Welcome to the 7.22 Show
The return of top tier Dota 2 to Great Britain happens under auspicious signs. With 12 of the world’s best teams attending, including 9 already qualified for the upcoming EPICENTER Major and 2 seeking their chance at the Minor, the competition promises to be very fierce.
To put a cherry on top we got gifted the new 7.22 Patch just in time to see Birmingham descend into the mayhem of “new meta”.
Get your drinks and snacks ready and make sure to tune in for a week of madness!
Undisputed favorite for Birmingham (or any tournament of the current season) has to be Team Secret. But even then Puppey & Co. can hardly consider the tournament a walk in the park. TL, PSG.LGD and EG are all present and are teams that just recently gave Secret a good run for their money during MDL Paris or the EU qualifiers for EPICENTER. The absence of Virtus.Pro must however be noted here. Although a bit shaky since Paris the CIS-squad has been the only team to consistently compete with and beat Secret in the current season so their absence will likely be felt.
The timing of the new patch should also favor a team that has historically been among the best to adapt to a developing meta. Let’s not even get started with the sheer versatility of their players and Secret’s ability to seemingly pick whatever they want and make it work.
YapzOr especially is probably already on the edge of his seat to unleash whatever niche hero he wants with a Aghs from Roshan.
Regardless of giving out Aghs for everyone or maybe just starting a Mercedes Benz collection to rival VP’s, Secret are looking forward to dominating Birmingham 2019.
Did you forget about
Wisp us already? - Team Liquid, OG, PSG.LGD, EG, NiP, Vici
Just as 7.22 heralded the return of our favorite Ball of Light to Captains Mode the teams waiting in the wings behind Secret are out for blood. The triumphant return of TL along with OG during MDL Paris has brought in a new edge to the competition. With the finale of the season fast approaching TL and OG have made it back just in time for the main event. Both are still not yet back at their peak but the reintroduction of Io to the draft should be quite the boon to these two teams. GH, n0tail and JerAx are all experts on Wisp boasting astounding winrates for their teams on it (66% and 58% for TL and OG respectively). Just how well they will adapt to the new meta is still an open question but maybe Blitz’ quote puts it best: “It’s looking spicy!”
While not falling off spectacularly like Newbee did post-TI7 the runner-up from Vancouver did have a surprisingly quiet season. Middling results with a 4th place finish in Chongqing being the exception, PSG.LGD seemed a bit out of it as they maintained decent form but were no longer crushing their competition. Things did not exactly improve as Maybe’s absence due to a break was heavily felt during Vici’s run in Stockholm. Was Vici now the Chinese team to fear? Slamming the door shut on such speculation they stormed right back into the thick of things with a strong performance in Paris. Although “only” taking 4th place, their performance showed once again the spark that had propelled them to being one game away from taking TI8.
Return to prominence is not that much of a fitting description for EG as they have consistently placed 3rd in every Major since TI8 (except for Dreamleague Season 11). As amusing as that particular story line is to us fans, a season with no championships to date can’t be classified as anything else but a massive chip on their shoulder. Can the NA darlings finally clinch gold? Or will trees and cliffs provide yet another indestructible hurdle in their way? Nobody doubts the ability of their star-studded roster but it is long overdue for them to take a trophy home.
NiP and Vici are the slightly odd one out in this group. Both seem to be able to compete with the absolute best but are just not consistent enough to be considered part of that small elite circle. Then again both have shown just how strong they can be at their best with Vici taking home the Dreamleague Major and NiP’s impressive Top 6 run in Paris. However we also cannot disregard their aforementioned inconsistency, easily demonstrated by their recent results. NiP failing to make it through the immensely stacked EPICENTER qualifiers for EU while Vici only qualified as third seed behind Royal Never Give Up and PSG.LGD. Should either of them manage a championship here there really is no ground anymore to deny them entry to the club of world’s best.
Welcome to the Arena of Blood - Forward Gaming, TnC, Gambit, Alliance
Make way for the new kid on the block come 7.22! Mars is here! Although these four teams are not exactly new you would certainly not count them as tier 1 teams, a fact that might just start to change if they place well in Birmingham. And while not a brand new squad Forward Gaming looks considerably different compared to the start of the season. With the departures of SVG, Resolut1on, UNiVeRsE and Kitrak ESL One will actually be the first LAN tournament for their new squad. Snatching the first seed in NA from EG for EPICENTER has already been quite the impressive feat but for newcomers pieliedie, Sneyking and CCnC there is the chance to take it even further. Forward Gaming’s season has been quite disappointing, finishing dead last twice and only a Top 12 finish as highest result during the Majors while missing out on Paris entirely was not what they had in mind at all.
Nevertheless the direct qualification to Shanghai is still well within their reach as a strong run in Moscow will most likely be enough. It is crunchtime right now for them and their campaign could definitely need a kickstart from a strong finish in Birmingham.
While TnC has become quite the household name for followers of this season it is mostly owed to drama and less to results. Hardly what the Filipinos are hoping for. With only a WESG championship and a Top 4 finish in Mumbai as noteworthy results outside their middling performances during Kuala Lumpur and Chongqing there is much to prove. Just looking at their recent performance there is much to look forward to as they upset Fnatic and Mineski during the SEA qualifiers for EPICENTER to secure the first seed in their homeregion. Maybe the addition of TI7-winning coach Heen was just the thing they were missing until now, whatever the reason of their rebound is, TnC is here to make sure you know more about them than just Kuku.
Gambit’s attendance in the UK is owed to the fact that Virtus.Pro withdrew just a month before the event started, however considering their recent form they have nothing to be ashamed of. Escaping the Minor hell for the first time since Kuala Lumpur Gambit are in prime position to overtake Virtus.Pro. With the perennial CIS representatives struggling quite a bit as the final stretch of the DPC beckons, Gambit saw their chance and pounced immediately. Beating the polar bears twice to snag first seed for the CIS-region they will look forward to solidifying their newfound position. Don’t let their absence from most Majors blind you, Gambit are more than able to take on the best the Dota 2 world has to offer.
Similar to many teams in the European region Alliance’s season can be summed up with “close but no cigar”. Rarely making it past the juggernauts of Secret, Liquid, OG and NiP they have been just at the edge of a breakthrough for what seems like forever. Throughout all their struggles of low placements at Majors and close calls during Minors they have decided to stick together and make it back from each and every setback. The final DPC events are no exception to that pattern. Although they defeated ppd’s Ninjas, OG was a step too far and Alliance are back at the Minor to get that last shot for the direct TI invite. However their current form is not the only thing leading to their placing in this section of our preview. Having played with Madara as a stand-in for a while already Birmingham will feature another new constellation as miCKe is back but qojqva has to take medical leave. Although that means Birmingham will not be the most accurate gauge of their strength going into Kiev later down the road, Alliance will still be determined to take some much-needed momentum into the decisive phase of the DPC.
Am I a Joke to You Now? -
Drow Ranger Keen Gaming
Closing out our preview are Keen Gaming with the dubious honor of being the only team of the field not present at the final Minor or Major of the DPC. Although their pride must be quite stung by that fact it is not all doom and gloom for them. Sitting at rank 10 of the DPC a rather massive amount of upsets and surprises would need to happen in Kiev and then Moscow to actually knock them out of the coveted Top 12 for an invite to Shanghai.
Them not qualifying is much more a testament to the strength and depth of the Chinese region then them falling off on the last legs of the season. With this being their last official matches before (tentatively) TI9 we can be certain that they will be extra motivated to leave an exclamation mark on the scene before watching everyone else in Kiev and Moscow.