The road to The International 7 is well-under way as the Direct Invites are expected to be announced within June. As teams try to up their stock with eye-catching LAN performances, the on-going battle in Moscow, Russia for EPICENTER 2017 is a telling barometer for the worthy ones. With the recent patch shaking up the meta and the Group Stage of the tournament finished, new favorites emerge and old giants fade.
Winds of Dota Change
The most jarring change with the recent patch was the added importance of the laning stage. The extra creep in the midlane and the extra experience gained from denying your own creeps puts the mechanically gifted miles ahead of their competition. Superstar midlaners Syed SumaiL Hassan of Evil Geniuses and Yeik Nai MidOne Zheng of Team Secret have benefited the most as they easily dominate and snowball from an early phase. Evil Geniuses and Team Secret easily took the spotlight as they dominated their respective groups.
With the shrines also getting a cool down, the offlane once again becomes the hard role. Offlaners who took full advantage of the availability of the shrines early on have seen a hit in their efficiency. Clutch Gamers' Raphael Sicat Rapy Palo and OG's Gustav s4 Magnusson are offlaners who struggled in the early phase and this really limited their output. OG and CG used to be on a hotstreak prior the patch and this change have really left them struggling to stay competitive in the highest level.
The Chinese Dota 2 pros were always revered to be some of the most mechanically advanced players in the world. Epicenter's two Chinese representatives are both through to the Playoff Stage of the tournament. Invictus Gaming and Xu BurNIng Zhilei was a given since they have been on top of their game for most of 2017.
The bigger surprise was LGD.Gaming's supposed youth team, Forever Young is actually stacked with experience and has upset many teams despite He Inflame Yongzheng's rough transition from mid to offlane. Their young prodigy in 17-year old Du Monet Peng has churned out many eye-catching performances and easily averaged an upward of 580 GPM in his matches. Pundits expected them to fickle out in their group of death but they have definitely risen to the occasion as the topped their group after outplaying MidOne and Team Secret in the tie breaker
Fall from grace
Who would have thought that four-time Major champions OG would be eliminated from Epicenter this year? Definitely not less than two months after their monumental win against Virtus.pro in the Kiev Major. Anathan Ana Pham has long been considered as one of OG's weak link. This was more apparent in the recent patch as he pales in comparison to the other talented mids in the tournament.
Many Natus Vincere fans rejoiced that their beloved Danil Dendi Ishutin was finally going to be able to play in another LAN after a terribly long drought. But it simply affirmed that Dendi and co. are way past their prime as teams just rolled over them as they could not pick up a single win to their names. Similarly the journeymen of Planet Odd featuring veteran Dane Rasmus Misery Filipsen haven't had the best time recently since parting ways with the Digital Chaos organization earlier this year as they are also one of the first casualties in Epicenter.
Another team greatly affected by the recent changes were the Filipino squad, Clutch Gamers. They seemed unstoppable in the SEA region winning qualifiers left and right even beating out Kings of SEA, Team Faceless. The late game was their comfort zone and with games ending much earlier, CG looked like a deer in the headlights.
With the Group Stage done, expect even more exciting Dota as Epicenter reaches it's fever pitch in the coming days.