VS Gaming DotA2 Masters Grand Final EGE LAN | Preview and Predictions

VS Gaming DotA2 Masters Grand Finals LAN

Electronic and Gaming Expo (28-30 July 2017)

The highlight of the South African DotA2 season, the VS Gaming Masters Grand Finals LAN, has traditionally been held at the rAge Expo in Johannesburg. For the first time in recent memory the annual DotA2 main event will instead be held at the Electronics and Gaming Expo (EGE) in Cape Town between 28 and 30 July 2017. EGE is once again taking place at the CTICC (Exhibition Hall 1 and 2) and promises to be an even larger expo than in 2016.

Image credit: VS Gaming

The structure of the tournament is double elimination, similar to the structure VS Gaming employed at the CSGO Masters LAN held in Johannesburg recently. In this format teams that lose a fixture in the upper bracket are eliminated to the lower bracket. A series loss for any team competing in the lower bracket spells elimination from the event.

The upper bracket fixtures are all best of one (Bo1) matches, while the lower bracket fixtures all Bo3. The grand finals will be a Bo5 (with a game advantage to the upper bracket team). The total tournament prize pool for the event is R550,000 and the event will be live streamed online on the VS Gaming YouTube page.

The prize breakdown is as follows:

  • First place: R220,000
  • Second place: R99,000
  • Third place: R55,000
  • Fourth place: R44,000
  • Fifth and sixth place: R38,500
  • Seventh and eighth place: R27,500

If you’re in Cape Town, be sure to come out and catch the DotA2 action live at the expo. All the details you need to know about EGE can be found here. Be sure to book your tickets via Computicket here as a day pass to attend EGE will set you back R100 and a weekend pass R220 per person. As per the EGE website, “Single Day Pass tickets will be sold at the door for R120.”

Participating DotA2 Teams

The tournament is comprised of the eight best DotA2 teams in South Africa. Six spots are automatically earned by teams placed in the top 6 from the VS Gaming Masters online Leg 2 which took place earlier in the year. Two additional wildcard spots were available to teams who competed through a gruelling series of qualifiers over a period of almost two months.

The six teams that earned direct invites are:

  1. White Rabbit Gaming (WRG)
    1. Ryan “ChiDoWi” Lancaster, Michael “Santo” Myburgh, Travis “Castaway” Waters, Nicholas “Schlinks” Dammert, and Charl “Welp” Geldenhuys.
  2. Energy eSports (eN)
    1. Nicholas “strike” Cheng, Darron “Chelsea )” Reinhardt, Wesley “oDu” Rose, Andrew “choseN” Ferguson, and Abdur “habibi_D” Kamdar.
  3. xTc Gaming (xTc)
    1. Caleb “DOOMbunni” Semple, Adam “Adastam” Moore, Dirk “skynet)(“ van Velden, Aidan “Depi” Marshall, and Dennis “_DotA-and-Die_” Connellan.
  4. Pulse Gaming (PLT)
    1. Neeran “Doppl3R” Motheeram, Daniel “wazoo” Stephen, