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Top
Dota 2

DPC S2 Week Three: The International is Calling

Michael Hassall

We’re officially halfway through the second season of the DPC 2021 after week three, and teams are already starting to lock in their spots at TI… almost. Yes, provided the top teams can not drop too many games in the proceeding month, the squads at the top of the standings now are more or less certain to head not only to the next DPC Major, but to The International.

Ana OG

Ana and OG secured another win in Week Three of S2 of the DPC 2020, but they'll have to be more consistent to stay in the running. (Image via OG)

But even with such high stakes on the line, not all teams can get it together. In Western Europe, one of the most dominant teams over the past year has finally fallen out of favor. While in Eastern Europe, Na’Vi have been kicked out of the top two by a new challenger and an old rival. China has seen the return of its Singapore Major competitors, coming home with a bang to DPC competition. Southeast Asia, meanwhile, saw TNC Predator lose out on their perfect record In South America, Beastcoast reign supreme having defeated their main source of competition, but a secondary threat lurks in second place… And in North America, there’s a new name on top for the first time in what feels like forever.

China

Written by: Patrick Bonifacio

PLACE TEAM WINS LOSES
1. Team Aster 3 0
2. EHOME 2 1
2. Elephant 2 1
2. Royal Never Give Up 2 1
5. Invictus Gaming 1 2
5. PSG.LGD 1 2
5. Vici Gaming 1 2
8. Sparking Arrow Gaming 0 3

With the Chinese participants at the Singapore Major now out of mandatory quarantine, the DPC in China is now back to its full weekly schedule during week three. Team Aster was the first to make good on their return to the country, notching three straight series wins to instantly put themselves in the top spot in the standings.

Their first match was against Invictus Gaming, no less, who took the title at the Singapore Major. And what a way to start against the reigning Major champions; Aster took a pretty easy 2-0 victory over them. The first game was pretty close thanks to the Kunkka play from Zhou “Emo” Yi, who beat Liu “White丶Album_白学家” Yuhao’s Beastmaster in the mid lane matchup.

It ended up not mattering, though, as White丶Album_白学家 scored six kills while conceding just one death anyway. Aster stole momentum from iG past the 20-minute mark, and their sheer pushing power helped them close any comeback avenues in a hurry. The game itself ended after just 28 and a half minutes.

The second game was a lot easier on Aster, as they could take control quite early on. While White丶Album_白学家 was once again a big factor in this one, it was Du “Monet” Peng that led the way for his squad. His 10-2 Faceless Void kept iG on the back foot the entire game, even against Jin “flyfly” Zhiyi’s 7-3 Troll Warlord. 

The pick worked perfectly for Aster, as the threat of Chronosphere allowed them to keep their opponents honest. Most of iG’s lineup was also susceptible to getting caught by Faceless Void’s ultimate, as they had short effective range as a whole. Though there was a nervous moment for Aster in the late game where they got teamwiped, it still wasn’t enough for iG to come back into the game. Reasserting control soon after that, Aster kept their heads cool in order to defeat the Singapore Major champions.

Aster would continue their hot start throughout the week, taking out PSG.LGD Gaming and Vici Gaming without much trouble. It’s clear that legendary captain Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng still has plenty of top-tier Dota left in him at the age of 31, and that the team under him is poised to clinch another top spot in the Chinese regional league.

Rising Spirit, Deadly Bear

Written by: Michael Hassall

PLACE TEAM WINS LOSES
1. Team Spirit 4 0
2. Virtus.pro 4 0
3. Na’Vi 2 2
4. Winstrike Team 2 2
5. Team Unique 1 2
6. AS Monaco Gambit 1 3
7. PuckChamp 1 2
8. EXTREMUM 0 3

The rise of Team Spirit has been incredible to watch. A young team signed from a tier two squad has transformed into the best team in the region. And with their continued 4-0 record after week three, they’re looking to make it to the international stage of this DPC season. Perhaps that’s what’s best for the CIS region. Natus Vincere and Virtus.pro had lackluster performances at the Singapore Major, and maybe new blood is needed in the region.

