Europe and South East Asia have new champions in the ProDota Cup as the latest tournaments have just finished. Let’s take a look at the respective winners.
Clutch Gamers – SEA Winner
CG were officially formed in the final three days of 2016, when all five members were signed up. Rafael “Rapy” Sicat Palo (offlane), Marvin “Boombacs” Rushton (support) and Kenneth “flysolo” Coloma (support) are the more experienced names in the squad, while the carry Avelino “Ab1ng” Parungao and mid Armel Paul “Armel” Tabios are up-and-coming players on the Filipino scene who often swap positions.
It was clear that CG were in good form after they finished unbeaten in Group B with an 8-0 record. The team cruised past The Mongolz 2-0 in the quarterfinals, but were relegated into the Losers’ Bracket by Geek Fam after being on the receiving end of a 1-2 scoreline. With their backs against the wall, Clutch Gamers consecutively eliminated EVOS Esports (2-1), HappyFeet (2-0) and Rex Regum QEON (2-1) to reach the Grand Finals.
It was Geek Fam who awaited them in the deciding game and they already had a 1-0 advantage due to qualifying through the Winners’ Bracket.
This didn’t deter CG though, who claimed Game One mainly through successful team fight combos as they continually put themselves in better positions, catching their opponents unprepared.
The second game also went in their favour, but their opponents certainly gave them a run for their money in over 60 minutes of exhausting battle. Ab1ng’s Wraith King pick proved to be the key to the success as he was often the last one standing on the blood-covered ground.
In the third game, CG went for a rather greedy line-up gamble and this did not pay off as Geek Fam gained early control and won in less than 20 minutes. This levelled the scores at 2-2.
With one final game to decide who will be the champion, both teams pushed hard to secure the victory. In the end, CG’s hero was to be Armel, who given the lack of disables from Geek Fam, unleashed the full fury of his Outworld Devourer to finish them off.
The Grand Finals were marked by Armel’s play and he seems like a talent that bigger teams on the SEA scene might want to keep an eye on. While not too versatile in the hard carry lane, he is great with playmaking heroes and as seen in the Finals, he can be deadly with Outworld Devourer.
CG like to go for both team fight line-ups and heavy physical damage heroes. Some unconventional picks, such as support Sven against Rex Regum QEON in the Lower Bracket Final, were interesting to watch from a strategy perspective. CG also demonstrated that they are a comeback team and even when not dictating the tempo, they can be resilient enough to grab the win.
Horde – European Winner
For their victory in the 15th European edition of the ProDota Cup, Horde Gaming were also awarded $2,000 from a $3,500 prize pool.
The team is the brainchild of former TI3 champion and Alliance player Joakim “Akke” Akterhall, who formed the outfit to participate in the WESG qualifiers back in November. Featuring various temporary stand-in players, despite the lack of success in the tournament, Horde did not disband and continued to compete.
Eskil “Eskillz” Sundblad left in February, but his replacement Neta “33” Shapira was one of the key players in helping them win the ProDota Cup. The rest of the squad includes former OG sub Steve “Excalibur” Ye at mid, as well as the up-and-coming carry Janne “Gorgc” Stefanovski and support Axel “Pablo” Källman.
There was no group stage in Europe, just a double elimination playoff system, and Horde reached the Grand Finals directly through the Winners’ Bracket, beating Prodota Gaming (2-0), Elements Pro Gaming (2-1), Going In (2-1) and No Logic Gaming (2-1) in succession.
In the Grand Finals, they found themselves facing No Logic Gaming again, who had overcome Double Dimension 2-0 in the Losers’ Bracket Final.
Horde were uncompromising in the second clash and a little over an hour of game time was enough for a flawless 3-0 triumph (although note that Horde started with a one game advantage through qualifying out of the Winners’ Bracket so only two games were actually played).
The first game started off well for Horde as they managed to shut down the enemy core Ember Spirit and kill him several times, while ganks to the mid lane helped them dictate the tempo in the early stages. The mid game was heavily contested and No Logic Gaming had their moments, but eventually Horde managed to prevail. This was largely thanks to the overly farmed Alchemist, Sand King’s great Epicenters and Akke’s Keeper of the Light.
Both teams initially settled down for farming in Game Two. Once the Batrider and Tinker got their key items, Horde started applying heavy pressure on their opponents. No Logic Gaming had no means to deal with the growing power of the Tinker and despite catching Horde with their pants down in the Roshan pit, they could not turn the game around. After a desperate team fight in the 25th minute which ended disastrously for No Logic Gaming, it was clear who the winner was going to be.
Horde had an easy Grand Finals overall, but the path there was definitely not. The team tends to try and counter their opponents, rather than sticking with their own strategy in the drafting stage.
Benefiting from having a top player beside him such as Akke, the new offlaner 33 deserves specific praise. His Sand King was spot on and he was crucial in many of the clashes in the Grand Finals, while his Iron Branch escape block in Game One definitely excited the fans. One of the drawbacks of this team is that occasionally they tend to go for risky moves and tower dives to secure kills, which often costs them.
With both teams winning ProDota, the natural next step for Clutch Gamers would be to try and break into the higher tier teams in the SEA region, while for Horde it seems that they need to achieve roster stability before chasing down the big boys in their division.