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    Dota 2 – Old And New Faces Rise Out Of The Group Stages

    The Manila Major kicked off on a good note, as the production quality of the group stages far exceeded the previous low bar set by the Shanghai Major. The audio quality was excellent, while camera views soared through couriers, runes in the river, and all three lanes. That’s not to mention their sleek graphics, with statistics recaps and the new draft overlay. Even with its minor faults, the production will get better, as PGL communicates with the community for feedback.

    The end of the two-day group stage was punctuated by stellar performances from old and new faces alike. Na’Vi had their strongest performance with their most recent roster, climbing out of group B in a sweep. Newbee, Liquid, and LGD topped out of their respective groups. And fan favorites, EG and Secret, were unable to climb out of their downward trend.

    Is Na’Vi Back?

    Na’Vi rose out of their group with a 4-0 sweep, showing the kind of dominance that we haven’t seen from them in years. It was a performance so unexpected that a writer released an article on Na’Vi’s website, saluting their success by quoting NBA great, Michael Jordan: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” The statement is quite reductive and may be too soon to say. Plus, talent alone did win Na’Vi a game, such as when Dendi carried his team, with stellar Tinker play, in the longest match of the tournament at 1hr31mins. It may be easier to acknowledge that you need all three of talent, teamwork and intelligence to win championships, and Na’Vi will have their chance to prove that in the main event.

    Delayed Revenge

    The dream, grudge match between Secret and DC did not happen, but the results from the group stages give enough for us to chew on. Team Secret dropped to the lower bracket, with the worst record in their group. Initially, the grudge match was about ex-Secret players, w33ha and Misery, proving that they’re on the better team. But now Team Secret has other woes. From the controversy surrounding their roster shuffle to their lackluster tournament performances–they’ve lost 8 of their last 9 series–Secret has turned heel from once being fan favorites. Success at the Manila Major would validate their team management decisions, and they’ll have a long road ahead from the lower bracket.

    Rising SEA

    Two out of three SEA teams are in the upper bracket. Fnatic, in particular, has shown great versatility in the group stage. Aside from experimenting with Bounty Hunter in this meta, they’re also the only team to have played Medusa (2-0), Necrophos (1-0), and in one game, played musical chairs with their laning and positions. Their support, 343, played Axe in the mid lane, Ohaiyo played Doom in the Jungle, and MidOne was in the offlane.

    MVP.QO had some of the most impressive individual performances of the group stage, from his precise twitching of armlet toggles to a megacreep, comeback performance against Mineski. As a team, MVP showed a marked improvement in their late game decision making, which was a general weakness during their previous TI run. They were more mindful of their buyback situations and were able to outmaneuver Mineski in a megacreep scenario. They’ll be facing their toughest challenge of the tournament against Team Liquid in the first round of the winner’s bracket.

    Bounty Hunter, Death Prophet Still Alive

    Reports of Bounty Hunter’s death have been greatly exaggerated. He has been in the top 5 of most contested heroes throughout this patch, until a series of repeated nerfs booted him from the meta. That was until MVP and Fnatic showed that he’s still viable. Those two teams account for 5 out of the 7 wins Bounty Hunter had in the group stage (his win rate is 100%).

    Death Prophet was another victim of patch 6.87’s nerf hammer, with some rather harsh nerfs to Spirit Siphon. She was rarely seen and had little success at ESL One Manila and Epicenter: Moscow, but during the group stage she was the 4th most banned hero and won 7 out of the 8 games she was picked.

    Poisoned Picks

    One of the more surprising outcomes of the group stage is how many of the most picked heroes turned out to have the worst win rates. Common picks such as Dragon Knight (5th highest picked), Phoenix (3rd), and Lion (4th) all had less than a 37% win rate, with Phoenix being the lowest at 22.78%. And it wasn’t just a handful of teams, but teams from all groups were adhering to this meta. Even Puck had a minor surge in popularity, but she had the lowest win rate, 20%, among all heroes with at least 10 played games.

    Teams will have two days to prepare and adapt to the results of the group stage. There’s a possibility for the other grudge match, Team Secret vs. Evil Geniuses, if both teams can make it past the first round. And all of the matchups in the upper bracket are must-watch games. You can find coverage of the event on our blog and on our Twitter, where we’ll also be providing up to date results.

    As seen on Dotabuff

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