Wrapping up an exciting first day of Dota in group B of the Major in the Lone Star State.
With 17 teams all set for a hard-fought brawl, the group stage of the Arlington Major finally began yesterday. The stakes are extremely high — especially this close to TI. This is the last chance for many teams to squeeze into the TI slots by way of the Dota Pro Circuit, with the alternative being having to risk the Open Qualifiers. Moreover, there’s also the “little” matter of the several hundred thousand dollars in the prize pool.
The first day was a clash of regions, play styles, and pure skill as some teams met expectations, some punched above their weight, and some fell flat. However, the tournament has just begun and there’s plenty of Dota coming up, so don’t get carried away with a team’s results yet. You can check out the recap for Group A matches here, or continue reading for a recap of Group B.
As there were a whopping eight matches from the group, we will only be talking about what we felt were the standout matches.
BOOM Esports vs Tundra Esports
Arguably the best team in SEA going up, one of the strongest sides competing in the Western Europe DPC. The match was one of the most eagerly-awaited of the day, and it delivered in droves, with the teams splitting the series 1-1. In fact, it was the only drawn series of Group B on Day 1.
BOOM had an extremely strong teamfight-based draft featuring Mars, Invoker, and Monkey King, with a Juggernaut for DPS and Dazzle for support. Tundra on the other hand based their strategy around fast pickoffs — with Tiny and Puck playing pivotal roles — and kited fights involving a carry Weaver, a tanky Viper, and an Alchemist supporting the team across the board.
Right off the bat, though, it felt obvious that something was wrong with BOOM. They kept taking bad fights and lost the laning stage despite strong early-game heroes. The SEA team subsequently took some good fights to close the gap, but once the BKBs started rolling in for Tundra, those fights became less and less even.
As things usually go against Alchemist lineups, an early lead ballooned into a strong mid-game, and soon Tundra were several thousand gold ahead. Eventually, they closed up the game courtesy of some excellent play on the Weaver by Skiter.
In the second match, BOOM focused less on a teamfight lineup and prioritized a faster push with tanky cores in the form of Death Prophet and Chaos Knight, with a mid-Ember for a long-range catch. They also had an unconventional Position 4 Sven, and a hard support Dazzle tied the lineup together. Tundra, on the other hand, chose two of their heroes from the previous game in Alchemist and Weaver, with a Doom, Pangolier, and Rubick along for the ride. Neither lineup focused much on Area of Effect, deciding instead to go for pickoffs and disjointed fights.
BOOM went off to a great start in the early game, getting regular pickoffs and keeping Tundra’s gold advantage limited. Tundra soon caught up, though, and things stayed on an even keel until the mid-game.
An all-important teamfight went BOOM’s way, and armed with an Aegis, they were able to take two sets of Barracks and subsequently close out the game with ease to level the series.
Team Aster vs Team Entity
Although they have long been in the shadows of regional rivals PSG.LGD, Team Aster is an ambitious star-studded squad featuring several ex-Invictus Gaming and Vici Gaming players. The two teams have never faced each other before, and it was truly anyone’s game, with both teams having shown promise in their local DPC matches.
Entity’s heroes were more teamfight-oriented, with Enigma, Death Prophet, Tiny, Puck, and Chen providing strong pushing capabilities against a lineup that didn’t have much in the way of early game de-push. The strange thing about their lineup was that they played with a Pos 1 DP and an offlane Enigma. Aster on the other hand featured a mid-Pudge, a support Monkey King-Winter Wyvern combo, and Chaos Knight and Dawnbreaker to provide DPS.
Aster did superbly to repel Entity’s early aggression with some of their own, making use of their disables to gank. The European side maintained a bit of a gold lead for most of the early game, but Aster took it away around the 20th minute and kept building on it. Despite this, the game remained on a knife’s edge for a long time.
Despite plenty of back-and-forths, the defining moment of the match came when Entity’s Puck inexplicably initiated a fight while defending their Bottom Rax mere seconds before two of his teammates respawned. This led to a lop-sided battle and diebacks on most of Entity’s heroes, with a GG coming out almost immediately.
Aster’s Enigma and Wyvern meant that Entity’s heroes would have to remain far apart. A Nyx and a Templar Assassin in the lineup meant that they could blow up targets easily, with an offlane Lycan along for extra push potential. Entity’s Night Stalker and Tiny formed a tanky combination with formidable ganking ability in combination with a mid Zeus, and their Venomancer-Warlock teamfight duo had the power to chew through massive amounts of HP.
After an even start, Aster soon took a gold lead that they never lost. Despite even trades in terms of hero kills, the Chinese team’s lineup were far faster at farming, and their gold lead kept rising.
It wasn’t so much a climactic moment as it was a steady decay on the part of Entity that lost them the game. Aster pretty much just beat them into submission, with the Europeans surrendering with two sets of Raxes still intact.
Evil Geniuses vs BOOM Esports
The embattled North American side had a lot to prove after a terrible showing at the last major. A string of roster changes and bad results have left the team exhausted, and all their efforts to rebuild seem to be floundering. EG had lost their first series outright, and were desperate for success. BOOM on the other hand has been pretty consistent, albeit still not performing at the top level. Their draw with Entity meant they had plenty of room for improvement.
With a mixed bag of Keeper of the Light, Rubick, Ember Spirit, Dawnbreaker, and Chaos Knight picked, BOOM were definitely in the business of fast ganks and pickoff play. EG, on the other hand, were much more teamfight-based with their Puck, Earthshaker, and Winter Wyvern trio, flanked by a Batrider for catch or isolation and a hard carry Alchemist.
A relatively uneventful first 10 minutes saw EG pretty much in the driver’s seat. However, some brilliant ganks by BOOM coupled with some poor judgment by EG saw the SEA side build up a lead, and it was just a case of what Shannon “SUNSfan” Scotten would call a “Gaben-level shellacking” from there.
The kill difference was 7-3 in favour of EG in the 10th minute, but when the game ended in the 31st, the score was 30-8 to BOOM. That is all.
Sore from their thrashing in the first match, EG went for a more gank-based lineup featuring Tiny, Night Stalker, Nature’s Prophet, and Zeus, with a Winter Wyvern for support. BOOM on the other hand once again went for a more disjointed, kiting-based approach. With Marci, Kunkka, and Death Prophet for teamfights, Templar Assassin for heavy focused DPS, and a Rubick to take and use EG’s big teamfight spells against them.
Unlike the first match, it was BOOM that took an early lead and EG who came back strong. For a while, it looked as though EG would overpower their opponents, with a small lead and consecutive teamfights going their way.
Sadly for the American side, a climactic teamfight ensued. EG didn’t just lose the fight, but Artour “Arteezy” Babaev bought back only to Teleport in and die back within seconds — in true Arteezy fashion. This left EG winless, while BOOM are looking very strong ahead of their Day 2 matches.
In a few hours, the teams will be back at it again. With plenty of matches in the next 9 days, there will undoubtedly be tons of Dota to read about, so join us for our recaps in the coming days.