Finally, the last Dota Pro Circuit Major of the season is over and the results left everyone with a lot of question marks. In this article, we will take a close look at what happened and provide an analysis for the upcoming TI 9.
EPICENTER Major was played in the standard Major format, having a two-day Group Stage followed by Playoffs. Here’s how things went in the first of these two stages.
Team Secret had a relatively easy path to success in Group A, even though both opponents they encountered along the way (paiN and RNG) came close to causing them to lose a game. In paiN Gaming’s case, the first game took 51 minutes. In RNG’s case, the second game took 67 minutes. That’s a very long duration given the fact that Secret entered the competition as the best team in the world. So even though on the surface the matches ended 2 – 0 in favor of Puppey’s squad, the fact that they needed so much time to defeat two weak opponents was a clear sign of weakness.
The 2nd place in this group of EPICENTER Major was secured by RNG, who simply found a way to beat Fnatic twice. This was the second disappointing result for Abed and his team. Given the current state of things, we don’t expect them to do very well at The International 2019. If they couldn’t even beat RNG, how will they ever beat the likes of Virtus.pro and Team Liquid?
Ahead of the start of EPICENTER Major, Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid were regarded as the big favorites to win this group.
In Liquid’s case, they had finished 2nd at the previous Major, so their form was clearly excellent, even though some people worried that the roster change (w33 replaced MATUMBAMAN) would negatively affect their performance.
As for EG, they were one of the best teams in the world and had obtained great results at most of the previous Majors. So at least on paper, given that the other two teams were Gambit and Infamous, Liquid and Evil Geniuses should have secured tickets for the Upper Bracket.
Liquid delivered as expected, and perhaps even better than expected, removing all doubts with regard to w33’s transfer. EG on the other hand, started with a 2 – 0 victory against Infamous followed by a 1 – 2 defeat against Liquid and then a totally unexpected 0 – 2 defeat against Gambit.
There were no surprises in Group C, even though a lot of people probably wanted and expected Virtus.pro to be the winner instead of Vici Gaming, simply because they were playing on their home soil. However, the CIS squad started their EPICENTER Major journey with an awful defeat against Alliance, a team that had qualified for the event by playing in the Grand Final of its corresponding Minor.
In retrospect, the fact that Vici Gaming won this group makes perfect sense, given that they ultimately ended up winning the entire competition. However, during the Group Stage it wasn’t yet clear that they are actually that good. Keep in mind that in their first match, they actually struggled to beat a fairly weak opponent, Forward Gaming (2 – 1).
TNC proved to be a very strong team at EPICENTER Major and they will likely continue to improve until the start of The International 2019, providing esports betting opportunities for all those who like to bet on Dota 2. Under the guidance of Heen, who is their new coach and the former coach of Team Liquid, TNC Predator made massive improvements in their playstyle and could turn out to be one of the dark horses of TI 9.
Unfortunately, we don’t yet know how well TNC would have done against PSG.LGD, simply because the Chinese team got defeated by NiP in their first match and never got to play against TNC. What we do know is that they beat OG (2 – 1) and NiP (2 – 0) and then went on to finish the event in 4th place. That’s quite an achievement.
The second place in Group D was won by PSG.LGD after victories against OG (2 – 0) and NiP (2 – 1). Strangely enough, OG underperformed during the Group Stage of EPICENTER Major. This was a direct result of having to play with a substitute after N0tail got sick. But then immediately after the groups ended, they played two phenomenal matches against two of the best teams in the world, EG and Secret, and won. This earned them enough points to secure a direct invite to The International 2019.
The Playoffs Stage of EPICENTER Major had a lot of upsets, and we suspect that some of the losses were actually tactical ones.
In the first round of Upper Bracket matches, Virtus.pro defeated Secret, Team Liquid won against PSG.LGD, Vici Gaming easily crushed Gambit and TNC Predator managed to beat RNG at the end of a tense three game series.
The second round of Upper Bracket matches saw Team Liquid and Vici Gaming triumph over Virtus.pro and TNC Predator respectively. Both matches needed three games to conclude and pushed the EPICENTER Major story into very exciting direction: Team Liquid had to beat a former DPC Major winner.
Unfortunately for Liquid, the Upper Bracket Finals ended with Vici Gaming’s victory after three very close games. However, the Europeans were going to get back after their well-deserved triumph over Virtus.pro in the Lower Bracket Finals.
The Lower Bracket of EPICENTER Major was where big upsets took place. Forward Gaming beat Fnatic while OG beat Evil Geniuses in the first round. Then it was Alliance’s turn to beat NRG and OG’s turn to produce the biggest upset of the tournament by convincingly beating Team Secret (2 – 0) while playing with a substitute. This result made a lot of people wonder what went wrong there.
Of course, it’s perfectly possible for Secret to have had a bad day. Or for OG to have had an amazing day. After all, they had already proved they have what it takes to win, after they defeated Evil Geniuses in their first Lower Bracket match. But there’s another possibility here: what if Team Secret chose to let themselves be beaten by a much weaker team in order to play possum and lead everyone into falsely believing they were no longer one of the best competitors in the world? That way, fewer teams would seriously study their playstyle ahead of TI 9.
The Lower Bracket ultimately ended with Alliance and PSG.LGD finishing 5th – 6th, TNC Predator in 4th place and Virtus.pro in 3rd. The rematch between Liquid and Vici Gaming needed five games to conclude and VG won the EPICENTER Major title.