Tundra Esports, which previously lost the chance to play on The International 10 by Dota 2, unexpectedly for the majority of viewers became the champion ESL One Fall 2021 – one of the last tournaments before the start of TI10 itself. Moreover, in the final matches, the team Adriana Fata Trinks beat Virtus.pro and PSG.LGD, but these compositions are definitely among the contenders for “Aegis”. Perhaps the situation could have become more ironic only if in the final Tundra beat OG – then the fans would definitely take Valve’s office by storm in order to knock out an invite to idols. Whether the results of ESL One Fall 2021 mean that we should change expectations from TI10, we will discuss in the material.
A call to the director
Even three years after the official end of his career as a player, “Director of Dota” Zhang Xiao8 Ning is still able to give a good scolding to the “subordinates” on the server – and this is the most interesting conclusion at the end of the tournament for those who have been following the professional scene for a long time. We are all accustomed to the fact that teams playing with coaches as stand-ins automatically become outsiders. There were also exceptions in the form of victories in such situations, but this only confirms the rule – that’s why we remember how Arseny ArsZeeqq Usov ruined PSG.LGD into The chongqing major, a Tituan Sockshka Merlot – EG and Team Secret on EPICENTER Major 2019that right up to the very start of the matches, such outcomes seemed completely incredible.
I wanted to believe a little more in Xiao8 – after all, this is a “director”, a legend! And his rank in matchmaking is higher than that of many active cybersportsmen – there were no questions about the veteran’s mechanical skills even before the start of the tournament. However, how easily the team made it to the grand finals with him is still surprising. At the same time, Xiao8 was not an ordinary ward dispenser: he spent almost all the cards in the tournament on the mid, and there – on the most skill-dependent lane, by the way – he almost did not lag behind his young and daring rivals … well, as much as it is in general possibly Spirit Breaker, of course.
In the course of the tournament, Xiao8 evolved from the default meta mid laner into a kind of “four from mid” – Ursa and Puck stopped picking, but showed excellent Pangolier and, probably, brought the plague to our pubs with his Spirit Breaker. And this is the kind of courage and adaptability that even a lot of second position star players like gpK ~ can learn from. At the beginning of the tournament, the “director” sometimes still “podfizih”, getting used to the realities of European “Dota”, but quickly made conclusions and changed his approach: he began to play like prime Topson on Tiny – he was actively running along the lines and terrified those who used to farm the “triangle” core heroes of the enemy. And although VP was “afraid to lose to the old man” in the upper bracket, in the lower one, when it was more important, Xiao8 did not forgive.
A ghost haunts Bucharest – the ghost of the Wings
“Imagine how PSG.LGD will play when the vaccinated robot returns to the mid lane,” wrote Alexei STORM Tumanov, a big fan of the Chinese Dota, after the end of the ESL One Fall grand final. It’s easy for him to say – he followed closely PSG.LGD’s adventures this season! But for me, as a fan of the European scene, it is no longer so easy to imagine a composition with NothingToSay. And not only because Xiao8 so organically blended into the team’s game and at the tournament seemed, perhaps, imperfect, but a very important element for the operation of the entire mechanism. It’s just that PSG.LGD changed so often even over a short distance of one tournament that it seems like an absolutely impossible task to anticipate what the team will appear at the Dota PIT in September, and even more so at TI10 in October.
During the three months of summer, PSG.LGD picked 94 heroes in official games – more than all the teams that participated in the last major tournaments. The statistics are not entirely fair: Xiao8’s roster played the most matches (with the exception of Vici Gaming), so I had more opportunities to experiment. However, the fact that the team’s pool includes almost the entire roster of heroes is an indisputable fact. There is no doubt that the team will test a couple of new strategies at the Dota PIT – well, they will surely pick the Beastmaster who has flown into the meta at least once. And then the ghost of Wings, perhaps the most tactically flexible team in history, will definitely hover over TI10.
To argue that Valve can save money and send Aegis to China instead of holding the tournament on a direct flight is, of course, still premature – there are also enough arguments against: here you both OG, which does not lose on Intah, and Team Secret, which has been in hibernation to finally fire in time. But it should be noted that PSG.LGD feels more comfortable on the server than the absolute majority of teams. While the rivals are sweating and trying to perfectly realize their preparations, the players of the Chinese club fly into matches with mid-lane Spirit Breaker and Clinkz, switch roles right during the grand final and, having lost, go to joke and troll their rivals on social networks. Leon’s commentary Nine Kirilina after winning the tournament was indicative:
Maybe it’s enough to binge and destabilize the situation in Virtus.pro?
