of EU and SEA may prove to bring Secret and Puppey back to the dominance they once experienced.

CIS – VP finally reconnect

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

VP have struggled since the 7.00 patch. A combination of connection issues and the new patch have caused VP several issues. Generally, poor performances prior to the qualifiers, left VP facing a tough battle in the CIS regional qualifiers. VP silenced all their doubters in the first two days. Finishing 9-0 in the qualification rounds, VP looked to be back on top of their game.

The bracket section of the qualifiers was slightly more difficult. However, they were able to handle the opposition and will progress to the Kiev Major. VP are now faced with over a month of waiting until Kiev, where they hope to remind people why they were so heavily favored heading into the Boston Major.

China – Two teams, one org.

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

The Chinese qualifiers were among the most hotly contested of all the Kiev Major regional qualifiers. The top three teams in group stage all finished with a 7-2 record. Combine this with a three-way tie for fourth place, the Chinese qualifiers were something to behold.

Heading into bracket play, CDEC fell apart and would eventually lose both of their games 0-2. This left Vici Gaming, IG, and IG.V fighting it out for the two qualification places. With all the teams on a very similar level, it is a shame that China did not have three qualification spots. In the end, both IG teams would score a spot in Kiev. Both teams will be hoping to deliver a long-awaited Major title for the Chinese fans.

SEA – A two horse race.

Kiev Major Faceless

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Kiev Major TNC

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

The SEA region is currently going through a period of transition. Losing some of their top talents to other regions has left the available pool of players slightly weak. With this in mind, it is no surprise that both Faceless and TNC managed to secure qualification to the Kiev Major.

When it is so easy to predict a region’s qualifiers, you know something is wrong in that region. Since the fall of Fnatic, TNC and Faceless have been the only two teams that have looked as if they can threaten on a larger stage. However, in this qualifier, not one team looked to be of the caliber to challenge on a world stage. With both Faceless and TNC losing to weaker opposition during the group stage, things look bleak for SEA. It may be time for SEA to start taking the talent from other regions, with the hope of rebuilding their region.

Kiev Major Regional Qualifier – Final Thoughts

Changes to the regions and the current meta led to some of the most competitive qualifier matches in Dota history. Whilst it did hinder NA, the addition of separate qualifiers for SA is the start of a good trend. Valve have identified that SA Dota was on the decline. Giving SA fans the chance to see their favorite team compete against EG will do wonders for the Dota 2 scene in SA.

With the qualifiers in the books, the road to Kiev begins now. For some teams, the next stop is DAC. For others, they will have to wait until next month for some top quality competitive Dota 2.

What was your favorite moment of the qualifiers? Let me know in the comments below.

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Kiev Regional Qualifiers Recap

Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers Preview

The Kiev Major is the first major of 2017. The event is set to be one the most competitive in Valve history. However, before we can experience the event, there is the small case of the Kiev Major regional qualifiers. With a change to the available spots for each region, the qualifiers are set to be hotly contested. Let’s take a look at what we can expect from each region.

Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers Format

This will be the first Valve event that will see South America and CIS receive their own qualifiers. Because of this, the qualification spots for North America and Europe have been reduced.

China (Two qualification spots)

Europe (One qualification spot)

North America (One qualification spot)

SEA (Two qualification spots)

CIS (One qualification spot)

South America (One qualification spot)

All of the regional qualifiers will share the same format. Starting off with a round-robin group stage with the top four teams advancing to bracket play. Bracket play will consist of the top four teams fighting it out in a double-elimination bracket.

Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers – China

China was one of two regions to receive three direct invites to the event. With Wings, Newbee, and VG.J all securing invites, China is a region up for grabs.

With two spots at stake, it is a showdown between three teams. IG.V, IG and LGD.FY all look as if they have the potential to make it to the major. All three teams have recently progressed through the Dota 2 Asia Championship qualifiers to secure a spot in the main event. The only thing separating the three teams is that both IG and IG.V have recent international LAN experience.

Invictus Gaming (IG) demonstrated that they have the ability to challenge both domestically and internationally, as they finished 4th at Dota Pit Season 5. They also finished with a perfect 5-0 record in the recent DAC qualifiers. Having surrounding legendary carry Xu “BurNIng” Zhelei with a solid group of players has led IG to achieve strong results within China. They will be hoping that they can qualify to Kiev and eventually mount a challenge for the title.

IG Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Predictions: Invictus Gaming & IG.Vitality

Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers – Europe

Like China, European-based teams received three direct invites to Kiev. However, whilst Valve giveth, they also taketh away. It was announced that the CIS region would receive their own qualifiers. Leaving the EU teams fighting it out for one spot. Considering that EU is arguably the strongest region currently, the qualifiers should have some insane games.

