Watch The Throne
Former TI3 champions Alliance have been living in a movie over the past few months. Following their post-TI fall from grace, team captain - and Dota 1 legend - Loda attempted to save the team by subbing in almost every notable Swedish player, with diminishing results each time. At the end of his rope, Loda reached out one by one to reassemble their world championship roster. Within a month of bringing the band back together, Alliance were on an upward swing. All past issues had been healed by time, and distance had made the heart grow fonder. Alliance have climbed back to the top echelon of competition, taking multiple tournament victories and a top 8 finish at the previous Major.
This weekend looks to be equally successful for the reborn Swedish powerhouse. Recent balance changes have enabled the Swedes to resurrect their famed “rat dota”, a system of intense splitpushing, placing heavy pressure on single lanes to force rotations out of their opponents. In the group stage, Alliance used this strategy to great effect to supplement their brilliant team fighting talent. The Swedes started the weekend with a close 1-2 set against presumptive champions, Team Liquid. Bulldog’s signature Nature’s Prophet, backed by the veritable wrecking ball of Loda’s Slardar, created constant challenges for Liquid, keeping the European superteam on their feet at all times. In their next set, Alliance wiped the floor with Chinese upstarts, Vici Gaming Reborn. EGM and Akke’s rotating supports provided the setups for multiple teamfights to rapidly obtain and secure the lead in each game. In their last set against Fnatic, Alliance put up a strong fight against the SEA champions, but fell after Loda narrowly lost the fight for maximum farm against the star cores of Fnatic.
Alliance find themselves in the lower bracket, but with best of one’s awaiting them, the former champions are sure to dip into their pockets for masterful strategies to work their way back into championship contention.
Still On Top:
Over the past several months, something peculiar has been happening. North America, historically considered the weakest region in Dota, has come online. Complexity have gone from group stage contenders to main stage regulars. Digital Chaos have assembled a hybrid team capable of taking top teams to task. Even smaller teams like FDL and Shazam are managing to take games off of regional champions. But throughout it all, Evil Geniuses have been maintaining their spot at the top of the region.
The TI5 champions are looking at a wild ride this weekend. Their recent roster shuffle, with multiple players taking on new roles, came at the same time as large, sweeping balance changes, forcing EG to adapt their play in a major way. Thankfully, under the wisdom of drafter ppd and experience of team captain Fear, EG have been able to deftly navigate this challenge. The North American all-stars are coming off of a 1st place finish at The Summit and a top 3 finish at the previous Shanghai Major.
In their opening set against Mineski, EG proved they were a force to be reckoned with. Old Man Fear, proving that he has perhaps one of the deepest hero pools in all of Dota, put on brilliant performances repurposing Doom and Axe into supports, to great effect. In the next set against top Chinese competitors LGD, the focus was on Aui_2000. The Canadian carry has settled into his new role extremely well, demonstrated by his incredible performances on Juggernaut and Vengeful Spirit. Unfortunately, EG were brought down by MVP in their last set, sending them down to the Loser’s Bracket. Fans can look forward to a strong run from EG to reclaim their world title tomorrow!
Fnatic are basking in the glory this weekend. After years of trying, SEA have had not just one, but two major tournaments, back to back. As long time champions of the region, Fnatic have been fighting not just for themselves, but for their community. This weekend will be no different. Mushi has brought his squad to title contention once again, with the recent addition of 343 to the roster. The Malaysian support has been a valuable addition, with his seamless combination of selflessness and classic SEA aggression. This peculiar, but brilliant, fusion has created a cohesive team, able to turn on the pressure quickly and never take it down. This wall of aggression is quick to break teams who don’t expect it, and wear away the few who try to prepare to endure it.
The first victims this weekend were Vici Gaming Reborn. Despite the Chinese taking an early lead, Fnatic came back with a resounding force. Led by the cores of Mushi and MidOne, the SEA heroes wiped the floor with Vici, taking a resounding 2-0 win. In their second set, like Alliance, Fnatic put up a strong fight against event favorites Team Liquid. Fnatic’s aggression revealed severe flaws in Liquid’s defensive capabilities, allowing them to rack up a 1-2 result after an intense fight. Fnatic ended the group stage with a resounding win over Alliance. In the final game of the set, Mushi displayed some of the best midgame Medusa play ever seen.
Fnatic find themselves squaring off against LGD in the Upper Bracket tomorrow. With the hometown crowd behind them, there’s no telling what Fnatic will be able to do.