The Kuala Lumpur Major has finally ended — the champions have been crowned, the players have gone home, and the arena has closed. We saw a lot of terrific things this week, both in-game and out. The tournament was a success in every aspect, from production value to side-content and especially the game quality. This exciting Dota was helped along by the fact that many of the matches went the full distance, with game 3’s abound and even a full five game Grand Final.
The Phantom of the Alliance
Now, let’s get into the tournament. The group stage went as expected for the most part. The group stage fortunately had a very good distribution of teams, considering that the seeding was drawn out of a hat. We saw the strongest teams come out on top with several teams easily gliding to victory, such as Evil Geniuses and PSG.LGD. While these teams were certainly expected to make it to the Upper Bracket, their ability to completely outclass the competition was still a surprise. Evil Geniuses rode to their 2-0 on the back of Arteezy’s Terrorblade. In a patch with such high emphasis on strong carry players, it’s hard to imagine anyone would be more comfortable on the current meta heroes than Arteezy.
Arteezy’s “Player Profile”
PSG.LGD took a more creative route to the top of Group C, utilizing more out-of-the-box picks for fy to secure their victories. In their four wins, fy played a single game of Shadow Shaman, his only traditional support of the group stage. He also played Axe, Centaur Warrunner, and Lina. These picks would prove vital in the drafting phase, providing PSG.LGD the flexibility they needed in their draft. Their opponents would see heroes like these and expect them in core roles, then prepare to counter them, this allowed PSG.LGD to then turn and punish their opponents. This kind of drafting can be vital, allowing captains like fy (and Coach QQQ) to completely outdraft their opponents.
We did see something else impressive come out of Group C. Despite losing to PSG.LGD in the winner’s match, Fnatic were able to come back strong in the deciding games against Tigers. Fnatic dispatched Tigers in one of the fastest games of the tournament at only 23 minutes and moved on to the Upper Bracket.
On the other side of the group stage we saw what was easily the biggest upset of the tournament. Group D had two decided powerhouses, Virtus.Pro and Forward Gaming. Meanwhile, not many expected much from Alliance, who had already surpassed expectations just by making it to the Major. Alliance matched up with Virtus.Pro and managed to take a game off of the Kings of CIS, better than expected for a team filled with fresh blood against the most successful team of the past year. After that, Alliance matched up against paiN X, taking two simple wins after losing a 60+ minute game 1. This would lead them into the final match of the series, a series against one of the best teams from North America, Forward Gaming.
Few predicted Alliance to actually win this match. Many thought this would end like all of the other underdog matches, a quick stomp by Forward Gaming and we’d be off to the Main Event — oh how wrong they were. Alliance are hungry, they have nothing to lose, and they everything to gain. They overcame Forward Gaming, a team with many years more Dota experience, in a three game series, shocking everyone, and moving on to the Upper Bracket. This was an astounding feat for squad who are still transitioning from Heroes of Newerth into the Dota 2 scene. A start in the Upper Bracket would provide extremely valuable experience to a team that would love to have it against other strong squads they’ve yet to face in officials on LAN.
The group stage concluded and the playoffs were ready to begin, but the Upper Bracket seeding lead to some unfortunate matchups with Alliance set up against PSG.LGD, while Fnatic was forced to face off with Virtus.Pro. Even though Alliance were able to overcome Forward Gaming in the group stage, PSG.LGD would be another beast entirely having come off a second place finish at TI8 and keeping the same roster this DPC season. The Chinese powerhouse proved to be too much for Alliance and ended the series in under an hour of game time. After dropping to PSG.LGD, Alliance would sadly fall to TNC Predator in their first Lower Bracket match. Still, this was a monumental performance for Alliance and we can hope to see more strong performances from them soon. Sadly, the rest of the Upper Bracket didn’t fare much better for our boys in blue, EG, or our SEA Superstars, Fnatic. EG would fall to Ninjas in Pyjamas in an intense 3-game series, where NiP was helped by their stand in, Team Liquid’s very own MinD_ContRoL.
Now in the lower bracket of the double elimination main event, Fnatic and Evil Geniuses were both able to overcome their first opponents. Fnatic beat out J.Storm while EG edged out Forward Gaming in a hotly contested 3-game series. From here, the Monster family was forced to knock one another out of contention. EG faced off against Fnatic, handily taking them down 2-0 and were rewarded with a follow-up match against PSG.LGD, the team that knocked them out of TI8. While EG would take the match 2-0, avenging their International loss, this meant that this was the 3rd time in 3 rounds that two Monster teams were forced to play one another.
By the time EG took down PSG.LGD, the boys in blue were running hot. They won five consecutive games and were set up to play against the team that knocked them out of the Upper Bracket, Ninjas in Pyjamas. This revenge match would end up favoring Evil Geniuses, once again riding to victory on the back of Arteezy’s plays on Arc Warden and Terrorblade, both arguably the heroes of the tournament. They were even able to turn around a game which Dota Plus had given NiP a 97% chance of victory. If you watch a single series from the tournament, make it this one!
After defeating Ninjas in Pyjamas, Evil Geniuses moved on to the lower bracket finals against Virtus.Pro on Championship Sunday. While VP proved to be too strong for EG, knocking them out with a swift 2-0, this third place finish will hopefully give EG the motivation they are in the right place for the 2018-2019 season. After a third place TI8 finish, amid some hotly debated roster moves, EG followed up that success with another high placement here in Kuala Lumpur, secured a fantastic 2100 Dota Pro Circuit points, and put themselves well on the road to securing a TI9 invite. This early bump in DPC points will take off much of the pressure that can strain teams throughout the year, allowing EG to focus more on their improvement than the points themselves.
Following EG’s exit from the tournament, we would see Team Secret matching up once again in the Grand Finals. This led to a very exciting 5-game series, worth watching regardless of your affiliation. Secret sent VP down to the lower bracket, and at one point had a 2-1 lead over the CIS squad (with loss coming off the back of a questionable MidOne Shadow Shaman pick), but VP’s resilence and adaptability shone through. They proved why they were so dominant in the previous DPC season, despite a less than desirable finish and clutched out the final two games, to secure the first Major of 2018/19. Not only was this win important for the season as a whole, but in taking this title, VP won their fifth Major championship, in surpassing OG’s record of four. To say that this event had a little bit of everything is an understatement!