After four days of back-to-back Swiss-format group action that saw its fair share of huge upsets and heartbreaking losses alike, we’re finally down to the eight teams who will be playing in the Bucharest Major 2018 playoffs.
As expected, the top teams in the season leaderboards advanced to the playoffs. Or at least, most of them did. Mineski, ViCi Gaming and Natus Vincere, unfortunately, fell short. The 7th, 4th and 6th place teams in the season leaderboards only managed to finish with 1-3, 1-3 and 2-3 records respectively. But, whenever a top team falls, a challenger always comes to take its place; opTic Gaming, VGJ.Thunder and TNC Pro Team all booked their tickets to the playoffs on the backs of spectacular performances during the group stages.
With a 3-0 record heading into the Bucharest Major 2018 playoffs, VGJ.Thunder and Evil Geniuses look like legitimate threats to win the whole thing. However, a win here won’t come easy. Not with the heavy favourites Team Secret, Team Liquid and Virtus Pro still in the pool. Especially not when the playoffs are single elimination. This means that a single series loss will mean the difference between a top-eight finish and a top-four finish with at least 150 Qualifying Points for The International 8 secured.
Having said that, here are our picks for which teams we believe will make it out of the Quarterfinals of the Bucharest Major 2018 Playoffs and secure at least Top 4 finish.
VGJ.Thunder vs TNC Pro Team
— Team VGJ (@Team_VGJ) March 6, 2018
Match Schedule: March 9, 2018 (Friday 1100H / 11:00 AM EET)
If there’s one thing these two things have in common it’s that they both have continued to surprise. VGJ.Thunder continue their upward trend that started with a huge win at Galaxy Battles in the Philippines with a 3-0 group stage record here in Bucharest. Meanwhile, TNC Pro Team seems to have only gotten better with Carlo ‘Kuku‘ Palad righting the Southeast Asian ship with Theeban ‘1437‘ Siva now out of the picture, securing a playoff spot in their only Pro Circuit LAN appearance in 2018 so far. It would’ve definitely been awesome to see them make a deep run now that they seem to have gotten the Mineski-sized monkey off of their backs.
Unfortunately, one team has to lose, and our pick goes to TNC Pro Team. The reason? It’s simple. VGJ.Thunder are on a roll. They stared down Team Secret and took them out in 32 short minutes. Their match against ViCi Gaming was even shorter at 28 minutes. And though their comeback win against TNC Pro Team that helped them notch a spot in the playoffs was nothing short of miraculous, that’s the thing, VGJ.Thunder have proven they can come out on top despite facing seemingly insurmountable odds.
Leong ‘ddc‘ Fat-meng has no doubt had a positive effect on the roster and barring any upset, we’ll likely see them advancing well into the Grand Finals of this tournament.
Betting: VGJ.Thunder to win 2-1 at 2.86 odds (GGbet)
Team Secret vs Newbee
— Team Secret (@teamsecret) March 7, 2018
Match Schedule: March 9, 2018 (Friday 1430H / 02:30 PM EET)
Where Team Secret have flashed versatility throughout the tournament, Newbee have mostly stuck to their guns, playing with meta heroes while displaying their now-signature five-man playstyle. Why this matters is simple: Newbee are historically known to struggle when playing outside of their comfort zone. They have also been unable to find a way to stop teams from snowballing and steamrolling through them en route to a quick win. Case in point, their quick losses against Evil Geniuses here in Bucharest and at Katowice.
There’s little doubt that Team Secret have already studied the replays of those particular games and are looking to replicate the same kind of success against the ESL One Genting 2018 champions. And given Team Secret’s 4-1 series record against Newbee, the odds are stacked against the Chinese powerhouse.
Betting: Team Secret to win 2-0 at 2.95 odds (GGbet)
Liquid vs Evil Geniuses
We're looking forward to the challenge! #BleedBlue
— Evil Geniuses (@EvilGeniuses) March 7, 2018
Match Schedule: March 9, 2018 (Friday 1800H / 06:00 PM)
Unpopular opinion incoming: Team Liquid will finish outside of the Top 4 of the tournament for the first time since finishing in 5th-8th place at the Kiev Major back in April of 2017. Now, Team Liquid still deserves the benefit of the doubt most of the time, lackadaisical recent play be damned. But, Evil Geniuses just beat them in a 62-minute marathon game, and while that was a best-of-one, a loss is still a loss. Paired with Evil Geniuses’ 3-0 record during the group stages and their improved play, and Team Liquid are in real danger of bowing out of the Bucharest 2018 Playoffs early.
Call us the devil’s advicate, or our pick a risk, stupid, a foolish choice, or whatever you’d like. But, we’re calling Team Liquid to lose here.
Betting: Evil Geniuses to win at 2.36 odds (ArcaneBet)
Virtus.Pro vs OpTic Gaming
— OpTic Gaming™ (@OpTicGaming) March 7, 2018
Match Schedule: March 10, 2018 (Saturday 1100H / 11:00 AM EET)
More than half a year after defecting from Evil Geniuses to spearhead his own squad under OpTic Gaming, the legendary TI5 winning captain Peter ‘ppd‘ Dager finally seem to have his sea legs under him. After receiving most of the criticism for his team’s failure, his drafts have so far been on point this tournament as he guided OpTic Gaming to the Bucharest Major 2018 Playoffs. Of course, it helps that the rest of the team is finally playing well, but you have to give kudos to ppd for making the most of the pieces available to him.
Now, they find themselves matched up against Virtus.Pro, a top-tier team that they seem to have figured out. We’ve already played devil’s advocate by picking Evil Geniuses to win over Virtus Pro, but this match is just too tempting to avoid risking on.
Between ppd’s resurgence as a top-tier captain and the rest of OpTic Gaming finally coming together, they have a fair chance of winning against any team in the Bucharest Major 2018 Playoffs, including Virtus.Pro.
Betting: OpTic Gaming to win at 4.12 odds (ArcaneBet)