What We Learned from ESL One Katowice 2018

After a gruelling five-day marathon of games, ESL One Katowice 2018 has finally come to an end. The first sixteen team Major of the season and the second after the roster lock, the tournament served as a debut for many newly-minted teams and it certainly did not disappoint.

With all of the powerhouses in attendance, there’s a lot we can learn from Poland’s first-ever Dota 2 Major.

Below are some of the biggest things we learned from ESL One Katowice 2018 as we head to the Bucharest Major next week.

Virtus.pro Won the Trade with Na’vi

If there was any doubt who won arguably the biggest trade of the TI8 roster shuffle, Virtus.pro made sure to silence all of them. Their 3-1 performance against ViCi Gaming in the Grand Finals of ESL One Katowice 2018 was as resounding as any confirmation can get.

As always, Vladimir ‘No[o]ne‘ was his excellent self. So was Virtus.pro’s wunderkind, Roman ‘RAMZES666‘ Kushnarev, whose Gyrocopter in Game 4 helped Virtus.Pro secure the win and the title. However, it was their latest addition, Vladimir ‘RodjER‘ Nikogosyan, who arguably stood out the most. The former Natus Vincere player made all of the necessary little plays to help Virtus.pro become the first team to win a second Pro Circuit Major for the season.

Surely enough, RodjER‘s efforts did not go unnoticed. The 24-year-old position 4 support player received MVP honours and took home a brand-new car courtesy of Mercedes-Benz. And though it seems that Virtus.pro’s signature aggression just found a whole other level, Pavel ‘9Pasha‘ Khvastunov admitted in an interview with Cybersports.ru after breaking their losing streak against Evil Geniuses that they still have room to improve and are still getting used to their playmaker.

This is a scary proposition considering that they’ve already won a Major a month into RodjER‘s stint with the team.

“If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them”

One thing we can take away from Dota 2 is that it’s almost always a “monkey see, monkey do” thing. If one team sees another succeeding using a certain tactic, they’re most likely going to try it out themselves. The Chinese are taking notes from Newbee, amping up the aggression and playing as five most of the time, which fits the current meta. Meanwhile, western teams are starting to copy and perfect what Team Liquid have done throughout their run of dominance.

It’s no secret that Team Liquid’s biggest weapon is their versatility. Though they all have their signature heroes, their cores are interchangeable. Kuro ‘KuroKy‘ Salehi Takhasomi abuses this advantage by picking up heroes that any one of their three cores could play and at any lane at that. While they’re not the first Dota 2 team to do this, they’re arguably the most successful at it, which is why the likes of Team Secret, Evil Geniuses and Virtus.pro, among others, have begun taking a page out of their proverbial book.

With some of the most successful Dota 2 teams starting this positionless trend, expect other teams to follow suit.

The Curious Case of Terrorblade

If you scour the Dota 2 subreddit, you’ll see more than a couple of threads regarding how Terrorblade is op. However, the case can be made that he isn’t; that Team Liquid just know how to play around the hero, especially when it’s in the hands of Amer ‘Miracle-‘ Al-Barkawi.

Of the seven times Miracle- played Terrorblade, the reigning TI champions ended up winning all of them. Yes, all of them. However, take all of those seven games away and the hero ended up only winning five out of the thirteen other matches it was picked. That’s a 38% win rate, which isn’t even good, so how exactly is Terrorblade op? Compared to Gyrocopter, Razor and Dragon Knight, who all had higher win rates despite being played by more teams and you can’t help but wonder if it’s really true that Terrorblade is op.

With a new Dota 2 patch coming in a few days, we’ll know for sure if IceFrog deems the Demon Marauder worthy of a nerf or not.

OG Are In Trouble

If there was ever a time to hit the panic button for OG fans, it’s now. Although one can argue that it should’ve been way earlier. Either way, OG are not playing as well as they should and that’s a huge problem.

Heading into ESL One Katowice 2018, OG enjoyed a 37-2 win rate in the European Qualifiers as they appeared close to gaining the same form that made them one of the heavy favourites heading into the past two TIs. However, once the actual LAN tournament came, they didn’t look nearly as good.

Spotty execution down the stretch against ViCi Gaming in the opening rounds of ESL One Katowice 2018 sent them down to the lower brackets where they eventually had to make their way through Team Liquid to advance to the main event. Up against arguably the best Dota 2 team in Europe right now, OG lost in decisive fashion.

More than six months in, it’s clear that the addition of Roman ‘Resolut1on‘ Fominok has not made the team better. Going forward, OG will have some serious thinking to do if they still want to keep on competing in Majors or if they’re better off focusing on less contested Minors to rack up some Qualifying Points to get a direct invite for TI8.

There’s Not a Single Best Dota 2 Team

In the lead up to TI7 and the first few months after it, Team Liquid were clearly ahead of the rest of the pack. Virtus Pro and Team Secret were just as good if not better at times, but they were inconsistent and had a tendency to lose to teams that they have no business losing to. However, since then, the likes of Newbee and ViCi Gaming all have performed well enough to have a legitimate claim of the fictional crown. Meanwhile, teams such as Fnatic, Mineski, Evil Geniuses and LGD Gaming are not too far behind either.

The number of competitive Dota 2 teams should make the stretch run for The International 8 all the more exciting.

What’s Next After ESL One Katowice 2018?

If ESL One Katowice 2018 left you wanting for more, don’t worry. The Bucharest Major is just right around the corner, with yet another set of sixteen Dota 2 teams battling it out for supremacy and a shot at the $1 million prize pool and 1,500 Qualifying Points.

What do you think were the biggest takeaways from ESL One Katowice 2018? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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