Over the first day of The International Group Stage, the eight teams making up Group A played six matches against three of the seven opponents they will have to contend with to decide whether they will start the Main Even in the Upper or Lower Bracket. Looking at the standings after the first day of play, they are somewhat different from what I would have predicted.
Sharing the first place in the standings with two other teams with a 4-2 record, Evil Geniuses seem to be hitting their opponents hard out of the gates. The bulk of their four wins came when they swept away Natus Vincere. Now, Na’Vi isn’t a team of OG’s caliber, however, in most power rankings prior to the start of The International 6, they were ranked higher than EG. The matches against these kinds of teams, the ones which aren’t the frontrunners, but can be called strong enough to compete, are essential if Evil Geniuses want to go deep in this tournament. Defeating teams like Na’Vi, while also taking a match against the powerhouse teams, is how EG can hope to find themselves in the Upper Bracket. In fact, that is exactly what happened in the first day of play. Besides Na’Vi, EG played against Wings Gaming and OG on the 3rd of August, taking a game off of both, leading to a 4-2 scoreline.
Placed in the top 10 of the strongest teams in The International, LGD Gaming is seemingly delivering on its promise so far with a 4-2 record. The problem is that they played a couple of teams which can’t be called Group A Top 4 contenders reasonably, taking two wins against Escape Gaming and splitting with Alliance. The third opponent they faced was OG. They took a game off of the No. 1 ranked team, which actually shows that the team has potential to fight strong opponents despite their relatively easy start to the tournament. We will have to see how it goes for them in the following two days, however, I expect that they won’t be able to keep their momentum once the schedule forces them to play serious contenders.
Called the best Dota 2 team in the world, OG actually disappointed me a little bit, giving away two points to LGD and Evil Geniuses. To make their way to the shared first place in the tournament, they also swept away Alliance, which, let’s be honest, isn’t the strongest. I’m sure that OG will make the Top 4 of Group A, however, they aren’t as dominant as I expected them to be. On August 4th, they will play Wings Gaming and Escape Gaming. I expect that they will crush Escape, however, it will be interesting to see how the match against Wings goes. If they take a win each once again, I will be quite disappointed in OG. To be fair, however, Wings Gaming is an extremely strong team, so it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
One of the three teams to go even with a score of 3-3, Alliance is in good shape so far. They understandably swept TNC, lost both matches against OG, and then took a win against LDG. So far, their performance isn’t above what’s expected of them because they won against the Wild Card of their Group, lost to the best team in the world and tied with LDG, which should be placed in the middle of the group standings when the Group Stage ends, unless something unexpected happens.
Now, with a 3-3 score after the first day, Wings Gaming looks to be underperforming a fair bit. Of course, there’re two days of play left, the Group Stage is not over yet. There are some concerning signs, however. Wings split against Evil Geniuses, okay. That team took a game off of OG. Wings Gaming got beat by TNC. Now, THAT is an upset. Placed 4th in most Power Rankings, Wings Gaming is a serious Semi-finals contender. Getting swept like a kitten in a river by one of the weaker teams in the tournament should be very concerning. Well, at least they managed to annihilate Escape Gaming later, somewhat making up for it. While the losses against TNC are concerning, there are still two days left to play, it’s not too late for Wings Gaming to get their shit together and show who’s boss.
The final team to get a 3-3 record on the first day of the Group Stage, TNC played the first two matches of the tournament against Alliance, losing both. Next, TNC showed up, beating Wings, and finished on a somewhat high note by sharing a win each with Na’Vi. I’m a little bit surprised by the score they have, keeping in mind that the teams they faced weren’t pushovers. Yes, the loss against the Alliance squad, which is placed at the 14th place in most power rankings, puts shade on what I’m saying, but TNC seems to have their big boy pants on, meaning business in The International 6. It will be interesting to see how they do next.
Claimed to be the team to bet on if you want to back a black horse by ESPN’s Eric Van Allen, Na’Vi sure as hell doesn’t look worthy of such confidence after the first day of the Group Stage. They 2-4 scoreline against three teams could be explained away if they faced OG, Wings, and LGD, for example, however, that wasn’t the case. Na’Vi actually didn’t 2-0 Escape Gaming, splitting a game each, straight up lost to Evil Geniuses, and then swapped wins with TNC. That’s not the kind of performance you need if you wish to make it far in a tournament like this.
As the Wild Card, Escape Gaming didn’t have many expectations put upon their shoulders. Well, Escape is seemingly proving that the lack of expectations was warranted with a 1-5 score. Their only saving grace is that they managed to steal a win from Na’Vi, which is a much stronger team on paper. To be fair, however, Escape did play against serious Upper Bracket contenders LGD and Wings, as well as Na’Vi. That’s not the easiest start to a tournament, more like waking up in the morning from getting hit in the face by a brick, instead of opening your eyes to see the sunrise and hearing birds singing in the trees.