With the conclusion of Group A at the Bucharest Minor, we look into the opening matches of Group B. Will the favorites prevail once again?

We saw Keen Gaming overcome Ninjas in Pyjamas and Gambit Gaming defeat Team Team in the first two matches of the event. The Russian Gambit continued their strong performance and overcame the Chinese underdogs KG, earning themselves a spot in the winner semi-final.

North America’s Team Team fell behind NiP and will finish the Group A dead last, whereas NiP moved on to battle Keen Gaming for the last spot in the winner bracket.

On Day 1 of the Bucharest Minor, all the favorites managed to secure wins when it mattered the most. Will we see the repeat of that in Group B?

We look at the match-ups of the opening games and see who esports fans at the bet exchange site Vie.gg see as the favorites in Group B.

OG vs BOOM ID

The International 2018 champions in the offseason lost their carry and abandoned the first Dota Pro Circuit tournaments. Instead, they visited AMD Dota 2 Pro Series 2018, where they performed with the Australian player BOX HILL and took third place. After OG returned, they played qualifiers for a major with Anders “Pajkatt” Olsen Lille, but they did not even leave the group. In qualifying for the minor, the rivals couldn’t resist OG, and they took one of the two slots to the tournament easily.

After the New Year, the team decided not to continue cooperation with Pajkatt — they took Igor “iLTW” Filatov instead. The updated roster, having no time to train properly, checked their strength in the online tournament WePlay! Dota 2 Winter Madness. The organizers invited OG to the quarterfinal immediately, where the team of Johan “n0tail” Sundstein beat Vega Squadron with a score of 2:0, and then with the same score left out of business NoPangolier in the semi-finals. In the decider, OG failed to win a single map against Gambit Esports.

The performance of the TI8 champion in the Winter Madness final raises doubts that OG is the main favorite of the minor. But almost all players have a solid experience in performing at major LAN tournaments, iLTW has the motivation to show himself as a top-level player, and the rest have a desire to wipe their nose for those who consider the current TI champion to be a team of one tournament.

While the best teams in Southeast Asia are trying to fix the problems with the help of constant roster changes, BOOM ID has chosen a different tactic. In the offseason, they made only one substitution — the player that has been with the team since 2017.

As a result, it gave its fruits: for the first time since its formation in January 2017, BOOM ID reached the international LAN final. Previously, the team played only at local competitions. Although they won against Mineski (which is not in the best shape after TI8) and Clutch Gamers (where all third-tier players from Europe took, but they didn’t succeed) in the closed qualifiers, they had no experience in large LAN tournaments. And defeating OG, Gambit, or NiP is an almost impossible task for the SEA team.

EHOME vs Playmakers esports

The main mystery for non-Chinese teams is EHOME — the line-up that trains Zhang “Xiao8” Ning. Usually, teams from this region are gaining shape by spring, after the Chinese New Year. In December, EHOME won the qualifiers for ESL One Katowice 2019 and ranked second in two major Chinese leagues — Dota2 Professional League Season 6 and 2018 Sanya DOTA2 New-Stars Play.

The composition entered the training rhythm and is unlikely to slow it down. The organizers of the third major season — DreamLeague Season 11 — appointed Chinese qualifiers for the New Year holidays, and xiao8 himself said that there would be no time for rest. In addition, in Bucharest, there will be a slot at home major at stake, and the Chinese clearly want to play in front of their home audience.

South America is the least developed region in Dota 2. PaiN Gaming always wins the qualifiers for a major, and the battle for the slot on the major unfolding is serious. Local formulations change more often than in any other region. Playmakers Esports formed a roster at the end of November, and they won a ticket to Bucharest from Infamous, with Jackie “EternaLEnVy” Mao, Enzo “Timado” Hyanoli and Jingjun “Sneyking” Wu on board.

For them to get to the minor is already an achievement, and at least one victory in the playoffs will be the ultimate dream. The composition may repeat the history of paiN Gaming, if it continues to hold on and grow together. But winning the first LAN tournament, where much more experienced opponents will perform, as well as playing big money and a slot on a major, is almost an unattainable goal for them.

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