RUSH and tarik to Cloud9, a jaw dropping roster change

Cloud9 opened eyes and dropped jaws Tuesday morning after announcing the additions of Will “RUSH” Wierzba and Tarik “tarik” Celik. This move is one of the most surprising of all the shuffles, and also one of the best. This lineup cements itself as one of the most, if not the most, skilled lineups of NA CS history.

For more information about shufflemania, check out my articles on FaZe Clan and mousesports.

A much higher team-wide skill ceiling

Cloud9

Photo by: hltv.org

In the past Cloud9 has had players on the roster who were much less skilled than the rest. Not only that, Cloud9 has always had the problem of having a player or two not “show up”. While we haven’t yet seen how this roster can change the past issues, it’s almost obvious that it should be fixed. Not only that, but the constant confusion about who is playing what role is now gone. Everyone has their own place, and aside from everyone contributing to the IGL role, everyone knows what to do.

Having, in my opinion, the top three North American players on one team also contributes to the massive jump toward the skill ceiling. As well as having the best AWPer in NA, it helps a lot in the overall skill. Adding tarik into the mix adds a player who rarely has a bad event. Unfortunately in the case of tarik, he does sometimes have a moment where he does something that loses the round. If this can be fixed, there are almost no flaws in this lineup aside from no proper leadership.

Prebuilt chemistry

Cloud9

Photo by: hltv.org

Looking at the players of Cloud9, it’s obvious to see the chemistry already built up among players. The most obvious case is Jake “Stewie2k” Yip and tarik, as they PUG together and joke around a lot. Another example, though less known, is between RUSH and Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham, who both played together at CEVO Season 6 Finals on eLevate, leading to some familiarity.

The mix of players also looks to be quite a good mix on paper. Whether it be in game or out of the game, the players all seem to fit together like a puzzle. Of course it is possible for the players to not get along, but we will just have to wait and see.

Good choice in replacements

 

Cloud9

Photo by: hltv.org

While it’s sad to see the original Cloud9 roster gone, you can’t deny that the replacements are well made and make sense. Mike “Shroud” Grzesiek is now able to do what he loves full time and Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert is able to pursue something else in esports, whether it be playing or being an analyst or caster at events. Unfortunately for the case of n0thing, his benching was a team decision opposed to Shroud’s benching where he stepped down himself.

Role wise, the replacements make sense. Having a 100% dedicated entry in RUSH fixes the problem with n0thing not wanting to entry every now and then. On the other hand with tarik, he is a consistent player. And, despite the peanut-brain meme, as a player he makes smart decisions with the rare occasion of messing up a round for the team. This was an issue with n0thing as well, but opposed to tarik he did it more on a consistent basis.

Overall this move seems to be a win for the organization and players. Having a more skilled roster, players who might fit better together, and having roles make sense for once, there’s few flaws in the move. We’ll just have to wait and see how the roster all together will perform on the 22nd with the kick off of ESL Pro League Season 6.


Featured image via hltv.org

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The Game Haus’ TI Regional Roulette – EU

The International 2017 Regional Roulette – Europe

Day 2 of Regional Roulette is upon us! Europe is sending four teams to Seattle for The International. Three of which are established organizations that can threaten any team. The other is a rising team that was able to make it to TI7 from the open qualifiers. Here we go:

Europe Hopes to Continue Collecting Hardware

This past year has been dominated by some of the teams below. Consistently performing at major events throughout the year. European DOTA is surging right now and showing no signs of slowing down before The International.

OG – Direct Invite

OG, dota 2 , international

(Liquipedia)

Roster

Position 1 (Carry) – N0tail

Position 2 (Mid) – ana

Position 3 (Offlane) – s4

Position 4 (Support) – Jerax 

Position 5 (Support) – Fly

Coming in as a favorite is certainly something OG is used to. By now it is no secret that this team can really play DOTA. Aside from last year’s International, OG has finished 1st in 5 of their last 6 events. With

OG, heores, dota 2, international

(Dotabuff)

their victory at the Kiev Major, OG became the first team to win four Valve sponsored events. They have yet to claim the Aegis in Seattle.

One aspect of OG’s game that really stands out is their support play. Jerax is considered one of the best supports in DOTA. At the same time, many agree that his Earth Spirit is the best there is. Thus he is commonly targeted as a first-phase ban when playing against them due to Jerax’s high impact on the mid lane.

Prioritizing ana’s lane has become a priority as of late for OG, especially since he plays such a great Invoker. The hero is very gankable in the early game. Thankfully Jerax and Fly are always roaming the map in hopes to secure his start. Meanwhile N0tail is having the time of his life in the Safe Lane on his signature Visage. OG will look to dictate the pace of their games at the International. Anything besides a deep run in the tournament will be a surprise as they have dominated the recent meta.

Team Liquid – Direct Invite

liquid, dota 2, international

(Liquipedia)

Roster

Position 1 (Carry) – MATUMBAMAN

Position 2 (Mid) – Miracle-

Position 3 (Offlane) – MinD_ContRoL

Position 4 (Support) – GH

Position 5 (Support) – KuroKy

Look for Team Liquid to continue their winning ways coming off of a reverse-sweep at DreamLeague Season 7. They dropped the first two games of the Grand Final to Planet Odd before winning the next three. Liquid has been absolutely dominant, winning their last five events. Arguably the most complete “team” coming to the International when it comes to their movements around the map.

Beginning with their captain KuroKy, he has attended every International since 2011 and this May he became the first professional DOTA 2 player to reach 900 wins. Overall Liquid’s roster is extremely talented from top to bottom. Many of their core players’ favorite heroes perform at win rates over 50%, such as Miracle-‘s Invoker, MinD_ContRoL’s Dark Seer, and MATUMBAMAN’s Lone Druid. An already potent roster before adding Gh who has been one of the year’s breakout players.

After finishing in the top-ten at last year’s International Liquid looks poised for another strong performance.

Team Secret – Qualifier Record 8-1

 

secret, dota 2, international

(Liquipedia)

Roster

 

 

Position 1 (Carry) – MP

Position 2 (Mid) – MidOne

Position 3 (Offlane) – KheZu

Position 4 (Support) – YapzOr 

Position 5 (Support) – Puppey

Secret cruised to the automatic spot during the European Qualifiers. Dropping only one map in the group stage. Many believed Team Secret had fallen off from top-tier status when they had a rough start to the beginning of this year. But with the addition of YapzOr, Team Secret was reborn.

