Image courtesy of EPICENTER
Day 3 of the EPICENTER XL Major showcased some significant upsets as several underdog teams came out ahead by defeating top-tier Major-winners.
For the first time in EPICENTER XL, fans had the pleasure of witnessing all 12 participating teams battle out in their respective groups on the same day. The series played today are a strong indicator of the direction some of the teams are headed. Not all results were as expected, as clear underdogs of the event got an upper hand on some of the strongest participating teams, most of which are in the top 8 of the Dota Pro Circuit Rankings.
The Major winning SEA team came to redeem themselves, after a disappointing start to their run at the event due to a loss in their first series. The CIS underdogs, on the other hand, came back to bring another upset today. Losing their first game to Daryl Koh “iceiceice” Pei Xiang’s signature Pangolier, they came back strong in the next two games, showcasing their wide hero pool. Averaging the series to 40 minutes, they showed their prowess at extending matches to the late game. With a second series secured, they now sit at the top of their bracket, standing out as one of the most formidable teams at the event.
The winners of the last International showed their thirst of achieving the one goal that has eluded them this season, winning a Major tournament. The Chinese powerhouse standing in their way gave them a lot more resistance than their opponents yesterday. Liquid gave the newly buffed Slark a shot, twice, winning once and losing the other time. They secured the third, deciding game of the series with Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi’s record-breaking, cold-blooded Morphling. The extent of his prowess was noted by several statsmen of the community.
Both the renewed teams from NA and CIS that debuted their new rosters at the event were desperate for a victory after losing their first series yesterday. Although compLexity took the series with a dominant performance, Empire held on for the longest time possible with a rare Arc Warden pick that stalled their opponent’s high ground siege. The hero is widely considered to be very weak, fragile in the laning stage, greedy with the Midas build and easy to deal with by top-tier players.
The EU team using their coach as a stand-in proved that their victory yesterday was by no means, a fluke. Going undefeated in their second series of the tournament, the team now stands at the top of their group. They are also the only team in the tournament who have not lost a game, though it is relatively early in the group stages and that may change. We were witness to another stellar Morphling performance today, this time in the hands of Johan “N0tail” Sundstein, who has definitely stepped up after being criticized for his sacrificial gameplay as a carry.
An age-old rivalry that has gone in the favor of the EU team brought one of the biggest upsets today. The CIS team has undoubtedly been lackluster throughout the season, despite making changes to their roster more than once. Anyone with a little bit of knowledge of either of the teams would have predicted the Major-winning team to take the series quite easily. It seems Secret had a similar chain of thought, casually picking Wraith King and Techies on the supporting duo. Na’Vi responded with a quirky Skyrath Mage for midlaner Danil “Dendi” Ishutin which allowed them to cruise to victory. The second game was equally easy for Secret, who pushed the series to a deciding third game.
The pickup of Dendi’s signature Tinker was key to winning Na’Vi the game and the series. An absolute nailbiter, the game was twice as long as the other two in the series. Although Secret showed signs of making a comeback towards the end, Na’Vi continued their onslaught to take a very significant victory in the group stage.
Despite the fact that both the teams are considered two of the best in the world, the CIS powerhouse were the clear favorites to win the series. The three-time Major winners have looked strong despite confirming their direct invite to TI8 and have not lost their motivation to win. The Chinese TI7 runner-ups, on the other hand, have had their ups and downs through the season, although they hold a place in the top 8 DPC rankings. They certainly looked discombobulated in the first game, losing a lane of barracks to a solo split-pushing Lifestealer while going for a questionable Roshan attempt themselves, which ultimately cost them the game.
Virtus.pro seemed to take things a bit casually in the second game, going for a first-pick Pudge, compensated for with an intimidating dual-core Morphling and Broodmother. Despite a dominant early game which allowed them to take two lanes of barracks, they started losing their grip and net-worth lead. In a game mired in network issues, Newbee made a fantastic comeback, pushing the series to a third game. VP were quick to respond, with a short and dominant third game, picking Morphling again to secure the series.
The group stages continue tomorrow, kicking off with the first series between compLexity Gaming and Mineski at 10:00 local time (09:00 CEST).