The group stage of the Manila Major is but two days away, with all of the teams now getting prepared for the first few games before the main event itself. In this third article of our preview series, we’ll be taking a look at the teams from arguably the most powerful region in Dota 2 today: Europe.
The collection of EU teams that will be playing in Manila features some true championship-caliber teams. Team Liquid, Team Secret, OG and Alliance fall into this classification, with Natus Vincere and Team Empire following the group close behind. Almost any of these squads have a solid chance at making it to the grand finals, but this doesn’t mean that all of them are good choices when it comes to betting on the outright winner market.
Team Secret (10/1 bet365)
It’s no secret (pun intended, of course) that Team Secret’s problems haven’t ended. Communication breakdowns, team play issues, poor individual performances, and other such things that greatly affect their gameplay have been building up since the roster lock and since then this new lineup hasn’t gotten any good results at all.
We think it will be different this time. The last time they were in the Philippines, things ended in disaster as they were knocked out of ESL One Manila by Team Empire, and in their next event after that they were ejected from EPICENTER in top 8 by Alliance. This team has no momentum going into the next Major, but we’ve seen this look before. Prior to the Shanghai Major, Team Secret was not seen as a grand final threat, but they defied the odds and went on to win the title in China. If Puppey could get his team together at the right moments in Manila, history could repeat itself once again.
Considering this fact and the generous pricing put up on this team, it may be worth putting them in your bet slip.
Alliance (12/1 bet365)
You can never really count Alliance out unless they’re playing in a patch with direct nerfs to their usual heroes — and sometimes even that might not be enough. Alliance may be known for a limited hero pool that can simply be patched out of relevance, but they’ll be damned before Valve takes their favorites away without them trying to make said heroes work in whatever version they’re playing. This forces teams to play around them in the drafting phase, something Alliance will almost always try to take advantage of.
In this patch, their signature heroes are in fairly good places without being borderline broken (except for Beastmaster, maybe), so they will have some flexibility to work with in Manila. Thing is, we’ve seen Alliance melt down in the middle of tournaments plenty of times before, and their inconsistency after winning StarLadder Season 13 isn’t going to help them in Manila. Frequent top 6 finishes isn’t going to cut it in a 16-team tournament, and if they play in their current form they won’t likely break past the top 8.
Sad to say the deposed Kings of the North will not be a good choice here. Perhaps the group stage and bracket games will be a better place for punters to consider them on their bet slips, but in this market, we discourage this pick.
OG (5/1 Betway)
Although OG has had its ups and downs throughout the team’s history, it can be said that they’re on an “up” point right now. After winning DreamLeague Season 5 in a flawless victory against Na’Vi, it’s clear that OG are back in top form and should be one of the favourites to win it all in this major.
Credit goes to Miracle- for always staying ahead of the pack when it comes to individual performances across teams. This patch has been particularly good for Timbersaw, and we saw in DreamLeague just how stylishly devastating that hero can be in Mr. 9K MMR’s hands. We wouldn’t be surprised to see teams banning that hero against OG, lest they incur the wrath of the best player in the world. Even then, Miracle- has plenty of tools available to him should he decide to take over and completely destroy anyone who stands in his way.
All in all, this is a team not to be trifled with. They will undoubtedly have this big target on their backs in Manila, thus making them one of the most studied squads in the field. Should they keep their cool and work together to ensure Miracle- doesn’t just burn out before the end of the road, they might just become the first team in history to win two Valve-sponsored events. That price isn’t too bad either, and considering their chances, #DreamGreen wouldn’t be a bad call at all.
Team Liquid (9/2 bet365)
If there was one team that we would call the absolute top favourite to win the Manila Major, it would be Team Liquid, bar none. Trading blows and eventually beating Newbee after their incredible winning streak at EPICENTER was no small task, but they persevered and took the championship at that event. They achieved this through their fantastic teamwork and individual skill, combined with the threat of any of their players taking over a game with a particular hero if it ever slips through the bans.
Their victory at EPICENTER was notable for being the one that finally broke their second place curse. For a long time Liquid struggled to close out tournaments despite getting to the last leg. Whether it was KuroKy making particularly questionable decisions or the team simply getting outdrafted, it seemed like they were destined to never actually win a grand final. Lo and behold, they came through when it mattered and took first place. Should they keep this form in Manila, not only will they cancel out the fact that they, like OG, will be one of the most researched and studied teams in the field, but they will also put $1.1 million in their pockets. Even at 9/2 they’re going to make some good money for anyone who decides to bet on them in this market.
Natus Vincere (32/1 Betway)
Oh, Na’Vi. For the first time since TI5 we find you once again participating in a Valve-sponsored event, where you were frequently seen as raid bosses to anyone who might lack the luck necessary to avoid encountering you early on. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case as Na’Vi will probably be eliminated long before the top 6 matches are played.
Although losing to OG at DreamLeague isn’t going to be a big deal in the long run, that tournament was their chance to show everyone that they could win championships again. Their performance was of course less than inspiring, and combined with their disappointing finish at WePlay Season 3 it’s difficult to call them finalists in Manila. The team has certainly come a long, long way since bringing General and Sonneiko onboard, but they’re not quite at the level of old Na’Vi yet.
Team Empire (50/1 Betway)
Empire showed flashes of brilliance at ESL One Manila with a spirited top 4 finish in a field that was not that easy to get through, but since then they’ve played no official competitive matches outside of online qualifiers and their fourth place exit in WePlay. This makes us doubtful of them going into the Manila Major, and so we are hesitant to recommend them for this market.
There will definitely be opportunities to bet on them in their individual matchups in Manila, though. The brilliance of KingR and RAMZES666 is clear, and should help them take a few series here and there in the group stages and in the brackets. If they prove to be in form in this tournament, there should be some money to be had out of a few Empire bets during the event itself. For this market, though, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
The Secret bet is one we recommend with some trepidation, as despite the good value that could come out of it, they have shown less than inspiring play lately especially for this market in particular. OG is our most recommended bet, as they have more or less equal chances of taking the whole tournament compared to Liquid. Liquid is of course the safe bet, but will net slightly less than OG if they win.
— written by Patrick “EthanKairos” Bonifacio (@EthanKairosSC2)