The first day of ESL One Katowice for Dota 2 is in the books, and there are already signs this tournament will be one to remember. The round robin format means nothing is set in stone yet, but even so there are several teams that have already emerged as strong contenders.
Group A provided the most competitive bracket, with no single team looking overly dominant. Instead we saw teams like Gambit rely on the strength of their comfort picks to eke out closely fought victories.
Both OG and Team Secret depended on the early game power of Monkey King to transition into strong finishes and 3-1 results at the end of the day. Mineski proved that despite their status as a replacement team, they definitely deserve to be here, with a respectable mid-table result. Kim “Febby” Yong-min’s Elder Titan was particular impressive, helping secure their 2-2 finish.
Bottom of the table are For The Dream – replacements for China Qualifier winners EHOME, who faced with a schedule clash opted instead to attend the MDL Macau event in their home region. FTD never looked comfortable, losing in the opening games to Mineski while running questionable picks. In their second best-of-two against Gambit, they never regained momentum, crashing to the bottom of the table in the face of their opponents Visage and Nyx Assassin.
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Group B on the other hand was a story of contrasts. Fan favourites Ninjas in Pyjamas, Fnatic, and Chaos Esports Club only dropped one game between them, while compLexity Gaming, Alliance, and Team Aster floundered. Alliance in particular looked lost, unable to get anything started, despite strong picks and good early game performances against Fnatic and Chaos.
The standout performance however has to be compLexity’s Galvin "Meracle" Kang Jian Wen, and his Naga Siren play. Some well placed silences ensured that NiP finished the day without a clean slate, and have left us eager to see this hero make it to late game carry status more often.
Two more days of the stage remain, with chances for every team to redeem themselves. For those at the bottom of the table, however, it's make or break time. Another day of losses will see them fall out of contention for a playoff spot over the weekend, while those at the top must be confident in transitioning their success into a top bracket position.
Can Alliance close out a game next time? Join the discussion in the comments below.