The China Supermajor has come to a close, and with it the inaugural Dota Pro Circuit season. The best tournament format of the season has shown why spectators and players alike have praised the full double elimination brackets, as the best survived to the final days and the weak were eliminated without much fuss. The best proof of this is how the final four consisted of the top four teams from the DPC rankings, proving why they deserve to be at the top. Speaking of the top, Liquid have finally done it. They’ve won their first major of the season after a year of missing gold by taking down their rival Virtus.Pro 3-2 in the finals. You couldn’t have asked for a better story line coming into this tournament. Liquid had managed to stay as one of the most successful, consistent teams of this season, staving off the curse of the post-TI slump, but a week before at ESL One Birmingham, Liquid fell out of the tournament in nearly last place. To turn around from that and win the biggest tournament of the DPC season, taking down PSG.LGD, Team Secret, and Virtus Pro on the way, Liquid couldn’t ask for a better finish to the season.
This wasn’t the only big story line made through this tournament, though. We saw Newbee and VGJ.Thunder at a serious risk of being knocked out of the top 8 of the DPC rankings. Meanwhile OpTic were the only team left, without any roster changes, that could break into the top 8 with a top 4 performance. VGJ.Storm were also contenders to knock someone out of top 8, though their addition of Resolution would preclude them from getting a TI invite and The Final Tribe had a shot if they could win the whole thing, but that was highly unlikely. OpTic came the closest of anyone, needing only one more match to win their TI invite, but were stopped just short by their personal final boss, VP.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the biggest tournament of the season, the aptly named Supermajor.
The group stage featured the classic GSL format with the bonus of all of the losing teams being placed into the lower bracket, rather than some being eliminated. This meant every team was guaranteed at least 3 matches before being eliminated from the tournament. The groups seemed to be seeded based on DPC points, leading to a relatively balanced group stage with no group of death.
Group A saw our two TI finalists, Team Liquid and Newbee, along with the invite Na’Vi and CIS qualifier Team Spirit. The first game of Team Liquid versus Team Spirit was actually very concerning. After their losses to Pain Gaming in Birmingham and an opening loss to Team Spirit it almost looked like Team Liquid might finally be crashing and would soon be knocked out of groups. Well, Liquid were not happy about that and proceeded to crush Team Spirit in 18 minutes in game two, the fastest game of the tournament.
After that the rest of the group proceeded as expected with Newbee taking down Na’Vi, and the final standings looking like a tier list of the teams. Liquid and Newbee on top with Team Spirit sending Na’Vi into the losers bracket. Sadly this saw Na’Vi going out of the group without a game win.
This group did show one of the biggest points of contention throughout the tournament, the position 4 Windranger. Team Spirit picked it in their win over Liquid and Liquid themselves would begin picking it up for GH to great effect as well. With the recent buffs to Maelstrom many teams have been experimenting with Windranger and she has certainly proved to be a valuable pickup thanks to her incredible damage output for a support.
Group B is likely the closest lineup this tournament has to a group of death, depending on how you would rate the new Evil Geniuses lineup. A theoretically very strong lineup, the current EG has comparable star power to the Secret of old. However with less than a week to prepare for this event, it went about as one might expect for such a situation. EG bombed out of the group stage without winning a match much like Na’Vi, but would they be able to swing back for a lower bracket run?
Meanwhile we did see a bit of an upset here with TNC showing a stellar performance, taking a game off of VP and then following up with 2-0’s of both EG and VG. This would bode well for TNC as being able to just take a game off of VP is more than most teams completely lacking in DPC points could claim. Meanwhile VG were left disappointed as they likely expected an upper bracket berth.
With the recent rise of VGJ.Storm, Group C seemed another group of strong contenders, with The Final Tribe being the weakest of them. The Final Tribe were the first to go out at 0-2, though they surprisingly took a game off of Secret on their way out. While it’s easy to call Secret and The Final Tribe in first and last place, respectively, picking between VGJ.Storm and Mineski is a much more dubious affair. In the end both of their matches would go to three games, but it was Mineski who won out, winning the vital final match of the group.
Group D might have been another strong group, but VGJ.Thunder seem to be having too many issues for that to be the case. They’ve been struggling recently and their coach, rOtk, has been very vocal about these issues online. Given this extra information, one could easily predict how the group would turn out. PSG.LGD easily crushed through going 4-0 in matches with neither OpTic nor Infamous putting up a serious fight. Eventually though, OpTic would persevere and take down VGJ.Thunder for the second time to secure second place in the group. An upper bracket start was extremely important for OpTic because of how much it improved their chances of securing top 4 and their TI invite.
