ESL One Genting is the secondprofessional DotA (Defence of the Ancients) tournament for the year 2018, and it kicked off with some major names from the scene, with teams such as Team Liquid (2017 DotA 2 The International Winner), Newbee (Runner-up for 2017 TI), Evil Geniuses, Fnatic, Mineski and so on. For Malaysians, it was not a tournament to be taken for granted as for once, it was an event that we could attend! As for us, we were invited by Red Bull to attend and cover this event.
Red Bull is the official energy drink of the tournament and this is the second time that they have taken the reigns as official energy drink, with their first being ESL One Genting 2017. Red Bull has been playing an influential role when it comes to esports over the years and this year is no different. The brand has been recognised all over the world as a product that gives functionality to the mind and the body, as athletes and e-athletes both laud the brand for their involvement. A spokesperson from Red Bull mentioned that they wish to nurture, advise and provide help for up-and-coming stars and hidden gems, to propel them to stardom and the big stage. Aside from ESL One, Red Bull has been involved in plenty of other tournaments such as Red Bull Battle Grounds, Red Bull Player One and so on.
Before the main event, the sixteen teams are divided into two groups of eight and teams were eliminated, until there were only six teams left for the playoffs. The remaining teams were – Newbee, Vici Gaming, Virtus.pro, Evil Geniuses, Team Liquid and Team Secret. The playoffs, aka the main event, started on the 26th of January with the first game played by Newbee and Vici Gaming.
Day 1 – Sleeping with the fishes
Newbee took on Vici Gaming and with both teams hailing from China, it was a battle to showcase who was the best in their country. In this game, Newbee managed to snag themselves the Naga Siren, which will be prevalent throughout most of their matches in this tournament. Naga Siren was crucial in setting up most of their fights, especially with her ultimate “Song of the Siren”. kaka, one of the supports from Newbee managed to catch three heroes from the side of VG, which then led to kpii, who was using Enigma, casting his ultimate “Black Hole”, resulting in VG calling gg (Good Game) for Game 1.
Game 2 was roughly the same as well, with VG calling it quits after 33 minutes. The team was wiped out with the help of kaka’s setup using “Song of the Siren”. After a dominating performance from Newbee, VG were knocked out from the playoffs. After a short break, Virtus.pro and Evil Geniuses took the stage for their first game in Day 1. EG managed to eek out a win against VP in the first game, before schooling VP in the second game with some great teamfights across the board, netting them the win in just 29 minutes. Day 1 ended with Newbee 2:0 against VG and EG 2:0 against VP.
Day 2 – A new challenger arrives!
On Day 2, we were greeted with some unexpected news from Team Secret. Fata, the offlaner for Secret, fell ill and it was none other than local Malaysian legend, Ohaiyo, who was recently kicked from Fnatic, standing in for Fata. MSI decided to cheer up the crowd with the MSI Mystery Box giveaway, so the analysts panel tossed out a few questions and the winner was given two choices of either Box A or Box B. Nahaz was the winner and decided to give the box away to someone in the crowd who was able to answer a question from him, netting himself an MSI motherboard and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070Ti, amongst other goodies.
Ohaiyo was greeted with enthusiasm and standing ovation from the crowd. The crowd was cheering so loud that it was nigh impossible to listen to what the caster was saying. After a few words wishing Fata a quick recovery, the game against Newbee kicked off. It is also worth noting that Secret had been winning plenty of games with their regular setup, but with Fata out ill, no one knew how they would fare against Chinese giants, Newbee.
On Day 2, the crowd were surprised with a new addition that ESL dubbed the “Dank Cam”. The crowd were given a meme caption and as the camera pans along the crowd, they were told to give a reaction. Sadly, the organisers didn’t get the reaction they wanted and the “Dank Cam” never made its way back since.
With Secret knowing full well of Newbee’s capabilities, they continued to fight head on with two of Newbee’s favourite heroes, Naga Siren and Disruptor. Secret started out very strong, with the combination of Earth Shaker and Bounty Hunter roaming around. But sadly after a strong start, Newbee was able to gain advantage with great team fights. And since Newbee had Templar Assassin and Luna, they were able to quickly take out important buildings in Secret’s base, ending the game in the 35th minute.
The second game came quickly after the first and Newbee was able to snag Naga Siren and Disruptor once again, to no one’s surprise. It was a back and forth between both teams, battling and taking fights, but Yapz0r, the support for Team Secret used Clockwork to execute plenty of great fights that favoured his team. Secret wore down two raxes (barracks) in Newbee’s base and was heading for their third. But Newbee’s mid player, Sccc` did not let it happen with his clutch Divine Rapier buy on Medusa, and was able to slaughter Team Secret. Fight after fight, Newbee kept Sccc` alive and was able to finally destroy Secret’s Ancient. The game took 46 minutes to complete, making it the longest game in the playoff.
