With twelve of the best Dota 2 teams playing at the ESL One Birmingham 2019 and a proper tournament format to boot, Ninjas in Pyjamas team captain, Peter ‘ppd‘ Dager, was right to call the tournament as a mini-TI, and it certainly did feel like it from start to finish.
Sure, the ESL One Birmingham 2019 lacked the prize pool of a Major, let alone that of a TI. However, the tournament delivered on its fair share of tense moments and huge upsets, as well as excellent production value.
At the end of it all, it was Team Secret who would emerge victorious after surviving a five-game slugfest against Evil Geniuses in the Grand Finals.
For their efforts, Team Secret will take home $125,000 of the $300,000 prize pool. Also, Team Secret’s long-time captain and founder, Clement ‘Puppey‘ Ivanov, will take home the tournament MVP award and a brand-new Mercedes-Benz.
Syed Sumail ‘SumaiL‘ Hassan and Artour ‘Arteezy‘ Babaev both did all they could to help give Evil Geniuses their first tournament win of the year. However, in the fifth and final game, both would end up being thoroughly outplayed in the lanes, resulting in a rather easy and anti-climatic win for Team Secret.
Team Secret Proves That They Are Still Team to Beat
So much for complacence, eh?
Team Secret were one of the first Dota 2 teams this season to secure their berth at The International 2019, and just when you’d expect them to dial things down and start experimenting, resulting in early exits, they’ve since instead only gotten better.
For one reason or another, teams just can’t seem to figure out how to beat Team Secret consistently.
Earlier in the tournament, it all seemed like Team Secret were finally starting to take their foot off of the pedal. After finishing third in Group B, they ended up playing in the lower brackets, just one series loss away from elimination. But, instead of buckling under pressure, Team Secret proved to be the champions that they’ve been all season long, taking on all comers and beating five Dota 2 teams to take home the trophy.
Usually, all praise would go towards Team Secret’s young core, Michal ‘Nisha‘ Jankowski, or even Puppey.
After all, the latter ended up taking home the tournament MVP. Meanwhile, the former also played well, as he always have all season long. But, this time around, no one just can’t deny the fact that Yazied ‘YapzOr‘ Jaradat, played out of his mind this tournament.
Posting an absurd 6.15 rating across 25 games, the greedy position four player was easily the best player on the side of Team Secret at the ESL One Birmingham 2019.
All in all, however, it was a team effort that led to Team Secret’s success once again. The fact that it was YapzOr who stood out at the ESL One Birmingham 2019 just proves how deep Team Secret are.
Evil Geniuses Facing Tough Decisions Ahead
While everyone in the scene still considers them among the best Dota 2 teams in the world, Evil Geniuses’ glaring lack of titles is a worrying sign for a team with this much talent on their lineup.
Save for their win at the DOTA Summit 9, Evil Geniuses have no titles to show. Although they do have a number of deep runs in their resume, including top-three finishes in three out of four Majors of the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit, it’s still worrying that they’re not winning tournaments.
For sure, it’s not a mental thing. Evil Geniuses have two players that have already won a TI. Plus, their captain, Tal ‘Fly‘ Aizik, once guided OG to four Major titles. Also, memes aside, Arteezy is one of the most consistent performers in the scene. Plus, Andreas Franck ‘Cr1t-‘ Nielsen has made a strong case for himself as one of the best position four players in the world.
So, what gives?
With proper drafting key to winning games against top teams in Dota 2, the North American powerhouse just can’t simply rely on talent disparity alone to win games, especially when matched up against teams like Team Secret, who are just as talented as they are but have far superior drafts.
While this isn’t to say that the team’s coach, Sam ‘BuLba‘ Sosale, is to blame for Evil Geniuses’ losses, something has got to give, and given that they’re unlikely to make changes to their five-man lineup this late into the season, replacing their coach seems like the most logical route for the boys in blue.
Outside of Virtus.Pro missing the tournament, the ESL One Birmingham 2019 really did feel like a mini-TI, with all of the top Dota 2 teams gathered at the Arena Birmingham for a full week of high-octane Dota 2 action.
The performances certainly were a welcome surprise. Normally, you’d expect most Dota 2 teams to start resting up this late into the season, especially those who’ve already qualifying for The International 2019. But, as it turns out, even if no DPC points are on the line and with a smaller prize pool to fight for, the competitive drive is just too much to contain as it was obvious that all the Dota 2 teams at the ESL One Birmingham 2019 gave it their all.
This was also the first tournament played in the patch 7.22.
Given how fickle the meta currently is and how much stuff is still left to be discovered, we can expect every team’s interpretation to still change a lot in future tournaments, starting with the StarLadder Ukraine Minor, followed by the EPICENTER Major to end the season.
With that said, as the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit nears its end, we can only assume that more high-quality Dota 2 is ahead of us.
What did you like the most about the ESL One Birmingham 2019? Do you think the tournament deserves to be called a mini-TI? What kind of changes do you think Evil Geniuses should make to finally get over the proverbial hump? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.