It has been a long and gruelling group stage at the Pinnacle Cup - Dota. Several teams are starting to crack under the pressure and round eight of play has seen several stand-in players come in. Read on to find out more.
Level UP vs. Vikin.gg
Both Vikin.gg and Level UP played this series with a stand-in player as Nikola “LeBronDota” Popovic continues to miss action for Level Up. On the Vikin.gg side, their coach and co-owner of the organisation, Daniel “ImmortalFaith” Moza, stepped into the role of player, taking the spot of Adam “Aramis” Moroz who has been a standout player for the team in the Support role. Even so, Vikin.gg were able to lean into their regular picks in game one and got an outstanding performance from their Carry Juggernaut.
Vikin.gg led for 99% of the game and Indji “Shad” Lub’s 14-0-15 performance led the way. In game two, things got a bit spicy as “ImmortalFaith” drafted himself Techies. Not a hero we see much of in any capacity, Techies has always been a bit of a meme hero. Even so, his impact was felt as the Off-lane went relatively well and made way for a strong mid-game timing to punish the Level Up Anti-Mage draft. Vikin.gg have climbed up to 5-3 and now hold their playoff destiny firmly in their hands.
Team Spirit vs. Chicken Fighters
After showing solid success with Ammar “ATF” Assaf as their Off-laner, Chicken Fighters had to play with a different stand-in against Spirit. With Petu “Peksu” Vaatainen sliding into the roster, it shifted the normal hard Support player Andreas “Xibbe” Ragnemalm over to the Off-lane and the synergy was clearly missing. It would have already been a tough series against Team Spirit but the added element of roster instability did Chicken Fighters no favours.
Team Spirit continues to impress with their versatility, pulling out two completely different strategies in this match. Despite requiring a different tempo and playstyle, Team Spirit dominated both games and appear to be playing some of the cleanest Dota of the tournament. The victory sets up Team Spirit to be the number one seed while Chicken Fighters fall into a tie for third place with Vikin.gg at 5-3.
HellRaisers vs. EXTREMUM
HellRaisers came into this match looking to secure one of the top seeds in the playoffs. Meanwhile, EXTREMUM were trying to hold on to their position in the middle of the pack and make it through to the next stage. EXTREMUM continue to play with stand-ins for their Off-lane, Maxim “Shachlo” Abramovskikh, which has made their loss of momentum somewhat expected. Game one was a competitive farming race between the EXTREMUM Sven and the HellRaisers Medusa. It culminated in one final massive team fight that went the way of HR for a 1-0 lead.
Game two was much more lopsided as HellRaisers heavily punished the early Broodmother pick from EXTREMUM to win the series 2-0. Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok essentially played Carry from the Off-lane, posting a combined score of 24-3-26 over the two-game series. That is a scary prospect for any team facing HellRaisers considering how dangerous Nikita “young G” Bochko and Zaur “Cooman” Shakhmurzayev have been in the Mid and Carry roles.
Team Unique vs. Hellbear Smashers
Team Unique have had a tough time finding their identity in the current hero meta. Most of their games this tournament have been a bit uncoordinated when it comes to hitting power peak timing. Hellbear Smashers, in comparison, are a team that have played in a fairly similar fashion all tournament. The issue for the Smashers is that it feels like their strategies are just too slow to deal with most of the other teams.
The series kicked off with Team Unique grabbing a draft of heroes that have all been extremely popular over the last several weeks. Leaning heavily on minus armour and physical damage, Team Unique’s strategy was clear. However, their early execution started off a bit rocky and they needed to climb back from a smaller deficit during the mid-game. Once the draft came online, Team Unique punished the much weaker scaling of the Hellbear Smashers heroes and simply out-damaged them later on in team fights. Game two would prove to be a similar storyline as the Smashers one again leaned heavily on their Carry, Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard. Team Unique opted for a unique counter to the hero with Underlord and again were able to punish the Smashers around the 20-minute mark. From there the momentum shift was enough to carry Team Unique to a 2-0 victory.
PuckChamp vs. Brame
With both teams in desperate need of a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive, the games were bound to be wild. Game one featured a rare Anti-Mage pick that seemed to be unstoppable. Brame’s Carry, Tasos “Focus” Michailidis controlled much of the game but also suffered a few critical errors that almost let it slip away. PuckChamp had an opportunity to win this one more than once but also overextended themselves to give game one back to Brame.
In game two, it was PuckChamp grabbing the Anti-Mage while Brame opted for a much more high-tempo Gyrocopter and Wisp combo. Brame’s pace worked well early on but a Herculean effort from PuckChamp’s Lina, who went 22-5-13, bought enough time for Anti-Mage to scale and take over the game. Game three turned out to be the wildest of the match as neither team were able to build much of a lead. The net worth advantage never got above 10,000 for the first 45 minutes of play. However, facing a Divine Rapier toting Phantom Assassin, PuckChamp were finally able to surge ahead with a conclusive team fight to take the game and the series.
Watch the Pinnacle Cup - Dota here.