The Mini-TIThe Covid-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the annual celebration of Dota 2 known as The International this year. In response, some of the world’s best teams have collaborated with some of the CIS region’s household name tournament organisers to create an online festival for the game we all love so much. The result is the OMEGA League hosted by WePlay and Epic Esports Events, who are best known for EPICENTER. That said, these teams did not choose to stand aside and watch as they attempt to foster online competition that hasn’t been seen in years. Thus, this piece aims to shine a light on the upcoming EU Immortal Division group stages stacked with the best teams in the region, and arguably the world over at the moment.
The group stage consists of 10 invited teams and 2 qualified teams, and surprisingly, also includes Evil Geniuses, the NA powerhouse. Having played with stand-ins in the form of Ryoya and coach BuLba since lockdown began, it seems logical for the heavily European team to shift to EU where half their players are currently based, as they will also contend with the best in the world. With the lack of tournaments comprising an interregional mix of teams lately, OMEGA League might yet give us the best insight into how, at the very least, EU and NA match up against each other. That said, the young CIS star in gpk will be standing in for Abed, who is currently in SEA, and might well help give European teams a run for their money.
Besides this anomaly of cross-region participation, the group stage has invited the staple European teams in Secret, Nigma, Liquid, OG, Alliance, and NiP. We’ll also get to see the CIS teams VP, Na`Vi and FTM, all of whom have consistently improved and demonstrated a resolve to rise to the top throughout the lockdown. Nevertheless, they have not been terribly successful apart from VP so far, and the lack of VP.Prodigy’s participation does raise some questions as to the suitability of these invites. With most teams having taken a break following Beyond Epic, this mix of teams will surely yield hope for a reordering of the power ranking of teams.
The teams aren’t just well spread around in terms of region, they’re also coming into this event with widely different goals. For the likes of Secret, Nigma, and Liquid, the aim is to further consolidate their powerhouse statuses in the region and the world, setting them up for a nice entry into the live tournament scene, post-COVID. For EG, they will want to reassure their fans of their continued strength and decry any allegations of rustiness caused by competing in a less cutthroat region for the last 6 months. For the CIS teams, the objective is “simply” to prove that they retain the ability to compete at the top. VP’s slow rise following the reshuffle has not instilled CIS fans with confidence. And last but not least, for the qualified teams 5men and Vikin.gg, it is to prove that they have what it takes to rise again, and be the future of top-tier Dota, respectively.
A Clash Of StylesThe meta is as fluid as ever in hero variety, yet remains mildly stale in strategy and gameplay. So while OMEGA League is one of the most exciting online tournaments we’ll be seeing so far, don’t expect to be caught off guard by any sudden shifts in the meta. At least not in the first week of play.
The two teams that you should keep an eye on in this meta are Team Secret and OG. Secret will continue to leverage their biggest strength, Puppey’s deep understanding of the various stages of each game, and dominate with a myriad of bizarre drafts. Meanwhile OG are likely to stick to their style of aggressive Dota on the edge, a comparatively single-dimensional approach compared to that of Team Secret. OG will rely on often getting away with extraordinarily risky moves on the map. Remember that they have just removed SumaiL from their roster, in favor of a returning Ceb. While the initial signs seem good, it’s too early to judge whether or not the move was right for OG.
For many of the other teams, they will likely stick to the persistent styles of Dota that have served them well thus far, though some teams are bound to see great change as a result of their roster instability. One such team is NiP, who have recently lost their captain and a well-respected veteran support player in SoNNeikO, and their performance here will demonstrate if the change was good or ill-thought. The org is yet to announce who their new captain is, and we’re only a few days away from the start of the tournament. Is this an early sign of trouble or is NiP just playing their cards close to their chest? Another team to watch for sudden changes is Alliance. Alliance has shown increased comfort and capability with the leadership of s4 and stand-in fng’s consistency, mulling the possibility of being the biggest dark horse of the tournament.
Perhaps these teams yet store some truly exciting moments in Dota 2 history for us, in place of the annual celebration that is The International. And so as loyal fans do, we shall certainly sit back and watch all the good Dota that is to come, waiting with bated breath to see who shall rise above during what one might consider a “mini-TI” despite a glaring lack of Eastern Dota.
Graphics: Julmust / OMEGA League
Graphics: Julmust / OMEGA League