EPICENTER Major preview – Group stage

Jun 21 2019 5 min read

EPICENTER Major preview – Group stage ⚡⚡⚡ Esports and gaming news, analytics, reviews on WePlay! The latest news on WePlay!

Tomorrow, at 12:00 CEST, eight teams will start paving their way towards the finals of the last ranking professional Dota 2 tournament of the current DPC season – EPICENTER Major.

We’ve already covered the most intriguing topics of the upcoming tournament in a dedicated article, which you can locate here. This time, we are going to focus on the Group stage, the balance between the teams, and predictions.

The idea of the Group stage is fairly simple. We are going to have four GSL-format Groups with matches played in bo3. The best two teams of each Group will advance to the upper bracket of the Playoffs while the rest two teams will drop down to the lower bracket with bo1 matches.

It is worth mentioning that the 12th place in the current DPC ranking system is occupied by EHOME with 630 points, and the Chinese team won’t participate in the Moscow Major.

Group A

  • Team Secret (DPC 1st place, 14,250 DPC points)
  • Fnatic (6th place, 3,525 points)
  • Pain Gaming (20th place, 150)
  • Royal Never Give Up (29th place,  54)

This is by far the least interesting Group in terms of possible surprises. We have two clear favourites represented by Team Secret and Fnatic, and there’re two other teams, which have been allocated to the wrong Group to perform surprising plays.

However, Royal Never Give Up is being commonly written off while the Chinese players are capable of performing unexpected results. Unfortunately for them, they’ve met a “terminator” team and an Asian crew with a fairly good knowledge of the Chinese Dota 2 professional scene.

Speaking of Pain Gaming, the team is an absolute dark horse. Their play style and picks decisions might cause some trouble in short-term, but still, it shouldn’t affect the results.

Predictions:

  • The upper bracket: Team Secret, Fnatic
  • The lower bracket: Pain Gaming, Royal Never Give Up

Group B

  • Evil Geniuses (3rd place, 6,750 points)
  • Team Liquid (7th place, 2,820)
  • Gambit Esports (17th place, 228)
  • Infamous (27th place, 60)

Now, this particular Group might demonstrate some unforeseen results. There’s the Evil Geniuses team with a tradition of starting the tournaments pretty low; there’s Team Liquid after the recent reshuffle with MATUMBAMAN replaced for w33; finally, we have Gambit Esports who are well-known for their common instability. The obvious outsider is Infamous, but even they have a chance to hit the upper bracket if the opponents will be overwhelmed by unexpected misplays, which is fairly possible. Overall, the upper bracket doesn’t seem so clear as in Group A.

However, it’s rather doubtful that Evil Geniuses would play so bad so that they lose both their games in the Group stage. They usually cope with the first issues by the second round and fix their tournament performance.

But it’s Team Liquid we are most unconfident with. The question is whether the individual skill of the players will be enough to deal with strong team plays by the CIS and South American teams. We might be doing a mistake here, but we believe in Gambit Esports and their performance at the qualifiers – they are likely to advance further.

Predictions:

  • The upper bracket: Evil Geniuses, Gambit Esports
  • The lower bracket: Team Liquid, Infamous

Group C

  • Virtus.pro (2nd place, 11,400 points)
  • Vici Gaming (4th place, 6,300)
  • Alliance (14th place, 379)
  • Forward Gaming (18th place, 154)

Virtus.pro and Vici Gaming should take the top-2 in this Group and fight further if we only consider their current DPC ranking. However…

Well, the Russian team should feel comfortable enough to play at home and to reach the upper bracket. The situation with Vici is a bit more complicated; they’ve recently failed at ESL One Birmingham by taking the 5th-6th place while Alliance is showing excellent results being in a great state, which they’ve already proved at Kyiv. It should be a lot easier for the Swedish team to get started. 

The only downside for them is the very first match, which they are going to play against VP. This will most likely result in a loss for Loda and his crew, and in return, that could question their chances to hit top-2 in the Group.

Speaking of Forward Gaming, the team will hardly be able to compete on the same level as the rest of the contenders, and we expect to see the American crew in the lower bracket.

Predictions:

  • The upper bracket: Virtus.pro, Vici Gaming
  • The lower bracket: Alliance, Forward Gaming

Group D

  • PSG.LGD (5th place, 4,140 points)
  • Ninjas in Pyjamas (8th place, 2,590)
  • OG (10th place, 948)
  • TNC Predator (11th place, 696)

Now, that’s the “death group” with the highest competition to expect and the most exciting plays to look forward to. We have four teams of comparably high level, and each of them has the chances to hit an honourable place at the tournament.

Ninjas in Pyjamas is the easiest team to judge. They’ve recently won StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor showing both tactical flexibility and the dangerous plays by Ace with Meepo. Moreover, they are persistent and enduring.

The latest plays by the rest of the teams were performed back in Birmingham. PSG.LGD took the bronze, TNC Predator shared the 5th-6th place with VG, while OG took the 7th-8th place. Interestingly, NiP completely failed in England back then and didn’t even manage to leave their Group.

Funny fact. The Chinese crew hasn’t met any of the current Group D opponents back at ESL One Birmingham, while in the “imaginary” standoff between the other three teams TNC Predator was the strongest.

Obviously, the stakes are extremely high. We’d say that the overall classy style and the current effective state mostly favour PSG.LGD and NiP correspondingly. At the same time, two other teams are still extremely strong, and we might see them destroy the lower bracket completely.

Predictions:

  • The upper bracket: PSG.LGD, Ninjas in Pyjamas
  • The lower bracket: OG, TNC Predator

Groups A and B will compete tomorrow, on June 22, while Groups C and D will have to wait till June 23. The Playoffs are set to start on Monday, June 24.


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