The EPICENTER XL playoffs or main event will begin on May 4 and will be played in front of a live audience at the VTB Ice Palace in Moscow.
The first ever best-of-three round robin format group stage of any tournament of the 2017-18 Pro Circuit did not disappoint. Though heavy favourites such as PSG.LGD, Virtus.Pro and Team Liquid performed just as well as many expected, the week-long EPICENTER XL group stage also saw a couple of surprise performances as well. Case in point, paiN Gaming’s performance so far.
The South American team, who recently welcomed Aliwi ‘w33‘ Omar to their team, rallied from an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Virtus.Pro on Day 1 of the tournament to sweep Natus Vincere and Newbee, who both are now out of the tournament, and become the first South American team to earn a playoff spot this season.
Now matched up against FlyToMoon, a sponsorless stack of CIS veterans who also turned a lot of heads with their performance, w33 and paiN Gaming will have a chance to do even more once the EPICENTER XL playoffs start.
In other news, OG are playing better right now. It seems that putting Gustav ‘s4‘ Magnusson, a famed mid player who won a TI back in 2013 with Alliance before switching to offlane after joining OG after TI6, back in mid more often than not is a recipe for mild success. Who knew, right? But then again, that was the group stages. OG will now have to show that they can keep up their performance at the EPICENTER XL playoffs.
FlyToMoon vs paiN Gaming
Match Schedule: May 4, 2018 (Friday 12:30 MSK)
A match between two of the biggest underdogs heading into the tournament. Who would have expected that any one of these two teams would make it all the way to the playoffs, let alone both of them? But alas, here they are, and only one of them will have a chance to advance deeper at the end of Day 1 of the EPICENTER XL playoffs.
FlyToMoon proved that they had what it takes to keep up with top teams like Team Liquid and PSG.LGD with their performance during the group stages. They even beat Mineski in a BO3, which says a lot about the potential strength of this team. But what paiN Gaming did wasn’t too shabby either; they swept Natus Vincere and Newbee, preventing both teams from advancing into the EPICENTER XL playoffs.
Considering that this is a best-of-one, anything can happen, and that includes paiN Gaming riding the highs of winning and coming away with a win and advancing to face off against the losers of the upper bracket matchup between Team Liquid and OG.
Betting: paiN Gaming to win at 2.13 odds (GGbet)
Mineski vs Team Secret
Match Schedule: May 4, 2018 (Friday 14:00 MSK)
If the matchup between FlyToMoon and paiN Gaming is the matchup between the biggest underdogs this tournament, then this matchup between Team Secret and Mineski will be the matchup of the biggest underperformers at EPICENTER XL. Though both teams did manage to advance to the playoffs, the way they did so doesn’t really inspire much confidence going forward. Especially in Mineski‘s case as they only managed to take wins against Team Empire and compLexity Gaming, even dropping a single game in their series against the latter.
Either way, in a best-of-one, Mineski stand little chance against Team Secret. Not only will Clement ‘Puppey‘ Ivanov no doubt take things up a notch come playoff time, but he also has a plethora of cheese strats at his disposal, thanks mostly in part to the versatility and prowess of their carry player Marcus ‘Ace‘ Hoelgaard.
Betting: Team Secret to win at 1.6 odds (GGbet)
Team Liquid vs OG
Match Schedule: May 4, 2018 (Friday 15:30 MSK)
Which team do you think will win? One of the most dominant five-man squads in Dota 2 history, one that’s also the defending champions twice over and one that has yet to drop a single series throughout the tournament, or a squad whose mere appearance in the playoffs came off as a surprise?
Calling this one is easy. Team Liquid won’t drop to the lower brackets to OG and that’s no offence to OG. It’s just that Team Liquid are just playing extremely well right now, especially Amer ‘Miracle-‘ Al-Barkawi, who seems intent on giving Team Liquid their first Major title EVER in franchise history.
Betting: Team Liquid to win at 1.33 odds (GGbet)
Virtus.Pro vs PSG.LGD
Match Schedule: May 4, 2018 (Friday 19:00 MSK)
Though PSG.LGD could not come away with the top seed in Group A, there’s no shame in saying that they lost to a rampaging Team Liquid squad. Now, they’re up against a similarly challenging opponent in Virtus.Pro in the opening rounds of the EPICENTER XL playoffs. The last time these two teams met, PSG.LGD won on the backs of a risky manoeuvre courtesy of their young offlaner Yang ‘Chalice‘ Shenyi.
Can PSG.LGD pull it off again and take down Virtus.Pro? Maybe. They’re too good of a team to sleep on. But with Virtus.Pro playing in front of the hometown crowd, you’d best expect Alexei ‘Solo‘ Berezin and his team to give the audience something to cheer for.
Betting: Virtus.Pro to win at 1.34 odds (ArcaneBet)