Anyone that thought Team Liquid’s struggles last week were indicative of a slip from elite status was proven wrong on Sunday. Following a good-but-not-great performance in the season’s first Major, the TI7 champions rebounded in emphatic fashion with a first-place finish at the Dota PIT Minor.
For a time, it looked like Liquid would once again fall short from the top.
After cruising through the tournament’s upper bracket with a six-game winning streak, Liquid found itself in a deep hole in the grand finals opposite Vici Gaming. The Chinese got off to an incredibly fast start in the deciding match, taking the first two games in the best-of-five series on the heels of impressive showings by Zeng "Ori" Jiaoyang and Zhang "Paparazi" Chengjun. While most teams would falter with their backs pressed to the wall that early, Liquid instead lived up to their reputation as the toughest outs in esports.
The TI7 champions flipped the proverbial switch in Game 3, running over VG in just 21 minutes. That momentum swing carried over into Game 4, with Liquid posting a similarly dominant win in comparably quick fashion. VG was reeling entering the final round and never truly recovered. Liquid would steal the series, and the entire tournament, in Game 5 with another effortless, sub-30-minute victory.
It’s Liquid’s second first-place finish in a 2017-2018 Minor, and the latest display that Kuro "KuroKy" Salehi Takhasomi and company should be looked at as the favorites to win any event they participate in. While they won’t be competing in any LANs through the end of November, they’ll be kept busy with the push to qualify for the DreamLeague Major in December. If they make it through, they’re the group to bet on.
For all the quality Dota 2 action to be had, the biggest hook for the Dota PIT Minor was that it was the first prominent tournament to be held on the recently released 7.07 patch. It’s an early taste of what the patch has to offer for pro-level players, and a sneak peek at what the competitive version of the game will look like for the next year.
The patch itself, as detailed last week, is massive in scope, and contained heavy changes to everything from heroes to items to the map itself. It will take months to fully sift through what works this season and what doesn’t, but there were a few takeaways to be had from the Dota PIT Minor.
First, there doesn’t seem to be too much turnover with pro teams right now. While teams can go from elite to average overnight if their bread and butter gets nerfed, the early outlook with 7.07 is that things won’t be shaken up too much at the top. The top-four of the Dota PIT Minor included both halves of the TI7 grand finals (Newbee and Team Liquid), the winner of last weeks’ ESL One Hamburg Major in Virtus Pro, and a very good Chinese team in Vici Gaming.
Second, team fights will happen earlier, and more frequently. While the farming-focused strategy of yesteryear has been steadily weakened with every update to Dota 2, 7.07 does little to accommodate its return and once again nudges things in the direction of “guaranteed bloodbath.” Games move faster, and end sooner and that should reduce the number of 60-plus minute slogs.
Finally, the trendy new heroes in the early phases of 7.07 are Undying, Viper and Medusa. Undying and Medusa both received big buffs to their signature spells (Tombstone and Split Shot, respectively) and that seems to have pro players from multiple regions buying into them as must-have (or must-ban) heroes. Meanwhile, the reworked Viper poison mechanics have helped him to move past being a niche or counter pick, and transformed him into being one of the game’s best DPS options.
In the same vein, don’t expect the most popular heroes from 7.06 to go away in the immediate future. Many evergreen picks like Clockwerk, Puck and Alchemist were all present and accounted for. Meanwhile, 7.06 favorites like Pugna, Sand King and Necrophos popped up more than a few times.
Naturally, things will change with time as teams become better-acquainted with the patch (and as the 7.07 gets tweaked further). For now, however, don’t expect any immediate, seismic shifts in the pro scene.
The Dota Pro Circuit Standings Following the Dota PIT Minor
With the Dota PIT Minor now complete, the Dota Pro Circuit season standings have once again been updated. The first through fourth place teams in the tournament received 150, 90, 45 and 15 qualifying points, respectively, which did little to shake up the rankings, but helped cement the placements for those that made the cut.
Virtus Pro, Team Liquid and Newbee all took home points from Croatia, but none of them moved up a spot off that success. Liquid cut back the lead Team Secret gained with its second-place finish at the ESL One Hamburg Major, but still have work to do in order to climb up a spot.
The sole major shift came with the Dota PIT Minor’s runner-up, Vici Gaming. After a rocky start to the season, highlighted with inconsistency in qualifiers and a last-place finish in October’s StarLadder Minor, VG scored a much-needed second-place finish on Sunday. The 90 qualifying points received by the players is good enough to help the team debut in the rankings at sixth place with 270 total points.
None of these teams can feel comfortable at this point, however. The looming Perfect World Minor and DreamLeague Major will likely turn the current standings upside down and the increased hands-on time with the 7.07 patch will turn some of these teams into contenders, and transform others into pretenders.
There’s a lot to look forward to in the coming month, so make sure to keep an eye on InvenGlobal for more Dota 2 news and results.
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