WePlay Tug of War Mad Moon is finally kicking off! Eight teams will be fighting for the lion’s share of the $300,000 Prize Pool! In addition, the two best players (core and support) of the tournament will be awarded an additional reward of $10,000. After hosting the most-watched and best Minor in Dota 2 history, WePlay! is back. The Bukovel Minor was a truly spectacular event with phenomenal production value. I cannot wait to see what WePlay! have up their sleeves this time!
WePlay Tug of War Mad Moon is not part of the DPC but does feature top-class teams such as DreamLeague Season 13 Major Winners Team Secret and TI9 runners-up Team Nigma! Let’s now examine the eight teams in attendance and their chances of winning this exciting event!
Team Secret, The Clear Favourites!
Despite deciding to miss out in the first DPC Major on the new Dota 2 season, Team Secret already look back to their best winning DreamLeague Season 13, only dropping four games throughout the entire tournament! Team Secret will be very confident coming into this event. I can’t see a scenario where they don’t take home that tasty $130,000 for 1st place! Nevertheless, anything can happen in Dota; maybe an enormous upset will happen?
Team Nigma, Where Do We Go From Here?
The performances of Team Nigma have not been steady this season. After skipping the first DPC event, the TI9 runners-up failed to qualify for the DreamLeague Season 13 Major. However, they did manage to play in Leipzig in the end by winning the WePlay! Bukovel Minor 2020, although they couldn’t bring that momentum forward and finished in a disappointing 9-12th placing in Leipzig, losing Beastcoast in an epic series!
Team Nigma then went on to crash out of both the ESL ONE: LA Major 2020 qualifiers and the StarLadder ImbaTV Minor, throwing away a game 5 victory against Alliance, leaving Nigma with no DPC event to play in until May/June! Despite the in-game problems, the team should not be written off. Their squad is filled with some of the world’s best players who have repeatedly proven their skill and resilience. I do expect Nigma to bounce back from their recent poor performances and give us a great showing in Kyiv. While I do not think they will win the event, a Top 3 finish would be nice start on the road to recovery.
Ninjas In Pyjamas, A Roster Reborn!
To say the NIP’s Dota 2 season so far has been a disaster would be an understatement! After finishing dead last at TI9, NIP formed a new roster with four new additions. (only ”ppd” remained) However, they failed to qualify for the first two majors, then didn’t make top 4 at either of the minors they attended! After these poor performances, change was needed. Out went ‘‘Skiter”, ”Gunnar” and ”Biver”. In came ”Daxak”, ”TANNER” and ”Lelis”, along with the bold decision to fight in the EU region rather than NA. However, this proved to be a great judgment, as NIP managed to qualify for the ESL One: Los Angeles 2020 Major over the likes of Team Liquid, Alliance and Team Nigma!
Coming into this event, Ninjas in Pyjamas will be feeling extremely elated and confident, although I now want to see if this NIP roster can perform on LAN and not just online. An opening Bo3 against Team Nigma will be the perfect test to see if they’re up to scratch! If I had to make a guess, I reckon that NIP will finish inside the Top 4.
Virtus.pro, New Players, New Era?
Virtus.pro was the final team invited to the event, and just in time, as well! Coming into Kyiv, Virtus.pro have made a few roster changes. Bakyt “Zayac” Emilzhanov has replaced Vitalie “Save-“ Melnic. Whilst Zaur “Cooman” Shakhmurzaev will be the stand-in for Egor “epileptick1d” Grigorenko. So far, with these changes, VP has qualified for the upcoming Major, so looking good so far!
But I am struggling to figure out this VP squad. It doesn’t seem like a roster that can dominate and win majors, but maybe they don’t have to. If they can have fun and proudly represent the CIS region then that’s good enough for me! I have absolutely no idea where VP will finish at this event. It could be anywhere, yet I’m watching and interested. Virtus.pro, impress me.
Gambit Esports, Which Version Will Show Up?
It has been a very hit and miss season for Gambit so far. A 2nd place finish at ESL One Hamburg 2019 along with a 3rd place achievement at the ONE Esports Singapore Invitational, prove that this roster can definitely compete! However, the DPC events have been a different matter, finishing dead last at the MDL Chengdu Major before having an admirable showing at the WePlay! Bukovel Minor, ending in 4th. Although Gambit was unsuccessful during the qualifications for ESL ONE: LA Major, ”fng” and his troops managed to swiftly advance to the upcoming StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor.
