ESL One Hamburg: Group A preview

ESL Hamburg Group A Preview
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ESL One Hamburg is one of the first significant tournaments of the new Dota 2 season.

Despite not being a part of the Dota 2 Pro Circuit this year, the fans will have the chance to watch names such as Virtus.pro, EG and Team Secret on the event’s stage. As with last year’s edition, the event will be held in the Barclaycard Arena and feature a prize pool of $300,000.

Group A holds some of the more prominent names with EG, Mineski, Vici Gaming, Team Secret, Alliance and paiN Gaming involved.

Format

ESL have kept the total number of teams at 12 – the same as the last ESL One in Birmingham – but the format will see several amendments. The group stage will be played as a round-robin with a point awarded for each victory, none for a loss. In both groups, the first two teams will advance to the winner (upper) bracket, the 3rd and 4th placed ones will be given a chance in the lower bracket, while the last two teams will be eliminated from the tournament.

The teams

Evil Geniuses (invited)

Odds – To win title: 5.980; To reach finals: 2.870; To win group: 3.330

Evil Geniuses had a disappointing last season which prompted them to rearrange the roster with s4 and Fly joining their ranks in late May at the expense of MISERY and Fear. The changes brought results on the stage of The International and a well-earned 3rd spot put them among the top-tier teams. The symbol of North American Dota, EG have already qualified for the Kuala Lumpur Major but in Hamburg they will play without the star SumaiL, who had visa issues and will be replaced by CC&C. Despite the change, EG are fancied by the layers to claim a top-two spot – they are 3.330 second favourites to win the group.

Mineski (invited)

Odds – To win title: 22.610; To reach finals: 8.810; To win group: 12.670

The team had a good DPC season last year, including winning a Major, but ultimately disappointed their fans on the stage of TI 2018 with their 9-12th finish. Only two players remain from the previous roster – Mushi, who has switched to position 5 support now, and mid Moon. kpii from Newbee and Febby are two well-known names who have arrived to fill the gaps in positions 3 and 4 respectively, while the hard-carry role is occupied by the relatively unknown JT-. Mineski have been struggling in the South East Asia qualifiers for other tournaments this season and are still finding their feet, so they are likely to regard finishing 3rd or 4th in this group a success.

Vici Gaming (invited)

Odds – To win title: 10.550; To reach finals: 5.920; To win group: 5.470

Vici Gaming are hoping to make a stronger return this year. They were good overall last season but, like a number of other teams, they ultimately underperformed in TI8 with a 9-12th finish. With Valve allowing only one team from an organisation to participate in this season’s DPC, Vici welcomed former VGJ.Thunder players Fade and Yang, while the position 5 role will interestingly be given to a player new to the big scene, Dy. The team fell just short of qualifying for the forthcoming Kuala Lumpur Major, losing to PSG.LGD 2-1, but demonstrated that they are gathering momentum and that their changes are delivering results.

paiN Gaming (invited)

Odds – To win title: 27.920; To reach finals: 10.970; To win group: 16.460

The Brazilian team will hold great memories from the last ESL One event in Birmingham where they finished 3rd, their best DPC finish last season. The team qualified for TI8, but were one of the teams eliminated in the group stage. A significant boost in their performance last season was the arrival of w33, who gelled quickly after joining them in April. At the start of the current season, MISERY assumed the role of position 5, being a captain of the team. It will be interesting what the team can achieve now they boast two TI6 finalists in their roster.

Team Secret (invited)

Odds – To win title: 3.860; To reach finals: 1.833; To win group: 1.961

Puppey has formed another squad for the forthcoming season. Team Secret had a good last DPC season and at points were arguably the best team, but Puppey could not become the first player in the world to win TI twice and Secret finished 5-6th at the season finale. Their fans expected more and Puppey signed some fresh blood – the off-laner zai (part of the team in 2015) and Nisha, an up-and-coming young player coming from the Polish Dota 2 scene. There won’t be any position changes, with Puppey, YapzOr and MidOne remaining 5, 4 and 2 respectively. Team Secret will be expected to finish in the top two in this group. Indeed, they are favourites to top it.

Alliance (Europe qualifier)

Odds – To win title: 22.610; To reach finals: 8.810; To win group: 12.670

Alliance have been trying to get back onto the big scene over the past several years, following their huge success in claiming TI3. Loda has now stepped down into the coaching role and provides valuable experience to this squad. The current line-up has been together since November last year, with the exception of qojqva, who joined in June. The team did not make it to any DPC events last season and in general are a team who only make the occasional breakthrough in top-level Dota 2 tournaments. As such, the team cannot be considered a favourite, but can definitely fight for the 3rd/4th spots.

Verdict

The majority of the teams in this group have gone through some roster changes but the trio of Team Secret, EG and Vici Gaming will likely fight for the first two spots in the group. With two teams departing from the group stage, the remaining three teams will have to produce their best to keep themselves alive. paiN have proved they can play against top teams, but Mineski are not adapting the new roster as fast as they would like to. Alliance are the only team in this group who came through a qualifier and should not be easily ruled out.