One reason this addition invigorated them was that it allowed Puppey to diversify their drafting. Watching Secret had become pretty predictable in the heroes and strategies they picked. This all changed with access to unique YapzOr supports like Rubick and Sand King. These playmaking supports have helped Secret adjust to the quicker pace of this meta.

Other heroes like Puppey’s Crytal Maiden and Khezu’s Bristleback have also been effective. The other addition to their roster was MP from MVP Phoenix. His aggressive playstyle on Troll Warlord and Weaver are great at split pushing the map and punishing the other team’s movements.

All of these changes make Team Secret a more diverse team. With these changes they are setting themselves up to be extremely competitive at The International.

Hellraisers (Formerly “Planet Dog”) – Qualifier Record 6-3

 

 Roster

Position 1 (Carry) – N0tail

Position 2 (Mid) – ana

Position 3 (Offlane) – s4

Position 4 (Support) – Jerax 

Position 5 (Support) – Fly

(Liquipedia)

 

Our final European team comes all the way from Open Qualifiers. Hell Raisers has a roster made up of some extremely talented players. Clearly exhibited throughout qualifiers with their dynamic teamwork in

(Dotabuff)

teamfights. Their captain, j4, is very fond of big ultimates. Seen while they were Planet Dog as one of only a few teams to run a viable Tidehunter. It’s just one of 33’s dynamic teamfighters. He also plays a strong Dark Seer and Batrider.

Another hero has become a problem for the opposition in the MiLAN Nightstalker. j4 has picked this hero for his fellow support 14 times. Winning 11 of those 14 games.

HellRaisers only earnings are from a minor tournament for $500. This was after TI7 qualifiers. Getting to the International is why this team was created. HellRaisers have already put themselves on the map by qualifying for this TI. They have nothing left to prove to the DOTA community and a team with nothing to lose can be a very dangerous opponent.

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ESL One Cologne: The tournament for the Americas

ESL One Cologne throughout the years has seen a couple different American teams playing on the stages. Whether it be the stage at Gamescon in 2014 or the stage in the LANXESS Arena. Not only that, but the last two years have only seen American teams in the Grand Finals. An interesting statistic to say the least. Here, we’ll go through the teams who played on the main stages of Cologne. Explaining how they got there, and how far they went.

SK Gaming/Luminosity

2015 was the first year the Brazilian scene met the main stage of ESL One Cologne. Barely making the playoffs over FlipSid3 in 2015, Marcelo “coldzera” David found himself in his first international tournament. And oh boy, did he surprise everyone with how skilled he was.

2016 saw the Brazilians dominate under the the Luminosity banner, before moving over to SK for ESL One Cologne. Finding themselves in the group of death, SK scored wins over G2 and FaZe, moving to the quarters against FlipSid3. For a second year in a row, SK beat FlipSid3 in Cologne. Making their way to the Semis against Virtus.Pro, SK Gaming found themselves struggling to close the match, but ultimately doing so in one of the best matches of Major history. Meeting Liquid in the final, it wasn’t too surprising to see SK dominate the North American side and take their second major title.

ESL One Cologne

Photo by: hltv.org

So far in 2017, we’ve seen SK at their worst and at their best, and we’re only seven months in. Coming into Cologne, SK had won two tournaments beforehand. They were by far the favourites for the event. Struggling slightly in the swiss stage, SK made it out 3-2 and met OpTic in the quarters. On paper, a one sided match up but OpTic showed themselves to be strong and took Mirage, but ultimately lost the series. SK moved on to beat FaZe, arguably their rival, and dominated the European team. Going into the grand finals, it may have been a surprise to find Cloud9 there. SK didn’t let the surprise get to them though. SK controlled the entire match and took the match 3-0 and won Cologne for a second year in a row.

Cloud9

Cloud9’s first experience with Cologne was 2014, where they played their first tournament with Mike “shroud” Grzesiek. A situation very similar to Luminosity’s first tournament with coldzera at Cologne. In the group stage, Cloud9 won against Titan, and had their famous comeback against Dignitas on Mirage. Making the quarterfinals, Cloud9 met Ninjas in Pyjamas, a fan favourite. Though, Cloud9 were favoured in the match, they ended up losing due to a very important kill by Adam “friberg” Friberg. Without this one kill, Cloud9 could have definitely made the finals of ESL One Cologne 2014, but talking about what if’s is a bad thing.

ESL One Cologne

Photo by: hltv.org

Leading up to Cologne 2015, Cloud9 looked like a Top 4 team, favoured to make the playoffs. Unfortunately, Cloud9 left the tournament in the group stage due to yet another clutch play at 13-13 in a round Cloud9 should have won.

Unfortunately, Cloud9 for the first time were unable to qualify for a major, being ESL One Cologne 2016. In 2017 though, Cloud9 were directly invited as PGL took reigns for the second major of 2017 over ESL. Here, we saw Cloud9 struggle at the beginning but claw their way back to make the playoffs. In the first round of the playoffs Cloud9 met NiP, a rematch of 2014. But, this time Cloud9 took the win and advanced to face Na’Vi in the semifinals. Na’Vi, on arguably their two best maps, lost 2-0 to Cloud9 who went on to play the grand finals against SK Gaming. Unfortunately for Cloud9, SK Gaming were looking for revenge for EPL Season 4, and SK won Cologne over Cloud9.

Team Liquid

Team Liquid first met ESL One Cologne in 2016 as they were directly invited by making the playoffs of MLG Columbus. Using Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev as a stand-in for the event, it wasn’t far fetched to say that Liquid would make the playoffs. They did just that by beating mousesports 2-1 to advance to the playoffs to face Na’Vi in the quarters. After beating Na’Vi, Team Liquid made it to the semifinals to face one of the favourites for the tournament. Liquid decided they didn’t like that title for fnatic, so they took the series 2-0. This put them as the first North American team in the finals of a major. Unfortunately for them, they met SK Gaming and lost 2-0 convincingly against the Brazilians.

