The groups are done, the storylines written, and the bracket filled at the Dota 2 Asia Championships. With shocking slumps, soaring successes, and fan favorites finding old form, the one question on everyone’s mind is, “what happens next?” Here’s my take on the showdowns that will take us one step closer to handing out over $1 million.
Team Secret vs Invictus Gaming
Team Secret detractors would have been justified in questioning the team’s chemistry before the Dota 2 Asia Championships, but not any more. The undefeated group stage campaign was far from easy, but the veteran talent of Gustav “S4” Magnusson and the reliability of Ludwig “Zai” Wahlberg have proven key when the games looked 50-50.
As for Invictus Gaming, losses to HyperGloryTeam and Cloud9 nearly knocked the still-incomplete squad from the winner’s bracket entirely. If you have to choose between “team with positive momentum” and “team with negative momentum,” even the frugal would feel comfortable in betting on the burgeoning International favorites.
Prediction: Team Secret 2-0
Hellraisers vs Vici Gaming
Vici Gaming may not have swept the competition like Secret, but the East/West tandem of Dominik “Black” Reitmeier and Daryl Koh “iceiceice” Pei Xiang looked potent as ever en route to an 11-win, four-loss finish. Are they the same team that caught Evil Geniuses napping at ESL One in New York? No. Are they still strong enough to threaten the top spot? If the winds blow the right way, yes.
On the flipside, Hellraisers showed that the European qualifier was no fluke. The team took fifth on the heels of CIS-style Dota, featuring runaway carries on the heels of early leads. While it’s unlikely that this early-game dependent style will net them an upset over Vici, a free-farming Slark or Anti-Mage could easily tip a game in their favor.
Prediction: Vici Gaming 2-1
Evil Geniuses vs Natus Vincere
Evil Geniuses versus Natus Vincere is the kind of match that breaks hearts, breaks friendships, and breaks computer monitors with equal proficiency. Na’Vi is riding a wave of momentum after surging through the wildcard qualifier and landing in sixth place in the group stage, taking a game off of the Boys in Blue in the process. With Oleksandr “XBOCT” Dashkeyvych and Danil “Dendi” Ishutin back in prime form, the beleaguered squad has faithful fans dreaming of a return to glory.
Unfortunately, their first round opponent is a team whose only failures in the group stage have been of their own accord. Miscommunications between new teammates have turned fights on their heads, and not in Evil Geniuses’ favor. Even a close contest between Team Secret was blown wide open only when ill-fated engagements and costly miss-fires undid a decent lead.
Provided Evil Geniuses doesn’t defeat themselves, Peter “PPD” Dager’s drafts and Syed “Sumail” Hassan’s confidence should win the day, though Dashkeyvych will likely run away with one game during the set.
Prediction: Evil Geniuses 2-1
Cloud9 vs Big God
The last team to the roster party, Cloud9 is still searching for their identity. Johan “N0Tail” Sundstein and Rasmus “Misery” Filipsen found their footing just in time to give the team a birth in the winners’ bracket, but the day-and-night difference between day one and day five are wholly indicative of a side that’s just finding its rhythm.
Big God, on the other hand, is fighting like a team of retired boxers, called out by their younger, arrogant colleagues. Sharp, talented as they’ve ever been—and rest assured, this team has talent in spades—and surprisingly committed for a team of “retirees,” Big God looks the easy favorite in a sweep.
Prediction: Big God 2-0
The Dota 2 Asia Championships is as much about unanswered questions as known talents, just as it was when the curtain first lifted. How will Hassan perform in a best of 3? Will anyone out-draft Team Secret? Is Cloud9 truly just getting started? If the group stage has shown us anything, it’s that every day is a game changer, particularly with over $1 million on the line.