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Dota 2

BOOM And Fnatic Secure ESL Upper Bracket

Patrick Bonifacio

The Southeast Asian division group stage at ESL One Birmingham is now complete, with the top four teams of the round robin moving on to the playoff round. The bottom two however will have to go back to the drawing board, or prepare for the next set of games in another tournament altogether.


After a solid first outing, BOOM Esports have clinched the top spot in the ESL One Birmingham SEA groups.

Usual suspects BOOM Esports, Fnatic, Geek Fam, and Team Adroit have all made it into the final four, which is scheduled to start on May 29th. These squads were the very same that played in the ESL One Los Angeles playoffs, with Fnatic eventually taking the crown in a 3-0 sweep of Team Adroit in the Grand Finals.

TNC Predator and Reality Rift, on the other hand, will have to lick their wounds in the meantime after a rough time in the group stage. TNC in particular looked on course to end the event completely scoreless — until a last minute clutch performance versus Reality Rift on the final day of preliminaries allowed them to at least get on the board before exiting the tournament.

From Predators to Prey

TNC have been in no way, shape, or form decent in the last several events — and they still look totally lost after their success at the MDL Chengdu Major in November last year. Their run at ESL One Birmingham is another example of their failure to adapt and adjust to the current metagame, shown in their odd and frankly outdated drafts that made them seem like they were still stuck in the only metagame that they actually understood this whole season.

By the penultimate day of the group stage, they were staring at a 0-8 record in maps and one last chance to save themselves from utter embarrassment. Fortunately for them, they found some semblance of coordination and teamwork on Monday, allowing them to finally win a three-game series. The victory didn’t matter in the long run given that they had already been mathematically eliminated the day prior, but they can at least be relieved they didn’t lose every single game they played.

Of course, the online nature of the tournament may also have played a role in their less than stellar results. Damien “kpii” Chok and Park “March” Tae-won may have been experiencing high levels of latency, as they are supposedly not in the Philippines with the rest of the squad.

In contrast, however, this does not seem to be a problem for a team like OG, who are able to at least stay within striking distance of the top teams in their region despite Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng playing from another continent entirely. Considering that TNC have been on a rapid downward spiral in terms of performances since before the move to online competitions, perhaps there are larger troubles within the squad.

Regardless of the true nature of their struggles, this is yet another experience for them to learn from — though only time will tell if they can find their footing while rivals like Fnatic and BOOM Esports rule the roost in Southeast Asia

On Top Once Again

Speaking of Fnatic and BOOM Esports, their spirited performances through the group stage have landed them a date with each other in the upper bracket. BOOM in particular had a run as solid as they come, dropping just four maps while securing nine in order to clinch the top spot in the group.

They displayed an excellent grasp of the metagame throughout the five days of initial competition, regularly making use of top picks like Ember Spirit, Pangolier, and Dragon Knight to win games handily. They also selected late game heroes like Spectre every now and then to great success, showing that they do indeed have the versatility to mix it up. Star carry player Randy Muhammad “Dreamocel” Sapoetra is playing very well so far, having notched a KDA of 11.35 on his way to the upper bracket.

Knowing that they suffered elimination at ESL One Los Angeles at the hands of Fnatic, they are no doubt happy with this outcome and will look towards securing a grand final slot from the get-go.

While Fnatic certainly were on a roller coaster in the first three days of the group stage, they showed the poise and confidence to be expected from the defending ESL One champions in their last two matches. Fnatic eliminated TNC by shutting them down two games to none on Sunday, and they followed it right up on Monday with another 2-0 victory over Geek Fam to send them into the lower bracket by a difference of just one point.

Meanwhile, Geek Fam and Adroit held on to stave off early elimination, securing the third and fourth spots respectively. Geek Fam were plum last at ESL One Los Angeles, and so coming from a 1-6 score in maps there to third place and a chance to advance in the playoffs here is certainly a much better result for the Malaysia-based squad.

And although they were unable to push past Fnatic in this one for a berth in the upper bracket, the relative consistency that they’ve been playing at this tournament should help them survive the next round. The creativity they’ve shown so far should also be a great asset in this endeavor, as they were unafraid to pull out things like support Dragon Knight in order to force their opponents to stay on their toes.

Adroit on the other hand have had to work real hard to stay afloat in this event; a stark contrast to their near-perfect run to the grand finals at Los Angeles. Although they began the group stage with three straight match wins, the last two days were less than kind to them as they took two consecutive 0-2 losses at the hands of Geek Fam and BOOM Esports. They’ve got their work cut out for them over the next few days, where they will have to figure out how to stay frosty in the face of strong competition in the playoffs.

ESL One Birmingham SEA will make its return on Friday, May 29th, starting with the first round of playoff action and ending with the grand final match on May 31st. The first match will see BOOM Esports take on Fnatic for the first grand final slot, while the second will determine which team between Geek Fam and Team Adroit will have to sit on the sidelines going forward. Catch the live broadcast on ESL’s official Dota 2 Twitch channel.