ESL One Cologne

Photo by: hltv.org

2017 saw Liquid qualifying for the tournament online. Watching the swiss stage of the tournament though, you would have thought they were invited. Going 3-0 in the group stage facing Na’Vi, Immortals and OpTic Gaming, Team Liquid showed the world that the major qualifier was not who they truly were and made their way to the LANXESS Arena. Sadly, Liquid met FaZe in the quarters and were dismantled easily by the European team.

OpTic Gaming

ESL One Cologne 2016 was the first time any player on OpTic made a major. With their inexperience on the major level, OpTic lost to both NiP and FlipSid3 in the group stage, going 0-2 and dropping out of the tournament.

ESL One Cologne

Photo by: hltv.org

2017 was a different story for OpTic, who showed up to Cologne with zero eyes on them, and as little pressure as possible. At this point, every player on OpTic has played at the top level. Even though they went 0-3 at the major qualifier just a week before, OpTic showed up to Cologne on fire, taking down North, Space Soldiers and most notably FaZe. Only losing to Liquid in the swiss stage. Going into the playoffs they were matched against SK Gaming. Being the most one sided matches of the playoffs on paper, OpTic showed up with a little bit of fight in them. OpTic took the first map in the series off of SK pretty convincingly. But alas, SK Gaming are far more experienced in these situations and left OpTic in the dust in the next two maps.

ESL One Cologne 2017

 

ESL One Cologne

Photo by: Helena K @ ESL Gaming

 

This year, Cologne showed that the Americas, not just South America, has a place on the big stage. Admittedly, Astralis weren’t present at the tournament, but it isn’t too far fetched to say that they could have taken a playoff spot over Na’Vi or NiP rather than the North American teams.

Throughout the years though, Cologne has shown to be a nice tournament for the Americas, having an American team on stage every year. Not only just one, but half the spots were taken by the Americans this year. That shows some heavy improvement from the region, and maybe some extra confidence in the city of Cologne.

Featured image via ESL Gaming

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Peacemaker: A misfit among coaches

Luis “peacemaker” Tadeu has been a coach for many teams, but in such a short amount of time. This has caused controversy, but on the other side of the coin has caused many to respect him. Today, I’m going to detail his journey as a coach and how he got to where he is today.

Tempo Storm/Games Academy

Peacemaker started his journey as a coach in Games Academy. Although, not really given any recognition until later into his time with Tempo Storm, he had been the in-game-leader of the team since being added.

Photo by: hltv.org

Having a huge impact in the North American scene as well as their entrance onto the international stage, peacemaker led the Brazilian team to the top of the rankings in NA. Before this, the only time we heard of them was when they took a map off of Cloud9 at the RGN Pro Series LAN back in November of 2015. The next time we heard of them was when Luminosity took Lincoln “fnx” Lau and Epitácio “TACO” de Melo from Games Academy, leaving them with Ricardo “boltz” Prass who later became their star player.

After qualifying for the MLG Major Qualifier over Winterfox, GA were picked up by Tempo Storm, taking peacemaker with them. From this point, Tempo Storm was able to make the quarterfinals of IEM Katowice 2016. They then won the CEVO Gfinity Pro-League Season 9 Finals later on against the Danish SK Gaming. 

A week after winning the CEVO LAN, Tempo Storm dropped peacemaker from their lineup. Most people thought that we wouldn’t be seeing much of peacemaker on a non Brazilian team.

Team Liquid

Six days after being dropped by Tempo Storm, Liquid picked up peacemaker as their new coach. Mind you, this isn’t during the time they had their lineup with Oleksandr “simple” Kostyliev and Josh “jdm64” Marzano. This was Liquid’s lineup with a dysfunctional Kenneth “Koosta” Suen and misplaced Eric “adreN” Hoag.

Joining Liquid, peacemaker had a tough task in front of him. A week after his addition, his team had to play ELEAGUE Season One. In their group was LG/SK, Cloud9, and Renegades. They left Atlanta that week with zero maps won. Coming close on some maps, but otherwise being blown out of the water. This is where peacemaker learned how much work he had to do. ELEAGUE was the only LAN he coached while Koosta and adreN were on the squad.

Two weeks before the ECS Season One finals, Liquid announced that they would be playing with jdm and s1mple at ECS and ESL One Cologne 2016. They also announced that s1mple is only standing in, and that they are picking up a rifler for after Cologne. This player was later revealed to be Jacob “Pimp” Winneche. With this lineup, peacemaker had the best North American AWPer, one one of the best players in the world and one of the best in North America.

Photo by: hltv.org

Coming out of ECS, Liquid had flashes of brilliance, but there were still issues that needed to be worked on. Leading into Cologne, Liquid had a bootcamp where peacemaker was able to work with the team. Contrast to only having less than two weeks to prepare for ECS, peacemaker had more time on top of that for Cologne. Their result speaks for itself. The time and effort put into the bootcamp was used well, giving them the strategies and power to make the finals of a Major.

After the Major and when they finally had Pimp on their lineup, Valve banned coaches from talking during a round. This was not only a huge blow to the whole scene, this was a massive step back for Liquid. They lost their only in-game-leader, and leader in general. This shone brightly from the time of the announcement to the end of peacemaker’s time in Liquid.

Liquid would only attend one more LAN until peacemaker left; while they had a decent placing at ESL One New York, everything else around the team was a pile of crap. They failed to qualify for ELEAGUE Season Two, losing a Bo3 to Echo Fox. Along with that they played pretty bad in EPL’s 4th season, only qualifying due to the fact that Renegades couldn’t attend the finals. Shortly after EPL ended, peacemaker had left the team on his own terms.

OpTic Gaming

When Spencer “Hiko” Martin was announced to be playing for OpTic as a stand-in, the same was the case for peacemaker in the coaching position. Almost immediately, OpTic played Dreamhack Masters Las Vegas. While they did have a decent start to the tournament, upsetting North, they faltered and ended up losing out in the group stage. While many, myself included, gave the team the benefit of the doubt as they didn’t have long to prepare, they didn’t show much anywhere else even a while after the event.

Photo by: hltv.org

OpTic’s second LAN under peacemaker was IEM Katowice 2017, an event where peacemaker saw his first success a year prior. This year, it was the complete opposite. OpTic ended the tournament 0-5, not winning a single map in the group stage.

Almost two weeks after Katowice, peacemaker was cut from OpTic. It was announced that the players just didn’t like the style that peacemaker used.

