The Shanghai Major officially kicked off yesterday with the first of the group stage matches, and it started off with a huge bang. No one expected MVP Phoenix to take flawless victories in a group of three directly invited teams in order to score an easy ticket to the upper bracket, and EHOME going out in third place wasn’t something people saw coming either. Everyone got a big helping of Korean Dota yesterday, and no one can say it wasn’t entertaining nor impressive.
This puts one of the favourites of the tournament in a precarious situation. For teams starting in the lower bracket, they will have to go through two Bo1 stages before they can consider themselves safe. After a weird occurrence involving a tooth infection forced EHOME to postpone their final group match against Team Secret, they seemed to not have their heads in the game. This led to a 2-0 loss to Secret in a way that wasn’t characteristic of the MDL champions at all. CDEC, on the other hand, exited the group in dead last, which was more or less what spectators thought would happen.
Later today, the second batch of group stage games will be played out. Group B is a mixed bag of favourites and underdogs, with the masters of 6.86 Alliance being expected to exit the group with relative ease, followed by fan favourites ViCi Gaming. Team Spirit and Fnatic are way lower than the aforementioned teams in the pecking order, but after seeing what transpired yesterday, it’s clear that anything is possible in group play.
Alliance (1/5 bet365) v Team Spirit (100/30 Skybet)
This particular match should be no problem for Alliance. They’ve been one of the strongest teams of the patch alongside EHOME and EG, with their only loss as of late being in the Captains Draft tournament — a competition that didn’t even use the standard competitive game mode where Alliance can really abuse the meta to their advantage as they are known to do. They hardly have to bring their A-game in this one given the difference in skill between these two teams.
On the other hand, Team Spirit have no past results to back them up as a viable bet in this fixture, and the bet becomes even less attractive when you consider the returns you get on these odds. If Team Spirit actually wins, you get £4.33 per pound in return, which isn’t even spectacular if you consider their chances of winning this series. Sure, the returns you get on an Alliance win are very low as well, but Team Spirit isn’t a squad that is known to upset top tier teams — unlike MVP Phoenix who do so on a regular basis. This makes Alliance not only the safe bet, but the smart bet.
If you’re looking for a slightly more interesting market for this match, we recommend betting on Alliance to take the first tower in the first map. They’re a team that tends to push hard in order to give AdmiralBulldog much-needed space, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect this from them. This bet gives somewhat better returns than match winner.
ViCi Gaming (1/5 bet365) v Fnatic (100/30 Skybet)
Now, even though the odds on this matchup are exactly the same as the ones above, the underdogs actually have a chance to win this one. Yes, ViCi Gaming have a lot less to prove than Fnatic do, but it’s hard to deny the talent present on the Malaysian team. For one, MidOne is a pubstar with 7.9k MMR. Though he is unproven on a big stage like this, we all know what players with that kind of ranking on the ladder can do. Secondly, when Mushi is having a good day, good things happen for Fnatic in return. He will need to keep it together to pull this one off against a solid team like VG. DJ is also a diamond in the rough support player that really knows how to make the most out of his role, giving this team a good backbone to rely on.
It’s for these reasons that we wouldn’t necessarily shy away from betting on Fnatic here. It will take plenty of effort on their end, but unlike the stomp we’re expecting in the match before this, the Malaysians are actually capable of winning this series — but it will likely take them all three games to do so. What they have going against them, though, is the fact that they haven’t really played a lot of games on this patch. Their last LAN was StarLadder, a tournament which happened a month ago. Still, this is a team that can show flashes of greatness at times, and since these are the group stages, we expect them to surprise the audience at Shanghai.