Sixteen of the best Dota 2 teams in the world began competing today in Boston, Massachusetts, for Valve's Fall Major, the first major of the 2016-2017 season. Eight of them won admission through their laurels; the other half earned their spots by fighting their way through the regional qualifiers several months earlier.
This weekend, the teams are playing a round-robin-style format in best-of-threes to determine their seeding for the main event on Dec. 7-10. An unforgiving single elimination bracket awaits them there, where they will fight to get their hands on $1,000,000 and an automatic invite to the next major. Here's what happened on Day 1.
Group A: Digital Chaos' deadly precision
Digital Chaos became one of the first two teams to move on from the group stages, winning Group A after defeating Warriors Gaming Unity and LGD.Forever Young 2-0.
Digital Chaos made quick work of Warriors Gaming Unity, finishing both games in under one hour. Roman "Resolut1on" Fominok did not give up a single death in either game as Naga Siren or Morphling respectively. Despite some lanes struggling early, Digital Chaos' frequent and efficient rotations helped recoup any setbacks. Playing surgically, Digital Chaos was able to control the map and pick which engagements to take or avoid.
Digital Chaos' second series ended 2-0 as well, but its opponent did not go as quietly as the last. LGD.Forever Young was scrappy until the end. Though Game 1 was short, the kills were few and far between, making the sparse skirmishes even more important. Digital Chaos' teamfight-oriented lineup gave them an advantage over LGD.FY and they were able to force a surrender after securing one lane of barracks.
Digital Chaos managed to avoid Wings Gaming on its path to victory and, as a top seed, will be able to select its first opponent in the main event.
Group B: No stopping the plow
Virtus.pro defeated Team NP and Newbee 2-0 en route to its Group B-topping finish.
Virtus.pro reaffirmed that its performance at The Summit 6 was not a stroke of luck. It dominated Team NP in both games, with no Team NP members recording more than three kills in either game. Vladimir "No[o]ne" Minenko recorded only one death through both games and racked up 24 kills. Virtus.pro was able to facilitate its mid laner's massive success by keeping NP corralled and caught off guard. Virtus.pro stuck to the same offlane and hard support heroes between games, executing the same strategy brilliantly both times.
Against Newbee, Virtus.pro secured a quick Game 1 victory in the same dominant manner as the first series. V.P ran a push-oriented lineup with No[o]ne on Dragon Knight and hard support player Ilya "Lil" Ilyuk playing a surprise Weaver. Lil found his farm by killing Newbee's supports, finishing with 12 kills in Game 1. In Game 2, despite being down heavily in kills, Virtus.pro was able to use Relocate to split push Newbee, trading structures favorably to help keep their heads above water. Virtus.pro played patiently, rebuffing Newbee's highground attempts again and again until it was able to strike back with deadly efficiency.
Barring a shocking upset, Virtus.pro appears to be the emerging tournament favorite.
Group A Decider: Wings' revenge
After a shocking 2-1 loss to Warriors Gaming Unity earlier in the day, Wings Gaming was able to regroup and win when it mattered most, securing its place in the upper bracket in the Group A decider match with a 2-0 sweep.
Warriors Gaming Unity managed to keep it close through most of Game 1, but was unable to overcome Wings in the same manner it had earlier. Having learned from its previous mistakes, Wings was ready for the Phantom Assasin pickup by Warriors Gaming Unity and answered with a modified Drow lineup. The hero changes enabled the team to kite the Phantom Assassin, protect its Drow Ranger and control the teamfights.
Game 2 showed that Warriors Gaming Unity's earlier victory was not just a fluke, however. Completely shutting down Wings' offlane hero, Warriors erased an early game deficit and took control of the game. Wings' carry Alchemist, Yang "Blink" Zhou, took it upon himself to accelerate his teammates' item progression, bestowing Aghanim's Scepters on two of his teammates. This was the boost Wings needed to help turn several crucial teamfights, taking back the game and securing its place in the upper bracket.
Group B Decider: The turnabout
Newbee bounced back from a heartbreaking loss to Virtus.pro by defeating Team NP 2-0 in the Group B decider match. With this victory, Newbee finished as the second place team from Group B and earned a top eight seeding in the main event.
Newbee's Game 1 victory could go down as the most exciting game of the tournament. The teams traded the lead early on, with both squads keeping things close. Team NP began to take the lead after winning several decisive teamfights; Jacky "EternaLEnVy" Mao's Alchemist became an absolute terror, bringing down heroes in the blink of an eye with his quick attacks and consistent stuns. Incredible teamfight control from Team NP's Dark Seer helped to maintain its lead as the team looked to end the game. Trying to force the win proved to be Team NP's undoing, as Newbee's Song "Sccc" Chun on Morphling deleted an unprotected EternaLEnVy on a daring push to secure Mega Creeps. He was able to do the same twice more as Newbee flipped the tables on Team NP, securing Mega Creeps and ultimately the victory.
After a deflating Game 1 defeat, Team NP folded in Game 2. Newbee picked on EternaLEnVy through the whole game, forcing his teammates to perform without him. With one of Team NP's core heroes sidelined, Newbee kept pouring on the pressure. It was able to force Team NP into unfavorable teamfights and take objectives off of those victories. As the game went on, Newbee's carry heroes became too much for the weakened cores of Team NP, and they surrendered in just under 30 minutes.