Misfits

Four days after the entrance of their French duo, peacemaker joined the team as their Head Coach. His first long term team with a proper leader, Sean “sgares” Gares. While in the online season of EPL, peacemaker wasn’t able to make much impact as the season was almost over. But, Misfits were able to participate in qualifiers for some LANs.

They were able to qualify for Dreamhack Tours and the Americas Minor. But, they fell trying to qualify for Dreamhack Summer and ESL One Cologne. Qualifying for Tours was definitely a good thing for them though, as François “AmeNEk” Delauney and David “devoduvek” Dobrosavljevic were able to play on home soil.

Photo by: hltv.org

Coming in to Dreamhack Tours, Misfits fell in their first match to Natus Vincere. But on the second day, Misfits came back swinging. Upsetting both Heroic and Na’Vi in Bo3s to make the semifinals against Hellraisers, who they fell against. At this event, whether it was a joint effort from peacemaker and Sean, or just the sheer firepower from Shahzeb “Shahzam” Khan, this lineup was working for peacemaker.

The weeks leading into the Americas Minor was rough for Misfits. Not only was Sean unable to attend due to his wedding, Misfits benched Shahzam the weekend before the event. This was an issue, a big one. Misfits already lost their in-game-leader for the event, and now their best player has been benched. Immediately the community came to blame peacemaker for the decision. While the public only knows that Shahzam was benched due to no commitment to a bootcamp. Speaking to peacemaker himself, I was also told there were other internal issues surrounding Shahzam.

Immediately the community came to hate and blame peacemaker for the decision to bench Shahzam. Him saying that it wasn’t only his decision fueled the fire even more. Since then, the situation has been solved.

Originally I had said that peacemaker had lost his position as Head Coach, which is wrong. Peacemaker has corrected me and told me that he is still the Head Coach of the team. Making note that tweet from Misfit’s owner was badly worded.

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Dota 2 Power Rankings

Dota 2 Power Rankings May 2017

Back in March, we released our Top 10 Dota 2 teams in the world. This was before both the Kiev Major and the Dota 2 Asia Championships (DAC). Obviously, a lot has happened since then so let’s take a look at our current power rankings.

[DISCLAIMER – I am getting this in early. You may not agree with these rankings, actually I’m 100% sure you won’t. These are my personal opinion, so take them with a pinch of salt. Let me know your top 10 in the comments.]

Right, now that we have the pleasantries out of the way let’s get into the list. As we mentioned last time, the criteria for the list are as follows:

  • Must have an active five player roster.

Dota 2 Power Rankings – Number 10 – Team NP

Dota 2 Power Rankings Team NP

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

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Eternal Envy

Position 2 (Mid) – Fata

Position 3 (Offlane) – MSS

Position 4 (Support) – Aui_2000

Position 5 (Support) – PieLieDie

Previous Placing – New Entry

Last rankings we copped a lot of flack from the NP and EE fanboys. However, since then they have had some disappointing placings. They finished third in the Kiev qualifiers and joint last place at DAC. This was not good enough for the high standards set by Jacky ‘EternalEnvy’ Mao. As a result, the fan favorites have a new roster.

Bringing in Adrian “Fata” Trinks and Johan “PieLieDie” Astrom has improved the squad enough to push them into the top 10 of our Dota 2 power rankings. The solidity offered from Fata and Pie may be enough to make up for the craziness of Envy. In fact, you could say the new additions will be the Ying to Envy’s Yang.

Since forming the new squad, they have only lost one game and look strong. They look on track to qualify for the Summit 7 and narrowly missed out on a place at Epicenter. The dark days of Kiev and DAC seem to have cleared. This new squad could fulfill the anime prophecy by taking NP to their first LAN title.

Dota 2 Power Rankings – Number 9 – Team Faceless

Dota 2 Power Rankings 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 (Support) – NutZ

Previous Placing – Number 8 (-1)

Faceless are an interesting team. They consistently perform domestically, winning the majority of SEA based tournaments. However, as soon as they compete in an international event they disappoint. Let’s take a look at Kiev and DAC.

In the group stages at DAC, Faceless went 0-2-3 meaning that they did not win a single best of two. Then they come out to the main event and beat Liquid to secure top eight. Faceless showed sparks of brilliance in the best of one against Liquid, but they would fall in the next series against EG. Kiev was pretty much a carbon copy of DAC. They ended group stages with a 1-3 record. The only series win was against underdogs SG esports. Luckily for Faceless, they got a great draw in the first round of bracket play, as they were paired off against SEA rivals TNC. As Faceless have done time and time again they would defeat TNC to secure top eight. They then would lose again to eventual winners OG.

Faceless are a very confusing team. They attend the majority of international tournaments and always look in form heading into the event. The event roles around and they somehow stumble into the top eight. In fact, since forming in September 2016 they have only finished outside of the top 8 at one event. Faceless would be higher on this list if they could push on in major tournaments.

Dota 2 Power Rankings – Number 8 – TNC Pro Team

Dota 2 Power Rankings TNC

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

Previous Placing – New Entry

Last time we made this list, a lot of fans were unhappy that we left TNC out. Well, you can all be very happy as they have done enough in the past 2 months to rise to number eight in our rankings.

After winning WESG some fans were unsure how valuable the win was, myself included, as there was no tier one competition at the event. Well, TNC proved the doubters wrong at both StarLadder and Kiev. In DAC, TNC showed a certain resilience after being placed in a difficult group. Facing off against OG, Secret and hometown favourites IG.V the squad had its work cut out. In an interesting turn of events, TNC would end up finishing second in the group, losing only to OG. This was an interesting turn of events for TNC as they had then guaranteed themselves top four. They would eventually fall to winners Liquid but they proved a point.

Moving into Kiev, the team had just failed to qualify for the Summit 7, so spirits may have been down. They did not show any sign of this in the group stages at Kiev. TNC came out in the first series and swept EG 2-0 in dominant fashion. They would carry this on and finish groups with a 3-1 record, only losing to VP. Then came the dreaded match with Faceless, who seem to be TNC’s kryptonite. I truly believe that if TNC would have finish groups with a 2-2 record they probably would have made a deeper run in the tournament.

TNC are higher on the list than Faceless based off of potential to win international events.

