EPICENTER Major Review

EPICENTER Major Review
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The final Major of the Dota 2 Pro Circuit certainly delivered in Moscow with Vici Gaming crowned champions, winning their second Major of the year.

They had already secured their ticket to The International 9 but victory did add a tasty US$350,000 to their account.

A lot happened in CSKA Arena from June 22-30 – here’s a look back at how events unfolded.

The Winners

The team that deserves the most attention is, of course, Vici Gaming. The Chinese outfit earned the trophy without losing a single match. The trophy came after a grueling five-game thriller in a final which saw Vici put to the test by Team Liquid, but they ultimately came out on top.

Game 1

Despite having demonstrated that they are one of the best early-game teams in the tournament, if not the best, Team Liquid went for a late-game approach in the first game. The laning stage was balanced, but Miracle- was given too much space on his anti-Mage and although Vici Gaming held on for quite a while, the Liquid carry grew too much of a threat and won the game for his team.

Game 2

The Chinese corrected their mistake in the second game and shut down Miracle- in the laning stage with early kills, then proceeded to make rotations around the map-seeking encounters as a team and providing space for Paparazi灬 to farm. The team gained control in the mid-game with more rotations and never lost the advantage, gradually making it to their opponents’ base to secure the win.

Game 3

Vici Gaming risked a greedy late-game draft containing Sven and Medusa, while Liquid countered with an early-game aggressive line-up that also had a greedy core with Enigma. Liquid put them under pressure until the early mid-game, but Vici stood their ground thanks to the efforts of their supports and off-laner. Liquid could not close the game in the early stage and as the contest progressed, Vici Gaming became more and more powerful, dominating their opponents.

Game 4

Both teams went for a single hard farming carry. Neither prevailed in the laning stage, but Vici Gaming, in a manner similar to the second game, started to take control in the mid-game and built up an advantage with rotations around the map. Gradually, Vici Gaming established map control and were winning every engagement, backing Liquid into their base with only Miracle- and his Arc Warden keeping them busy with pushes on the bottom lane. Vici Gaming’s gold and experience advantage grew to ginormous proportions but they could not break high ground even with the Aegis in hand. There were occasional encounters and pick-offs, but the game’s outcome was not decided until after the 60th minute when Vici finally stormed the Liquid base. The epic clash ended up with Team Liquid killing all five from Vici and going straight for the throne to even the score.

Game 5

The Chinese did not let the late-game loss get to them. Again, the laning stage did not produce a winner with Liquid getting a few kills, but once rotations occurred, Vici switched again to four roamers with Paparazi灬 left to farm, trashing Liquid’s late-game line-up around the map with aggressive moves in the their territory. The rotations secured consecutive kills into double figures and demonstrated Vici Gaming’s resolve to end the game before the late stages. Liquid were not given much space and did not manage to get back into the game as Vici Gaming clinched their second Major of the season.

What set Vici Gaming apart?

Vici Gaming proved to be drafting experts and coach rOtk played no small part in it. Against Team Liquid, in particular, Vici created the impression that they managed to gain an advantage from the drafting phase – particularly in games two and five, while crafting the win in game three from an unlikely position.

In general, the Chinese preferred line-ups that were easy to execute and always had a clear idea of what they needed to do on the map. They coupled that with excellent execution. The team demonstrated championship mentality in the decisive games in the series, not allowing themselves to be affected by the dramatic loss in game four and learned from their mistake, applying more aggression in the final game and knowing when to end it.

Alongside the drafting phase, the team were excellent at ganking, knowing when to move around the map and secure kills, thus establishing advantage and dominating the opposition. The team had the upper hand most of the time, picking heroes that are particularly well suited to group encounters.

Vici countered Liquid’s early-game aggression in game three with good team fights and rotations by their supports. Dy, in particular, was crucial with his performance on the Elder Titan, managing to land the ultimates in the right time, in order to turn the battle around or help his team escape. Having been lacklustre on occasions in the past, Dy was a key player for his team this time. He was aided by his support partner in crime, Fade, whose rotations in the laning stages proved critical to secure early kills when it mattered.

The Chinese were very proactive and aggressive in these but also quite efficient, without overextending or diving opportunistically. Ori (mid) and Yang (off lane) were the ones always looking for kills. The former demonstrated great decision-making with his skills on heroes such as Lina, while Yang’s Mars in the fifth game gave an exemplary performance. Paparazi灬, on the other hand, demonstrated versatility as a carry to utilise the farming space he was provided or join his team-mates to lay waste on their opponents earlier in the game.

What else we learned

Team Secret are not invincibleThe top-ranked DPC team were among the favourites to win the tournament having already claimed two Majors this season. But the European team disappointed their fans with a 9-12th spot, their lowest ranking of the campaign. Is this a sign of what is to come at TI9 or just a one off? We’ll know soon enough.

TNC are on fire – The South East Asian team have demonstrated in the past that they are a team who can take anyone down – who can forget their major upset of OG at TI6? – but on the stage of EPICENTER we saw a team playing some of the best Dota 2 around, claiming 4th spot – their best performance on such a big stage. They look one of the teams to watch at TI9. Alliance back at The International – Thanks to a 5th-6th finish, the team that won TI3 can now pop the bottles and celebrate as they will return to Dota 2’s biggest event following a two-year absence. Led by coach Loda, their young squad will try to restore the former glory of the team.