The MegaFon Winter Clash is a very select, invitation-based Dota 2 tournament scheduled to take place in Moscow, Russia between December 7th – 9th. The tournament offers a prize pool of $300.000 and is attended by 6 of the world’s best teams. As a result, both the spectacle and betting opportunities will be overflowing during the 3 competitive days of the event.
Participants at the MegaFon Winter Clash
MegaFon Winter Clash features 6 teams from 4 different regions:
- CIS: Virtus.pro, Natus Vincere
- Europe: Team Secret, Team Liquid
- North America: Forward Gaming
- China: PSG.LGD
All of them are tier 1 competitors in terms of skill, but relative to each other they could be separated into 3 tiers:
- Tier 1: Virtus.pro, Team Secret
- Tier 2: PSG.LGD, Team Liquid
- Tier 3: Forward Gaming, Natus Vincere
Of course, Virtus.pro and Natus Vincere will have a slight advantage, as they will be playing in their own region. So unless the Russian crowd decides to get political and boo Na’Vi for the problems that are taking place right now between Ukraine and Russia, I think Dendi’s former team will have a lot of fans in the arena.
MegaFon Winter Clash Event Format
MegaFon Winter Clash will have 2 stages: the Group Stage and the Playoffs Stage.
For the Group Stage, the teams are divided into 2 groups of 3. Each group will consist of Bo1 matches between every two opponents.
The winners of the two groups will then meet in the Winner’s Finals of the Playoffs Stage. The other 4 teams will play in the Lower Bracket of this stage. The tournament ends with a Bo5 Grand Final between the winner of the Upper Bracket and the winner of the Lower Bracket.
Here is a short analysis of the 4 main contenders participating at MegaFon Winter Clash. These are the tier 1 and tier 2 teams already mentioned in a previous section and one of them will almost certainly win the event. I expect all 4 to occupy the top 4 positions in the end, as neither Forward Gaming nor Natus Vincere are strong enough to contest them at this point.
For Virtus.pro, the new season started on a high note. It’s the third consecutive season when the CIS giant shows that it is one of the strongest teams in the world, if not the strongest. VP’s victory at The Kuala Lumpur Major marked another high point in a long string of Major wins and accomplishments.
At the MegaFon Winter Clash, I expect VP to perform well, although historically, the team has always treated smaller events following a big tournament victory with a distinct lack of interest. Mixed with the fact that a massive patch has been released since the end of The Kuala Lumpur Major, we may see Virtus.pro disappoint their fans, even though the tournament takes place on their home soil.
Another thing to keep in mind is that every single opponent at MegaFon Winter Clash, maybe with the exception of Natus Vincere and Forward Gaming (although even these teams are very strong), has the level of skill required to beat Virtus.pro if Solo and his squad underestimate the opposition and don’t prepare thoroughly for very match.
This combination of factors suggest that unexpected outcomes are more likely than usual and that the right strategy as a fan or bettor might be to bet against the likes of Virtus.pro.
Team Secret finished the 2017-2018 competitive season in 4th place and then ended The International 2018 with a decent result: 5th – 6th. Puppey and the rest of his teammates made Secret one of the great competitors and a top contender at every event.
This season, after Secret made 2 big changes, replacing Fata and Ace with zai and Nisha, the team seems to be even stronger than before. At its first 3 events of the new season, Secret won two titles, at PVP Esports Championship and ESL One Hamburg 2018, and played in the Grand Final of the third, at The Kuala Lumpur Major, where it narrowly lost against Virtus.pro (score 2 – 3).
One of the strengths of Secret is Puppey’s enormous experience as a captain. His ability to bring new players into his rosters and make them play like absolute champions even though they’ve never won anything important before is quite an asset. Last season, it was Ace. This time it’s Nisha who is flourishing under Puppey’s command, even though his successes prior to playing for his current team were almost non-existent.
Going into MegaFon Winter Clash, I expect Team Secret to play in the Grand Final and possibly even win. Puppey will have to face VP again in the Group Stage and that match will decide a lot of things in the tournament for his team.
PSG.LGD was in a lot of ways the strongest team in the world in 2017-2018, even though it finished the Dota Pro Circuit in 3rd place and ultimately failed to win The International 2018, being defeated by OG in the Grand Final.
PSG.LGD is still a great team, but its performance at the first Major of the season, The Kuala Lumpur Major, left a lot of people with a feeling that maybe Ame and his team lost some of their drive to win after their TI failure and are now just one of the top contenders but definitely not the one you can rely on to beat everyone else.
PSG.LGD is currently sitting in 5th place in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings, a placement they secured with their 5th – 6th place finish at The Kuala Lumpur Major.
Going into MegaFon Winter Clash, I expect PSG.LGD to finish 3rd – 4th. The team is not likely to beat the tier 1 teams previously mentioned but is more than likely to overcome both Natus Vincere and Forward Gaming if needs be. As for Team Liquid, the Europeans are roughly their equal, although probably a bit stronger if we analyze recent results.
Team Liquid was the best team in the world in 2016-2017 and the second best in 2017 – 2018, even though it only finished 4th at The International 2018. Overall, it ended in 2nd place last season in the Dota Pro Circuit, winning multiple events and being very consistent. At almost every event, Liquid managed to secure a top 4 finish.
This season, a number of internal issues have caused Liquid to miss entirely from the professional scene. Ultimately, the team’s coach, Heen, decided to step down for unclear reasons, leaving KuroKy to take care of everything, as he is now both captain and coach until a replacement will be found.
Team Liquid failed to qualify for The Kuala Lumpur Major and then declined to participate in the Minor that preceded it, namely DreamLeague Season 10. However, the team succeeded in the qualifiers for the second Major of the season, taking 2nd place in Europe after a lost Grand Final against Team Secret (score 1 – 2).
Going into MegaFon Winter Clash, I expect Team Liquid to get a 3rd – 4th place finish, although KuroKy and his roster certainly have the capacity to go all the way.