I should mention, though, that Gambit have recently made a roster with Rostislav “fn” Lozovoi replacing Danil “gpk” Skutin who was benched from the team due to the player’s refusal to attend the team’s boot camp for Major Qualifiers! Not something you usually have to deal with as a Dota 2 team, but Gambit handled the situation very professionally, and it seems the roster change hasn’t hindered the teams potential to hard.
In the end, Gambit is a very hit or miss team. On their day, they can beat almost anyone, as shown by their 3rd place finish at the ONE Esports Dota 2 World Pro Invitational Singapore. However, the recent form shown at Majors/Minors has been underwhelming. Minimum expectations for Gambit is to escape the Group Stage, although they are capable of going much further. Don’t let me down, Gambit!
B8, The Return Of The King!
Now, originally, this placement was supposed to the Chinese team of ”RNG”. However, the squad was unable to secure their visas due to the chaos caused by the ongoing coronavirus, so WePlay! Decided to invite legendary Dota 2 player ”Dendi” and his new CIS organisation ”B8”. A smart choice, given the fact that the event is taking place in Ukraine.
I expect this will cause more fans to buy tickets for a chance to meet one of Dota’s biggest icons! Whilst I do not expect much from them at this event, considering they are in the same group as Infamous, it’s very believable that ”B8” could make it past the Group Stage and into the Playoffs!
Aggressive Mode, The Unknown Quantity
Natus Vincere won the Reshuffle Madness 2019 Champions to qualify for this tournament. Unfortunately, Navi was unable to attend, so they have been replaced with team ”Aggressive Mode”. This a new roster that formed to play in the ESL One: Los Angeles 2020 Major qualifiers.
Not much was expected from this random selection of players. However, ”Aggressive Mode” almost managed to qualify for the Major, defeating Team Nigma 2-0 in the process! While this was a very noble performance, I don’t expect this roster to go far at this event. I feel a Group Stage exit is on the cards, especially with how stacked their group is!
Infamous, The Forgotten Team
Infamous qualified for this tournament back in June of 2019 with a nearly unrecognisable lineup, with four of their five players not even coming from the South American region! Only Mariano “Papita” Caneda has remained. Since TI9, the new South American roster has failed to qualify for any DPC events, so I highly doubt this roster will make any real impact at this tournament. But who knows? Maybe they will surprise us.
The Groups, Fairly Even I Must Say.
- Team Secret
- Gambit Esports
- Infamous Gaming
- Ninjas in Pyjamas
- Team Nigma
- Aggressive Mode
Looking at the groups, I would expect Team Secret, Gambit Esports and B8 to make it out of Group A. Meanwhile, in Group B, I reckon that Team Nigma, Virtus.pro and Ninjas in Pyjamas will advance to the Playoffs!
Tug of War: Mad Moon format
The tournament is divided into two stages: the Group Stage and the Playoffs. All the matches will be held within a Double Elimination system.
- The Group Stage will be played in a GSL format. The teams will be divided into two groups, four in each. All matches played will be Bo3’s except for the decider match which will be a Bo1. The bottom team of each group will be eliminated from the competition.
- In the Playoffs, the six remaining teams start in the Upper Bracket. The teams who finish second and third place in the Group Stage will start at the quarter-finals stage, while the group winners will advance straight to the semi-finals. All playoff matches will be Bo3 encounters, except for the Grand Final, which will be a Bo5 engagement.
WePlay! – Prize Pool
The 8 teams in participation will be fighting for their share of the $300,000 prize pool. The Prize Pool distribution is:
- 1st place: $130,000
- 2nd place: $60,000
- 3rd place: $30,000
- 4th place: $20,000
- 5-6th place: $12,000
- 7-8th place: $8,000
WePlay Tug of War Mad Moon begins on February 19th, with the playoffs starting from February 20th and ending on 23rd.
All four of the opening matches will be played simultaneously, but the standout match has to be Team Secret vs B8, ”Puppey” against ”Dendi”! Who will come out on top? Well, Team Secret will, of course, but it should a fun match nonetheless!
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