EU DPC: CrossroadsThere’s no hiding the fact that the very first Major for over a year served as a wakeup call for Europe. Coming into the event, the stories told weren’t focused on whether the EU teams would dominate or not. It was almost a given. The Singapore Major was supposed to be a showdown between EU and China to see who had emerged from the COVID lockdown in best shape. As we all know, that’s definitely not what happened. Instead, EU had its worst Major since the Stockholm Major, two years ago.
While one team, Nigma, had an acceptable excuse with Mind_Control out, the rest of the teams at the event had no excuses. Team Liquid started the tournament off strong with an amazing first day of wildcards, only to seemingly regress for every passing day after that. Alliance came in hot from the league system but failed to win a single match. Team Secret, touted as the best team in the world, made it further into the playoffs but were eventually knocked out in 4th, a big failure seen to the expectations placed on them.
And with that, most EU teams now find themselves in the unenviable position of having to fight for their lives in season 2. If the DPC was to end today, Nigma, Liquid, and OG would have to go through qualifiers to make it to The International. Three “top” teams, one spot. But that’s not the only thing in jeopardy. The future of the region is at stake. While that is, admittedly, a bit hyperbolic there’s no denying that anything but a stellar showing from EU in the next Major would be a huge failure. Another showing like what we saw in Singapore would completely change the narrative of the region from that of one leading the development of Dota to a region of great players but a stunning inflexibility. Basically what has been said of China for the past few years.
However, not everything is doom and gloom. While it’s impossible to say what exactly caused the collapse in Singapore, the event must have been a wake up call. Not just for the teams there but the non-qualified teams watching from the sidelines. Imagine sitting at home seeing the teams that you struggled against being manhandled by almost every other region. If Alliance can’t even win a match against teams featuring last-minute stand-ins, then what would the result have been if your team? If Team Secret, the team that terrorized your region, can’t break into the top 3, are you really going to be able to get all the points you need to directly qualify for TI? And if you don’t make it, are you really confident that you’ll be able to make it through the qualifiers for the event? While any captain will answer the last question with a resounding “yes”, it’s still a big risk to take. Direct qualification has to be the goal. And therefore changes have to be made.
OG and Team Nigma were the first two to react. And while it’s too soon to tell, both roster moves are definitely exciting. iLTW might not seem like the absolute apex of carry players but him joining the roster represents something else. iLTW has, traditionally, been a safelane core. That means that Miracle, who has played the lane ever since the teams win at TI7, will likely have to move back to the midlane. For those of you who have been around for long enough, just the implication that we’ll see him back there should give you goosebumps. Nigma’s decision to move him to the safelane has always been a perplexing one but all is now forgiven and forgotten.
The savior of EU?
And while we might love to meme about ana returning to OG in time for The International, his return should strike fear into the hearts of the other teams in the region. ana is, quite possibly, the best safelane carry we’ve ever seen on the Dota 2 scene. No joke. His performances at TI8 and TI9 were on a different level from anything previously seen. His Spectre in game 3 against EG at TI8 is a performance that we’ll never forget. He spent more of his time hiding in the trees, until he was farmed enough to bring his team back from a 20k net worth deficit. It was one of those things that shouldn’t happen. It was, quite possible, the best individual performance we’ve seen at a TI. And probably ever will.
With these changes, OG and Team Nigma have cast the first stone in an arms race. If the remaining teams in the EU DPC are off to a bad start in season 2, there’s no doubt that the axe will start swinging sooner rather than later. In the chase for an Aegis, there are no alliances that will be honored at every cost. We’ve seen the hunt break down friendships before and it undoubtedly will again. Yes, having 11 months of the year as foreplay for The International has its drawbacks. But you can’t deny that it provides drama worthy of a soap opera.
Graphics: Julmust / DreamHack
Graphics: Julmust / DreamHack