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Dota 2 Esports

DotA 2: ESL One Hamburg Group Stage

group stage

The group stage has ended at ESL One Hamburg and the main stage has been set. With the end of the group stage, four of the twelve initial teams are eliminated. Another four of the remaining eight teams were hoisted to the upper bracket. The upper bracket is extremely important in esports tournaments. This position allows teams to reevaluate strategies in a second matchup if required. The upper bracket generally means an escape from a best of one elimination. However, this format is not present in Hamburg.


group stage
Image courtesy of ESL

The four teams which were eliminated consist of relatively new lineups. This is good news for those squads, as it could be a sign that the teams just need to become more comfortable with each other. This is especially true for teams such as Ninjas in Pajamas, Peter “PPD” Dager’s new stack. Since PPD is a very experienced leader, he can absolutely whip his new team into competitive shape. Mineski is another team similar to NiP in that they possess a lot of raw talent that has yet to be conditioned.

An example of a team in the past who has been comprised of raw talent but low chemistry is the 2015 iteration of Team Secret. Viewers and fans expected the team to do extremely well at The International 5. Unfortunately, conflicting personalities led to under-performance, and the team was swiftly eliminated. Team Secret is a prime example of why chemistry is so important going into a competitive setting. Just because players will outperform their counterparts, does not mean they can push that advantage as a team.

Upper Bracket

group stage
Image courtesy of Virtus.Pro

The importance of the upper bracket position after the group stage during a tournament cannot be stressed enough. Four teams were able to secure their spots at the top. Hamburg’s tournament layout calls for the first round of the upper bracket to be played at the end of the group stage though. So only two teams remain in their spots at the top.

One team is Vici Gaming, a team which people expected to do well at The International. But after their mediocre group stage performance and subsequent second-round elimination, Vici experienced roster changes. After three Chinese legends, including Lu “Fenrir” Chao, left the team, the roster added three younger players. Clearly, the team has learned from their past mistakes under-performing in the group stage. They now have secured at least third place at the tournament.


The other upper bracket team is Virtus.Pro, the eastern European powerhouse. The team has been together since 2016 with the exception of one player. Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan joined at the beginning of 2018 as a support. His arrival came after Ilya “Lil” Ilyuk left for Na’Vi in order to lead the squad. This is a relatively routine roster change however and demonstrates the team’s longevity. It is completely unsurprising that such a strong team is leading the tournament. Furthermore, it would be unsurprising if the team were to advance to the Grand Finals.

Featured image courtesy of ESL

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