Dota 2 Power Rankings – Number 7 – Team Liquid

Dota 2 Power Rankings 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

Previous Placing – Number 3 (-4)

Liquid is also a very confusing team. After picking up Maroun ‘GH’ Merhej, things looked good for Liquid. In their first event as a team, they would capture the crown at Dream League Season 6. This was the start of a strong couple months for Liquid that ended at StarLadder.

February was a month to remember for Liquid as they would finish first in two qualification events and also at StarLadder. At StarLadder Liquid looked to be at the top of the pile. They would finish the event dropping only two maps throughout the event. They managed to also snag a direct invite to The Kiev Major off the back of these strong performances.

If February was a month to remember, then April was a month to forget. Liquid was considering one of the favorites for DAC but they never lived up to the hype. In fact, they looked out of place at the event. After a disappointing group stage that would see them finish third. They would eventually fall in the losers bracket round one and finish joint last. Kiev was no better as Liquid would finish a disappointing 5th – 8th.

Liquid make this list because they have five of the best players in the world and are just trying to put it all together. So far in the weeks following Kiev, they are undefeated and look like they are on the road to recovery. The jury is still out on this Liquid squad and they will need to improve in the coming months.

Dota 2 Power Rankings – Number 6 – Team Secret

Dota 2 Power Rankings Team Secret

Image courtesy of teamsecret.gg

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – MP

Position 2 (Mid) – MidOne

Position 3 (Offlane) – Khezu

Position 4 (Support) – Yapzor

Position 5 (Support) – Puppey

Previous Placing – Number 9 (+3)

Team Secret are the first team on this list to have moved up in the rankings. Since March, they have enjoyed a good run of form that unfortunately did end in disappointment at Kiev. In their last 24 series, Secret have only lost two matches, a loss to Alliance and a loss to SG esports.

Secret looked to be back to old ways in the build up to Kiev as they stomped the qualification tournament. They would only drop one map throughout the whole event. Which was a 1-0 loss to Alliance early in the group stages. Secret looked to be on another level to the rest of the competition and would win the tournament with relative ease. At The Kiev Major, Secret looked very strong. They finished groups with a 3-0 record and did not drop a single map. That was until they came up against SG.

The series against SG was interesting, to say the least. SG had not won a single game during the group stages and finished with a 0-3 record. Secret were blown away by the strength of SG and in a back and forth would eventually fall to SG. This is where the best of one format has an issue. Secret were slow starting out at the main event and would, therefore, finish joint last. If instead, they had been playing a double elimination bracket, Secret may well have finished in the top four.

Secret has a new roster and a new hope based on recent performances. Puppey has been searching for the perfect roster since TI3, he may now have found it.

Dota 2 Power Rankings – Number 5 – Newbee

Dota 2 Power rankings 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

Previous Placing – Number 4 (-1)

In the last power rankings, we said that Newbee is one of the best teams in China. This is still the case two months later. Newbee continue to be consistent without setting the world alight. In Song “Sccc” Chun, Newbee has one of the best mid-laners in China. The issue that the side seems to face is that they cannot handle the pressure in the big moments.

Until the last few weeks, Newbee has been one of the strongest teams in the Chinese scene for nearly a year. Internationally they have also been performing well. At the start of the year, Newbee would make the final of ESL One Genting where they would narrowly be defeated by DC. DAC was another stand out tournament for Newbee. They performed well in a strong group and would eventually finish second taking them to the upper bracket.

Newbee showed signs of brilliance throughout DAC including defeating EG 2-1 in the lower bracket to guarantee top three. They would, however, fall to eventual winners IG. As a team Newbee have five of the most consistent players in China. Aside from Sccc none of the players will set the world alight, however, they play with a ruthless efficiency. Newbee are consistent performers and will continue to perform in 2017.

Dota 2 Power Rankings – Number 4 – Evil Geniuses

Dota 2 Power Rankings 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-

Previous Placing – Number 2 (-2)

EG fall to fourth in our Dota 2 Power rankings. This is more to do with the performances of the teams around them than anything the team has done. At Dota Pit in January, EG made things look easy. Since then however, things increasingly more difficult.

EG are a team famed for slow starts. No matter who is on the team this seems to have become a consistency. This style nearly cost them at DAC as they finished second to last in the group and set themselves a tough best of one against Wings Gaming. The match against Wings Gaming would be a 61 minute slug fest that EG would eventually win. They continued to take games until they would eventually lose a close series to Newbee.

Moving forward into Kiev, EG again made the group stages look difficult as they would finish with a  2-2 record and set up a knockout game against NA rivals Thunderbirds. EG showed serious resilience to take the series over Thunderbirds 2-0. They then came up against Brazilian whirlwind SG. In a back and forth series with some insane moments, EG would eventually take the series 2-1. Going against OG would prove too much for EG and they would lose 2-0.

The EG side are one of the most consistent sides in the world. Since winning TI5 they have had a few roster changes but have managed to stay at the top of the pile for most of the events. EG have a busy couple of months coming up with the Manilla Masters and Epicenter on the horizon. They will be hoping to secure a direct invite to TI7 as they seek to regain the Aegis of Champions.

Dota 2 Power Rankings – Number 3 – Virtus Pro

Dota 2 Power Rankings Virtus Pro

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Ramzes666

Position 2 (Mid) – No[o]ne

Position 3 (Offlane) – 9Pashaebashu

Position 4 (Support) – Lil

Position 5 (Support) – Solo

Previous Placing – Number 10 (+7)

Virtus Pro are one of the biggest climbers on this list as they jump up an impressive seven spaces. Rewind back to the beginning of March and things weren’t look great for VP. They had just failed to qualify for DAC due to connection issues and things were looking tough. In the last rankings article, we touched on what could happen if VP failed to qualify for Kiev. Turns out their was nothing to worry about. VP would qualify for Kiev with ease.

At Kiev, VP were considered one of the favorites and for good reason. They stormed through group stages finishing with a 3-0 record and only dropped 1 map during groups. VP looked to be finally living up to expectations. During the main event they would travel via China to reach the final, as they would come up against three Chinese teams. VP then faced off against OG in the final, in what turned out to be one of the best grand finals since TI3. Unfortunately they would fall to OG 3-2.