Of the 10 teams competing in the qualifier, it will likely come down to a battle between Team Secret and B)ears. B)ears come into the qualifiers with a lot of expectations and hype surrounding them. Finishing second in their first qualification tournament will have done wonders for their confidence.

Standing in their way is Team Secret, a giant of the scene. Whilst the roster may be different, Clement “Puppey” Ivanov is hoping he can replicate the success of previous Secret rosters. Secret has finished 5th – 6th in the two LAN’s they have attended in 2017, and hope that this experience can lead them to qualify for Kiev.

B)ears Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Prediction: B)ears

Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers – North America

Similar to Europe, the Americas were split into North and South. This leaves North America with one qualification spot. The NA qualifiers look set to be a three-horse race, with Team NP, CompLexity, and Team Onyx fighting it out for the one qualification spot.

CompLexity has managed to battle through the open qualifiers, and are making a change to their roster. In a recent interview, captain Kyle “Melonzz” Freedman explained that the team is full of confidence heading into the Kiev Major regional qualifiers. They will, however, come up against fan favorites, Team NP. Most people are expecting Team NP to take the qualifiers, but it will not be easy. CompLexity is making a resurgence, and recently formed Team Onyx look strong. The main weapon NP has against these other teams is experience, not just in participating, but in winning. Whilst they have not won a LAN as a team, they have a TI champion and a Major winner in the squad. Team NP is a team with a whole heap of potential and should dominate the qualifiers and progress on to Kiev.

Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers NP

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Prediction: Team NP

Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers – SEA

Alongside China, SEA is the only other region to receive two qualification spots to Kiev. This may coincide with the fact that no SEA based teams received a direct invite to Kiev. Looking at the teams attending the qualifiers, it is hard to look beyond Team Faceless and TNC to take the two qualification spaces.

Team Faceless have been performing well in recent months, with a third place finish at Dota Pit and recently qualifying for DAC. TNC have also had a strong 2017, including winning WESG. Both Faceless and TNC have dominated the SEA scene, with results going back and forth between the two teams.

Other challengers are Execration and Mineski, both who have struggled to challenge Faceless and TNC in recent months. Of all the regions, SEA looks to be the most lopsided.

TNC Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Predictions: TNC & Team Faceless

Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers – CIS

Following the example of DAC, Valve has made the decision to give the CIS region its own qualifier. Currently, CIS is one of the more underrated regions. The most notable team in the qualifiers is Virtus.Pro, who have been struggling since the release of 7.00. The new look Na’Vi squad are competing in the CIS qualifiers, having been previously made to compete in EU for DAC. Na’Vi will be hoping to capitalize on the recent issues that CIS has been facing.

Should VP show up to the qualifiers and not have issues connecting, they should be favorite. Standing in their way, however, is a field of teams that have been hit and miss. The main question is, will any of them show up to the qualifiers? Na’Vi have a strong squad on paper, but have yet to achieve decent results. Empire looks as if they can mount a challenge, but are lacking consistency. CIS is set to be the most hotly contested region and is definitely worth a watch.

VP Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Predictions: Virtus Pro

Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers – Final Thoughts

The Kiev qualifiers are set to showcase some of the highest level Dota. The road to Kiev starts here. Make sure to tune into Beyond The Summit or MoonduckTV for 24-hour coverage of the qualifiers.

Who do you think is going to qualify? Let us know in the comments below.

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Top 10 Best Dota 2 Teams in the World

The Best of the Best – Top 10 Dota 2 Teams in the World

Within competitive Dota 2, there is always one question that is repeated over and over again. Who are the top 10 teams in the world? The fluidity of Dota means that a team can be the best for a tournament, but then struggle to replicate that success at the next event.

With the Kiev Major on the horizon, it seems like a perfect time to take a look at who the current top 10 Dota 2 teams in the world are. The criteria for this list is that they have to have an active five man roster. This list is not based solely on a team’s performances on LAN and will focus more on events since the 7.00 update.

Number 10 – VIRTUS PRO

VP Top 10

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Ramzes666

Position 2 (Mid) – No[o]ne

Position 3 (Offlane) – 9Pashaebashu

Position 4 (Support) – Lil

Position 5 (Support) – Solo

Rewind back to Boston and VP would have been in the top two best teams in the world. However, times have changed, and a new patch and several issues have hit the VP team hard. Having recently forfeited the DAC CIS Qualifiers due to connection issues, VP look to be struggling. All this aside, they still have an immensely talented roster that is capable of winning any tournament they enter.

VP are a true CIS team. Known for their ability to overwhelm teams through sheer aggression, they are able to control games from start to finish. They have also been pioneers of unorthodox strategies such as the position four Phantom Assassin or Weaver in the past. They also have arguably one of the best Carry players in the world. Roman “RAMZES666” Hushnarev may only be 17, but has been playing competitively since 2015. VP have built a team around him, which has allowed them to compete at the very top level.

