A second chance is a rare occurrence in life, something you don’t want to pass you by. This has never been as true as it is these days in the world of Dota 2.
Three elite European teams are trying to pounce on the opportunity to punch the last ticket to Frankfurt. All three have failed to do so before, so now it’s their final chance to make a dream come true. Prestige, a lot of cash and the honor of playing in a place walked by sports stars such as Wayne Rooney, Luis Figo and Ronaldinho is on the line - it’s now or never for this once in a lifetime chance.
From Russia with love
Only one step away from Frankfurt is the Russian Team Empire, who have been on a roll lately. After the disappointing loss to Team Dog - now mousesports - in the first qualifying stage, the Russians have regrouped and intensified their efforts to be as dominant a team as possible. In the second chance qualifier, fellow CIS team RoX.kis felt the power of the Russian train, a seemingly unstoppable force with only one destination: Frankfurt, Germany.
Looking through the most recent results, not a whole lot of evidence can be found to stop Team Empire being seen as one of the favorites to win this qualifier. Across the board in other qualifiers, Team Empire has become one of the benchmarks in the European scene, even eyeing the top seed with Na’Vi and Alliance showing some struggles lately. The best record in the regular season of DreamLeague, top of Group A in the ESL One qualifiers, a hold on the top seed in the third season of the Dota 2 Champions League - everything is coming together for the emerging CIS powerhouse.
Strong individual play, great coordination as a team, interesting picks and a general up-tempo pace to their game makes Team Empire a force to be reckoned with. Many teams have tried to overcome them recently, and many teams have failed - including the two possible finals opponents.
(Source: DreamHack Bucharest Facebook)
Cloudy with a chance of upset
On the other side are two other teams who are still in a position to derail the Russian express. Cloud 9 and MeetYourMakers will square off in the semifinals, fighting to get the opportunity to challenge Team Empire’s dominance.
On paper, this semifinal should be one-sided, with Cloud 9 being in the same position as Team Empire. A fan-favorite team that includes popular Dota 2 icons such as SingSing and EternaLEnVy, Cloud 9 is being praised by critics, casters and analysts alike, and their brilliant outing in the regular season of DreamLeague and at DreamHack Bucharest lends credence to these opinions.
However, one pressing issue remains with the team: when expectations rose, they failed to deliver in clutch situations. In the ESL One qualifier they coasted to the win in Group D, only to then lose the heartbreaking series against Fnatic. In Bucharest they outplayed Alliance and the Na’Vi replacement on day one only to get destroyed in the grand finals by the International 3 Champions themselves.
That inability to deal with pressure might be the chance MeetYourMakers is looking for as a team that has not yet lived up to the prestigious name the organization has in the Dota community. The completely Danish team has its work cut out for it against Cloud 9, but they’re not completely without a chance. Recently, the performance of the squad has been trending up. They put the lackluster DreamLeague results behind them, and have been gathering more hope for a brighter future. If they can overcome the odds and defeat Cloud 9, the momentum might be strong enough to carry them all the way past Empire and to the Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt.
No matter what happens, history will be made by one of the teams. If MeetYourMakers wins against Cloud 9, it will be their first ever triumph over the international team. If Cloud 9 can overcome the pressure situation, they will give more ammunition to the Dota scene experts and become known as the new powerhouse in Dota 2. If Team Empire win it all, they will proudly carry the CIS banner into the biggest stadium Western eSports have ever inhabited on their quest to win their first ever major offline tournament.
Regardless of the outcome, you can be there when the last European spot for the ESL One is decided on Monday and Tuesday at http://www.twitch.tv/joindotared.
Cloud 9 vs. MeetYourMakers - Monday, May 19th at 19:00 CEST
Team Empire vs. Cloud 9 or MeetYourMakers - Tuesday, May 20th at 18:00 CEST