Ben Brode’s favorite meme isn’t playable: What happened?

As stated on a recent Reddit AMA, Hearthstone Game Director Ben Brode’s favorite meme is the infamous “4 mana 7/7”, Flamewreathed Faceless. Poking fun at the card’s perceived overpowered-ness and the community’s salt that erupted as a result, the meme now has an ironic twist: Flamewreathed Faceless is far from oppressive.

In fact, it’s currently borderline unplayable, seeing zero competitive use in any Shaman decks. How did this card go from all-conquering outrage and humor generator to storied collection-filer? How did the 4 mana 7/7 go from OP meme card to an unplayable meme card?

Rise of a Giant

When Flamewreathed Faceless was released as part of the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion, it became emblematic of the power and frustrations expressed in the all-conquering Aggro Shaman. The card quickly slotted in, forming a staple part of the deck. Being able to plop down a huge body that required an immediate answer granted the deck some surprise wins. This was especially effective against Control or Midrange lists that lacked cheap, single-target removal.

The main advantage of the 4 mana 7/7 was how impactful just a single attack to face would be. 7 health is a huge chunk of starting HP, and against a deck as aggressive as old Aggro Shaman, it’s crippling. Even the presence of Flamewreathed Faceless in a deck can prove fatal, as saving removal for it can leave a Tunnel Trogg or Totem Golem unchecked, allowing burn to finish the opponent off.

Servant of Trogg-Saron

Tunnel Trogg was a huge part of Flamewreathed Faceless’s success – and hate

Flamewreathed Faceless’s fortunes were intimately tied to that of a far smaller minion: Tunnel Trogg. This minion determined the power of Flamewreathed Faceless in two main ways. Firstly, it was a key and powerful synergy tool for the card’s 2 overload. Flamewreathed Faceless’s downside was always the lack of immediate board impact. Even at 4 mana, a deck as proactive as Aggro Shaman could rarely take turns simply plopping down stats. Buffing Tunnel Trogg by 2 provided a much-needed immediate damage impact.

More generally, Tunnel Trogg was the card that lead Aggro Shaman to come into being, and its the card whose rotation returned it to obscurity. Without its niche as a punchy minion with which to top curves, Flamewreathed faded with it. But surely the sheer value and efficiency of the 4 mana 7/7 would give it other uses?

Stats don’t rule all

Other cards can provide premium stats for cheap, without clunky overload mechanics

Unfortunately for meme-aficionados everywhere, Flamewreathed Faceless simply couldn’t find a home in other Shaman decks. Revive-focused “Bogchamp” Shamans flirted with it for a while, but ultimately its lack of taunt and crippling overload relegated it in favor of beefier Taunt minions that could be more easily comboed across multiple turns. Midrange Shamans found the tempo loss when it was hard-removed too damaging against control, and the vanilla body did little against aggro.

In short, the card fell into the trap of many Hearthstone cards: Not doing enough, soon enough. The downside of the overload meant that playing Flamewreathed became a short-cut to Tempo oblivion against many enemies. Sure it could trade favorably, but only if not removed and after giving up 6 mana across two turns.

If the card had Taunt or some other immediate effect, it perhaps would have lived on. But as it was, it became an unwieldy anchor on any deck that wanted to run out. Not contributing to win conditions and slowing down the game plan, it was an easy cut to make.

The meme, eternal

While Flamewreathed Faceless has vanished from competitive Hearthstone, it’s memory and memery live on. The joke changed/grew subtle. The punchline was less about Blizzard releasing an overpowered minion and more about the hysterical overreaction of Hearthstone’s community to ill-judged overpowered cards that prove anything but in the long run.

The fact that Purify sees play in strong, meta Standard decks without any changes, and the infamous 4 mana 7/7 is unplayable is a estament to the community’s collective inability to judge cards in the long run; and on the subtle and evolving ways memes can grow from complaints to community satire.

Artwork courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via

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Kiev Major Group Stage

The Kiev Major Group Stage Preview

The first Major of the 2017 season is upon us and it looks as though it will be amazing. The Kiev Major will take place from April 24th – April 30th. The event will be split into Group Stages followed by a single-elimination main event bracket. Let’s take a look at the Kiev Major Group Stage.

