eSports: Previewing the Dota 2 Epicenter XL

eSports have become huge. It’s become so big that most online sportsbooks offer betting odds on eSport events. One such eSport event that has already received action is the Dota 2 Epicenter XL. Check out a preview of the Dota 2 Epicenter XL along with my analysis and pick.

eSports:  Previewing the Dota 2 Epicenter XL

The Epicenter XL takes place in Moscow, Russia from April 27 through May 6. The Epicenter XL is the first eSports tournament to hold Major status. The tournament takes place at the VTB Ice Palace sports arena in Moscow.

The game played is Dota 2. Dota 2 is a game by Steam that involves two sets of 5 individual teams. The goal of Dota 2 is to destroy the other team’s power source, called the Ancient. Once an Ancient is destroyed, the game is over.

When it comes to the Epicenter XL, each 5 person team entered will try to win a $1,000,000 prize.

Epicenter XL – Tournament Schedule

6 teams in Group A and 6 teams in Group B, signified A1 through A6 and B1 through B6, will battle it out from April 27 through May 2 for 1 of 8 playoff spots. Once they’ve gotten a playoff spot, the teams will fight it out for a berth in the Epicenter XL Final.  That takes place on May 6.

Epicenter XL – Top 6 Betting Interests

All odds listed are from Bovada. I’ve only listed the 6 teams with the lowest betting odds. These are the only teams on Bovada that offer less than double-digit odds to win the Epicenter XL. The 6 teams are:  Virtus.Pro, Team Liquid, Team Secret, Newbee, LGD Gaming, and Mineski.

Virtus.Pro                           +300

Led by 18-year-old RAMZES666, whose real name is Roman Kushnarev, Virtus.Pro heads to the Epicenter XL as the unquestioned favorites. Just this year, Virtus.Pro has placed first at the ESL One Katowice 2018, the The Bucharest Major, and the World Electronic Sports Games. Virtus.Pro’s third place finish at the Dota 2 Asia Championships wasn’t that bad.

In addition to Kushnarev (RAMZES666), Vladimir Minenko (No[o]ne), Pavel Vastunov (9pasha), Vladimir Nikogosyan (RodjER), and Alexei Berezin (Solo) are all listed as current team members. Only Minenko isn’t a Russian. Minenko is Ukranian while the rest, including Kuchnarev, are Russian.

When Virtus.Pro is on their game, they might be the best Dota 2 team on the planet. No doubt, the squad is looking to make amends for the 5-6th place finish at The International 2017. It starts by taking home the top prize in the Epicenter XL

Team Liquid                      +350

Team Liquid is synonymous with eSports. The outfit started out as a Brood War clan before switching to Starcraft II. Team Liquid was founded in 2000. That’s how long the team’s been around. The main games are Starcraft and Dota 2. They launched the Dota 2 division in 2012.

Unlike Virtus.Pro, which is made up mainly of Russian Dota 2 players, Team Liquid’s active members for the Epicenter XL are from 5 different nations:  Lasse Urpalainen (MATUMBAMAN) is from Sweden, Amer Al-Barkwai (Miracle-) is from Jordan, Ivan Ivanov (MinD_ContRol) is Bulgarian, Maroun Merhej (GH) is Lebanese, and Kuro Salehi Takhasomi (Kuroky) is German.

Team Liquid won The International 2017. That makes them a serious contender to win the Epicenter XL this year before heading to The International 2018 with momentum. This year, Team Liquid has won a tournament, the StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 4.

Team Secret                       +350

Marcus Hoelgaard (Ace), Yeik Nai Zheng (MidOne), Adrian Trinks (Fata), Yazied Jaradat (YapzOr), and Clement Ivanov (Puppey) are active members with Team Secret. The reason I must point out Team Secret’s active members is because Hoelgaard and Trinks only joined the squad this past September.

Of the favorites, no team must prove more than Team Secret. The reason is because they had a disappointing 2017. The 2017 was so bad that Team Secret didn’t even garner an invitation to The International. Could Team Secret make amends by winning the Epicenter XL before taking on Virtus.Pro and Team Liquid in The International?

