We are nearing the halfway point in the group stage of the Pinnacle Cup - Dota. For a few teams, this is already “do or die” territory. For most, there is still plenty to fight for. So far, no team has been able to separate themselves from the pack and every team has lost at least one series.
Level UP vs. Hellbear Smashers
Both Level UP and Hellbear Smashers have suffered from inconsistent performance so far. Both teams are capable of great drafts and play but have yet to truly dominate a series. This match offered more of the same, with the Smashers scraping by in game one, thanks mostly to a phenomenal performance from Stormstormer's Morphling. Hellbear Smashers continued to try and enable two strong cores in games two and three. Meanwhile, Level UP focused on a single hyper carry with strong team-fight support.
Behind an unkillable Medusa in game two and a similarly beefy Spectre in game three, Level UP took the series 2-1. A special note must also be made about Tony “No!ob” Assaf’s immaculate performance on the mid Snapfire in game three.
Team Spirit vs. Hellraisers
Both Team Spirit and Hellraisers have dominated their respective divisions in the Dota Pro Circuit thus far, with Team Spirit leading the way in the Upper division and Hellraisers poised to join them next season as the number-one seed from the Lower division. So, this series may have given us a better picture of the divide between Upper and Lower divisions, as in both drafts it felt like Team Spirit had drafted Hellraisers into a corner.
It’s always hard to know what the scrim dynamics are like but it did seem like Team Spirit were ready for everything Hellraisers threw at them. Game one was a workshop on how to win the lanes and exert constant pressure on the map. Game two saw Team Spirit show off some versatility with a difficult-to-execute Drow Ranger lineup. Despite involving two teams who could fight for the top seed position in the playoffs, this was a very one-sided 2-0 for Team Spirit.
EXTREMUM vs. PuckChamp
EXTREMUM have been surprisingly effective so far in the Pinnacle Cup - Dota. They have been playing an interesting brand of Dota as well, with some very off-meta picks and the looming threat of Broodmother for other teams to worry about. On the other hand, PuckChamp have looked a bit listless in their games. PuckChamp needed to win this series to have any realistic shot at qualifying for the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, EXTREMUM simply outclassed them in every stage of the game.
It seemed as though EXTREMUM were able to win both games in the draft with superior compositions. They then executed the game plan to great effect and PuckChamp were unable to muster much resistance. Game one had some back-and-forth moments but the game always felt in EXTREMUM’s control. Game two was all EXTREMUM as they closed out the series 2-0 in just 28 minutes.
Chicken Fighters vs. Team Unique
Chicken Fighters have looked pretty darn good since the addition of Ammar “ATF” ALassaf as a substitute for Rasmus “Chessie” Blomdin. Despite his somewhat limited hero pool, the young Off-laner plays very well on his comfort heroes. This consistent impact has enabled the other two cores to have much more space on the map to operate and simplified the drafting process for Chicken Fighters as well.
In contrast, Team Unique look a bit lost in the draft. Their drafts vary wildly, as do their individual performances from game to game or even moment to moment. Team Unique is a group of experienced players but they often look like a group of pub players constantly reacting to moves instead of dictating the pace of play. Chicken Fighters were able to exploit this tendency to a great degree in games two and three as their more coordinated teamwork picked apart Team Unique’s individualistic playstyle.
Though Team Unique took the first game of the series, it was almost entirely off the back of individual standoutf performances and ultimately proved unsustainable. Chicken Fighters now sit at 3-1 and are tied for first place while Team Unique fall to 0-4 and are all but out of the running.
Brame vs. Vikin.gg
This series is one that should have deep implications for the playoffs stage of the Pinnacle Cup - Dota. Brame and Vikin.gg both looks like teams that are trending in the right direction and have proven success in the Dota Pro Circuit as well. In game one, it seemed like Brame had found their advantage in the series. Then, Tasos “Focus” Michailidis got a bit overzealous, shall we say. Diving the enemy fountain with the game in hand has always been one of those moves that seem like a hilarious and fun way to end the game. In this case, it ended the game for Brame as Vikin.gg were able to take the opportunity handed to them by the Brame Carry player.
We could even argue that this one move actually ended the series as well because Brame looked shaken and out of sorts in game number two. Vikin.gg used Hoodwink well and were able to capitalise on their strong tri-core lineup. Brame’s Monkey King carry fell short and their Broodmother failed to create any real map pressure. Vikin.gg ended the series with a 2-0 victory though it left some serious questions about where these two teams rank. Could this have gone the other way without such a huge mistake from Brame in game number one?
Watch the Pinnacle Cup - Dota here.