The Dota 2 Kiev Major main event is upon us. With the payday portion of the tournament ahead, the pressure on teams will be at its peak.
After a swiss-format group stage in which all 16 teams participated in four rounds of play, the tournament bracket is set. So far, the event's been characterized by variety. Whether it was the hero choices and bans (90-plus different combinations each day) or team strategies (push, one carry, team fight or roaming), the action presented a little bit of everything that Dota 2 offers. As for the Main Event bracket, the results should favor the chalkier teams, and the traditional top teams remain the tournament favorites.
1. Invictus Gaming
The pre-tournament favorite showed its vulnerability in a loss against Team Secret, but swept the rest of the competition. Invictus Gaming is a dream team on paper and puts on a Dota 2 clinic every game. Behind the pure playmaking ability of Lin "Xxs" Jing and Ye "BoBoKa" Zhibiao, any draft is a good one; this is a team that can play behind any concept and outplay any team composition. The steady carrying ability of legend Xu "BurNing" Zhilei and Ou "OP" Peng provides high kill potential to this Chinese juggernaut, and there are hardly any holes in its lineup. Invictus Gaming was the winner of the Dota 2 Asia Championships that wrapped up in early April, and a Kiev Major championship would make it two titles in a row.
The winner of the Boston Major and runner-up of the Asia Championships is still among the cream of the crop. Jesse "JerAx" Vainikka is one of the best players in the world, and OG's individual talent is still a head above most of the teams in the field. Outside of the individual outplay, OG is one of the few complete teams with a very strong identity -- a necessary factor for prolonged tournament success. The experience and the consistency is there, and the bracket favors another deep run with the inconsistent Team Random (formerly known as Wings Gaming) as its first-round matchup.
3. Team Secret
Is Team Secret back? The body of work during the first couple days of the Kiev Major indicates this team is reemerging, but there are still some questions. Team Secret showcased creative drafts, aggressive play and several highlight moments, and Yeik "MidOne" Nai Zheng is still one of the best players in Dota 2 regardless of position. The carrying and laning ability of MidOne was enough for Secret to stomp through the group stage, but he'll need a bit more help with a potential second-round meeting against Evil Geniuses on the horizon.
A near-flawless Group Stage (6-1 overall record) and the return of the best team from the Commonwealth of Independent States region was more than enough to put Virtus.pro in the contender category. Vladimir "No[o]ne" Minenko was a monster in every game and showcased his ridiculously deep hero pool and versatility. The backbone of the team, Ilya "Lil" Ilyuk, might have more heroes and tricks up his sleeve to keep the field guessing, but it's anyone's guess whether or not Virtus.pro can play consistently enough to advance.
Dark horse squads
5. Digital Chaos
This is strictly a bracket pick because this team is absolutely volatile. The ability of Abed "Abed" Yusop is highlight-reel stuff, but his performance might not be enough to carry Digital Chaos to a long tournament run. This is a team that needs comfort picks (like Weaver for Mason "mason" Venne), but there's enough talent within the lineup to take any team to a full set for the upset. Digital Chaos' bracket is winnable; the team gets a beatable Team VGJ and a potential second-round set against a similarly inconsistent team in Virtus.pro.
6. Evil Geniuses
The pedigree and name value is there, but the results are lacking. Evil Geniuses needs a big victory, and the clock is ticking. The team looked strong against great talent, but average throughout the group stage. The wake-up call needs to be sound. A run through the bracket is not impossible thanks to a relatively easy slate, but it's whether or not the good Evil Geniuses or awful version show up. North America's all-star team needs the former to match the hype and expectations surrounding it.