Kiev will be make or break for VP. Failure to qualify will likely result in a team change. A good performance at the event may reinvigorate the side. VP can rise back to the upper echelons of competitive Dota. Whether they do or not is a separate discussion.

Number 9 – Team Secret

Image courtesy of teamsecret.gg

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – MP

Position 2 (Mid) – MidOne

Position 3 (Offlane) – Khezu

Position 4 (Support) – Puppey

Position 5 (Support) – pieliedie

Team Secret have been through a period of transition. After the EE blog was released, Team Secret looked to be dead in the water. Clement “Puppey” Ivanov had other ideas, however. He made the interesting decision to take some of the best talents from SEA in Pyo “MP” No-a and Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng. He also added promising offlaner Maurice “Khezu” Gutmann, formally of Escape Gaming (Now NiP), to the squad. Secret has all the pieces of a top tier squad. Getting them to fit together, however, is difficult. Secret has been showing promise in recent months but continuously fall short.

With his current team, Puppey has what he has always wanted, four players who will listen to him unconditionally. Secret has shown that they can pull off strong performances against the top sides, and this is why they have made the Top 10. In Johan “PieLieDie” Astrom, you have arguably the most selfless position five in the game. Referred to as DieDieDie by fans, Pie has no issues with sacrificing himself for the greater good. It is his selfless nature that allows Secret to run greedy line-ups that will see Puppey receive the same farm as Khezu.

Secret are currently setting up a solid foundation before making their main assault on the top teams of competitive Dota. With one spot available in the EU qualifiers for Kiev, this is a make or break time for Puppey and the rest of Team Secret.

Number 8 – Team Faceless

DAC Faceless

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Black^

Position 2 (Mid) – Jabz

Position 3 (Offlane) –iceiceice

Position 4 (Support) – xy-

Position 5 (Supprot) – NutZ

Faceless are the Kings of SEA. What does that get them? According to valve, not that much. Faceless missed out on an invite to Kiev in favor of teams from EU, NA, and China. SEA is a region that is struggling, having recently lost top talent to EU and NA based teams. Faceless, however, are the bastion of hope for SEA.

The team is currently dominating SEA, as shown by their recent results in the Mr. Cat Invitational. In the seven games they have played so far, they won six, 2-0, and tied one, 1-1. Faceless are a big fish in a small pond. The current issue Faceless are experiencing is translating their regional success to an international level.

Daryl Koh “Iceiceice” Pei Xiang has flourished as the team’s captain and has nurtured Jabz, xy-, and NutZ. Faceless have been shown to understand the meta very well, abusing the different pulls available on the Radiant side. This innovation makes Faceless a team to fear.

NUMBER 7 – VG.J

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Agressif

Position 2 (Mid) – Freeze

Position 3 (Offlane) – rOtk

Position 4 (Support) – fy

Position 5 (Support) – Fenrir

Team VG.J are the new kids on the block, but they have evidenced that they are one of the best teams in the world. A strong second place finish at StarLadder showed that the team has promise. Valve agreed as they were given a direct invite to Kiev.

Having three legends of Chinese Dota in rOtK, fy, and Fenrir in the squad means that they are instant fan favorites. Combine this with the solid play of Carry player Agressif, and the unpredictability on pub-star Mid player Freeze. That makes a strong roster. The main issue the team faces is the unpredictability of Freeze.

In a few games at StarLadder, Freeze made some questionable plays which often put VG.J on the back foot. StarLadder, however, was the team’s first international LAN event and was an excellent learning experience for the new squad. With DAC and Kiev coming up, VG.J have a chance to prove themselves as a top squad.

NUMBER 6 – Digital Chaos

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Resolution

Position 2 (Mid) – w33

Position 3 (Offlane) – MoonMeander

Position 4 (Support) – MiSeRy

Position 5 (Support) – Saksa

DC went from 100 to 0 real quick in 2017. Having had an amazing 2016 with a second place finish at TI6 and a top four finish at The Boston Major, things were looking good for DC. 2017 started in the best possible way as the team won ESL One Genting. Since then, however, things have been in a downward decline. Bottom two finishes at Dota Pit and StarLadder have left DC looking vulnerable. To top it off, they also failed to qualify for DAC.

The team got some excellent news when they were given a direct invite to Kiev, saving them from the difficult NA qualifiers. They hope that Kiev can reignite the fire under the team as they look to achieve a strong placing at the event.

Many consider Aliwi “w33” Omar one of the best Midlaners in the world, and with good reason. During their victory at ESL One Genting, he demonstrated immense skill, often dominating his lane. The rest of the team are solid, and the addition of David “MoonMeander” Tan following TI has added a flashy playmaker to the squad. DC will have to perform at Kiev or all that they have built in the past six months may be under threat.

