Photo by ESL
We are continuing our team preview series for ESL One Stockholm, today concentrating on the SA and SEA regions. Both are often associated with very high peaks, but lack consistency, and this Major will be indicative of whether they improved in this regard.
Fnatic placing first in their region is a bit of technicality, as BOOM had to forfeit their match against Nigma Galaxy which forced the tiebreakers. Still, more or less a shared first place in the region with a single loss is a very good result and, more importantly, a very consistent result. No one doubts the skill level of players representing the Fnatic tag and it looks like the morale is also high.
As one of the more experienced teams of the region, Fnatic is also quite flexible in their drafts. They can play meta heroes as well as any Tier One team can, but they also have several curveballs they can throw at an enemy. Most notably, DJ frequently plays very high impact, greedier supports and transitions into an extra core for his team.
With Fnatic cores already being among the best core players in the world, the end result is a very scary and somewhat greedy team who can take it all at the Major.
BOOM didn’t manage to defend their first position in the region this tour, but they are still a force to be reckoned with. The team didn’t need any recovery time after some small roster adjustments and still looks dominant, despite losing the first place tiebreakers.
They are also a very fast and aggressive team. With frequent first phase Death Prophet picks they can flex in multiple positions and a bit of an overreliance on Sand King, coming into Major the team can be at a disadvantage: there are very few teams who were hit as hard as BOOM in 7.31c.
Will BOOM figure out a new playstyle in time or will they persevere through the nerfs? We don’t know, but we do know that this team is experienced and talented enough to be a contender for the Champion title at the Major.
T1 was the most successful SEA team at the International and perhaps the international stage suits the team better than the regional competition. After all, they have a slightly different read on the meta, one that could theoretically work better against non-SEA teams.
Otherwise, very little has changed for the squad since TI. They still play an uncharacteristically conservative style of Dota and generally prefer to react in force, rather than be proactive. They are also one of the more farm-oriented SEA teams right now, who really value their Gyrocopter and Luna. Their signature heroes not only almost always have a decent laning stage, but can also farm the jungle as quickly as in the previous patches.
Given their TI performance and how their playstyle remained untouched in 7.31c we have really high hopes for T1 this Major. They might not be the strongest team in the region, but they might be the best international team SEA has.
Thunder Awaken had a very good run for the second time in a row, showing that their Tour One dominance wasn’t a fluke. They have lost a total of two maps across two tours and are undeniably the strongest SA team right now. They are also our pick for the most intriguing Dark Horse of the Major.
SA rarely has a chance to participate in high level International competition, which was always the region’s biggest problem. It is harder to have them at third party international tournaments, which in turn results in less exposure and training, which then wraps back to the original problem of not being invited to more tournaments. It is a bit of a death spiral and having teams succeed despite the odds being stacked against them is awe-inspiring.
Thunder Awaken has a lot to offer, at least as a team that has a very different read on the meta. Their top four most popular picks are not even in the top ten for other regions and this could come as a surprise to their opponents. A very different and virtually untouched playstyle of Thunder Awaken could be the deciding factor at the Major and we truly believe they are a team that can realistically aim for top four.
Beastcoast are no longer the strongest SA team, but we believe it is a good sign. The level of competition in the region is rising and while Beastcoast left TI in a very anticlimactic fashion, it seems they have mentally recovered since then. Morale is a very big factor, especially in a team as tightly knit as Beastcoast: their roster has stayed together for almost three years now.
The team also has its own brand of Dota, perhaps a little less successful than the one from Thunder Awaken, but interesting nonetheless. Beastcoast goes for an all-in aggression and lane dominance in their drafts with exceptionally high tempo cores and extra aggressive supports. If anything, this style of Dota is going to be entertaining.
It can also be very successful if it catches the enemy unaware. The current meta leaves a bit of room for greed and this greed can be exploited and punished by a team as explosive as Beastcoast.