The Weplay AniMajor playoffs are upon us! After a tough fought group stage, Nigma and PSG.LGD emerged victoriously and claimed the only available spots in the upper bracket, joining the six champions of the regional league Upper Divisions.
The level of competition has already been absurd; from 16-minute stomps to hour-long nail biters, every team at the major has been bringing their A-game so far. And they certainly need to – this event is the last chance to secure DPC points, and with those, an invite to The International 10.
So, what matchups do we have to look forward to on day one? This will be the first time we see the top contenders of each region play at the event and there’s lots to get excited for.
At the top of the upper bracket, Nigma will face the champions of the CIS league; Virtus.pro. Virtus Pro remained entirely undefeated for both seasons of the regional league, yet flopped out of the Singapore Major early. Even though they have already locked in their place at TI thanks to their stunning regional league performances, VP are still out to prove their dominant results extend beyond their home region. For Nigma, the stakes are much higher. To earn enough points to qualify to TI, they need at least second place at the major. If they fall short, they face the blood-bath EU qualifiers where OG and Team Liquid are already waiting with just one spot available from the qualifier.
While earning a spot in the upper bracket provides some security on their path to second place (or better!), VP are possibly the most intimidating matchup to be faced with at round one of the playoffs. The potential to be knocked straight down to the lower bracket is very real; but Nigma are looking the strongest they have since TI9.
Newcomer Igor "iLTW" Filatov is settling in well to Nigma’s carry role while Amer “Miracle-“ Al-Barkawi is tearing up the midlane once again.
We’ve seen nothing of VP so far, but plenty of Nigma. They’ve already played 25 games at the major across the wild card and group stage. The question here is whether the extra experience will serve Nigma well as they master the major meta, or whether the sheer amounts of games played provides too much information for their opponents. Having played so many games, their drafts and gameplay are well and truly out in the open for their opponents to analyse. Can the young VP squad capitalise on the intel or does captain Kuro “Kuroky “ Salehi Takhasomi have more secrets up his sleeve? Nigma have been on a roll lately, but their toughest opponents await.
Quincy Crew vs. NoPing: The road to SA Glory
After beating Evil Geniuses to the NA top-spot in season two, Quincy Crew need just a single DPC point to confidently secure a TI invite. That still means at least 8th place is needed to gain any points, but with an upper bracket start, that position isn’t far off; just beating NoPing guarantees it. The Quincy Crew versus NoPing matchup is in fact far bigger than the future of just these two teams; the fate of the SA region hinges heavily on NoPing’s performance – starting here.
NoPing winning this matchup secures them at least top six and enough points for their TI invite. That’s big news for the SA teams back home – both beastcoast and Thunder Predator are at the mercy of how other teams perform at the major when it comes to their TI-invites.
NoPing securing top 6 is one of several conditions needed for both beastcoast and Thunder Predator to be invited with their current points, but this would also mean one top team less fighting for the SA regional qualifier spot at TI10. If the stars align and all three teams receive invites, we would see FOUR South American Teams at TI10; the biggest representation the region has ever had at an International. This matchup is the first step in what could be a historic victory for the region.
Quincy Crew are a somewhat enigmatic opponent, however. They’ve performed excellently in their home region during both seasons of the regional league but fell short at the Singapore Major due to requiring a last-minute stand-in. The state of competition at the major is somewhat higher than the rest of the NA region, so even with their full roster ready to go, Quincy Crew may not fare as well against the international competition. Or the complete opposite could be true – this could be the event where Quincy takes home their first big title. They’re simply too much of an enigma to know how they’ll perform at this stage. Quincy overcame EG for first place in the NA region and Evil Geniuses are certainly no pushovers after coming just one game away from winning the Singapore Major.
The AniMajor has already given us countless great games and serves as another reminder of just how good international Dota is. As the regions keep clashing, we will begin to see who will secure their place at TI and who will be resigned to the qualifiers. You can keep up with all the results live using our event hub!