It’s been over a month since the qualifiers - some big tournaments have gone down, some small balance tweaks have been made, and anticipation is running high for our next DOTA 2 Major, but the time has finally arrived. The Manila Major is here, with the first four group stage matches starting at 7 PM PST/10 PM EST on June 2nd.
The Group Stage
The group stage is set up in the GSL style, with four groups of four playing in a double elimination format. The top two teams from each group move on to the Upper Bracket of the main event, and the bottom two teams will start in the Lower Bracket.
Group A will start with Frankfurt Major and recent Dreamleague champs OG facing off against qualifier Empire, while Chinese stalwart and TI4-winner Newbee takes on the American/Swedish team of Complexity. OG and Empire have both looked quite strong recently, lead by their young and talented carries Amer “Miracle-” Barqawi and Roman “Ramzes666” Kushnarev. Complexity is a talented but inconsistent team and they will have a tall task against an experienced Newbee squad that has been very good this patch.
The potential grudge match group, Group B, starts off with some very fun games. Chinese up-and-comer Wings Gaming goes up against Digital Chaos in a battle between two teams with relatively unknown quantities, and our second game features the battle of the brothers as Puppey-led Secret takes on his old friends Dendi and Arstyle of Navi.. Puppey, of course, was on the Navi team that won TI1 and captained them to second place at TI2 and TI3. There’s further drama to be had from this group - DC captain Misery and mid player w33haa were both members of Team Secret when they won the Shanghai Major barely 3 months ago, but were booted almost immediately after to make room for Universe and Arteezy.
Group C starts off with European titans Liquid and Alliance in a clash of two teams on different trajectories - Liquid took three straight second place finishes on LAN before finishing up with a recent win at Epicenter, Alliance has played very few games and has struggled against many of the better teams coming in to Manila. Vici Reborn and Fnatic square off in the other match in what will hopefully be a classic China vs SEA bout.
We finish off with what on paper may be the weakest overall group: Group D features an EG squad trying to re-capture their success from last year with some new faces and new roles going up against SEA qualifier Mineski. We round out the groups with dark horse team MVP.Phoenix going up against an LGD squad that has looked much better in recent games than they did when they were invited, potentially justifying Valve’s decision to have them here.