The New Age Tournament Arc
The UA Sports Festival, The Chunin Exams, The Dark Tournament, Battle City, every great anime has a tournament arc that’s the highlight of the story, and sometimes the highest point of the series. For Dota 2 esports in 2021, this year’s DPC season is that ultimate storyline.
After slowly recovering from the devastating pandemic that halted the world in 2020, Dota’s esports has been on a resurgence. The International 10 was announced, the Singapore Major saw Invictus Gaming and the Chinese region rise in superiority over other challengers, and now the WePlay AniMajor aims to provide that same high-octane excitement with its anime-inspired tournament.
This is the tournament that will solidify the standings for TI, in which twelve teams will receive a direct invite to Stockholm, who will duke it out for the $40 million prize pool and get a chance to be the next team to lift the Aegis of Champions. So, far, the competition is looking fierce; one slip up, one miscalculation and a team’s chances at TI could go up in smoke. We’ve seen early exits from noticeable organisations, primarily Team Liquid and beastcoast, two regional powerhouses that could not seal the deal to secure a spot at TI, something Team Liquid as an org hasn’t missed out on since TI6.
Teams need to look out, because even though the majority of teams left in the bracket have secured their spot for a direct invite, who’s to say what desperation can do to a squad like TNC Predator or Team Nigma, both of who essentially need to face each other in the Grand Finals to secure the DPC points needed to advance. It’s a crazy world out there in Dota, and the WePlay major is just the latest series of battles in what looks to be an incredible year for the game at TI. Here are two of the major’s attendees that should be paid attention to and noted for their unique and inspiring approach to the game.
Brooklyn Smash – Quincy Crew Clinches The Win
All American heroes, the faces of the new generation of North American Dota, Quincy Crew tore through the competition in 2020 uncontested. Tournament after tournament, Quincy Crew were the undisputed kings of NA, but despite the success, they couldn’t really showcase their full potential against international talent. That chance did eventually come in the form of the Singapore Major, but unfortunately, it also came with an ill-timed illness that would see the team be unable to fight at full strength and bow out from the tournament early.
However, that loss wasn’t enough to hold back QC from revisiting the drawing board and going in once again. They dominated the second half of the NA DPC and secured themselves a direct seed into the playoffs, where they most recently advanced forward after a 2-1 win over NoPing e-sports.
What’s great about QC is that these guys are talented and hungry players, who have been grinding and working to become not only the best players from North America but also into being able to perform against the strong interregional competition. They almost operate as a family, they have a lot of history working with one another, and the team drafts and plays in a way that’s methodical and adaptive. Anyone on the Crew can have a standout performance, but normally the flashy play from the roster comes in the form of watching Quinn "Quinn" Callahan.
If anything embodies the scrappy spirit that permeates with this team, it’s looking at Quinn’s history as a player, and his rise from young, talented, and promising rookie to the region’s newest mid-wunderkind. The man grinds, he learns, and he adapts, and if you put him on a Spirit hero and he’ll never fail you. He, alongside the rest of QC, are inspiring to watch, as this all-NA centred lineup that’s focused on nothing more than improving, and truly showcasing they’re a team worth paying attention to.
The Dark Horse – Team Nigma
One of the most refreshing things to see this tournament as well as in the DPC regular season is the resurgence of Team Nigma. With the addition of Igor "iLTW" Filatov in the carry position, and with Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi moving back to the mid-lane, watching Team Nigma play feels so rewarding. A lot of the times, even when Nigma was doing well, they always had this awkward look about them, that their game plan wasn’t always executed well, or they just struggled to really find their footing in a game. Now, it feels like we’re watching truly free and adaptive Dota, one that always each player to really shine on what they’re capable of, in a way we haven’t really seen in a long time.
Watching Miracle- on mid again is like seeing an old friend from high school after a rough time at college. It’s exactly how it felt like before, you’re vibing, you’re excited to see them, but it makes it all the more special since it’s coming after such a turbulent time in your life. He’s so fluid in his gameplay, the way he goes from aggressive to passive, from space making to playmaking, it’s incredible how much of a gem Miracle- is to the game, and just how well the mid role fits him like a glove.
The strategies being formed around iLTW and Miracle-, seem like the plans are finally coming into fruition, and that Nigma are no longer this janky team that need to work with specific hero pools, but a team that can execute exactly what they need to when they need to and to respond with a draft that gives them the biggest amount of ease to see it through. A lot of praise also has to be given to Maroun "GH" Merhej, who has always been a magician in the 4 position, but now has pulled off some truly spectacular feats this tournament with this new iteration. He has this aggressive and almost annoying playstyle, where he’s always in the right positioning to make the most out of his hero, giving his cores the tools and space needed to take resources and win team fights.
Nigma needs a top-two finish to qualify for TI, they need to clear that hurdle because it would be such a shame if they couldn’t clear it. This is an exciting team to watch, this is the level of performance we expect to see out of a roster like Team Nigma, and it’s just all the more satisfying to cheer them on and hope that they can make the cut.
Images via WePlay