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The AniMajor playoffs are here – Will Team Nigma and PSG.LGD continue their form?

While the wildcard stage in Kyiv was already crazy, the group stage might have been even more insane. Many dota games have already been played, multiple teams have been eliminated, but still there is more to come.

Wrapping it up

Like a tortilla slowly being wrapped up, mixing all of the ingredients together into an extraordinary amalgamation of flavorful explosion. It’s the Animajor where many regions’ metagames have come together to create a state of play that outpaces any previously seen Dota 2 gameplay. The newly developed meta is more calculated than the chinese meta of old, while simultaneously being more aggressive than the classic eastern european davai mentality.

While many teams have increased their skill up to maniacal heights however, they can’t all be winners. As beastcoast and Team Liquid have been left behind in the dust, ending as the last 2 teams in the group stage. beastcoast was unable to show off their skill during the laning stage, causing them to be on the backfoot at the start of pretty much every game. Combine this with some disappointing drafts that didn’t adapt to the evolving metagame and you could quickly notice the writing on the wall. No south-american cinderella story like thunder predator back in Singapore, for consistency still seems to be a big hurdle to overcome in the SA region

One of Europe’s last hopes in the form of Team Liquid, also bombed out pretty hard. Before the tournament they were looking stronger than ever before due to the new ideas Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan brought in as a stand-in. Once push came to shove however, they got figured out quickly. They tried to hop on the Templar Assassin bandwagon along with many other teams but in practice they could never quite make it work, causing them to lose many games early on. Later they tried to implement some more of their own original strategies, but it seemed to be too late while still forcing out a tiebreaker up against Team Spirit. Nonetheless, like the reverse of their tournament life at that point, they threw away an early lead to lose out to Team Spirit’s powerful late game.

Risky business

While they might not have been eliminated yet, many of the group stage teams still have a risk filled time ahead of them. Vici Gaming, Team Spirit, TNC Predator and Evil Geniuses are all stuck in the lower bracket right off the bat. Starting out the playoffs, one series away from elimination, can’t be a comfortable position for any of these teams.

Vici Gaming performed really well during the group stage, but were just a few games off from securing themselves into the top two. With the chinese fan base known for the grand expectations they have for their teams, it’s no surprise that many of them are pretty disappointed with their performance so far. With their backs against the wall, it’s now up to them to show China’s incredible skill, and secure themselves a spot at TI. While not making any mistakes in the process

Team Spirit is looking to have one the hardest roads going forward, stuck in the lower bracket, forced to face either Alliance or PSG.LGD. They really need to pull out all the stops to go forward. As the team has yet to show their full potential, instead only barely hanging on since the beginning of the tournament

TNC Predator and Evil Geniuses seem to have it a little bit easier though. Both of them performed pretty well during the group stage, while their possible competition in Aster, T1, QC, and NoPing could definitely have been worse. Nonetheless, they can’t show any weakness going forward. Because one lost series could mean a lost tournament.

The top of the mountain

Both Team Nigma and PSG.LGD have shown that having some extra playtime in the wildcard has done them good. They both look like possibly the best teams of the world right now in their performance, presenting themselves as formidable opponents for all the teams already waiting in the upper bracket. This means that both Virtus.pro and Alliance have to be careful not to drop down in the lower bracket right away, as the machines of Nigma and PSG.LGD are already warmed up.

Team Aster, T1, Quincy Crew and NoPing all showed surprising performances in their home region, but havent shown anything yet in Kyiv. This means that all eyes are on them as now they have to prove that they deserve their place at the top. For there is a grand collection of eager teams looking to take them down.

Closing out

Looking at the twelve teams in total that still have a shot at the Animajor, all of them are world class teams. Their skill is through the roof, and they seem more motivated to achieve their goal than my cat when he sees that I’m making food for him. Which means in reality that any of these twelve teams can take it from here, and only time will tell which team it will be that lifts the trophy in the end.

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Image Credit: WePlay!