EPICENTER Major – Group D preview

EPICENTER MAJOR GP D PREVIEW
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EPICENTER is the fifth and last stop of the journey to The International 2019.

Eight teams can currently be proud of having qualified for the biggest Dota 2 event out there. The four remaining slots will be decided in Moscow where 15,000 DPC points are there for the taking, as well as a US$1million prize pool.

Here’s our look at the teams in Group D.

PSG.LGD

DPC ranking – 5th with 4,140 points (qualified for TI9)

Outright odds: 7.160

Group odds: 1.917

More was expected this season from this team who were tipped to be the strongest Chinese outfit when the campaign began.

It’s hardly been a disaster though – PSG.LGD finished 4th in two of the Majors (Chongqing and Paris).  They kept the same roster that achieved a 2nd place at The International 2018 and have been together for about a year and a half.

The key player in the team is Somnus丶M who has been a part of the LGD organization since 2015. He is a talented Mid player, very strong in one-on-one play. fy is another player with a cult following among the fan base, able to produce both effective and flashy plays in the position 4 support role.

OG

DPC ranking – 10th with 948 points (not yet qualified for TI9)

Outright odds: 14.670

Group odds: 3.650

The reigning champions of The International were largely absent from the Majors this season. During the first one OG decided to take a break which was then followed by ana going inactive for a period of five months. The team was struggling to find a carry to fill in his boots and did not qualify for a single Major during that time.

Eventually ana returned and the team’s performances improved – OG finished 5-6th in the Paris Major.

However, the points gained were not enough to secure a return to The International and OG will need something similar in Moscow if they are to secure direct qualification for TI9.

Ninjas in Pyjamas

DPC ranking – 8th with 2,590 points (qualified for TI9)

Outright odds: 16.910

Group odds: 8.320

NiP have taken part in three of the four Majors played so far and had a great start in Kuala Lumpur with a 4th-place finish. In the following months, however, the North American team weren’t able to repeat their success, finishing 9-12th in the DreamLeague 11 Major and, most recently, 5-6th in Paris.

The team have also won two Minors – the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019 and the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2 – to secure their spot at EPICENTER.

In the recent StarLadder event, the team produced a spectacle in the final and were put to the test by Alliance before ultimately securing victory. The most impressive name in the team is ppd, who is TI5 winner with the reputation of one of the best drafters in the game. The man behind the team formation, he is crucial to the success of the team from a strategic point of view.

TNC Predator

DPC ranking – 11th with 696 points (not yet qualified for TI9)

Outright odds: 20.300

Group odds: 5.400

TNC are one of the well-established South East Asian teams, well-experienced on the international Dota 2 stage with multiple attendances to Majors in the past.

Currently the competition in the SEA region is quite tough for the two spots it receives and TNC missed the last two Majors. Their first Major this season lead to a respectable 5-6th spot in Kuala Lumpur, followed by the less impressive 9-12th in Chongqing.

Having missed the next two Majors, TNC changed their captain and drafter ninjaboogie in February with eyyou. The squad is entirely composed of Filipino players and the man to watch here is Gabbi.

Verdict

Despite not performing up to expectations, PSG.LGD arrive as favourites to win this group – achieving the most impressive results compared to the other teams and have impressive player talent at their disposal.

Having lost to OG in the final of TI8 last year, the Chinese will be even more motivated to beat their rivals and top the group.

As far as OG is regarded, anything can be expected. ana is back and the team have everything necessary to shoot for the stars. Despite their talisman’s return, OG are yet to produce the level of play that took them to the World Championship last year. There is no better time to do it, as their direct qualification for TI9 hangs in the balance.

NiP and TNC are solid pretenders for the 2nd spot, as well. If ppd can outdraft his opponents and hatch a masterplan that his players can execute, then NiP can go a long way in the tournament.

TNC, on the other hand, have caused some huge upsets on big stages in the past, arguably the most memorable of which was the TI6 elimination of OG, the then-super favourites, tipped to win the tournament. The change of their captain brought them back on the international stage. Finding themselves in a similar position, TNC will need to win as many points as possible to secure direct qualification to TI9.