Not that Virtus.pro has done badly this season. With an identical match and game score to Team Spirit, the teams are seemingly equally matched. Their inevitable face-off will be a match for the ages.

But in week three, Virtus.pro had a more familiar DPC foe in Na’Vi. The Russian bears demoralized and then defeated the Ukrainian organization in short order. A methodical 32-minute first match had Na’Vi never really seem like they were in control of the game. Indeed, Virtus.pro didn’t execute on its finish. But when Danil “gpk” Skutin hasn’t died in five games, maybe they were just keeping his streak alive!

Ultimately, in game three VP put their foot down on the acceleration and wrapped things up in a slim 20 minutes. This speed-run-style takedown of one of the formerly best teams in the region shows that while Team Spirit is rising, they’ll still have to compete with Virtus.pro for the crown.

No More Secrets, Last Chance Time

Written by: Michael Hassall

PLACE TEAM WINS LOSES
1. Alliance 4 0
2. Team Liquid 3 1
3. OG 2 1
4. Team Nigma 2 2
4. Team Secret 2 2
6. Tundra Esports 1 2
7. Brame 1 3
8. Hellbear Smashers 0 4

The era of the unbeatable Team Secret is now officially dead, with the stack dropping their crucial game against Alliance. Europe always looks and feels like a stacked region, but it’s not until you see teams like Team Nigma and Secret barely hanging on to a spot at the Major. Something has Team Secret spooked. Perhaps the prospect of not making it to a TI after almost an entire year of dominance has thrown them off their game…

Alliance is the best team in Europe. That’s been clear for a while. They play with an intelligence that comes not only from their veterans but from the knowledge of the team’s younger players, such as Nikolay “Nikobaby” Nikolov. Their teardown of Secret resulted from both great drafts and solid execution. As a result, they’re operating at a higher level than any other squad in the region.

Elsewhere OG and the returning Anathan “ana” Pham won the second match that they expect to win against Hellbear Smashers. OG has to win these games against weaker opponents but still looks sloppy when they do. Perhaps something about the meta or team synergy isn’t there. OG is always a last-minute “it’ll be alright on the night” kind of stack, but the difference here is that there will be no way to TI if they don’t win enough games this split.

But overall, this is still anyone’s region. After week three of the DPC season, no one feels unbeatable, just a little better at not losing games. And not losing games will absolutely be the way teams stay at the top of the table.

Undying Rises to Number One in North America

Written by: Patrick Bonifacio

PLACE TEAM WINS LOSES
1. Undying 4 0
1. EG 3 0
1. Quincy Crew 3 0
4. 4 Zoomers 2 2
5. simply TOOBASED 2 2
6. Black N Yellow 1 3
7. SadBoys 0 4
8. The Cut 0 4

As expected in North America, it was another easy DPC week three for the three frontrunners. Undying, in particular, enjoyed a successful doubleheader in Week Three, going 2-0 against 4 Zoomers and 2-1 against Black N Yellow.

Their match against 4 Zoomers was proof of their status as one of the better teams in the region behind Evil Geniuses and Quincy Crew. The series elapsed just 76 and a half minutes in total, though it was fairly competitive between the two squads. Enzo “Timado” Gianoli O’Connor was the star for Undying throughout the match, with his performance as Phantom Assassin in the first game being most notable. He went 13-1 in the 38 and a half minute contest, getting a start good enough for him to build a 13 minute Battle Fury. It was pretty smooth sailing for him past that point, dying just once in the late game thanks to his early Black King Bar.

Timado was then joined by Jonáš “SabeRLight-” Volek in the second game, who helped Undying stay afloat throughout the early game. SabeRLight-’s Timbersaw was key in keeping 4 Zoomers’ triple strength draft in check, taking away their stats at every opportunity.

Once Undying found themselves in the lead in the mid-game, they made sure to hold onto their advantage until the very end. A three-for-three team fight did make things a bit closer than they should have been, but from there Undying just had to keep it clean—which they did.

