The first day of The International Group Stage was set up to bring more matches from Group A, so the Group B teams only played four matches against two opponents, while six matches were played over in Group A.
Looking at standings after the first day was over and done with, the arguably stronger Group B’s standings had some surprising placements. Teams that were supposed to be cannon fodder did better than expected, while squads that were supposed to destroy everything in their path fell short. Let’s talk about the standings from top to bottom, however.
Usually ranked in the Top 3 in various Power Rankings prior to the tournament, Newbee was supposed to put up a strong showing. Well, they did, finishing the first day of play with a score of 3-1. The team played Liquid first. Experts couldn’t completely agree on which team is the second best in the world after OG, Newbee or Liquid. The matches between the two didn’t help to settle the matter at all because they tied. Then, Newbee played against Vici Gaming Reborn, picking up their two wins. The first game wasn’t as easy as I would have thought, lasting a little more than an hour. Newbee did fix it in the next one, finishing off VGR in 25 minutes.
Experts put EHOME on the lower half of the spectrum when discussing the strength of The International teams. That seems to be a mistake so far, because EHOME is sharing the same record as Newbee and two other teams. Their opponent weren’t the easiest either, Fnatic and Team Liquid. They swept Fnatic and split with Liquid to get a respectable standing coming into the second day of competition.
After famously crumbling in The Manila Major, finishing in 13-16th place, Team Secret is out on a mission to reclaim their honor. It’s going quite well so far, with a 3-1 record. If you subscribe to the opinion that they are still among the world’s elite, then you won’t be surprised to hear that they beat Vici Gaming Reborn and tied with MVP Phoenix. If it was Team Secret of old, their loss to MVP might be surprising a little bit, however, they’re not, so it’s a good result in my opinion.
The third team with three wins and a loss after four matches, Digital Chaos seems to be putting their best foot forward so far. Their loss came in the series against one of the better teams of the group, MVP Phoenix, where they still managed to get a point, defeating Fnatic 2-0 in the final matches of the day. While this team can upset strong opponents, it’s a mercurial squad with an ebbing and flowing form. You can never know which Digital Chaos will turn up to play. So far, it seems that they’re doing well. Let’s hope it continues.
With a 2-2 record, I’m sure that the Top 3 team in the world, Team Liquid, would like to forget this day. Their only real saving grace is that they faced Newbee and managed to get one over them. Still, Teams of Liquid’s skill shouldn’t be losing to EHOME and its ilk. They might have underestimated their opponents or this loss might be a symptom of a deeper problem in the team. With five teams left to play against over the next two days, I’m sure that we will see how it goes.
One more baffling placing in the standings, MVP Phoenix is sharing fifth place with Liquid, “boasting” a 2-2 record. A little bit different from Liquid, however, they didn’t play Newbee or Liquid (which would be stronger on paper), dropping a game each against Digital Chaos and Team Secret. While losing to Team Secret might have been okay half a year or so ago, now – not so much. Still, I’m pretty sure that MVP Phoenix can get their act together and get out of the Group Stage in the Top 4.
One of the two teams to lose all four matches in Group B, Fnatic seem to be having trouble performing. It’s not like they faced Newbee or some other team thought to be bound for the Top 4 in the group. They lost two EHOME and Digital Chaos. EHOME is overperforming a little bit with their dispatching of Liquid, it could be explained by that. Digital Chaos is also doing better than expected so far. We will just have to see how it goes during the rest of the Group Stage. I’m not optimistic.
Vici Gaming Reborn
VGR lost all four of their matches just like Fnatic, however, at least they faced subjectively stronger competition, battling against Team Secret and Newbee. Even with their offlaner Zhou "Yang" Haiyang not encountering any visa issues and being able to compete in The International 6, Vici Gaming Reborn would have been hard-pressed to beat Newbee, while they might have taken a game off of Team Secret. As it stands now, however, VGR is in a difficult spot. Still, it’s not hopeless. They have some weaker teams to play against still, they might be able to pick up a point or five.