Following the exciting conclusion of this year’s Manila Masters, which saw Evil Geniuses triumph in dramatic fashion over Newbee, it’s no surprise that so many players are excited for the next tournament to take place in the current meta. With a wide variety of viable heroes on offer, and a great number of respected teams participating, the tournament promises to be one worth keeping an eye on.
The competition is set to take place at the VTB Ice Palace in Moscow, with ten teams participating – five of whom are invited directly, with regional qualifiers and a public vote deciding the rest. As ten is a slightly unusual number for a tournament, the format is a little different to the usual standard of eliminations. The competition will begin with a round robin between two groups of five – no doubt a treat for the viewers, who’ll enjoy match-ups between all the teams in their respective groups.
Whichever team comes first in their group is guaranteed a place in the Epicenter semi-finals, whilst the teams coming second and third will face off in the quarter-finals for a chance to compete in the semis. The bottom two teams of each group are, of course, eliminated.
The stage is set for Epicenter to be a hotly contested success, looking at the highly skilled teams in the pool. In group A, we’ll see OG, Team Liquid, Team Secret, Natus Vincere, and team LGD.Forever Young, whilst in group B, we have Virtus.pro, Evil Geniuses, Invictus Gaming, Planet Odd and Clutch Gamers. Boasting multiple past Internationals winners in the mix, the skill level of these teams is through the roof.
In light of their recent winning streak, in which they’ve come in first place in the last three tournaments they’ve participated in, it’s easy to say that EG have a very high chance of taking home the lion’s share of the $500,000 prize pool this month. The team only narrowly won the Manila Masters against team Newbee, but without them participating, we’ll have to wait and see if anyone can put a stop to them at last. With skilled and experienced players like zai, SumaiL and Arteezy in their roster, though, it’ll be a tough prospect for even the most prepared of opposition.
Virtus.pro, the Russian team, enjoys the home field advantage, and although their past performances have been disappointing – leading to a reform by their organisation – they’ve begun to pick up the slack again, and might just have a chance to redeem themselves for past losses.
Team Liquid will also have a strong chance at winning their second consecutive Epicenter grand finals. They took home the title in last year’s event, and performed extremely well at the recent Starladder I-League. It’ll be especially exciting to see Miracle- on his trademark Evoker, especially after the recent patches that made the character slightly more competitive, even if most heroes shared that minor buff.
All the teams present are in with a chance, of course, although some have a better history in recent tournaments than others. Still, all of them are highly trained and experienced, and have a fair chance at the win. However, just before this tournament gets underway, Valve released a slight change to the gameplay after looking at the latest patch, including a hefty nerf to the highly banned Crystal Maiden’s movement and therefore survivability, along with a few other minor changes. It’ll be interesting to see what effect this has on the game’s meta in such high level play, giving fans of DOTA even more reason to watch this one closely – if they needed any more convincing.