NUMBER 5 – Wings Gaming

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Shadow

Position 2 (Mid) – Blink

Position 3 (Offlane) – Faith_bian

Position 4 (Support) – y’

Position 5 (Support) – iceice

Having won TI6, Wings were on top of the world. Nowadays, not so much. After a disappointing placing at Boston, Wings have struggled to reproduce the form of 2016. In both ESL One Genting and StarLadder, they have been knocked out by two Chinese teams, Newbee and VG.J respectively.

Often called the innovators of Dota, Wings are famed for the unpredictable drafts and their consistent playstyle. Recently, however, they seem to be unsure of the direction they are heading in. StarLadder was a perfect example, as they did not draft the same hero more than two times. They were eventually knocked out in the second round.

They still, however, make the top five best teams in the world based on what they can achieve. They have shown sparks of brilliance at both ESL and Dota Pit. In some respects, receiving consistent direct invites may be a curse rather than a blessing. The lack of play time has shown them to be rusty, and in some cases, behind the meta. Having only played two tournaments so far in 2017, Wings need to find their mojo again.

NUMBER 4 – Newbee

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Uuu9

Position 2 (Mid) – Sccc

Position 3 (Offlane) – Kpii

Position 4 (Support) – Faith

Position 5 (Support) – Kaka

Newbee are one of the best teams in China currently. It’s a toss up between them and VG.J. Newbee suffers from a similar problem to Wings, a lack of game time. The difference, however, is that when Newbee shows up at a tournament, they always stand a chance of winning.

Dota is a game of fine margins, and ESL One Genting evidenced this. An epic back and forth series that ended with them losing 2-3 in the Grand Finals, highlights how strong this team is. They could have very easily won the series, but seemed to run out of steam mentally. Having received a direct invite to Kiev, they will again not have to worry about the qualifiers. This means they may have some rust heading into the tournament.

Any side possessing arguably the best mid player in China Song “Sccc” Chun, should be a challenger in any tournament. Combine this with the solidity of the rest of the roster, Newbee are a team to be feared. DAC and Kiev will offer Newbee the chance to prove this to fans that may still have doubts.

NUMBER 3 – Team Liquid

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – MATUMBAMAN

Position 2 (Mid) – Miracle-

Position 3 (Offlane) – MinD_ContRoL

Position 4 (Support) – GH

Position 5 (Support) – KuroKy

If this list was being compiled after Kiev, Liquid would most likely be number one. The new and improved Liquid have set the scene. They have won both the LAN’s they have attended in dominating fashion. At the recent StarLadder LAN, they only dropped two maps the whole event. Liquid is showing dominance on a level that Secret 1.0 showed in 2015, before TI5.

Possessing three players with over 9k MMR shows that the team has potential. In addition, they have one of the two best captains in the world, Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi. Liquid has been able to live up to expectations in recent months, dominating every event they have attended.

For Liquid to take the next step, they need to achieve consistency and stay at the top for longer than two events. The best teams don’t just win one event, they consistently win or place well. Liquid look in form and hope to carry that momentum into DAC and Kiev.

NUMBER 2 – Evil Geniuses

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Arteezy

Position 2 (Mid) – SumaiL

Position 3 (Offlane) – UNiVeRsE

Position 4 (Support) – Zai

Position 5 (Support) – Cr1t-

Coming in at number two is Evil Geniuses. They miss out narrowly on the top spot, very narrowly. Since establishing their new roster, EG has not finished below fourth in any event they have participated in. On the new patch, EG has shown dominance, winning both events they have entered.

EG have managed to assemble a God-Squad like no other. Not only do they have some of the best players in the world, they are playing well together. They showed at Dota Pit that they are a force to be reckoned with. The only issue they have is a lack of tournament participation. After winning Dota Pit in January, EG have only played one competitive series, a show match against Complexity in March. That’s six weeks of no competitive Dota. This is the main reason they miss out on the top spot.

NUMBER 1 – OG

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Notail

Position 2 (Mid) – Ana

Position 3 (Offlane) – s4

Position 4 (Support) – JerAx

Position 5 (Support) – Fly

OG takes the top spot as the best team in the world. Choosing between OG and EG was tremendously difficult as there are strong arguments for both teams being number one.

OG take the top spot due to consistency. They have placed either first or second in six of the last seven tournaments they have attended. Having that level of consistency at the top level of Dota is amazing. There were questions surrounding the squad when it was formed. Many people believed that Gustav “s4” Magnusson would not be able to transition to offlane. In fact, he has been one of the stand-out performers on this squad. His partnership with Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka was a pivotal part of the win at Boston.