VP have shot back to the top three in the rankings following Kiev. They finally lived up to the expectations they have had since TI6. The future is looking bright for VP as with the strong performance at Kiev, they will likely have secured an invite to TI7 and several other events in the coming months. If they can continue to string together performances like that at Kiev, they have the ability to win several events, including TI7. VP are a team to be feared in the coming months.

Dota 2 Power Rankings – Number 2 – Invictus Gaming

Dota 2 Power Rankings Invictus Gaming

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

Previous Placing – New Entry

IG are the highest new entry on the list as the jump straight up to second place. IG have had a crazy couple of months since March culminating with victory at DAC. At the moment, IG are probably the best team in China and are beginning to reach a consistent level internationally as well.

DAC was somewhat of a breakout tournament for IG as they would perform well in groups and the main event. However, they did not flex their muscles until the grand finals. They came into the series as underdogs. The series looked the exact opposite as IG rolled over OG with relative ease.

A lot of this thanks to the Riki of Ye “BoBoKa” Zhibiao. In games one and two of the series BoBoKa would frustrate the supports of OG rendering them useless in the early game. BoBoKa showed during DAC that he was one of the best four positions in the game. IG caught teams offguard at DAC as they displayed the typical Chinese efficiency.

IG would again perform well at Kiev, even with teams focussing on banning out BoBoKa’s best heroes. This would not stop IG as they would finish groups with a strong 3-1 record. This form continued into the main event as they would take series after series until they eventually fell to VP in the semi-finals.

IG have burst onto the scene in the last few months off the back of BoBoKa and Chinese legend Xu “BurNing” Zhilei. They are riding a wave that may well take them to victory at TI7.

Dota 2 Power Rankings – Number 1 – OG

Dota 2 Power Rankings 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

Previous Placing – Number 1

I’m sure you are all really surprised by this right? In the previous ranking, we said that choosing between OG and EG was difficult. This time around, the decision could not have been easier. OG are now four-time major champions, meaning they have won all but one major so far.

DAC was a blip on the radar for OG. They dominated the event, even beating IG in the run to the finals. The grand finals loss was a surprise to most and may have been as a result of OG taking IG lightly. They did not make this mistake twice. At Kiev OG displayed the same consistency fans will have become used to. A lot of credit should go to Tal “Fly” Aizik, who has managed to take two teams and make them world-class. It’s crazy to think that OG are often looked over heading into events, probably because the roster is not filled with stars. In fact, this plays to OG’s advantage. The four players around Fly seem to have faith in every decision that he makes.

There is really not much else that needs to be said about OG and why they are the best team in the world. All of the other rankings on the list are open for debate apart from this one. The consistency that OG have shown at the top level is astounding. All that is left is to take the ultimate crown, something which seems inevitable.

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

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Call of Duty Global Pro League Week Four Preview

This upcoming weekend marks the last week of Stage One of the CWL Global Pro League. Week four will commence with American teams OpTic Gaming and Enigma6 facing off against European teams Red Reserve and Elevate. The teams will clash at the MLG Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

As with weeks prior, each team will face one another in a double round-robin format. The top two placing teams will advance to Playoffs as well as qualify for Stage Two of the Global Pro League, Pool Play at CWL Anaheim, and Call of Duty World Championship later this year. The 3rd place team will also qualify for Stage Two of the Global Pro League, Pool Play at CWL Anaheim, and Call of Duty World Championship. The team that places last will face Relegation in order to qualify for Stage Two.

OpTic Gaming is most likely poised to take first place in the group while the other teams will be battling it out for the ever important second place. With no other teams available to scrim in the EU region, Elevate and Red Reserve have not been able to get in good practice since April.

OpTic Gaming

OpTic comes into this weekend, regarded by analysts and players alike, as the best team in the world. The combined talents of Seth “Scump” Abner, Ian “Crimsix” Porter, Damon “Karma” Barlow, and Matt “Formal” Piper have been playing together longer than any other team in competitive CoD.

After a slow start to the Infinite Warfare season, OpTic won back-to-back International LANs: CWL Paris and CWL Dallas. Having lost to eUnited in the Grand Finals of CWL Atlanta after a miraculous Loser’s Bracket run, a new fire was lit under the team. With Formal now acting as their “In Game Leader” the newly invigorated OpTic looks to place first this weekend.

OpTic has been teaming together since April 2015

Enigma6 Group

Enigma6 were unable to complete during the 2016 Black Ops III season due to the age restriction of the CoD World League. Now with a team able to compete, E6 have experienced moderate success so far this season. At the first LAN of IW, E6 came out of the Open Bracket to eventually place 7-8th. So far they have not been able to repeat this performance, with their most recent placing a 9-12th finish at CWL Dallas.

After CWL Dallas, rumors swirled that Mike “MRuiz” Ruiz would retire and Preston “Priest” Greiner would take his place. Controversy ensued due to the rules surrounding CWL roster locks leading into the GPL. However, MRuiz stayed on the team as they hope to secure a spot in the Stage One Playoffs.

Enigma6’s 2017 CoD Roster

Red Reserve

Having lost half their original roster during the EU rostermania following CWL Paris, Red picked up Niall “Niall” Sunderland and Sean “Seany” O’Connor. Since then, Red has been on a hot streak. In their first MLG GameBattles 2K series, the newly formed team placed second and won the next 2K.

Red would go on to put on an incredible performance in the Loser’s Bracket at CWL Dallas. They would eventually finish 5-6th. At the next LAN CWL Birmingham, Red again placed 5-6th, showing that this newly formed squad can hang with the best. Red is poised to make a serious run at the second place spot this weekend.

 

David “Urban” Marsh of Red Reserve

Elevate

At their first LAN after adding Rhys “Rated” Price in place of Seany, Elevate had an abysmal performance placing 21-24th after starting in Pool Play. After their poor performance in the US, Elevate seemed to bounce back with a 5-6th placing at CWL Birmingham.

Like the other EU team in the group Red, the biggest issue for Elevate heading into the GPL is their lack of practice. With other EU teams leaving early to boot camp in the US, Elevate has not scrimmed since April, according to players on the team. Looked at as the weakest team to qualify for Stage One of the GPL, Elevate has a lot to prove this weekend.

