Vici Gaming took home their first ever Major championship on Sunday, beating the five-time Major champions Virtus.Pro in the grand finals of the CORSAIR DreamLeague Season 11, 3-2, in what’s easily one of the best series of the entire season to date.
The win caps of what has been one of the most unlikely turnarounds this season. Just a few weeks ago, Vici Gaming were having roster issues. The Chinese team even went as far as to try out different players in place of their captain, Pan ‘Fade‘ Yi. However, the entire team eventually reconciled and made their way to the third Major of the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit via the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor, which they won while dropping only a single map.
Up against powerhouses such as Team Liquid, Team Secret, and Virtus.Pro, most people had already written off Vici Gaming. Instead, they beat both Team Secret and Virtus.Pro, as well as the TI8 runner-ups, PSG.LGD, en route to the title.
Completing their DreamLeague Major 2019 run comfortably from the upper brackets, Vici Gaming went home $350,000 richer. More importantly, they’ve also secured enough DPC points to guarantee their berth at The International 2019 in Shanghai this August. Meanwhile, the runner-ups, Virtus.Pro, picked up $170,000 for themselves. Fnatic, who finished in third place, earned $100,000.
CORSAIR DreamLeague Season 11 Recap
Earlier in the tournament, Virtus.Pro looked sluggish. But, after dropping down to the lower brackets, they would eventually showcase the same form that have made them five-time Major champions. The CIS powerhouse then fought tooth and nail out of the lower brackets to make it to the grand finals. During their run, they beat a who’s who of teams such as Chaos EC, Evil Geniuses, PSG.LGD, Team Secret, and finally, Fnatic.
As a result of the teams that they beat, most people already had Virtus.Pro pegged to win their sixth Major championship.
Vici Gaming had other ideas, however.
The Chinese side struck first in Game 1, with their young cores, Zhang ‘Paparazi‘ Chengjun and Zeng ‘Ori‘ Jiaoyang, leading the way for the rest of the squad with the former going 12-0 on his Morphling. What then ensued was a tight back-and-forth series between both teams as they exchanged close wins against each other until the fifth and final game.
Running a late-game composition centered around Ori and his Medusa, Vici Gaming were prepared for a long game in Game 5. On the other hand, Virtus.Pro were looking to end things early with a Lycan pick while still keeping their late-game options open with a Morphling pick. But, whereas most would’ve expected Game 5 to be the closest game of the series, it was instead the most anticlimactic.
After winning all five lanes decisively, Vici Gaming were already knocking on Virtus.Pro’s high ground just twenty minutes into the game and forced out the GG just a few minutes later.
Teams Are Already Starting to Find Their Form
Earlier this season, Virtus.Pro and Team Secret exchanged Major trophies, which led many to fear that both would end up doing so for the rest of the season as they had looked miles ahead of the other Dota 2 teams. But, from what we’ve seen at the CORSAIR DreamLeague Season 11, the rest of the competition are starting to catch up.
Vici Gaming’s title run is only one example of Dota 2 teams starting to step up their game. Fnatic also used the DreamLeague Major 2019 as their coming out party; the Southeast Asian mix made a statement with a 2-0 win over Virtus.Pro before eventually earning themselves a third-place finish after bowing out in the Top 6 and Top 8 at previous Majors.
Keen Gaming also had a great showing for a team making their first Major appearance this year. The same goes for J.Storm, who finally are starting to look like they’ve found a winning formula after struggling to compete internationally earlier in the season.
All in all, the Stockholm Major was where multiple Dota 2 teams showed just how much parity there is this season. But, of course, where there are teams who went home satisfied with their results, there are others who will have to go back to the drawing boards. This includes Team Liquid, who went home with their first last-place finish in a tournament for the first time since Kuro ‘Kuroky‘ Salehi Takhasomi took over the squad in 2015.
Ninjas in Pyjamas and Evil Geniuses will also look to try and switch up their strategies mid-season. The latter especially after Virtus.Pro’s coach called out their drafts as “straight-up, default-ish, dry”.
With the conclusion of the CORSAIR DreamLeague Season 11, we’re finally near the end of the season. Only two DPC cycles remain, with only eight direct invite slots for The International 2019 available following Vici Gaming’s win.
After the Stockholm Major, teams are now looking forward to making it to the happiest place on earth, Disneyland. There, at the MDL Disneyland® Paris Major in Paris, sixteen Dota 2 teams will again take center stage with $1 million and 15,000 DPC points on the line. But, before that, teams who fail to qualify for the Major will get another shot at the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019 in Split, Croatia.
As for the final tournament cycle of the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit, teams will head to Ukraine for the StarLadder Ukraine Minor and Moscow for the EPICENTER Major 2019.
Given the increased importance of good tournament showings going forward, we can only expect Dota 2 teams to step up their game in an effort to try and position themselves better for the final stretch run of the season.
Feature Image: DreamHack / Adela Sznajder
What do you think of Vici Gaming’s win at the CORSAIR DreamLeague Season 11? Was it enough to vault them past competition and be the best Dota 2 team in the world? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.