One of the most surprising Dota 2 tournament results in the past two years played out in Manila this weekend.
This marks the second straight first-place finish for a Chinese team in an international LAN this month after Vici Gaming Reborn won the recent StarLadder i-Series Invitational.
Wings were the quintessential underdog at ESL One Manila. They had no titles to their name, nor a single star player in the lineup, and their shape heading into the event was a stark contrast to that of Liquid. The European team, coming hot off their second place finish at the Shanghai Major, showed little weakness leading up the grand final, going undefeated in the group stage and eliminating Empire in the semifinals.
Meanwhile Wings struggled mightily until the grand finals, barely surviving the group stage. Their encounter against tournament favorites Fnatic in the semifinals saw the Chinese team fight back from a loss in the first game, winning the remaining two games in rapid succession. In the final itself, Wings’ Zhou “bLink” Yang delivered what could only be described as one of the most dominant midlane performances this year, going a grand total of 41/9/45 throughout the series. Liquid seemed to be at a loss for what to do against the late blooming Chinese squad, who proceeded to dismantle them in three straight games.
The question that now remains is how ESL One Manila will affect any potential invites for the upcoming Valve Manila major in june. Wings’ victory may be an impressive feat, but given their lack of top placings internationally, it’s unclear whether they’ll be lucky enough to bypass the Chinese qualifiers for the second major of the year. In case their performance this weekend will influence the invites, however, the even bigger question will be what team they’ll be invited in place of.