Newbee                                +600

Made up of 5 Chinese players and 1 Australian player, Newbee has been around since 2014. The eSports outfit has been rock solid since around July 2016 when they finished first at the Nanyang Dota 2 Championships Season 2. Newbee went on to win Dota 2 Professional League Season 2 that year. In 2017, they finished first at the ZOTAC Cup Masters and the Galaxy Battles. The second place finish at The International 2017 was as solid as it gets.

The 5 active players are:  Xu Han (Moogy), Song Chun (Sccc), Damien Chok (kpii), Hu Liangzhi (Kaka), and Zeng Hongda (Faith). Chock is Australian while the rest are Chinese.

LGD Gaming                      +650

Since 2009, LGD Gaming has been a powerhouse in the Chinese eSports scene. The 5 active players are:  Wayne Chungyu (Ame), Lu Yao (Somnus ‘ M), Yang Shenyi (Chalice), Xu Linsen (fy), and Yap Jian Wei (xNova). LGD Gaming finished fourth at The International 2017. This year, they finished second at the Dota 2 Asia Championships. That tournament took place on April 7, meaning LGD Gaming has a recency edge over most of their competition.

Mineski                                +800

Chai Yee Fung (Mushi), Kam Boon Seng (Moon), Daryl Koh Pei Xhiang (iceiceice), Anucha Jirawong (Jabz), and Michael Ross Junior (ninjaboogie), make up Mineski. Mineski beat LGD Gaming for first place at the Dota 2 Asia Championship. Like LGD Gaming, Mineski’s got a recency edge over the rest of their competition.

To Win:  Newbee

No doubt, Mineski and LGD Gaming have a recency edge over the competition, but it’s difficult for me to look past Newbee. First, before getting into why, it’s important to knock down the other teams. Mineski and LGD Gaming probably showed their best on April 7. They haven’t been as hot as Virtus.Pro, who’s won every tournament they’ve entered since the 5th-6th at The International in 2017, Newbee, or Team Liquid.

I don’t like Team Secret. Below, I explain why. Virtus.Pro has an obvious home data field advantage. But, really, how much does that advantage mean? At +300 favoritism, Virtus.Pro is a throw out. The odds are just too low. I like Team Liquid a lot. In fact, I believe they finish second to Newbee. However, Team Liquid’s odds are a less than spectacular +350. Like betting on Virtus.Pro, there’s no value there.

That leaves me with Newbee. Since the third at The Manila Major 2016, Newbee has won 6 tournaments. They placed second in one tournament. The tournament they placed second in is The International 2017 to Team Liquid. Since the second place finish at The International 2017, Newbee has won the Perfect World Masters and the ESL One Genting 2018.

Neither one of those tournaments is close to the Epicenter XL, which brings me to my main point. Newbee shows up big when they must. Their prize for finishing second at The International 2017 was over $3.95 million. That’s a lot of dough. The prize at the Epicenter XL is $1 million.

It doesn’t hurt that Newbee’s odds are much kinder than Team Secret’s, Team Liquid’s, and Virtus.Pro’s. Newbee’s the pick to win the 2018 Epicenter XL.

Throwout:  Team Secret

Team Secret, like Virtus.Pro, Team Liquid, and Newbee received a direct invitation to to the 2018 Epicenter XL. Based on that, they’ve got a shot to win on May 6, right? Well, yes, but my feeling is that Team Secret needs the Epicenter XL to further solidify their team.

Ace and Fata joined Team Secret this past September. Since that time, the team finished second at the ESL One Hamburg in October for a $200,000 prize. They won a $500,000 prize when they beat Team Liquid 3:0 at the Dream League Season 8. Virtus.Pro and Newbee tied 5th-6th in that tournament. The Dream League Season 8 took place this past December.

Newbee turned the tables on Team Secret when they won the ESL Genting 2018. To me, the ESL Genting in January is a better barometer of what might happen in Moscow at the Epicenter XL than the Dream League Season 8. Team Secret could prove me wrong, but I feel they use the Epicenter XL to get ready for The International in August.

What do you think?

Written by D.S. Williamson

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