We have to wait until December to see the global elite assemble in China for the LAN Finals of the WCA 2015 tournament, but that doesn't mean Europe's finest haven't been able to treat viewers to some top notch dota these past few days, as we saw a whole host of new squads in action for the first time since TI. Get the low down on all the quaterfinal matches and what we can look forward to in the semis inside.
Cabals Sundered as Secret start strong
A series that attracts over 150,000 viewers worldwide is never something to be overlooked. The debut of Team Secret's new roster, that saw only Clement 'Puppey' Ivanov stay on from the original squad, looked as good as ever against a fairly average Natus Vincere side.
Both games featured Clockwerk, Anti-Mage and Queen of Pain played by Rasmus 'MiSeRy' Fillipsen, Jacky 'EternaLEnVy' Mao and Omar 'w33haa' Aliwi respectively, with Secret certainly adopting the 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' philosophy.
The incredible early map presence of Secret's QoP in Game 1 coupled with Johan 'pieliedie' Åström's signature roaming Bounty Hunter left Na`Vi scrambling, and it took them until 10 minutes to get their first kill on the board. Closing out the game was fairly routine from then on, as Na`Vi failed to take good fights and were outfarmed fairly heavily.
While Game 2 was a bit harder for Secret, with Na`Vi playing the mid-game well and taking strong fights, two landslide victories around the 35- and 40-minute marks gave Secret a huge lead, eventually allowing the European squad to claim Mega Creeps at 45 minutes and grind down Na`Vi soon after.
Despite the action being centered largely on fresh face w33haa for the majority of the series, Envy was a monster on his beloved Anti-Mage in both games. Farming up a storm in Game 2, getting himself 10k Gold ahead of Alexander 'XBOCT' Dashkevich's Gyrocopter at one point, he was able to solo kill any hero just as his fellow QoP could, while both creating and using space all over the map.
[A]lliance are back (and into the semi-finals!)
With only 1 win in their last 6 series (going back to the start of the month), the strength of The Alliance's refurbished TI3 roster was being seriously doubted coming into a series against what has so far seemed like a very able Vega Squadron roster, who beat Ninjas in Pyjamas to a place at next month's ESL ONE New York.
To adjust the words of an infamously hyperbolic caster and say Alliance are, in fact, back, would be perhaps overly optimistic. While the squad showed a lot of positive signs in their 2:0 victory in today's series against their Russian opponents, seeing how they fare against more robust opposition later in the WCA qualifiers (which they certainly will find in Team Secret), will be very telling indeed.
The series itself wasn't exactly anything to make a Reddit thread about (although many karma fiends would disagree). The most interest garnered from the picks was a solid Broodmother from Henrik 'AdmiralBulldog' Ahnberg in Game 1, and the recently overlooked Shadow Shaman racking up another loss this patch (Currently 26-26 in 6.84).
And thus the Bear hath slain the Monkey
Boasting an 80% Win Rate since their debut 8 days ago, Monkey Business were likely full of hope coming into the tournament, hoping to possibly snatch a spot at December's LAN Finals. The current kings of CIS Dota, Virtus Pro, had different ideas, with them sparing no expense in their first series since a 5-6th place finish at TI. The series was a very brief one, with the first game being unfortunately forfeited due to unforeseen circumstances on (Monkey)'s end, and Game 2 seemed just as easy in places for VP. Manning up against (Monkey) with a Huskar-Dazzle combo, Johan 'BigDaddyN0tail' Sundstein's team were helpless as they were systematically dismantled, despite having what could be seen as a good anti-Huskar team in Templar Assassin, Ancient Apparition and Winter Wyvern.
Empire comes crashing down
Following a fairly dissappointing 9-12th placing at TI5, and some fairly complicated roster changes, Team Empire were no doubt looking to start the new season of Dota with a bang. The WCA qualifiers signalled their second post-TI outing, following a 2-1 defeat in the ESL ONE New York Qualifiers a couple of weeks ago. Just as was the story there, Swedish outfit Ninjas in Pyjamas would prove to be their undoing, and in even more decisive fashion than the last time around.
Going forward into the semi-finals, NiP find themselves facing up against VP, two teams that haven't faced off since June, where VP chopped the Swedes up in a 3-0 victory in the DreamLeague S3 Finals. With both teams changed only by the sands of time since then, the matchup will definitely be an interesting one as they seek to claim a spot in the LAN Finals in China.
*Editor's note: A Swede, while primarily referring to a resident or citizen of Sweden, is also a turnip-like vegetable common in the UK. It is known in North America as a Rutabaga.
- September 23, Virtus pro vs Ninjas in Pyjamas - 17:00 CEST
- September 23, The Alliance vs Team Secret - 19:30 CEST