Tal “Fly” Aizik is the best Captain in the world, and he marshalls his team with a ruthless efficiency. Fly and the boys play with a killer instinct, waiting until the opposition makes a mistake and then pouncing on them. OG have shown that having the biggest names doesn’t make you the best team. Instead, they have focused on building a consistent squad that knows how to win.

Agree or Disagree with my rankings? Let us know in the comments below.

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StarLadder Winners Liquid

What We Learned From StarLadder iLeague Season 3 Finals

With StarLadder in the books, it is time to look at what we learned from the event. Eight of the best teams in the world arrived in China with the hopes of winning StarLadder Season 3. With so many amazing plays, there was a lot to take from the event. Before we get into what we learned, let’s take a look at the final placings.

StarLadder Final Placings

Place $ USD Team
1st $135,000 Team Liquid Team Liquid
2nd $60,000 Vici Gaming/Team VG.J Team VG.J
3rd-4th $30,000 TNC Pro Team TNC Pro Team
OG OG
place 5 to 8
5th-6th $15,000 Team Secret Team Secret
Wings Gaming Wings Gaming
7th-8th $7,500 Invictus Gaming/iG Vitality iG Vitality
Digital Chaos Digital Chaos

Table courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2/StarLadder/i-League_StarSeries/Season_3

What we learned from StarLadder

Are Liquid back?

Courtesy of Twitter.com/TeamLiquid

This was Liquid’s first LAN event since late 2016. Heading into the event they were undefeated in their last 12 games. Many people were predicting a high finish from the squad. However, not many will have expected the level of dominance that liquid was able to exert over the competition. In total, they played four matches, and finished with a record of 9-2. Only dropping maps to VG.J in the two games they played against each other.

Having three players with over 9k MMR can be both a blessing and a curse. The expectations on the team are high, considering that on paper they are one of the best sides in the world. However, Dota is not played on paper, and as TNC showed at TI, anything can happen in a game of Dota. Liquid looked to be on a different level to the majority of other teams in the tournament. With DAC at the end of March, Liquid will surely be among the favorites to take that event. Their strong performance will have likely secured them a direct invite to the Kiev Major. The future is bright for Team Liquid. The question is, can they translate one good tournament into consistent results?

GH is a God

Now many people may have already known this, but Liquid’s new four position showed this weekend that he is one of the best players in the game. With decision making that is nearly unmatched and a complete understanding of the game, GH made Liquid fans say, “Jerax who?”

GH demonstrated that you do not have to be a mid player to make flashy plays. His Wisp play really showcased how good of a player he is. When it comes to MVP’s, GH is definitely a name that should be discussed. Liquid fans will be hoping that the impressive performances can continue into DAC and beyond.

TNC show that they can compete

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Having taken the crown at WESG, a tournament that many people have discredited, TNC struggled to qualify for major events. Normally playing second fiddle to Faceless, this event was a chance for TNC to show that they can compete on the international stage. Being in the easier Group A definitely helped them as they easily swept aside IG.V before a hard fought victory against Team Secret. TNC hopes that a solid 3rd-4th finish will earn them a direct invite to the Kiev Major. TNC still need to achieve consistent results in big tournaments, and a direct invite to Kiev may help them achieve this.

DC continue to struggle

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Winning ESL One Genting may have been the worst thing that has happened to DC in a long time. Since winning ESL One, they have finished bottom two in both LAN events they have attended. They have also failed to qualify for DAC. However, this should not have an impact on them receiving a direct invite.

If they do receive a direct invite to Kiev, DC should thank their lucky stars as on current form they may fail to qualify for the event. Right now DC should be hoping they have secured an invite to Kiev, and then taking a step away to try and regroup themselves. Whether it is the patch or just a rough period, DC have issues they need to address. Having time as a team to reestablish the top tier communication that saw them win ESL will be important for the team moving forward.

VG.J Turn up when it matters

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

StarLadder was the LAN debut of VG.J, and the newly created God-squad did not disappoint. Finishing second in your debut event can only be a good thing. Considering they only lost against Liquid shows that VG.J are a team to be feared. With this dominant performance, they have given themselves an outside chance of securing an invite to the Kiev Major.

Having one of the best four positions to ever play the game in the shape of Fy, means that VG.J have the ability to pull off very flashy plays. The team plays well around Chinese pubstar Freeze, who had a hit and miss event. Should he build the consistency required to compete at the top level, VG.J could be in for a good performance at Kiev.

Lyrical has a way with words

Having heard very little of Gabriel “Lyrical” Cruz, it may have been a surprise to some when he was announced as a caster for the event. StarLadder was the first significant offline event that Lyrical has casted, and it seemed as if it was his 100th. Working with BTS, you can hear echoes of KotlGuy and LD mesh together into Lyrical’s excellent casting throughout the event.

Check out a highlight from Liquid vs. VG.J to hear his excellent casting:

Hopefully we will see more of Lyrical at upcoming events, and maybe even at the Kiev Major.