Jordan “Reedy” Reed and Josh “Watson” Watson at CWL Birmingham

Predictions

  1. OpTic Gaming
  2. Red Reserve
  3. Enigma6
  4. Elevate

Jack Waters is an avid Call of Duty Esports fan and wants to hear from YOU! Find him on Twitter.

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What we learned from The Kiev Major

The 16 best teams in the world fought it out over a week to take home the Mystic Staff from what will be widely considered the best major so far. With The Kiev Major in the books, it’s time to look at what we learned from the event.

The Kiev Major Final Placings

Place $ USD Percent Team
1st $1,000,000  33.33% OG OG
2nd $500,000  16.67% Virtus.pro/Virtus.pro Virtus.pro
3rd-4th $250,000  8.33% Invictus Gaming/Invictus Gaming Invictus Gaming
Evil Geniuses Evil Geniuses
5th-8th $125,000  4.17% Team Liquid Team Liquid
Team Faceless Team Faceless
Vici Gaming/Team VGJ Team VGJ
SG e-sports SG e-sports
9th-16th $62,500  2.08% Mousesports mousesports
Newbee/Newbee Newbee
Digital Chaos Digital Chaos
Invictus Gaming/iG Vitality iG Vitality
TNC Pro Team TNC Pro Team
Team Random Team Random
Thunderbirds Thunderbirds
Team Secret Team Secret

Table courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2/Kiev_Major/2017

OG prove once again they are the best in the world

Heading into Kiev, OG looked shaky. They were stomped by IG at DAC and had not won an event since The Boston Major. They were still a top four team, but many questioned whether they could take the Kiev crown. This fear was confirmed when they dropped their first game of group stages against underdogs SG esports.

Groups were worth forgetting for OG. Yes, they finished with a 3-1 record, but they did not look confident and also suffered again at the hands of IG.

OG The Kiev Major

Image courtesy of https://twitter.com/saadsarwar

Bracket play also started shakily as they eeked out 2-1 victories over Team Randon and Team Faceless. OG did, however, come into their own on the final day. They took a close 2-0 against EG, with both games going over 50 minutes. The grand finals proved to be one of the best series in recent Dota history. OG showed determination to come back from 2-1 down to take the series 3-2.

OG showed once again that you can have the biggest names in the scene, but if you cannot get them to work as a unit they will never win. EG finished top four at another major but couldn’t overcome the teamwork of OG. The star-studded Liquid roster failed again at a major event, raising more questions for the roster. The one consistency in the scene is OG. They have finished in the top four in the last nine events they have competed in. Of those nine, they have finished first in four of them and second in four. The consistency OG has shown has not been seen since Ehome during the Dota 1 era.

However, the only Valve trophy to add to the trophy cabinet is the Aegis of Champions, which OG will be looking to capture at The International 2017.

Let’s talk about Liquid

 

Team Liquid The Kiev Major

Image courtesy of reddit.com

Let’s rewind back to the end of February. Liquid had just won StarLadder and everything looked on the up for the roster. Many people, myself included, had Liquid ranked as one of the top five teams in the world. However, after a joint last place finish at DAC and a top eight finish at The Kiev Major, things look rough for the roster heading into The International.

During group stages, the team seemed to be falling apart. With constant role swaps between Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi and Maroun “GH” Merhej, things look rough for the squad. They could only secure victories against SG esports and Team Faceless, two of the weaker teams in the tournament. The two games that Liquid lost during groups were against Thunderbirds and DC, both teams Liquid should be defeating.

When the heat was on, Liquid evaporated out of the tournament and severely damaged their chances of receiving a direct invite to The International. Liquid need to take the time from Kiev to July to fix the obvious issues on the roster. Liquid is a team known for persevering with a roster, so a change seems unlikely. Fans will have faith that Liquid can sort the issues out and bounce back at the next event.

Brazillian DOTO best doto

SG esports at The Kiev Major

Image courtesy of br.ign.com

Heading into Kiev, I was unsure about what SG was going to provide to the event. I can happily say that I may have underestimated them a bit. They showed during the main event that they can hang with the best of them. In fact, they did hang with the best coming out of groups, Team Secret. Heading into the series, the majority of fans were predicting an easy victory for Team Secret. Instead, SG showed an amazing heart and managed to defeat Secret and take on EG for a spot in the top four.

The series against EG was one of the best, if not the best, series of the whole event. All of the games in the series went over 50 minutes and were back and forth battles. Even in defeat, SG fought to the last moments and was within inches of placing top four at the event.

The next couple of months will be important for SG as they need to build on the momentum gained from Kiev. In the same way that TNC did at TI6 and Ad Finem did at The Boston Major, SG captured the hearts and minds of fans and the community will be hoping that SG shows up to some more events.

Virtus pro put it all together-ish

Virtus Pro VP The Kiev Major

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Different major, same story. Virtus Pro came into Kiev as a favourite for the event, in the same way as they were heading into Boston. Boston didn’t exactly work out, however, on their home turf, something was different. VP stormed through the swiss format winning all three of their games only dropping one game. VP played a high tempo game with the team fight and skill that they are famed for.

Bracket play was very similar to groups as VP amassed a 6-1 record on their way to the finals. Along the way, VP even took down DAC winners and favourites IG in a 2-0 sweep. The finals against OG was one of the best series in major history as they would eventually fall 3-2 to OG. VP came within inches of lifting the trophy and finally winning an elusive major title. VP showed that they are the real deal and the favourite tag they often receive was warranted.

With this strong performance at Kiev, VP will have likely secured an invite to The International where they can compete for The Aegis of Champions.

The Kiev Major Final Thoughts

This event was arguably the best major that has taken place so far. From the panel to the production, everything was top notch. The event had some of the best content of any so far, including this amazing gem.

Team Slacks Kiev Major

This is why Slacks shouldn’t be allowed near the production equipment.

The games were some of the closest in recent history, with 10 of the 15 main event matches going to three or more games. In terms of series to check out, the EG v SG quarter-final was absolutely amazing. All three games were back and forth with some amazing plays including a five-man dream coil. The Kiev Major has set the bar so high and fans should be excited for the next future of Dota 2 esports.


