Wings' dominating win streak continues post-TI

With a strong finish at The International 6, Wings Gaming may be the favorite heading into the Boston Major. Michael Hanson for ESPN

Last weekend's Northern Arena BEAT Invitational saw eight teams assemble in Montreal for one of the few Dota 2 LANs left before the Boston Major. Through three days of play, two teams met in the grand finals: the Chinese Goliath, Wings Gaming, and the North American David, Team NP.

Wings' dominance at Northern Arena was unquestionable, as the victor of The International 6 dropped only a single game on its rampage through the upper bracket. Taking out regional rivals EHOME, American qualifier FDL and stomping NP into the lower bracket in the semifinals, Wings looked like not a day had passed since the team's run in Seattle.

But whereas Wings was maintaining its streak of atypical drafting and consistent play across picks, Team NP brought an element of the unknown to the table. Comparisons of NP to Cloud9's Dota 2 days are not unfounded; besides boasting similar rosters, Jacky "EternaLEnVy" Mao and the rest of NP exhibit the same ability to inject chaos into a professional match. While NP was dropped into the lower bracket by Wings, the newly formed North American squad fought through elimination matches against Alliance, Evil Geniuses and EHOME to earn a second shot at the TI6 champs.

In an abnormal best-of-three grand finals, Team NP came out swinging with a tried-and-true lineup oriented around Kurtis "Aui_2000" Ling's Drow Ranger and Mao's Mirana. The push-heavy composition, bolstered by some fantastic play from Theeban "1437" Silva's Rubick, helped secure an early advantage against Wings, putting the giant down two barracks and facing an 0-1 start to the series.

When it came time to close the match out, however, NP was consistently rebuffed from Wings' high ground, only able to make dents at best, and all the while Chu "shadow" Zeyu slowly accumulated a massive gold lead on his Juggernaut. Eventually Zeyu hit critical mass, with NP expending all options and still failing to halt Wings from striking back and seizing the first win.

On match point, Team NP turned to comfort picks. Ling's Sven and Mao's Invoker have become fallbacks for the roster, and for good reason; in the team's short lifespan, it boasts a 60 percent win rate when Ling is on Sven, 58 percent for Mao's Invoker and a 55 percent win rate when both are on their respective heroes.

Wings read the draft though, seemingly baiting out the Invoker and responding with an Alchemist mid for Zhou "bLink" Yang. Hitting huge net worths, grabbing an uncontested item stock of Armelt, Radiance and Boots of Travel in 15 minutes, the writing was on the wall. A few team fights went NP's way, but Yang's ever-farming Alchemist just meant that NP was delaying the inevitable. Wings took the ancient and the series in 36-minutes, ending their run on a 2-0 grand finals in Montreal.

Four of the eight teams who were at the BEAT Invitational, including Wings and NP, will meet again this coming weekend at The Summit 6 in Los Angeles before heading off to compete in the Boston Major on Dec. 3.