ESL One Birmingham 2019 preview

ESL One Birmingham preview
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Some of the world’s greatest Dota 2 teams are congregating in the UK to battle it out for a US$300,000 prize pool.

And after the excitement of last year’s event, the fastest-selling in ESL history, fans of the competitive scene are in for a treat when the action gets under way on Tuesday (May 28). The final is on June 2.

With The International not far away now, victory here could provide an excellent platform for success in Shanghai in August.

Format

Twelve teams will be appearing in Birmingham – eight of them invited directly, with the other four arriving via regional qualifiers. The tournament will begin with a group stage, split into two groups of six who will compete in a best-of-two, round-robin style.

The two highest-scoring teams from each group will proceed to the upper bracket of the play-offs, while the next two will fill the lower bracket. The two worst-performing teams in each group will be sent home.

From there, the play-offs proceed in a standard double-elimination format, with all matches played to the best-of-three except the grand finals – which will be to the best-of-five.

Teams

Receiving a direct invite to the tournament are Team Secret, Team Liquid, OG, Evil Geniuses, PSG.LGD, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Vici Gaming and Gambit Esports. The latter are standing in for Russian giants Virtus.pro, who were invited but withdrew from the event last month.

Team Secret have been in unstoppable form of late, with two Premier wins under their belt so far this year. And, after their dominant performance at MDL Disneyland Paris earlier this month, there’s little need to explain why they are Dafabet’s 2.690 favourites for this event. With star player Nisha proving his skills in Paris, absolutely crushing TI7 (Team Liquid) and TI8 (OG) champions whenever they clashed, Secret look the team to beat in Birmingham.

But the old International champs are still in with a chance. Team Liquid (6.980) were able to take on all-comers in Paris, cutting through EG, OG, Vici and LGD only to be ultimately eliminated by Secret. Miracle- has been in especially good form, proving his flawless gameplay with Morphling – a hero many think is over-powered (OP) right now – using him to destroy EG and Secret. But Secret were able to find a counter-play to the character, leaving the ball in Liquid’s court to see whether they can adapt or not.

OG, meanwhile, have had a poorer track record since their victory at The International, as odds of 13.340 here suggest. They suffered a disappointing outcome in Paris, going home in the same position as Ninjas in Pyjamas (5th-6th). While OG seem to be in a lull, NiP are on the rise, winning greater and greater prizes whenever they compete. They may not have an easy track to victory, but they’re certainly a team to keep an eye on and could offer some value at 34.840.

EG (9.460) may be able to challenge Secret. Though they suffered defeat at their hands at MDL Disneyland Paris, they were one of few teams able to win a match against them. The same goes for LGD (2nd favourites at 5.800), but their recent performances have left much to be desired. These teams are in with a chance, but they’ll have to find a way to come back from their most recent defeats if they want to stand up to Secret and Liquid.

Vici Gaming (10.050) suffered a similar let-down in Paris, going home earlier than any other team in attendance at Birmingham. And Gambit Esports seem to be out of their depth – without any Major wins this competitive season and only here due to a withdrawal.

Coming in from the Qualifiers are Alliance, Keen Gaming, TNC Predator and Forward Gaming. Alliance (68.360) should be watched closely – at the recent EPICENTER qualifiers, they were able to take a game against Team Liquid and beat NiP 2-1. Though Forward Gaming (54.930) have enjoyed some success, they rarely manage to reach the final of any tournament they participate in. It’s hard to see a reason why that might change in the coming weeks.

TNC Predator (34.840) and Keen Gaming (22.790) are perhaps the deadliest duo of this bunch, having taken 1st and 2nd place respectively at the World Electronic Sports Games earlier this year. Both of these Asian teams are going to prove daunting opponents for all but the most dominant squads.