The 2-1 outcome in their match against Black N Yellow would imply that they had to sweat it out in said series, but it was actually the opposite that proved true. They took both of their wins in the series at blazing speed, with the first game-ending just shy of 22 minutes. The third game meanwhile, clocked in at 25 and a half minutes, so in truth the one loss was just a bit of a bump in the road for them.

Beasts Fell the Predators

Written by: Michael Hassall

PLACE TEAM WINS LOSES
1. beastcoast 4 0
2. NoPing e-sports 3 0
3. Thunder Predator 3 1
4. Infamous 2 1
5. SG e-sports 1 3
6. Infinity Esports 1 3
7. Hokori 1 3
8. Team Unkown 0 4

It’s almost becoming comical. Another week, another decisive beastcoast victory. Did I mention we were robbed by the fact beastcoast didn’t make it to the Major? DPC week three, however, was a little different in that beastcoast took on the only other undefeated squad in the region in Thunder Predator. Regional standouts in their own right, this matchup was the most anticipated South American contest for the whole season.

Thunder Predator, who’d clearly learned a few tricks from their international experience, struck first. With a dominant Faceless Void on their side, it was victory almost assured from five minutes. Beastcoast was helpless against the hypercarry. However, as the second match started, beastcoast’s consistency and decisiveness began to kick in. In a complete turnaround, the squad was able to crush their opponents quickly.

From there, TP looked like they’d given up. A 25-minute defeat for their last match heralded the end. Beastcoast remains the top team in SA, with TP hot on their heels but unable to catch up. Both teams now look towards international competition, while an undefeated NoPing e-sports looks to sneak in and take second place.

Southeast Asia

Written by: Patrick Bonifacio

PLACE TEAM WINS LOSES
1. TNC Predator 3 1
2. BOOM Esports 3 2
2. Execration 3 2
4. Omega Esports 2 2
4. T1 2 2
6. Fnatic 1 1
7. OB Esports x Neon 1 2
8. Lilgun 0 3

The perfect run will no longer be possible for TNC Predator, who started their campaign in Southeast Asia this season with two flawless weeks. In week three though, T1 made sure that they won’t have a 100 percent win rate on the DPC season, beating them 2-1 in a hotly-contested series.

The first game went to TNC, thanks in no small part to Kim “Gabbi” Villafuerte and his 9-1 carry Bristleback. A great start to the laning phase allowed him to grab a 10-minute Vanguard, followed almost immediately by a Heaven’s Halberd at 18 minutes. This kind of momentum was partially made possible by Marvin “Boomy” Rushton and his excellent Lion play. Both players were able to control the lane right out of the gate, rendering the game more or less done and dusted by the 15-minute mark.

23savage_leipzig

As T1’s newest recruit, 23savage ensured that he followed the performance of his other cores up in order to close games out properly in DPC Week Three. (Photo courtesy DreamHack)

Despite the early setback, though, T1 made sure not to let it get to them. The second game was all about Carlo “Kuku” Palad’s Timbersaw, as he scored 14 kills against TNC’s triple strength lineup. Of course, this was more or less to be expected, given his hero choice and how hard it counters strength heroes as a whole. His performance also gave way for Nuengnara “23savage” Teeramahanon to go wild on Phantom Lancer, whose 700 gold per minute translated to a 12-minute Diffusal Blade and a 20-minute Sange and Yasha. T1 broke the game wide open past the 15-minute mark, and from there it was all downhill for TNC.

The third game was a bit tamer compared to the second, though. The score read 16-12 by the end of the 44-minute contest, with long empty periods through the mid-game in particular. It was, however, very entertaining to watch Karl “Karl” Jayme impose his will as Storm Spirit, going 7-0 in a flawless performance for the Filipino player.

23savage made sure to capitalize on the space Karl made, of course, farming to his heart’s content as Medusa in order to seal the deal on TNC. With the insurmountable lead they enjoyed towards the late game, it was just a matter of time before T1 shut the door on TNC.