PGL Arlington Major: Playoffs Preview
The group stage of the PGL Arlington Dota 2 Major is now complete, with some rather surprising results to talk about. The playoff seeds have also been determined at this point, which means we now know the exact matchups taking place in both brackets.
Likewise, we now know which teams won’t make it into the playoffs at all. Unfortunately for five teams in particular, their tournament run ends here. Talon Esports, Thunder Awaken, Soniqs, Natus Vincere, and Tundra Esports have all scored less than they need to survive, and will have to go back to the drawing board in the lead up to The International.
As for the rest, there’s plenty of storylines that developed over the course of the group stage. We’re here to give you the rundown on what happened and what to expect from the playoffs!
China is really showing out in this event, with two of the three teams from the region making it into the upper bracket without too much trouble. As expected, PSG.LGD were nearly perfect throughout the preliminaries. They’re just playing on an entirely different plane compared to everyone else, dropping only one map on their way to clinching the top spot in Group A. They look totally unstoppable right now, though Soniqs did prove that they can bleed sometimes.
Of course, Soniqs are now out of the tournament, so it’s possible that LGD’s singular loss won’t mean too much in the long run. The thing is, we’ve been here before, as we mentioned in our preview of the group stage. LGD are notorious for wrecking everyone in the group stage and the playoffs (particularly at TI), only to choke in the Grand Finals when it really matters most.
It’s up to them to keep themselves grounded, knowing that they still have a long way to go despite the nearly flawless start to the Major.
Team Aster, meanwhile, look very solid going into the playoffs. They end the group stage with a map record of 10-4, without a single 0-2 loss to worry about. This star-studded squad has been the second-best team from the Chinese Regional League this whole year, and are really showing just how good the region is right now. It’s clear that coach Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng has taught his proteges well, and that the team’s cohesion is definitely there.
As for Royal Never Give Up, they end the group stage with an even 8-8 spread in maps. Given the names on this team, we expected them to do a little better, but at least they didn’t bomb out. They have about a day and a half from now to tweak their strategies going forward.
Outsiders and Team Spirit Bring the CIS Thunder
It’s been a great period of resurgence for the Eastern European scene ever since Team Spirit won TI10, and it looks like the region’s revival as one of the strongest in the Dota Pro Circuit will continue here at the Arlington Major. Both Team Spirit and Outsiders have placed themselves firmly in the upper bracket, with the latter team arguably being the biggest and most pleasant surprise thus far.
We expected the defending International champions to have a relatively good time at this Major, which they certainly have. But as Outsiders have the same roster as Virtus.pro, we didn’t think they’d get this far against the other regions. Fortunately for them, they’ve hit a real nice stride with their record of 10-6 in Group A, and are poised to make a great run here.
Incidentally, both these teams will face each other in the upper bracket today, forcing one or the other to send their neighbors tumbling into the lower bracket. A shame, really, given how good the CIS region has been lately. But at least we can expect a great match from these two to start the playoffs with.
Stand-ins? No Problem
Despite playing with a whole three stand-ins, Fnatic are certainly shutting the doubters up right now. A map score of 9-7 sees them getting into the upper bracket, when the Dota 2 community kept placing them dead last in their predictions and power rankings.
But even with three of their usual players missing, this roster is still essentially TSM with a different offlane duo. And it’s proving to be better than most expected. Whether or not they can keep it up in the playoffs has yet to be seen, of course, but this is already a much faster start than most thought they would even be capable of.
OG likewise continues to prove that they are just a really solid organization, with the fact that they also have two stand-ins not affecting them negatively. As the winners of the first Major this season, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them go all the way here once more. Seeing Sébastien “Ceb” Debs bag another Major title for his long list of accomplishments would certainly be incredible.
And then there’s Entity, which took on Jonáš “SabeRLight-” Volek as a substitute for Ivan “Pure” Moskalenko. Finishing the group stage with the same score as the current International champions is no easy feat, but they managed to grab second place in Group B without breaking much of a sweat. These relatively young players may very well be able to consider this their breakout event, if they can put on a good performance in the playoffs.
Sadly, the same can’t be said for two of the five eliminated teams. Both Talon Esports and Thunder Awaken needed stand-ins for this tournament, which did not work out nearly as well as with other teams. At least Fnatic and beastcoast, with their own stand-ins, are both still in the event to carry the flags for Southeast Asia and South America, respectively.
Trouble for Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid
Something has gone wrong over at Evil Geniuses, who have looked very shaky throughout the proceedings thus far. They seem lost in terms of their teamwork and decision-making, and look like they’re sleepwalking out there for the most part. Artour “Arteezy” Babaev in particular has lost three times so far with Nature’s Prophet, indicating that the pick isn’t really working for him and the team right now.
They’ve found more success running both Lone Druid for him, so they may look to lean on the hero in the carry slot in the playoffs. They need to figure things out fairly quickly, though, as they are now in danger of elimination by virtue of starting in the lower bracket. Moreover, they will want to secure more Dota Pro Circuit points here, given their somewhat precarious position in the standings.
Meanwhile, Team Liquid are doing the usual Team Liquid things — that is to say that they’re more or less 50/50 in the tournament so far. They’ll start in the lower bracket as a result, but you never really know where this team will end up at any given time. It’s possible for them to surprise everyone with a top 4-6 finish, but it’s equally just as likely that they’ll bomb out of the tournament after the first round of the lower bracket. Considering that they’ll have to face either LGD or BOOM Esports, we don’t exactly like their chances.