The Kiev Major Prize Pool

The prize pool of the tournament is $3,000,000 USD.

Place $ USD Percent Team
1st $1,000,000  33.33% TBD
2nd $500,000  16.67% TBD
3rd-4th $250,000  8.33% TBD
place 5 to 16
5th-8th $125,000  4.17% TBD
9th-16th $62,500  2.08% TBD

Courtesy of

Kiev Major Group Stage Format

For the first time at a Dota 2 event, Kiev will use the Swiss-system format. A format commonly seen at CS:GO events, it will be interesting to see if it creates better seeding heading into the main event.

  • 16 teams are placed in a single group where they play in a Swiss-system format.
    • Four rounds of matches.
    • All matches are played in a Bo3.
    • Opponents will always have the same Win/Loss record.
    • Teams will never play an opponent twice.
  • Round 1
    • Initial eight matches are seeded.
  • Round 2
    • Divided into two groups:
      • Winners of Round 1 (“high”)
      • Losers of Round 1 (“low”)
    • Teams will be drawn an opponent from their group.
  • Round 3
    • Divided into three groups:
      • Teams with a record of 2-0 (“high”)
      • Teams with a record of 1-1 (“mid”)
      • Lastly, teams with a record of 0-2 (“low”)
    • All teams will be drawn an opponent they have not played yet from their group.
    • Winners of the high group are the highest seed for the playoffs.
    • Losers of the low group are the lowest seed for the playoffs.
  • Round 4
    • Divided into two groups:
      • Teams with a record of 2-1 (“high”)
      • Teams with a record of 1-2 (“low”)
    • All teams will be drawn an opponent they have not yet played from their group.
    • Winners of the high group are the 2nd highest seed for the playoffs.
    • Losers of the low group are the 2nd lowest seed for the playoffs.

Courtesy of

The Kiev Major Group Stage – Round 1 Thoughts and Predictions

The Kiev Major Group Stage Round 1 Matches

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Team Secret v VG.J

In the first game of the first round, Team Secret will face off against VG.J. Both of these teams will likely finish in the middle of the pack somewhere. VG.J on paper are the stronger squad. However, outside of the second place at StarLadder, they have yet to live up to the hype.

Both Team Secret and VG.J have a point to prove at Kiev, this will be one of the closest series of the group stages. When the dust settles, I think Team Secret will take the series 2-1. Mainly because VG.J have been inconsistent in recent times. This is also Team Secret’s return to the Major’s after missing out on a place in Boston. Team Secret will be the sharper team heading into round one and should take a close series.

Team Secret Kiev Major Group Stage

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Invictus Gaming (IG) v Mousesports

No series on the road to a Major trophy is easy. However, Mousesports will be feeling unlucky with their round one match-up. Going up against one of the favorites and DAC winner, IG will be a huge challenge for the Greeks. This series will be the first that the former Ad Finem roster has played since the second place finish at the Boston Major. Since then they have changed orgs, failed to attend a single LAN and we have had a series of game changing patches. On the other hand, IG comes into this event in the form of a lifetime. A strong showing at DAC, which would eventually see them take home the crown, has catapulted them into a spot as favorites. IG and Mousesports are at opposite ends of the spectrum and IG should sweep the Greeks 2-0.

IG Kiev Major Group Stages

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Team Random v IG.Vitality

In the only all domestic match-up, Team Random will take on IG.V. This series looks to be another close match-up with both teams experiencing mixed form. Team Random, formerly Team Wings, are searching to recover the form they had leading up to TI6. IG.V are looking to establish themselves as a top team. Team Random have the stronger set of players but seem to out mind game themselves in most games. Team Random showed flashes of genius during DAC, but normally it was too little too late. IG.V, on the other hand, showed promise during DAC finishing in fourth place. At DAC IG.V started slowly and for this reason I am backing Team Random to take the series 2-1.

Team Randon Team Wings Kiev Major Group Stages

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OG v SG esports

Favorites for the event OG take on newcomers SG in their first group stage game. For SG this series will be the hardest best of three they have most likely ever played. The current OG team are the most consistent team heading into the event. Since November, the lowest placing they have had is 3rd – 4th. Not bad for a team that everyone always rules out. SG will have to pull out a miracle to take the series from OG, think TNC at TI6. OG will come into the series full of confidence and will take it 2-0.

