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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An Interview with Immortals CEO Noah Whinston: Eyeing up Expansion?

Noah Winston is a big figure in esports, especially in League of Legends. He is someone who dropped out of college at the prestigious Northwestern University in order to become the CEO of Immortals. He is also someone who is outspoken about the fan experience and what he wants his organization to bring to the world of esports.

For Noah, this includes expanding the Immortals brand to many different esports, possibly even Dota 2.

I was fortunate enough to be able to interview the Immortals CEO and get some of his thoughts about expanding his organization.

Why Now?

Noah was introduced to League of Legends during the Season 3 World Championships by a friend. Even though he was not familiar with League, he was “engrossed in the experience”.

Immortals CEO: Noah Whinston

While Noah had always been a fan of esports he did not realize just how big it was. He decided then that he would want to look at it all as a fan first, So I think when I look at esports even before I started Immortals I approached this from a fans first perspective. I was a fan of esports before I ever thought about trying to do anything in it.”

Why Dota 2?

Dota 2 is an esport that has been around for many years and has plenty of support behind it. But, until recently, Noah had not really thought about getting involved with it. Like League, he was introduced and realized just how much the fans loved it.

“My first experience to Dota 2 was kind of the same way. I never watched a game of Dota, but I decided to hang out with some friends at TI6 in Seattle last year. Coming into the International and seeing this energy and this excitement around this game, you don’t need to understand the game itself to understand the feeling that the crowd has for it or that the fans have for it.”

Unlike some other esports, Dota 2 has a lot of support from its creators. Noah stated, “The only reason it is that big too is because of the massive support the community gives to that tournament through the Aegis and the crowd funding mechanisms that Valve institutes for it.”

This adds to the ecosystem of the game and the tournaments. For Noah, TI impressed him with its prize pool, which is a major problem for many esports.

“Obviously that ecosystem functions in a very different way than almost any other esports game. TI is the biggest prize pool event in the entire world for anything esports. It’s the culmination of an entire year of competition, everyone in Dota prioritizes performance at the International because of that prize pool and status. Because of that the International serves as this kind of hallmark event for esports outside of esports. Whenever TI happens, there’s always more and more stories around about how big this prize pool is.”

This caused me to wonder, what makes Dota 2 special in contrast to other scenes?

Dota 2 captures fan passion in a unique way relative to other esports games. It provides unique opportunities for those fans to directly engage with the thing that they love via the crowd funding mechanism for TI. I think of the esports out there, Dota is truly global in reach.”

Noah went on to mention the fact that these many different areas had very passionate fan bases. Unlike other esports he believed it was not limited in its reach.  

What the future holds for Immortals and expansion?

Next I wanted to know what Immortals future looked like. They are an org that is clearly on the rise and one that has a multitude of teams. While expansion is an option, Noah does not believe it’s the only one.

I think that we’re certainly not one of the organizations that thinks picking up more teams and more games are synonymous with growth. We do agree that being a multi-gaming organization is important for stability and reach, but at a certain point, and it’s a point we’ve reached, we’re more looking to grow vertically and not horizontally. We’re not looking to bloat by adding more teams in more games, we’re looking to kind of deepen our connection and our experience in the games we’re already in.”

This is an extremely interesting perspective as it seems that many org owners are always seeming to want more players and teams. Expansion is currently rapid in the realm of esports.

Noah says that they are trying to be opportunistic about their team and player pickups. He does not feel the pressure to add teams just to add them. For him, it is about finding someone who piques their interest.

“It’s More from the perspective of is there someone who so compels to sign them that we enter that scene. I think a good example is looking into our expansion in Super Smash Bros, both in 4 and Melee, where it was less of an approach ‘hey we really need Fighting Game players, like super smash bros players.’ It was more of an approach, “hey, Anti, Shroomed, these are guys are so compelling for me, both as an organization owner and a fan, and they fit so well with what we’re trying to do as an organization so well that we’re going to enter these games just for the privilege to sign them.”

This led him to Dota 2, saying, “I think that’s the approach we’re taking to Dota 2 right now. We’re still doing our research on the ground level, on the grassroots level.” For Noah, it is more about doing the research and making sure that it is something they feel will fit and something they feel they need.

