EPICENTER Major – Group C preview

EPICENTER MAJOR GP C PREVIEW
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The EPICENTER Major is almost here in all of its glory. For the 16 teams in Moscow it will be the last chance to secure priceless Dota Pro Circuit points – and a possible place at The International.

Group C features two of this season’s Major winners and should provide some epic clashes.

Virtus.pro

DPC ranking – 2nd with 11,400 points (qualified for TI9)

Outright odds: 7.170

Group odds: 1.877

CIS Dota has come to be associated with Virtus.pro in the last three years. Undoubtedly the strongest team from that region, they are also one of the best teams overall and one of the three to have won a Major this season – the very first one in Kuala Lumpur.

The team have been together since 2016 apart from RodjER, who joined them in January 2018. The Russians have had another great season, slightly marred by their 7-8th spot in the Paris Major.

And yet, while still being one of the very best, Virtus.pro feel a bit off their usual position of being the dominant team expected to win every tournament. There is plenty of talent in this team, but RAMZES666 is currently the man to watch out for.

Vici Gaming

DPC ranking – 4th with 6,300 points (qualified for TI9)

Outright odds: 14.670

Group odds: 2.480

Vici Gaming are the only Chinese team to win a Major this season. Their Cinderella DreamLeague run was done in an impressive manner – after failing to qualify for the tournament directly, Vici Gaming won StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 1 to earn their spot and subsequently won the Major with a record of 10 wins and only one loss.

The rest of the DPC season was largely mediocre for Vici Gaming – they finished 7-8th in the other three Majors they took part in. 

Paparazi灬 has been in the team since 2017 and is one of the most talented carries on the Chinese pro scene with the ability to carry his team to victory.

Alliance

DPC ranking – 14th with 379 points (not yet qualified for TI9)

Outright odds: 29.330

Group odds: 11.380

The name Alliance carries the burden of the glory – they won The International 3 several years ago. While the current squad does not seem able to reach such heights, the core of players that started playing together in 2017 has been growing and steadily making their way to more and more significant tournaments.

The team attended two Majors this season – Kuala Lumpur and Chongqing – but with the revival of OG later in the season, European qualifiers proved a serious obstacle to overcome and the Swedish team missed the last two Majors.

They earned their spot here with a 2nd place in StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2 where, from the positions of underdogs, they beat teams consisting of decorated players such as EHOME and Ninjas in Pyjamas.

Ultimately, Alliance fell just short of winning the Minor, but there are a lot of positives in their game and they demonstrated that they are a team with good chemistry.

Forward Gaming

DPC ranking – 18th with 154.88 points (not yet qualified for TI9)

Outright odds: 63.200

Group odds: 13.440

Forward Gaming need at least a 5-6th spot at EPICENTER to have a chance to qualify directly for The International.

They made a name for themselves last season with their performances in the concluding months of the DPC and on the stage of TI8 where they won Group B and ultimately finished 7-8th (then playing as VGJ.Storm).

During the current season, FG have been less impressive, but they have still taken part in all the Majors apart from the last one in Paris.

Struggling to display their form from the last season, the team replaced three players in March. CCnC arrived with the reputation of a creative Mid with lots of potential to develop, while the old-new signing Sneyking seems a much better fit than the reason he was kicked out of the team last season – UNiVeRsE.

Verdict

Top spot will most likely be contested in this group by Virtus.pro and Vici Gaming. With the Russians being the more consistent team throughout the season, it would be wise to place them in the position of favourites for the spot – as Dafabet have done.

Is VP’s performance in Paris indicative of a downward trend that inevitably comes at a point for every successful team, though? Vici Gaming demonstrated that when the stars are aligned perfectly for them, no team can stop them. However, the players and their coach, rOtk, will need to find the trigger for that on the stage of EPICENTER.

Alliance and Forward Gaming have a mountain to climb, but if the Swedish team demonstrate their best form, seen on the stage of the StarLadder Minor, they might be able to upset the favourites. FG, meanwhile, won the North American qualifier and achieved a victory over the favourites, EG, so they definitely should not be written off either.