OG Kiev Major Group Stage

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Liquid v Thunderbirds

This series is my one to watch heading into the first round. Two teams who have championship pedigree but are currently having some issues. Liquid are more up and down than a yo-yo. They place first at StarLadder and then finish 9th – 12th at DAC. Liquid are another team that on paper should be challenging for every title. However, for whatever reason, they are struggling to convert talent into ability in-game. Thunderbirds, formerly DC, have struggled since winning ESL One Genting in January. The team has been struggling in-game and out of it. With the team now leaving DC, it is possible that they will make a return to winning ways. Similarly to Secret v VG.J, both these teams will likely finish in the middle of the pack. This is a difficult series to call, but I have Liquid edging it 2-1.

Liquid Kiev Major Group Stage

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Faceless v Virtus Pro (VP)

Kiev will be the first LAN that VP have attended since January. Starting off with a series against Faceless will be a tough test for VP. Faceless come into the event the same as always, dominant in SEA, disappointing internationally. VP come into Kiev with strong domestic form in the last few months. This is series will set the tone for both teams heading further into the event. Will VP choke again, will it be same old Faceless? Faceless are on the cusp of a strong performance. However, VP are the team in form at the moment and I have them taking the series 2-1.

VP Kiev Major Group Stage

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Digital Chaos (DC) v Newbee

In their first series as DC, the former Team Onyx squad will face off against Newbee. Newbee are one of the more consistent teams heading into the event with a first, second and third place finish in the three events they have attended in 2017. On the other hand, this will be DC’s first LAN event as a team. The nerves will be high for the new squad, especially with the controversy surrounding their move to the DC banner. Newbee are looking to go into the later rounds of the tournament and a strong performance in round one will set the tone. I have Newbee taking the series 2-0

Newbee Kiev Major Group Stage

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Evil Geniuses (EG) v TNC Pro Team

EG v TNC on paper should be a relatively easy matchup for the North American powerhouse. However, if one thing is certain in Dota it’s that EG always start slow. EG come into the event with questions hanging over the roster. The performance at DAC raised more questions on whether the roster is strong enough to be consistently at the top. On paper EG has one of the strongest rosters in the world, they just can’t seem to click consistently.

TNC come into Kiev in the same spot they always are, underdogs. TNC have had an up and down 2017, which has included winning WESG. Furthermore, TNC have been hit and miss domestically, which is concerning considering the lack of tier one times in SEA. I have EG taking the series but it will be a close 2-1.

EG Kiev Major Group Stage

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Kiev Major Group Stage – Final Thoughts

Every event since Boston has been building up to the Kiev Major. The first Major of 2017 will be hotly contested with at least five teams strong favorites to take the event. Near the top should be the likes of OG, IG, VP and EG. Teams like Secret, Liquid and Thunderbirds have questions to answer moving into the build up to TI7. At the other end, SG esports are looking to capture the hearts of fans as TNC and Ad Finem have done before them.

The new group stage format will provide more consistent seeding heading into the single-elimination main event. Teams that start slow will have the chance to repair things and get a decent seed for bracket play.

For more in-depth coverage of each region check out my Regional Roulette series:

South East Asia

The Americas

Europe and CIS


What are your thoughts on the round one matchups? Let me know in the comments below.

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Kiev Major South East Asia

The Kiev Major Regional Roulette – South East Asia

With the Kiev Major on the horizon, it’s time to start taking a look at the prospective strengths of each region. Over the next four days, join us as we look at each region, starting with South East Asia.

South East Asia – The Teams

When the direct invites were announced, some fans were surprised when no SEA teams received one. Instead, the best of South East Asia were left to fight over two qualification spots. When the dust finally settled, these two teams remained:

Team Faceless

Faceless South East Asia

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Position 1 (Carry) – Black^

Position 2 (Mid) – Jabz

Position 3 (Offlane) –iceiceice

Position 4 (Support) – xy-

Position 5 (Supprot) – NutZ

Faceless are slowly making a name for themselves, and not the kind that they want. After impressive domestic form, Faceless are still unable to convert this to international success. Heading into DAC, hopes were high. However, a poor group stage performance would see them finish 7th – 8th. The only saving grace of DAC will be the victory against Team Liquid to guarantee top eight.