“From my perspective what we’re looking for is a compelling reason to enter the scene. A team that compels us because we want them to be part of our organization so badly we’ll enter Dota 2 for them. Rather than saying, ‘look, Dota 2 is a great scene, we’re gonna compromise our values just to find any team that we can in it. That’s not to say Dota 2 isn’t an attractive enough game for us if we were a single game organization we may be taking that approach. But at the scale we are at now, it doesn’t make sense to enter other games just for the sake of entering.”

More specifically I wanted to know what was the “Immortals way” in regards to expansion. “I think that more for us it’s less of let’s try and find games to expand into and more of an if there’s a particularly compelling opportunity to take part in another game that’s something we’ll consider”

What would Immortals bring to the Dota 2 scene for Players?

This is a very important question for any esport. For many of them, the players are either respected and paid as well as they should be or are not supported in ways that make them feel like they can make playing an esport their career.

For the players, compared to a lot of the organizations in the Dota 2 scene, we provide a lot of stability and for lack of a better word legitimacy. We are a Venture funded organization with a long track record of treating our players well in other games, and especially with some of the drama that’s come from within the Dota community around players getting paid wages on time, getting their fair share of the prize money, etc., certainly that’s something we expect every player in our organization to be able to sleep sound about. To know they’re not being screwed over or screwed on their contractual options to their team.”

Noah also explained that his org takes the time to make sure that their infrastructure is solid. This means that they are organized, they know how to keep a player healthy through diet and exercise. For Immortals this helped the player and the org by keeping them at peak performance.

“Basically, we know that the players who play in our organization want to win. And we want to do everything we can to enable them to be their best selves.”

But, they do not just stop at helping a player with their current situation and career, they look towards their future.

“We also think about for them what happens for them outside of competition. What happens to a Dota player after he’s decided to retire, what are the education opportunity, what are the career opportunities available to them, and that’s something we really care a lot about.”

Dota is struggling to keep players on their rosters. This is causing players to feel that their future is insecure. Noah recognizes this and believes that its a problem that has to be remedied.

“We think right now there’s a lot of instability in Dota as a result of short-term thinking. If a team performs poorly at Kiev, they’ll probably make a big roster swap to ready themselves as well as possible for the International. If a team performs poorly at the international they’ll blow up their roster and try and rebuild from scratch. That amount of instability means rarely there is the opportunity to build long-term bonds between teammates, and there’s rarely opportunities to build long-term bonds between the specific rosters and their fans bases. And there’s rarely enough stability for players to really think not just about how am I doing the best that I can for competition, but how am I setting myself up the best to continue to live a life as a player, an influence, or outside of esports after I’m done competitively.”

The Fans

Lastly, I wanted to know what about the fans? While there is already great support from them for Dota and other esports, I wanted to know what more could be done?

I think a big part of our focus there is to create a fulfilling fan experience. Making it so that players feel close to their fans and that the fans feel as close to the players that they support so much. That’s done through streaming, through content creation, through social media, through meeting our fans where they are in their communities, and it’s done in building our own communities where our fans can interact with each other.”

“Our goal is to be able to create a fulfilling fan experience holistically. It should always be fun to root for Immortals and if we enter a game we bring that philosophy with us.”

The Dotasphere and Immortals

As you can see, it seems that Immortals are keen to expand into Dota if the right team or players are available. Interestingly enough, the right team may well be available right now. Up until recently, it seemed as if Team Onyx and Immortals were destined for each other. However, Digital Chaos messed up that idea by dropping the roster that took them to second place at TI6 and picking up Onyx.

With this in mind, the stage could be set to rescue the former DC roster, now named Thunderbirds and provide them with a home. With Kiev only a week away, Immortals face the decision to dive in or wait and assess the options. Based on what Noah has eluded to above the latter seems most likely, however, recent events could tempt Immortals’ hand.

Up until recently the amount of new organizations entering the Dotasphere was limited. However, with Mousesports returning and now Immortals declaring an interest in Dota, the future looks interesting. The only thing holding back other organizations acquiring teams is that lack of top level competition. Of the 16 teams attending Kiev, only one of those does not have an organization. With this in mind, it is easy to see why it may be off putting for other well-known organizations to pick up a Dota side.

It seems like the stars are aligning for both Thunderbirds and Immortals. Could we see an Immortals side at Kiev or TI7? Only time will tell and Immortals may not have long to make a decision.

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