StarLadder Final Thoughts

StarLadder showed a few things, the most important being that Liquid looked amazing throughout the event. They never once looked like they would lose a series and had the composure of champions. VG.J gave an excellent account of themselves and shocked many by defeating OG on their way to the finals.

StarLadder was a great event, and with DAC and the Kiev Major qualifiers coming up, March looks to be an excellent month for competitive Dota 2 action.

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StarLadder I-League StarSeries Season 3 LAN Finals Preview

As we move further into the year, the tournaments are coming thick and fast. Next up is the StarLadder season 3 LAN finals held in the Shanghai International Gymnastics Center. StarLadder will take place February 23rd – 26th and will showcase some of the best teams in the world.

StarLadder Prize Pool

The prize pool is $300,000 USD, split as follows:

Place $ USD Team
1st $135,000 TBD
2nd $60,000 TBD
3rd $37,500 TBD
4th $22,500 TBD
place 5 to 8
5th-6th $15,000 TBD
TBD
7th-8th $7,500 TBD
TBD

Courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2/StarLadder/i-League_StarSeries/Season_3

StarLadder Format

The teams will be split into two groups, each containing four teams. The group stage will contain a double-elimination bracket with the top two teams advancing to bracket play. Bracket play will be a four team single-elimination bracket, with the semifinals being best of threes, and the final a best of five.

The Teams

Wings Gaming – Direct Invite

Wings StarLadder

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Shadow

Position 2 (Mid) – Blink

Position 3 (Offlane) – Faith_bian

Position 4 (Support) – y’

Position 5 (Support) – iceice

Wings have been missing from the competitive scene since ESL One Genting. After facing troubles with visas, they missed out on Dota Pit, meaning they have had very few games on the new patch. Since winning TI, Wings have not reached the heights that were expected by many fans.

Wings will be hoping to put in a good performance to try and secure an invite to Kiev. Considering the talent on show at StarLadder, Wings have a tough task ahead of them.

Prediction – 5th / 6th

Wings placement will rely heavily on the group that they are placed in. However, they have failed to impress since TI and will struggle to make it out of the group stages. They will be hoping to kick start their year with a decent performance to give them some momentum heading into the Kiev Major.

OG – Direct Invite

OG StarLadder

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Notail

Position 2 (Mid) – Ana

Position 3 (Offlane) – s4

Position 4 (Support) – JerAx

Position 5 (Support) – Fly

For some reason there seems to always be questions surrounding the ability of this OG team. Having proved at both Boston and DotaPit that they are one of the best, if not the best, team in the world, they will be hoping to impress at StarLadder. As winners of the Boston Major, they are guaranteed an invite to Kiev, so they hope to silence the critics once again with an emphatic display.

Predictions – 1st Place

OG have the pedigree and ability to win this tournament. Coming off the back of a second place finish at DotaPit, OG will be looking to step it up a level and finish first. Also, as EG are missing from the event, OG will feel confident with their chances.

Team Liquid – European Qualifier #1

Team Liquid StarLadder

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – MATUMBAMAN

Position 2 (Mid) – Miracle-

Position 3 (Offlane) – MinD_ContRoL

Position 4 (Support) – GH

Position 5 (Support) – KuroKy

StarLadder will be the LAN debut for the new Team Liquid and they hope to start it off with a victory. Liquid will be coming into the tournament on the back of an impressive 12 game win streak. They hope that an impressive performance at StarLadder can secure them a direct invite to the upcoming Kiev Major.

Prediction – 2nd Place

Liquid are on an upward trend, however they will eventually cross paths with OG. Taking the W against Fly and the rest of OG may be a step too far for Liquid, but it will be good for the team to get some LAN experience together.

Team Secret – European Qualifier #2

Secret StarLadder

Image courtesy of teamsecret.gg

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – MP

Position 2 (Mid) – MidOne

Position 3 (Offlane) – Khezu

Position 4 (Support) – Puppey

Position 5 (Support) – pieliedie

This is the second major tournament that the new look Secret have competed in as a team. The first, DotaPit, did not go as planned. Secret ended up finishing in a disappointing 5th / 6th. Having displayed good promise early in the tournament by beating DC, they eventually fell in the losers bracket. Secret hope to prove that they can still be one of the best teams in the world. StarLadder provides them with teams they should beat 70% of the time.

Prediction – 4th Place

With Wings and DC both looking fragile, Secret have a real chance at finishing strong in this event. However, with the likes of Liquid and OG also competing, a top three finish may be just out of reach. This will be the chance for Secret to gain some momentum heading into the Kiev Major qualifiers.

