The Mars Dota 2 League has once again returned to Macau. While there are no DPC points up for grabs at this event, it still features some of the best teams in the world. Two of those teams in attendance were our very own Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses. For Team Liquid, this is their first tournament as a complete team since the MegaFon Winter Clash in December. After a 8th place at the Chongqing Major (with Miracle missing), they looked to return to form in Macau. Meanwhile Evil Geniuses were in the reverse position, forced to play in Macau with a substitute for Sumail. CCNC shouldered this burden, having substituted for Evil Geniuses in the past.
MDL Macau had a rare format with one large group containing every team. The upper half of teams from the group stage seeded into the upper bracket, while the lower half were sent to the lower bracket. This became interesting when four of the eight teams ended the group stage with a 4-3 scoreline. Evil Geniuses was one of these teams, though they made it through on head-to-head tiebreakers. There was one team that was able to rise through the ranks though. It was Liquid, taking first in the group stage. Once through to the upper bracket, we saw Team Liquid take down Royal Never Give Up 2-0, a reversal from RNGU’s surprise win over Liquid in the group stage.
In the other upper bracket match, EG were faced with a more formidable foe in the form of Vici Gaming. While the first two games were close, EG ended up winning game three in roughly twenty minutes. This set up an upper bracket final between our two champions, Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid. Team Liquid took the series 2-0 with Sumail’s absence becoming more apparent now that EG were matched against a world class team. EG would have to go through the lower bracket and face off with their long-time rival Virtus.Pro. Evil Geniuses took the series 2-1, breaking a long streak of Virtus.Pro wins and earning themselves a rematch against TL. In the end Team Liquid would take the tournament in a 3-1 victory over Evil Geniuses. A result that shows how both teams are still in Championship form.
ESL One Katowice
ESL One Katowice was a tournament with a large quantity of teams and an even larger spread of quality. At the top end we have the likes of Team Secret and Fnatic, while at the bottom end we had teams like Complexity and For The Dream. Format-wise we saw a relatively standard group stage into double elimination playoffs. Our champions of Southeast Asia, Fnatic, looked to make a strong showing after their top 6 finish at the Chongqing Major. They went through the competition like it was nothing, easily taking first in their group with an 8-2 scoreline. Fnatic were looking good. Jabz was leading, MP had the consistency we’ve desired, and Iceiceice continued to be, well, himself.
After making it through the group stage, Fnatic would find themselves facing off with Gambit Esports. Fnatic took the first game of the series in a nail-biting hour long game, carried to victory thanks to a great performance on Lifestealer by MP. Sadly, in game 2 everything seemed to fall apart for Fnatic. It was a tough loss, with no saving grace to be found. Game 3 followed a similar story, but with a very strong performance from MP. Despite Abed and MP winning their lanes, they were unable to withstand the overwhelming pressure from Gambit’s Visage-Undying lineup. This loss sent Fnatic to the lower bracket where they would match up with their ever-present SEA rivals, Mineski. As usual, Fnatic was able to take the upper hand and sealed the match with a 2-0 score.
In the next round of the lower bracket they matched up against current TI-Champions OG. While OG had initially stumbled this season, they’ve been picking up steam and were able to take a surprise win over Fnatic. This tournament ends as a moderate success for Fnatic. They continue to place near the top of the events, but have yet to take home a championship for themselves. Keep an eye out for them as once Fnatic finds the missing piece to their success, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate kept its strong year going with Frostbite 2019, another large tournament full of upsets and awesome matches. Frostbite 2019 saw competitors from all across North America as well as Japan step up to the plate and raise the level of competition. The competition was particularly tough for Team Liquid’s HungryBox and Salem.
Hungrybox came up against strong opposition right out of the gate, facing Nakat, a world-class Pichu main who got 33rd in Ultimate Singles and 4th in Ultimate Doubles. Hungrybox took out two opponents before Nakat knocked him out of winner’s side of the bracket. Hungrybox picked up another win before running into one of Jigglypuff’s worst matchups in Ultimate - Ike. Karinole - one of the Midwest’s better players - used Ike’s large and strong aerials to snuff out Jigglypuff’s options. While Hungrybox fell out of bracket at 197th, he still outplaced his seed of 220.
Hungrybox came to the venue for commentary as much as competition, and that was where he made the highlight reel. Hungrybox brought the hype and the insight to several sets in Singles as well as Doubles top 8, earning accolades and twitch clips across Twitter and Reddit. He has been welcomed quite warmly by the Ultimate community as both a player and a caster and we can’t wait to see him do more of both in the future.