Remember, three days ago we released the material “Virtus.pro is incredibly good at ESL One Fall – winning the tournament can really help the team at TI10”? Well, it turns out it won’t help. Before the article, VP beat PSG.LGD in the upper bracket, after that she lost two matches and was eliminated. It is difficult to draw conclusions in this situation: on the one hand, I want to say that the tournament did not solve anything, the players gained experience, tested new strategies (and did not burn the most valuable ones!), On the other hand, a disc with old songs about the main thing (that is, about experience , of course) has been rubbing for a long time.
Analysts and viewers alike agree that Virtus.pro continues to tread on the same garden tools as before. Strong lanes, a slight lead and overall value in the first ten minutes, and then an unacceptably long window of passive farming, which EXTREMUM or Winstrike could not take advantage of in DPC 2021, but which turned out to be quite enough for Tundra and PSG.LGD to return into the game at ESL One Fall 2021.
In the group stage and the first match of the playoffs, VP successfully masked this problem and – to be honest – ran over all opponents with a roller. And let’s be honest: if the roster had reached the trophy in this way, then we would all have given up on all these imaginary problems right up to TI10. However, this did not happen, and therefore Yaroslav NS Kuznetsov called the VP players not heroes, but mattresses. I would like to believe that cybersportsmen will at least once again be able to laugh at all this and not take it too personally.
And now an appeal to the fans of the club: calm down! It’s too early to panic anyway! Before starting to lose at ESL One Fall, VP offlaneer Dmitry DM Dorokhin said that the team knows its weaknesses very well:
Given the arrival Anatoly Boolk Ivanov, as well as repeated statements by the club’s CEO Sergei Glamazda about the serious approach VP took when looking for a coach, I want to believe that the team will really spend the next month methodically integrating the same Tundra and PSG.LGD developments into their playstyle. And if everything goes according to plan, at TI10 the fans will be able to see a completely different VP, since there is no doubt about the mechanical talent of the club’s players. In general, the main thing now is not to drink.
Tundra is arguably the best team to miss TI. And many, very many viewers and even analysts consider this a terrible injustice. Now fans are calling on Valve to arrange a Wild Card stage at The International – you can even invite one Tundra there (and NAVI for the hype!), No one will be offended.
There is no way to belittle the merits of Tundra: at ESL One Fall 2021, the team performed brilliantly and at the same time showed a couple of ideas that will definitely be stolen by TI10. For example, Fata’s Position 5 Night Stalker completely ruined VP’s plans in the final of the upper bracket, and in the grand final we saw a comeback that no one asked for – support Monkey King.
Tundra is really fun to watch, and in the realities of modern Dota, where the meta is not developing so quickly due to the fact that the regions cannot regularly exchange experiences, this is a great compliment. Having lost in the grand final of the qualifiers at TI, the team did not give up and did not lose the mood, but, on the contrary, began to hone their strategies and absolutely deservedly receive tons of compliments on social networks. Of course, it’s a pity that such a bright roster will miss The International 10. But whether the roster deserved this slot at the end of the previous season is a completely different question.
By praising the shape-shifting Tundra, Dota 2 fans discount the efforts of those clubs that have adopted the new rules of the game and tried to methodically win throughout the seemingly endless DPC seasons. No one remembers Alliance’s victories in the European league anymore, and therefore Tundra’s triumph, of course, evokes a much greater emotional response in the hearts of neutral fans. However, being guided by emotions in modern (cyber) sports is deceiving yourself.
In recent years, Valve has been looking for an opportunity to bring Dota 2 closer to traditional sports: to make sure that stability, the ability to keep fit over a long distance of the season, give teams more than the ability to reach a short-term peak once or twice a season. This system has obvious drawbacks: the fan favorite stories with underdog victories will now probably happen less often – the same OG was almost left without a slot at The International 10, since it was frankly lazy all season.
But this is a healthy system that is already bearing fruit: the players hold on to each other (well, most of them) and work on mistakes, instead of fervently reshuffling. And this, in turn, obviously leads to an increase in the quality of Dota. Unfortunately, in this new system, Tundra is a relic of a romantic past. The team that was able to reach their peak form only by the end of the season does not deserve a place in The International in the new model of the professional scene. Fortunately, Fata and his teammates will be able to try it in the new year – ironically, but it seems that thanks to the DPC, the players will continue to play together in the end.