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“From Our Haus to Yours”

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
TBD
place 5 to 16
5th-8th $125,000  4.17% TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
9th-16th $62,500  2.08% TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD

Courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2/Kiev_Major/2017

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 http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2/Kiev_Major/2017/Group_Stage

The Kiev Major Group Stage – Round 1 Thoughts and Predictions

The Kiev Major Group Stage Round 1 Matches

Image courtesy of https://twitter.com/wykrhm

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

Image courtesy of teamsecret.gg

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

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

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

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

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

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

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

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

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

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

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

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

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

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

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

China

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

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The Kiev Major Regional Roulette – Europe and CIS

Welcome to day three of the Kiev Major regional roulette. Today it’s time to look at arguably the strongest region heading into the event, Europe and CIS

Europe and CIS – The Teams

When Valve announced the direct invites to Kiev, there were some fans who were unhappy. The inclusion of Mousesports, then Ad Finem, raised a few questions. Valve also announced that Europe and CIS regions would each be having their own qualifier. In total there will be four European and one CIS team attending Kiev. Let’s take a look at who is aiming to win it all:

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

Heading into Kiev, OG should be one of the favorites. They have won 75% of the majors since they were introduced in 2015. OG are a team synonymous with consistency when it comes to the majors. They come into the event in good form with only a few slip-ups in recent events.

The newest iteration of OG is arguably the best. Yes, they lack the flair of some previous players, but the current roster is more than that. The current OG is more a sum of its parts rather than the strength of the individuals. OG look to take a game over and rarely let go of that control.

On the flipside, one of the main concerns in recent times is closing out tournaments. Let’s take a look at DAC for example. OG dominated the event, all the way until the Grand-Finals. They would face IG in a rematch of the winners final, which OG won 2-1. IG made OG look confused, it was a complete domination. IG would take the series 3-0 and OG would leave the event wondering what if?

OG are a strong team who should bounce back from the disappointment of DAC. They are surely favorites to take the event and could net you a pretty penny in your compendium predictions.

Mousesports (Formerly Ad Finem) – Direct Invite

Mousesports Dota 2 Kiev Major Europe and CIS

Image courtesy of Teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Madara

Position 2 (Mid) – ThuG

Position 3 (Offlane) – SkyLark

Position 4 (Support) – Maybe Next Time

Position 5 (Support) – SsaSpartan

Shortly after the announcement that the then Ad Finem roster would be receiving a direct invite to Kiev, the team parted ways with the organization. It was then announced that Mousesports would be returning to Dota 2 and picking up the roster.

Heading into Kiev, the Greeks are an unknown quantity, to say the least. Having only played in three qualification events since the second place finish at Boston, there is not much information on the squad. It has obviously been a difficult time for the roster, and Kiev may be just what the team needs to bounce back.

The Greeks are famed for a “can’t stop won’t stop” playstyle. They look to roll over their opposition, focusing more on team fights rather than out farming their opposition. However, since the high points in Boston, the meta has changed. The name of the game seems to be farming and using superior resources to win. It will be interesting to see how Mousesports can cope with this change and what effect it will have on them throughout the event.

Mousesports captured the hearts and minds of fans at Boston. They will be looking to do this again at Kiev.

Team Liquid – Direct Invite

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

Heading into DAC, many people had Liquid finishing in the top three. Instead, Liquid finished 8th – 12th, being knocked out in a best of one against Faceless. This came as a shock seeing as Liquid had won StarLadder a few weeks earlier. With this in mind, Liquid head into the event with a lot of questions hanging over the squad. Was StarLadder a one off? Is Liquid choking again?

On paper, this Liquid roster is a top five team in the world, without a doubt. However, in-game they seem to be on separate pages. As a fan, it always makes me worried when players swap around positions depending on the hero. This happened a few times at DAC with Miracle and GH swapping roles when Naga Siren was picked up. If you think back, this happened before Liquid made roster changes when Matumbaman and Kuro would swap roles when Drow Ranger was picked up.

Liquid comes into Kiev looking to capture the elusive major crown. They have the tools to win it all, whether they will is a separate discussion. Liquid is known for sticking with a roster, but time is running out for Liquid to prove they are one of the best teams in the world.

Team Secret – European Qualifier

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

Secret are a roster chasing their own shadow. The days of Secret being a tier one team seem to be behind them. They are now on the periphery, a strong performance at Kiev may well shoot them back to the top tier.

Secret have attended two LAN events this year and have placed a mediocre 5th – 6th at both. They had decent performances at both events but seemed a step behind the top teams. Heading into the event, Secret have been out of the spotlight for a couple months. The controversy with former players seems to be behind them. The stage seems set for Secret to place well at the event. It’s time for in-game actions to take precedent over the controversies of former rosters.

Virtus Pro (VP) – CIS Qualifier

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

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Ramzes666

Position 2 (Mid) – No[o]ne

Position 3 (Offlane) – 9Pashaebashu

Position 4 (Support) – Lil

Position 5 (Support) – Solo

Kiev will be the first LAN event that VP has attended since January. They were on the end of some unfortunate connection issues which would rule them out of DAC. Even with a lack of LAN games, they still come into Kiev as a potential favorite.

VP are always a favorite, but have yet to convert that into an event win. They came into Boston as a favorite, and failed. They came into ESL One Genting as a favorite, and failed. Do you see the theme? With this in mind, they are likely still a favorite.

They have a strong playstyle, which is a combination of typical CIS “can’t stop won’t stop” and the typical Chinese control. In many ways, VP are the best of both worlds. Their roster is filled with talent, although none of them are world-beaters alone, they are as a squad. VP are going into the event with strong performances in the CIS region, how much this counts for remains to be seen.

Will the VP boys fail again? Only time will tell.

Europe and CIS – Summary

Europe and CIS come into the event with three teams capable of winning. With a winner likely to come from this region of China, the pressure is on to perform. As always, all eyes will be on the Europe and CIS teams, meaning anything short of victory will be considered by many as a failure.

OG have the power to secure their fourth major and set themselves up for a strong 2017. Mousesports are trying to find the form of Boston. Liquid is trying not to choke. Secret are chasing the form of previous iterations, without much success, and VP are trying to not fail once more.

The title may well be held in Kiev, but it will not be easy for the Europe and CIS teams to win their home major.

Where do you think the European and CIS teams will place when it’s 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

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

 

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

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

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 v IG.V

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

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

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

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

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

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

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

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

 

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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