With Team Secret out, it looks like the fight of the blue giants are on, with all three remaining teams sporting blue as their main colour. Now it was Team Liquid’s turn to play against Evil Geniuses. Liquid easily won the first game against EG in just 22 minutes and 22 seconds, the fastest in the playoff. The team had 25 kills at the end of the first game, averaging more than 1 kill per minute!
Things took a turn for the worst in game 2 for EG with Miracle-, the mid player for Liquid, taking them for a ride with Sniper. It took EG 28 minutes to record the first kill on the enemy Sniper, but Liquid still won against EG with a scoreline of 40:8. This settled the placement of Liquid vs Newbee in the finals. It was a replay and showdown between TI7 finalists, one where Liquid took home the title. Will we see the same fate befalling Newbee again, or will they come out victorious?
Day 3 – A TI7 replay featuring Liquid VS Newbee
The finals are now upon us, with both teams showing that they are a force to be reckoned with. Unlike the other games in the playoffs, the finals will be a best of five, meaning that a champion will be crowned when they win three games. Throughout the playoffs, the winning team won convincingly with a scoreline of 2:0 against the opponents. Will we be seeing a 3:0 or will we have a fight on our hands? Both teams were great in their own rights and if they were fighting against lesser opponents, would have been in every betting man’s corner. As the crowd gathered and with the arena filled to the brim, MSI decided to do another Mystery Box Challenge, but this time they allowed both boxes to be given away, one even containing a new laptop!
Both teams were given a standing ovation as they were walking down the arena and it was straight to the first match of the finals. In the first match, Newbee again, managed to grab both the Disruptor and Naga Siren in their matchup, while Liquid drafted Shadow Fiend and Lycan, both very strong in the current meta. In the 25th minute, Sccc` was able to get the dunk on Liquid with Outworld Devourer with his ultimate, “Sanity’s Eclipse”, after Liquid was initiated on by kpii’s Tidehunter with his own ultimate, “Ravage”. This netted Sccc` three kills and a fourth one soon after, granting him the Ultra Kill. A few minutes after, Newbee won game 1 in 30 minutes after Liquid called for the gg.
After a short break, game 2 commenced and this time Liquid changed it up by banning Naga and getting Disruptor for themselves. Miracle-’s Terrorblade was a force to be reckoned with and he showed that he’s one of DotA 2’s best midlaner by crushing Newbee, thus winning game 2. As for game 3, the Naga and Disruptor was separated with Liquid and Newbee getting each respectively. The crowd cheered as Miracle- was drafted Invoker, one of his signature heroes. Despite that, Sccc` on Phantom Lancer and Moogy, the carry for Newbee, dominated Liquid with 10 and 13 kills each.
Coming on to game 4 and Newbee in the lead, the crowd was still expecting Liquid to mount a comeback and win, and they were right. At the start of the game, Miracle- made a miraculous play by baiting Sccc` with a courier. Sccc` took the bait and killed the courier, but Miracle- – with the help of GH – shed first blood by killing Sccc`. In this game, GH stole the show with his Earth Spirit plays, stunning and silencing Newbee players during crucial moments, allowing Liquid to win game 4 with 34 total kills! With the finals tied on 2:2, the last and final game became the game to decide the champion.
In game 5, the crowd thought that Liquid has learnt their lesson the hard way at how good Newbee utilises Naga and Disruptor, but that was not to be as they let both heroes through to Newbee. Things started to look very bad for Liquid as they lost teamfights after teamfights. They even slipped up and let Moogy, the carry of Newbee get the Ultra Kill with Ursa right beside the Roshan pit. Unlike the TI7 finals, Newbee beat Liquid convincingly and they are now crowned the ESL One Genting 2018 champions!
In the Winner’s Interview, Newbee mentioned that they have learned to not hesitate as much during games. Their impeccable teamwork is also due to them having good communication and sticking as a team since 2016. In the professional scene, switch-ups, player swaps and team disbands happen way too often, so for a team to stay together for as long as they did is a great sign. The team also mentioned that in SEA servers, where they have been practising for a while now, SEA players are more interesting compared to other servers due to their ability to communicate between teammates and are more aggressive. They also mentioned that the players tend to be memers and that they like to use soundboards as well. Newbee definitely seems like the team to beat along with Team Secret and Team Liquid, as they march towards earning more points, carving their way towards the DotA 2 The International 8.