After five days of intense Dota 2 action, two teams will clash in the ESL One Katowice 2018 Grand Finals for a shot at the $1 million prize pool and a huge chunk of the 1,500 Qualifying Points that will definitely come a long way in helping either one of these two teams secure a direct invite to The International 8.
Virtus Pro came into the tournament with people wondering how well Vladimir ‘RodjER‘ Nikogosyan will fit in with the rest of the team. Judging by their performance so far, which includes lifting their three-year-long losing streak against Evil Geniuses, RodjER is doing just fine. But, fine isn’t just going to cut it against ViCi Gaming; the Chinese powerhouse boasts a 2-0 record against Virtus Pro this season, including a 2-0 sweep of Virtus Pro earlier in the tournament.
Can Virtus Pro take down an opponent they have yet to beat? Or will ViCi Gaming finally hoist a trophy in their fourth Grand Finals appearance in a Pro Circuit tournament?
ViCi Gaming vs Virtus Pro
Claiming the first finalist spot in #ESLOne #Katowice by defeating @TeamLiquid 2-1.
We will face the winner between @virtuspro and @FNATIC
Hope to see you all again tomorrow! #VGWin pic.twitter.com/vrU0rR6Mo1
— ViCi Gaming (@ViCi_Gaming) February 24, 2018
Match Schedule: February 25 (1500H / 3:00 PM CET)
Who knew that the ESL One Katowice 2018 Grand Finals would come to this? Though Virtus Pro remained a powerhouse, they weren’t one of the presumptive favourites heading into the tournament. That distinction belonged to Team Liquid, Team Secret, Newbee and arguably, LGD Gaming. Ditto for ViCi Gaming, who seem to be having none of the hangovers from the Chinese New Year that Newbee and LGD Gaming seem to have suffered from, resulting in their early exits.
Looking at their previous matchups, ViCi Gaming seem to have Virtus Pro’s number, but not in a conventional sort of way. Case in point, 3 out of 4 of their games have gone past the 50-minute mark, which indicates that these teams are very close to each other, and in more than one of those games, Virtus Pro’s early game aggression gave ViCi Gaming fits. Still, that ViCi Gaming were able to win those games isn’t a good sign; it means that they can keep up with Virtus Pro’s pace and stretch the game late if need be.
Ultimately, this is a very close matchup that could go either way. However, with ViCi Gaming’s presumed hunger to win after already making it to the Grand Finals three times this season and the fact that they are the only team to beat the reigning TI champions Team Liquid twice — and at the same tournament at that — we’ll have to give them the slight edge in this matchup.
Betting: ViCi Gaming to win at 1.67 odds (GGbet)
Fnatic vs Team Liquid
— Team Liquid (@TeamLiquid) February 24, 2018
Betting: February 25 (1110H / 11:10 AM CET)
Just as it looked like Fnatic had fully figured themselves out, Virtus Pro went on to give them a sound beating in the semifinals to move on to the ESL One Katowice 2018 Grand Finals. Though Fnatic are undeniably playing the best they have all season long, they remain very inconsistent and are still prone to beating themselves. Maybe that’s just the life of having Jacky ‘EternaLEnVy‘ Mao on your team.
Either way, a fourth-place finish isn’t half-bad, and yes, we’re assuming they’re going to lose against Team Liquid. The odds are just too great considering that only four teams have beaten the reigning TI champions since the start of the season.
Betting: Team Liquid map handicap -1.5 at 1.5 odds (GGbet)
Who do you think will walk out of the ESL One Katowice 2018 Grand Finals as the winners? Will Virtus Pro join OG and Team Secret as the only teams to have ever won two majors? Or will ViCi Gaming propel themselves up in the Pro Circuit leaderboards? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.