It’s been a really, really good couple of months for LGD Gaming.
The anchors of the Chinese scene posted a key second-place finish at the Dota 2 Asia Championships in April. That was followed by the team reeling in a huge sponsorship deal from Ligue 1 football club Paris Saint-Germain (which is why they’re now PSG.LGD, by the way). And now? The team has reeled in the first ever Major victory in organizational history at Epicenter XL.
It was a roundly exceptional performance by PSG.LGD from start to finish, kicked off by a strong second-place run in the group stages that sealed up a spot in the upper bracket. Despite being given the toughest possible draws in Virtus Pro and Team Liquid, the team worked its way to the grand finals, where it was tasked with facing Liquid for the third time in the tournament.
While the first two series were relatively by-the-numbers affairs, the main event was absolutely wild.
The first three games were defined by huge momentum swings, with neck-and-neck beginnings leading to seemingly game-ending team wipes, only to have the other team roar back and take the win. PSG.LGD managed to come out on top in two of the first three games and while the fourth was close to panning out the same way, the Chinese team managed to settle down, build a lead, seal the deal and clinch the series win.
It was a huge win for PSG.LGD, who have performed well in tournaments throughout the 2017-2018 season but haven’t been able to make it to grand finals with any degree of consistency. Now coming off grand finals berths in back-to-back majors, the team could be lining itself up to be favorites for The International 2018.
Dota Pro Circuit Problems on Full Display at Epicenter XL
One of the big problems that is surfacing with the Dota Pro Circuit is tournament organizers’ frequent inclusion of teams that can’t actually make use of qualifying points. Epicenter XL was a great example of that.
For those that don’t know, the Dota Pro Circuit is a series of events that determine the direct invitations to The International, which is done by giving “qualifying points” to top-four teams from each DPC event. These points are acquired over the course of the 10-month season, with the eight highest-earning teams receiving an invite. Teams can have an invite mathematically sealed up after earning a certain number of points, or be disqualified for violating roster management rules.
With most of the points now allocated, teams that don’t have a direct invite locked up are becoming increasingly desperate for any opportunity to improve their standing. Unfortunately, a huge number of those opportunities are going to teams who can’t make use of them.
Among the 12 teams competing at Epicenter, four of the teams were disqualified from an invitation to TI8 due to the roster rules (CompLexity Gaming, Team Empire, OG and FlyToMoon). Another, Virtus Pro, is unable to make use of any qualifying points earned at this point because they already have a direct invite mathematically guaranteed.
Two of those teams (VP and FTM) placed top four, and essentially burned away all the points they earned, with FTM in particular coming a game away from making it to the grand finals.
It’s impossible to blame teams for taking up these spots--regardless of the DPC, they still have rent to pay--but at this point, it’s hard to not feel like Valve’s laissez faire approach is hurting teams that need to make progress.
DPC Standings After Epicenter XL
While VP and FTM burned away a lot of Epicenter’s QP, the two teams that made it to the grand finals both benefited greatly from the event.
First and foremost, second-place finishers Team Liquid became the second team to lock up a direct invite. While Kuro and co. have long been all but guaranteed to receive one, standing as one of the most active and most consistently successful teams in Dota 2, the TI7 champions are now officially lined up for an attempt to become the first-ever two-time International winners.
Second, PSG.LGD are now very well positioned to receive a direct invite themselves. While the Chinese team has been good throughout the season, it has struggled to rake in points with any level of consistency with most of its success occurring in low-yielding Minor events. It jumped into the top-eight last month with its second-place finish at the Dota 2 Asia Championships, but trampolined all the way to fourth on the season with the victory here.
The GESC Thailand Minor kicks off in just a few days and while many of the minors have been skippable over the last few months, every point counts from here on out.