ESL One Birmingham 2018

ESL One Birmingham 2018 team liquid
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Over the last week the UK has hosted its first Dota 2 Major tournament. With 12 of the competitive scene’s top teams making their way to Birmingham for their chance at the $1,000,000 prize pool, and the crucial 1,500 Pro Circuit Points, competition was fierce – and made for some spectacular matches.

The Format

Twelve teams attended this historic match – six invited and six from qualifiers. Invited were Team Liquid, Newbee, Virtus.pro, Evil Geniuses and Mineski.

Qualifying from Europe was OG, from China came LFY, from the CIS Team Spirit, from North America OpTic Gaming, from SEA Fnatic and from South America paiN Gaming.

Group Stage – Day 1

From the first day there were plenty of shocks in the group stage. EG were knocked out early, suffering defeat at the hands of Fnatic after being unable to withstand the Asian team’s Io build.

Team Spirit delivered the killer blow to EG which came hot on the heels of a defeat to Virtus.pro. The Russian team won the day, earning a flawless 3:0 victory.

OG outmatched Vici Gaming in their first match and then swept paiN Gaming away in only 31 minutes. On the verge of elimination, paiN shocked everyone by managing to overcome TI7 champions Team Liquid, who then proceeded to knock Vici Gaming out, giving themselves a fighting chance to progress.

The final group saw another surprise, as top-tier team Newbee were unceremoniously destroyed. OpTic were able to rush the Chinese team down and followed that victory up by edging past Mineski.

Mineski then secured a decisive victory against LFY, with Mushi’s Anti-mage running circles around their opponents and keeping them in the tournament for another day.

The deciding match was between LGD.FY and Newbee, two titans of the Chinese scene. The two matches lasted almost an hour each, and each one saw LFY overcoming Newbee as the TI7 runners-up were forced to head home.

Group Stage – Day 2

The second day saw the deciding matches in the group stage. The first match between Fnatic and Spirit was a close one, but Fnatic managed to win the day, thanks in no small part to great teamwork between Abed and EternalEnvy.

Abed’s Queen of Pain gave EternalEnvy enough breathing space to wreak havoc as Spectre, knocking the CIS team out of the event.

Next, paiN Gaming went up against Team Liquid, for the second time in the tournament. Liquid took the first of the Bo3 set, with Miracle’s invoker putting the pain on paiN.

But paiN remained undaunted and crushed the TI7 champions in the next two matches, making life difficult for them whenever they tried to go for Roshan. In an elimination that few predicted, paiN forced Liquid out of the event on the second day.

LFY were annihilated by Mineski. Ah-fu managed his signature Aegis steal in the first match, but it wasn’t enough – and worse, Mineski were ready for it next time as they shut down his antics.

Meanwhile, in the upper bracket, the top spots were determined.

Virtus.pro tore OG apart in just 25 minutes, winning 30-3. They went on to thrash OpTic 33-7 in under half-an-hour as they earned a place in the semi-finals.

OpTic and OG battled for that coveted spot, and OpTic won the day, the American team running a surprise carry Night Stalker, played by Pajkatt. The Europeans were unable to keep up and conceded the match.

The Playoffs

The quarter-finals were swift and decisive. paiN Gaming decimated Mineski, defeating them 2:0. Fnatic fared less well, struggling a little against their opponents OG. They managed to seal the deal soon enough, however, managing to wring out a 2:1 victory over their European foes.

Sadly, paiN’s hot streak didn’t last any longer – they went up against Virtus.pro next, quite possibly the most brutal and powerful team on the scene at the moment.

VP started running paiN over from the very start, RodjER’s efficiency on Clockwork mowing the Brazilian team down. VP used their momentum to roll over their foes, quickly taking the first game.

The second match saw paiN fighting to survive and they put up a valiant struggle. However, VP exploited their slow draft, greatly limiting their mobility and keeping them pinned down in their base.

The overwhelming farm advantage the Russians enjoyed spelled doom for the Brazilians and they conceded the match after less than 40 minutes.

OpTic locked horns with Fnatic next – and it was OpTic that came out on top, clinching a 2:1 victory against their opponents. OpTic won the first match only for Fnatic to strike back, Universe and Abed securing almost every kill in the match, as they took the second round.

OpTic had the last laugh, however, taking advantage of Fnatic’s farm focus to work on their own objectives and forcing their opponents to withdraw. They tried to make room for EternalEnvy’s Spectre for a comeback, but OpTic shut it down, taking the game and eliminating Fnatic from the event.

On the last day paiN gaming secured third place by beating Fnatic.

However, that wasn’t the main event of the day as the grand final saw OpTic stand up to the Russian giants of Virtus.pro.

VP seemed hungry to have a flawless tournament and they got it. They destroyed OpTic from the start of their first match as they secured another of their trademark steamroller victories.

The second match wasn’t so decisive – OpTic held the advantage for the first half of the match as perfect movements and co-ordination kept VP at bay.

However, VP retaliated with a clinical manoeuvre, taking the high ground – and the momentum with it. OpTic stalled for 30 minutes, but eventually had to concede.

The final match was another easy victory for VP as they strolled to glory.

Conclusion

The first Major to be held in the UK was an exciting one – with shock eliminations, heroic underdogs and unbeatable powerhouses for fans to enjoy.

It showed the potential of paiN gaming, usually overlooked before now

– but most people will be concerned by Virtus.pro’s performance as they muscled in on Pro Circuit Points they no longer need.

The team seems to be absolutely unstoppable and, if they keep this type of performance up, they could become the TI8 champs.