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    Dota 2 – Home Field Advantage? Recapping The Shanghai Major Groupstage

    Trouble In China

    The Chinese teams have not had a good group stage. For the first time ever, only one Chinese team advances to the upper bracket in a Valve endorsed event—every previous event had always seen at least three Chinese teams in the upper bracket.

    Before the Shanghai Major, we discussed the storylines for EHOME and LGD going into the event. Both looked very promising leading up to the Shanghai Major. EHOME, however, has completely failed to live up to their own expectations and those of their fans. With a disappointing performance, they placed 3rd in their group and were unable to even take a game off of the top two teams. LGD remains as the sole Chinese hope in the upper bracket finals and their performance certainly looks promising enough to see them do well in the playoffs.

    TI5 finalists, CDEC Gaming, have somewhat expectedly, fallen off quite significantly. They were unable to show off any signs of strategies or plans and they still stuck to picks that made them strong during TI5, but feel out of place in today’s meta.

    Similarly, Vici Gaming, a team that has been quiet for a long time now, has been in horrendous shape and was eventually edged to the last place in their group. On paper, they were considered to take a top 2 position but they showed nothing that would indicate such a placement. They opened weakly and displayed many individual mistakes. This one in particular may even be symbolic for the state VG is currently in.

    The Chinese New Year is pointed out by most to be the factor behind this drop-off in quality. The festivities and following vacation can last for more than two weeks after all. Whether or not that is the only reason though is left to be discussed.

    SEA Levels Rising

    As bad as the group stage was for the Chinese teams, it was that much better for the South-East Asian representatives. MVP.Phoenix and Fnatic were both able to defy the odds and advanced to the upper brackets, a first for the SEA scene since TI2. While there is an argument to be made that their opponents were weaker than expected, both teams displayed strong performances. Especially MVP.Phoenix, who put on an aggressive show and was able to deliver the fastest victory of the tournament thus far with an 18:34 beat-down versus Secret.

    Smells like Team Spirit

    The rest of groups A & B went pretty much as expected. Team Secret may not have performed as well as they wanted to initially, but they recuperated and have secured a 2nd place finish while Alliance went 4-0 as expected. There was one anomaly however.

    Goblak has a reputation. Often times, his teams do well in the beginning but tend to drop off quite a bit after. Team Spirit did not seem to be an exception. After a furious finish in the Shanghai Qualifiers, they dropped off quite a bit. Their first LAN attendance at SLTV was a disaster and following performances left something to be desired for. However, their performances now indicate that they are very much capable of fighting their way through the lower bracket.

    The Defending Champions

    In Group C, OG started off in top form, taking their first series against Team Archon in a sweep. Game 2 of the winner’s match, OG vs LGD, proved to be one of the more riveting games of the group stages, with both teams running their heroes bodies into each other’s thrones. Miracle again showcased his ability, with a dominating Slark performance in Game 3 against LGD. Slark had a surprising amount of success during the Group Stages, with a 100% win rate over six games and four of those played by OG and LGD in the same day. It’ll be interesting to see if Slark emerges as a top pick during the event, especially with players like Maybe, Miracle, and QO around.

    “Day One” EG

    Team Evil Geniuses tend to stumble on the first day of tournaments before picking up the pace, but at the Shanghai Major they started off strong. After losing their first match against Complexity, Evil Geniuses never dropped a game, winning the next two to take the series, then sweeping Virtus.Pro 2:0 for the upper bracket slot. However, this path wasn’t easy. Complexity vs Evil Geniuses is a familiar NA grudge match. It looked like a typical EG day one when they lost their first game, but they rebounded with two decisive victories and a peek at how to counter the most banned hero of the group stage: Earth Spirit. In EG vs. VP, both games were worthy of a rewatch, with the last match ending in a climactic VP defense as EG were throwing bodies at their raxes and throne.

    Two Things, Seventeen Pages

    It’s not a Chinese Dota tournament if it isn’t rife with production issues, from interruptions in the live stream to the mic levels of hosts on set. The delays, stoppages, and quality of production, when the event was finally working, led to a community uproar and ended with the firings of the production crew and its host, James Harding. Gabe Newell, Valve’s CEO, surfaced to release this news in a brief reddit post and pledged to improve the event’s quality: “we hope to get this turned around before the main event.” Harding has since released a statement detailing his side of the events, but at the moment, the main concern will be: after this debacle, will the production of the main event get any better?

    Headline Image by:

    ESL | Steffie Wunderl

    As seen on Dotabuff

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