Faceless have been together since September 2016, and they are yet to transition from a promising team to actual threats. Faceless should be buoyed by the news that the Swiss format will be used for the Kiev group stages. The change in format might give Faceless a chance to secure a better seed heading into the single-elimination bracket.

Faceless need to make an impact in Kiev, or their days could be numbered with the current roster.

TNC Pro Team

TNC South East Asia

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Position 1 (Carry) – Raven

Position 2 (Mid) – Kuku

Position 3 (Offlane) – Sam_H

Position 4 (Support) – Tims

Position 5 (Support) – ryOyr

2017 has been an interesting year for TNC, to say the least. They started the year winning WESG, albeit with no tier one teams competing. They also managed to qualify for StarLadder and place top four. However, since then, it has been a lot of disappointment for TNC. Missing out on other international tournaments, Kiev is a chance for TNC to get back on the right track.

Unlike Faceless, TNC is always considered the underdog, a tag which they thrive under. The Swiss format, however, points towards fewer upsets and more consistent results. The single-elimination bracket, however, may give TNC the ability to progress past the first few rounds in the main event.

South East Asia – Summary

SEA is a region that lacks a tier one team. Both Faceless and TNC are on the outside looking in. However, they are both capable of competing with the top teams. The main problem both face is consistency, especially in high-pressure moments.

The region was offended at the lack of a direct invite to Kiev. This is no surprise considering their recent international performances, however. Strong performances from both teams may make Valve think twice about leaving them out of the invites for The International. Since the disband of the old Fnatic, SEA has been looking for a new sweetheart. Both Faceless and TNC can take this role on if they can get over the hump.

Of all the regions being represented, SEA is arguably the weakest. This is a combination of a lack of attending teams and domestic competition. Currently, Faceless are dominating the majority of qualifiers, with TNC grabbing the occasional spot. Waiting in the wings, the likes of Mineski and Fnatic are still one step behind.

Where do you think the two SEA teams will place when its all said and done? Let me know in the comments below.

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DAC Bracket Play Preview

Dota 2 Asia Championships DAC Bracket Play Predictions

The DAC group stages were filled with upsets, with EG and Liquid both failing to finish in the top two of their group. As a result, the DAC bracket play stage looks set to host some of the best games of the tournament.

DAC Bracket Play – The Bracket


DAC Bracket Play

The bracket for the 2017 DAC bracket play stage.

This is not the bracket that most fans would have expected to see. Based on events coming into DAC, it looked as if OG, VG.J, EG and Liquid should have been shoe-ins for the top two spots in each group. Instead, VG.J failed to win a single best of two and EG looked lackluster in their performances. Liquid started rough and then managed to pick it up and finished third. In the end, Liquid might regret winning the tiebreaker against Team NP, as they are now in the tough bottom half of the losers bracket.

DAC Bracket Play Predictions

Upper Bracket Round 1

OG V Newbee

The first game of the upper bracket will see OG take on hometown favorites Newbee. Based on the form coming out of group stages, OG should take this pretty easily. OG have shown a dominance over the competition not seen for a long time. Whilst Newbee are strong, they were helped by teams underperforming around them in Group B. OG look likely to take the event and I cannot see them stopping against Newbee.

Prediction – OG to win

OG DAC Bracket Play

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IG v Empire

This is a game that many will have expected to see in the lower bracket first round. However, due to a combination of strong performances and shock upsets, it is instead the second game of the upper bracket round one. IG came out on top of the strong group B without losing a single best of two. On the back of Xu “BurNIng” Zhilei, who has an impressive 11.44 KDA, IG has shown the considered yet ruthless play you expect from a Chinese team. In comparison, Empire is a team that will keep running at you, whether it is 10 minutes or 50 minutes, they will not stop. In typical CIS fashion, Empire has been able to run over some of the slower paced teams and find themselves sitting pretty with a guaranteed top six finish.

IG will likely have the class to take the games over Empire, but the CIS team should be proud of their accomplishments at DAC.

Prediction – IG to win.

