The Shanghai Major main event has started off with yet more production hiccups. The quality of the games and the intense showdowns, however, have rescued the event for the viewers. There were huge upsets over the last few days as 4 qualifier teams position themselves among the top 6, and we have the more important storylines for you here, as well as a look into what the meta has had in store for us--which has already seen its impacts in the pub scene.
The Shanghai Major has been a disaster for the Chinese scene. The group stage was a sad display of clear inferiority, and the playoffs were no difference. Every single Chinese team has been eliminated early on, and for the first time in a Valve endorsed event, no Chinese team placed in the Top 8.
If it hadn’t been for Team Archon, China would not have won a single match in the entire event vs. non-Chinese teams. It would be one thing if the Chinese were simply lacking the results, but their performances show what poor state they are currently in. EHOME showed the most promise in the end, but even they lacked the composure and coordination to pull through.
Some expect the teams to pull back in time for TI, much like they did after DAC last year, where they rebounded from a similar disaster.
The two positive surprises of the event so far have been Team Liquid and MVP Phoenix. Both displayed not only enjoyable Dota, but were also much more successful than most anticipated. Coming into the playoffs as their group winner, MVP.Phoenix had a fair shot of taking down LGD and did so in such a convincing fashion that the sky seemed the limit.
The limit certainly was blue, but in the form of Team Liquid. The Europeans took down Alliance convincingly and proceeded to dominate MVP.Phoenix. Going into the playoffs, analysts and fans were concerned whether Liquid could perform in front of a live audience, after their shattering defeat during StarLadder. The team chose to answer in the best way they could think of--within the game.
In every tournament, there will be a team that becomes progressively stronger as the tournament unfolds. Team Secret seems to be that team right now. Going into the event, the team was a bit of a question mark and their first showing in the groupstage certainly did not help. They kept on growing however and eventually even beat out Evil Geniuses in a thriller of a series. As usually with both of these teams, the battle began during the draft already and Secret provided Liquid.w33 with his signature Invoker and Earth Spirit. EG did not opt to give Suma1L his signature heroes, but instead had numerous strategies in check to keep Secret’s line-up in check. While game 2 of the series was rather one-sided, games 1 and 3 were quite intense and EG.Arteezy eventually bought 2 Divine Rapiers on his Sven.
compLexity Gaming’s captain coL.Kyle was invited on as panel member during the group stage and made a bold and controversial prediction: After this LAN, NA and SEA would be considered the strongest regions at Valve events. He might be right. He certainly was right to believe in his team. CompLexity is the only team remaining that was forced to start in the lower bracket, further proving that Group D was in fact the group of death.
After beating both Team Spirit and LGD in bo1s, they were faced with the seemingly impossible challenge of beating Alliance in order to advance. A truly action packed and tense bo3 was eventually decided in favor of coL.
On the other end of the bracket, Fnatic has delivered in quite a similar fashion. After being pushed down to the lower bracket by EG in a crushing 0-2 defeat, they took down Newbee and then faced off against title defender OG. Considered to be the underdogs, Fnatic showed that they were no pushovers and in fact wanted to redeem themselves for months of international irrelevance and took the series 2-1. In fact, they could’ve even taken it 2-0, but the biggest comeback of the tournament allowed OG to equalize the series. Fnatic however recovered and displayed a dominant performance in game 3 with a superb individual performance by LFY.Ohaiyo.
The professional scene has always had its impact on the pub scene. We have covered the meta of the groupstage and looking at the weekly trends, we can already see that several of the popular heroes are picked up more often in pubs. Heroes such as Sven and Outworld Devourer have put themselves further into the spotlight in the Shanghai Major and receive as much recognition in pubs. Sven has almost doubled his pick rate in the last 30 days and seems to be even more effective, now that the pros have shown how to play him. As OG’s Moon said, there seems to be a clearcut way of playing him and it pays off.
So now to the actual forecast. Get those Nyx Assassin’s out, because it will rain OD and Nature's Prophet as their pick rate is very likely to keep climbing. Buy armor wisely when facing Sven and make sure to be on the lookout for potential Beastmasters--they are quite dangerous.
And while the last few days may have seen less Invokers, today’s 100% win rate at the Shanghai Major indicates that you will likely face him again more often. If it does start raining Chaos Meteors, be sure to bring a Nyx Assassin or a Bounty Hunter.
These past few days have seen true Cinderella stories unfold. At this point, it seems as if everyone is capable of beating any other team and pointing out favorites seems mute. However, not every story will have its happy ending. There’s an argument to be made that for teams such as Fnatic, MVP.Phoenix or compLexity, it is already a success to get this far. As true competitors however, they won’t stop before they reach gold.