Team VG.J – China Qualifier #1

VG.J StarLadder

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Agressif

Position 2 (Mid) – Freeze

Position 3 (Offlane) – rOtk

Position 4 (Support) – fy

Position 5 (Support) – Fenrir

This will be VG.J’s first venture into international competition. The squad is stacked with some of the best players in China and will be expected to perform well on home soil. Mid player Liu “Freeze” Change is a relative unknown in the international scene and hopes to put his name on the map at StarLadder.

Prediction – 3rd

VG.J posses some of the best talent in Chinese Dota currently, and with Wings misfiring and Newbee not at the event, VG.J are China’s only hope. With four veterans of Dota, this team has the makings of a world beater. The only question is whether they can realize their potential or fall by the side.

iG Vitality – China Qualifier #2

iG.V StarLadder

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Paparazi

Position 2 (Mid) – Sakata

Position 3 (Offlane) – InJuly

Position 4 (Support) – Super

Position 5 (Support) – dogf1ghts

iG.V are a small fish surrounded by blood thirsty sharks. Similar to Elements Pro Gaming at Dota Pit, they are slightly out of place. As they have been playing together for nearly a year, they hope to possess an advantage over some of the newly formed teams. Having failed at Boston, they have been relatively quiet. This is also their first appearance on the international scene.

Prediction – 7th / 8th

Dota games are not played on paper. This is the thing iG.V will be relying on heading in to the tournament. They are on home soil and will be hoping that the crowd can push them to victory. However, they are against several strong teams and will be hard pressed to mount any serious challenge.

Digital Chaos – America Qualifier

DC StarLadder

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Resolution

Position 2 (Mid) – w33

Position 3 (Offlane) – MoonMeander

Position 4 (Support) – MiSeRy

Position 5 (Support) – Saksa

In the last six weeks we have seen the two sides of DC. To go from dominating the field at ESL One Genting to finishing last at DotaPit is not good enough. DC are coming into the event in a weird place. They managed to qualify for the event beating NP in a playoff. However, a few weeks later they failed to qualify for DAC, losing to NP in the finals. They hope to make a comeback and put in a solid performance at StarLadder to secure an invite to Kiev.

Prediction – 5th / 6th

DC look out of sorts since ESL One Genting. The nature of the victory may have lead them to slack a bit heading into DotaPit. However, it is nearly time for the direct invites to Kiev to be announced. DC hope that they can reignite the fire of ESL One and put in a solid performance for the tournament.

TNC Pro Team

TNC StarLadder

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Raven

Position 2 (Mid) – Kuku

Position 3 (Offlane) – Sam_H

Position 4 (Support) – Tims

Position 5 (Support) – ryOyr

TNC are used to being the underdogs, so this time around will be no different. They are the second best team in SEA, after Faceless, so this will be a tough challenge for TNC. With Faceless likely to receive a direct invite to Kiev, TNC will be able to use the tournament as a warm-up for the Kiev Qualifiers. TNC hope to catch a few teams off-guard using their unpredictable play style.

Prediction – 7th / 8th

TNC are a difficult team to predict, considering the unpredictable nature of their play. They will be hoping to use this to their advantage and upset a few teams and achieve a decent finish.

StarLadder Final Thoughts

Team Liquid makes their return to international competition at StarLadder, and hope to return with a bang. Standing in their way is OG, the silent assassins that know how to win and win often. OG look to be the favorites for the event, but Liquid have the potential to win. Looking through the rest of the teams, VG.J and Secret have the potential to challenge in the later stages of the tournament. TNC and iG Vitality look to be the weakest of the teams, and will be hoping that they can cause a few upsets and end up with a decent position.

Overall Predictions:

1st Place – OG

2nd Place – Team Liquid

3rd Place – Team VG.J

4th Place – Team Secret

5th / 6th Place – Digital Chaos / Wings Gaming

7th / 8th Place – iG Vitality / TNC Pro Team

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What We Learned From the DAC Regional Qualifiers

The Dota 2 Asia Champsionship (DAC) 2017 qualifiers are in the books. The qualifiers for SEA, Europe, CIS, and Americas took place February 3rd – 13th and saw some of the best teams fight it out for one qualification spot per region. The competition was fierce, the games were amazing, so lets take a look at what we learned from the DAC regional qualifiers.

DAC Regional Winners

South East Asia – Faceless rise to the top

DAC Faceless

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Team Faceless have managed to secure themselves a spot at DAC after conquering the SEA region. Having failed to qualify for StarLadder, the team will have been heavily focused on securing a spot at DAC. Finshing with a record of 5-1, Faceless only dropped two games throughout the qualifiers in a 2-1 loss to WarriorsGaming.Unity. The stats speak for themselves as Faceless finished 11-2 in terms of map count.

Faceless will be looking to build on both Dota Pit, where they finished third, and the DAC qualifiers. After losing to WG.Unity, Faceless are without a loss in their last six games, and with a month to DAC, they hope to continue their undefeated run.

