Those who haven’t followed the professional scene closely post TI9, but tuned in for the European qualifiers for the first Major of the new season, might have been taken by surprise by a lot of factors.
Let aside that the qualifiers format for Dota Pro Circuit tournaments is all new and a bit confusing, some of the greatest teams in the region have decided to skip the start of the season. OG, Team Secret and the former Team Liquid line-up have all decided to take an extended break, creating a big opportunity for the rest of the European teams to grab some DPC points.
Alliance, with a completely new line-up, and Team Liquid, now competing with the former Alliance players, who chose to change organizations post TI9, have already started a rather interesting rivalry that is most likely bound to carry on through the entire 2019-2020 season. The two teams started the Major qualifiers seeded in different groups, and both finished the group stage at the top, to set themselves for a possible first important duel in the qualifiers upper bracket finals.
Team Liquid took down Ninjas in Pyjamas in the playoff semi-finals, while Alliance cut through Team Singularity, and so the two were pitted against each other for the first time, and the prize was quite enticing, a ticket to the MDL Chengdu Major. Their duel started with Alliance taking the lead in game one, with Nikolay “Nikobaby” Nikolov going for Aghanim’s Scepter as his first item choice on Gyrocopter, and playing extremely aggressive, with a Bloodlust buff always boosting his confidence. In game two, he tried to bully Liquid out of the finals with a Bloodseeker, but the game plan didn’t work entirely as a few too many dives allowed Liquid to slowly recover and even the series. Despite the loss, Alliance pushed forward with a nearly identical draft in game three, the only change made being the mid lane hero choice for Linus “Limmp” Blomdin, who in game two played Outworld Devourer and in game three he was on Razor. The one hero swap seemed to be exactly what Alliance lacked in the previous game, and Liquid had to admit defeat and focus for the lower bracket finals, where Peter “ppd” Dager and his new NiP roster were waiting.
The master drafter ppd is at the start of the new season with a new roster, and before anything else he has to figure out how his new team will play together and what style fits them the best. Unfortunately for him, the Team Liquid line-up is far ahead in that regard. They’ve figured out the chemistry and the overall playstyle in the nearly two years spent under the Alliance banner and now they seem ready to play on another level. Their clean 2-0 victory from today had a lot to do with how they function together as a group. MDL Chengdu Major will be their first Major in the Team Liquid jerseys, and perhaps the first big tournament where they will have the opportunity to take their first revenge over Alliance for the lost upper bracket finals in the qualifiers.
For Ninjas in Pyjamas, the battle is not completely over. They will continue to fight for a ticket at the DOTA Summit 11 Minor, which can potentially send them back to Chengdu Major. Europe got two tickets to the Minor as well, and there are just four teams fighting for them. NiP, Team Singularity, Ascomanni and Ad Finem will play starting tomorrow, October 9 in a double-elimination bracket, so stay tuned for more European Dota 2 action coming your way.