IG DAC Bracket Play

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Lower Bracket Round 1

This is where things get interesting, the remaining eight teams are going to face off in a best of one that can make the difference between $8,000 and $17,000. Let’s take a look at the matchups in the lower half of DAC bracket play.


LFY looked surprisingly strong throughout the group stages. As a team that failed to qualify for Kiev, they surprised many by taking dominant victories over Faceless and Wings. They will come into bracket play with confidence on their side and will be hoping to show that they belong on the international stage.

IG.V, on the other hand, have no confidence. The younger brother of team IG, IG.V disappointed in group stages ending with an appalling 1-1-3 record. This was not the performance they will have been looking for considering that four of the five teams in their group are heading to Kiev at the end of the month.

IG.V will be hungry to avenge the disappointing performances that have got them into this position. Expect to see a ruthless IG.V attempt to dismantle LFY.

Prediction – IG.V to win

IG,V DAC Bracket Play

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Team NP v VG.J

Team NP will be grateful that they lost the tiebreaker against Liquid for third place in group B. They have been placed up against VG.J, one of only two teams that failed to win a best of two during groups. NP will be hoping that they can see more amazing plays for enigmatic mid-Jacky “EternalEnVy” Mao like this.

Going against fan favorite NP will be team VG.J, one of the better Chinese teams, at least before group stages.

If you look up calamity in the dictionary, you will see the boys from VG.J. Many people, myself included, had them finishing near the top of group A. Instead they finished bottom and failed to get a single series victory. VG.J are one loss away from joining all the other failed Chinese God squads in the “Never Again” pile. VG.J have no choice but to turn things around and a strong performance against NP will kickstart their lower bracket campaign.

Prediction – VG.J to win

VG.J DAC Bracket Play

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Wings v EG

From the winners’ bracket final at TI6 to the lower bracket best of one at DAC, a lot has changed for both of these teams. Wings continue to plummet following their dominance last year. EG have again decided to make things difficult for themselves. However, this time the challenge may be too great for the kings of lower bracket runs.

Facing Wings in a best of one is a recipe for disaster for EG. Having been famed for their unorthodox strategies and strong team play, EG will have their work cut out for them. In terms of individual skill, EG out matches Wings all over the map, however, as a team Wings have shown that they should never be counted out. EG should have what it takes but this will be the closest of the lower bracket games.

Prediction – EG to win

EG DAC Bracket Play

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Team Liquid v Team Faceless

A lot can change in a month, just ask Team Liquid. Finishing first at StarLadder signaled to everyone that Liquid was back. What was not mentioned is that it was only for one event. Liquid looked sluggish on day one and two until they realized that they should try and win a few games or they will have a terrible draw heading into the lower bracket. In hindsight, Liquid will be wishing they had lost the tiebreaker against NP as they now find themselves on the tougher side of the draw.

However, Faceless lived up to their name in the group stages. In the five games they played, they failed to win a signal best of two. This is simply not good enough for a team with aspirations of greatness. Faceless will need to find the positives and learn from DAC heading into Kiev. Liquid should dominate this game pretty easily.

Prediction – Liquid to win

Liquid DAC Bracket Play

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DAC Bracket Play final placings

Now the predictions I made for the groups were completely ruined, however, let’s have another shot at predicting the final placings for DAC 2017.

1st = OG

Based on groups, OG should take the whole event easily as they looked dominant.

2nd = Newbee

Newbee demonstrated the precision that led them to second at ESL One Genting in January. Expect to see them finish second again here.

3rd = IG

IG shocked many during group stages and they will continue that run of form all the way to top three. BurNing is looking better than ever before and this is a great sign heading into Kiev.

4th = Team Liquid

Liquid will have to fight to get top four, however, if they go back to the ways of StarLadder then it’s possible. If they can get through EG in losers round two, they will ride that wave to top four.

5th – 6th = Empire, VG.J

7th – 8th = IG.V, EG

9th – 12th = LFY, NP, Wings, Faceless

Based on groups predictions seem to be set to fail, but let me know what you think in the comments below. What are your top four placings for the DAC bracket stage?

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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
7th-8th $16,927  3% TBD
9th-12th $8,463  1.5% TBD

Courtesy of

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


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

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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 


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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


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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

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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

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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

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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


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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


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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


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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

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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


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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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