Faceless may finally be reaching the potential that they showed when originally forming as a team. With Kiev on the horizon, Faceless hopes that their performances can secure them a direct invite to the next major.

Americas – Team NP advance with No Problems

DAC NP

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Similar to Faceless, NP had fallen just short in the recent StarLadder qualifiers. They have been keen on writing their wrongs, and progressing to DAC. NP will be able to look back at the DAC qualifiers and see that they managed to progress from one of the most difficult Americas qualifying stages in recent history. Team NP finished with a 5-1 record, losing only to DC in the semi-finals. However, they did not let this loss dissuade them, and would eventually sweep aside DC 2-0 in the finals.

NP seem to be a team that perfectly sums up “so close, but yet so far”. They are a team that is constantly fighting against the enigma that is Jacky “EternalEnvy” Mao. EE is probably the most exciting player to watch, simply because you never know if he will make an amazing play, or fail. Having the ability to wipe a team and also die solo to Roshan means that his teammates are sometimes fighting an uphill battle. But with all this in mind, NP are still among the best in the world and will hope to show that at DAC.

Whilst a direct invite looks difficult due to being in the same region as EG and DC, NP hope their recent strength will carry them to a decent placing at DAC, and eventually Kiev.

CIS – The start of a new Empire ?

DAC Empire

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

When the Dota Gods give you lemons, you need to make that sweet Dota lemonade. That is exactly what Empire have done in securing their place at DAC. With VP experiencing connection issues (we will come to this later), CIS was open for the taking. Cometh the hour, cometh the Empire. Rated by many as the second best team in CIS, Empire did not disappoint. Winning all of their games and finishing 10-4 in map count will give Empire confidence for the future. The squad benefits from possessing one of the best Meepo players in the world, meaning that a ban is almost a must. This was evident in the qualifiers, as Meepo was banned in 12 of the 14 games, and picked up by Empire in the other two.

Empire have also displayed strong mental toughness as they nearly fell at the last hurdle in a close final series against Effect. Being down one map and at a 6k networth disadvantage, things looked bleak. However, Empire was able to turn it up a gear and take control of game two to tie the series at 1-1. Game three was an easy enough game for Empire as they controlled from the early stages, and eventually closed the game out after 31 minutes.

Empire have been missing from the international scene and hope that DAC will provide the launchpad they need.

Europe – Are Liquid back ?

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Now here is a name fans haven’t heard in a while. Prior to the StarLadder qualifiers earlier in the month, Liquid had been missing from the pro scene for two months. Whatever they were up to in that break has obviously worked wonders for the team as a whole. Liquid have yet to lose a game since their return, that’s 12 games without a loss. Teams will have to start taking note as Liquid look to be in terrifying form. Adding Maroun “GH” Merhej seems to have tied the team together, and they are displaying impressive form heading into an important couple of months.

Liquid hope that with a few more impressive performances, they may be able to secure themselves a direct invite to the Kiev Major and avoid the difficult qualification process. Currently, Liquid are looking like one of the best teams in the world. They have several competitive games in the new patch under their belts, and look to translate that success to the major stage.

DAC a Perfect World ?

With the winners covered, let’s take a look at some of the other notable things that happened during the DAC Regional Qualifiers.

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

VP not connecting anymore

One of the most notable events of the qualifiers was that VP have not qualified for DAC. All bad puns aside, this was completely out of their control. The team suffered connection issues in both of their games, leading to them being disqualified after some long delays.

Another casualty of the DDosS attack was their Dota 2 Manager, Andrey Kvasnevsky, who took the blame for the bootcamp choices made for the tournament.

Having not competed in the StarLadder qualifiers and missing out on DAC, VP will likely have to qualify for the Kiev Major. Hopefully they can reconnect as a team and mount a series challenge for a spot at Kiev.

A worldwide crush

Slardar DAC

Image courtesy of dotawc3.com

Often is the case in Dota that different regions develop slight nuances in the meta. Currently, however, there is one mainstay in every region. Slardar was the most contested hero in the whole qualifiers, being picked or banned in 200 games. In comparison, the next highest is Ember with 150 picks or bans. Slardar also has a very strong 56% win-rate. Expect to see more and more Slardar in top level games.

 

 

B)ears DAC

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

B)ears start with a roar

DAC was the first showing for new team, B)ears. The qualifiers were a baptism of fire, and B)ears rose from the fires of war to finish in a respectable second place. Possessing some of the best talent in the world, including talented position four Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat, B)ears hope to build on DAC. Heading into Kiev, B)ears will likely be a favorite to qualify from what is expected to be a tough qualification region.

 

 

 

 

If you missed any of the qualifiers, check out some of the best plays from the qualifiers below.

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