Finally we reached the playoffs, a full double elimination bracket with all 16 teams and not a best of one in sight. The first round of the upper bracket was a thing of beauty, with each of the top four DPC teams securing wins over their opponents. That being said, Liquid were the only team to avoid dropping a game that round as they had arguably the weakest team of a pretty stacked upper bracket, TNC. Unfortunately for Optic they fell to Secret in a close 3-game series, had they won they would have been a single match from their TI invite, just like that. Luckily for us viewers though, it would set up quite the lower bracket for them, but more on that later.
The first round of the lower bracket would see our first four teams to exit the tournament. Three of the series went as expected, with Infamous, Na’Vi, and The Final Tribe falling out. Meanwhile in the last one, EG managed to finally win a game and were able to take down Team Spirit 2-1. While it’s hard to expect much from a team that formed the week of a tournament, it would have certainly been bad for the mentality of the team for such a star-studded lineup to be knocked out without winning a single game. Plus, thanks to this win, EG would now have to face OpTic in the next round.
As far as drama matches go, it doesn’t get much better than this. PPD and Sumail have been flaming each other for almost the entire season, and there is no better place for them to match up than the lower bracket of the last tournament of the year. With the throne for king of NA Dota up for grabs, it was OpTic that would prevail in the end. Taking down EG in two games, their dream of TI qualification would stay alive. Elsewhere in the round we would see TNC taking down VGJ.Storm, ending VGJ.Storm’s chances at pushing into top 8 and knocking someone out of TI qualification.
In the upper bracket we would see Liquid take down Secret 2-0 with Secret looking somewhat lost in both games. Taking down the team that denied them a major win at DreamLeague Season 8, Liquid were one step closer to victory. On the other side of the bracket we saw VP taken down by PSG.LGD in a surprisingly easy manner. Virtus Pro, ever-confident, used the opportunity of playing against a quality team like PSG.LGD as practice for the future. They chose to not ban wisp twice and, as one might guess, lost twice. In the end though this is certainly a strategic win for VP with their ten thousand DPC points already locked up.
Meanwhile down under we would see OpTic continue to keep the dream alive by taking TNC down in two easy games. These games actually made TNC look very vulnerable as PPD completely out drafted them both times, making the games exceptionally easy for OpTic. Unfortunately for OpTic their next match was anything but easy, forced to face VP in the match that would decide the fate of their qualification. If OpTic wanted to qualify, they would have to seriously step up their game to take down the strongest team of the year. Sadly for the Green Wall, it wasn’t meant to be and VP won the series 2-0 and continued their undefeated streak against OpTic (currently 10-0 in games). Team Secret would also take down VG in two quick games, leaving us with a top 4 of all the best teams in the world.
In the upper bracket finals, Liquid would continue their run by taking down another competitor for best team 2-0. With this Liquid would be in the final, but as they’ve learned that is far from victory. Who would come up to face them from the lower bracket? Well in the lower bracket semifinal VP took down Team Secret 2-1, with relative ease. The match was actually much easier for VP than you may think as their two wins were normal, solid games, but the second game… In their loss this match, they took Wraith King as their last pick and proceeded to play an 83 minute slug-fest. Afterwards Solo would reveal that the Wraith King was essentially a joke pick, saying that he only picked it because Ramzes asked for it over and over again. He added that if you do actually pick Wraith King then something, somewhere went wrong.
The lower bracket finals saw a much more competitive rematch between PSG.LGD and VP. It actually saw VP uncharacteristically lose game one in a very quick manner, but they were able to adapt and take the last two games, though not as easily as they may have liked. This was it though, this was VP playing to win, no more fooling around. They’ve said before that the only team that they felt really made them try was Liquid, so they weren’t about to get stopped short of meeting them in the Grand Finals.
The finals of the Supermajor, the last tournament of the season, the biggest tournament of the season, was between the two best teams in the world. If the season’s overall results hadn’t already confirmed it, these two took down the rest to make it to this point and both wanted desperately for a win over the other. Liquid to finally get the win they’ve been searching for this whole time while Virtus.Pro want to take down the only team that they feel really tests them.
This was the final we’ve all been asking for. With multiple close games and each team claiming a complete outdraft, it felt especially close going into game five, which Kyle claimed as the most even of the drafts yet. Eventually though, Liquid would come out on top with VP making some uncharacteristic mistakes in the final game. While that sloppiness could be attributed to it being VP’s eighth game of the day, you just can’t expect to beat Liquid without being on the top of your game.
After a season of failing to win a major like they so desperately wanted, Liquid have finally done it. Bouncing back from their loss in Birmingham, Liquid has reached the top of their form heading into the pre-TI break. This is certainly the longest running, consistent, championship-level play we’ve seen from a reigning TI champion, setting them up as a favorite going into TI. Will Liquid do the unthinkable and win two TI’s back-to-back? We’ll have to wait to see, but there’s never been a team that looked so ready to make it happen.
Current DPC rankings can be seen here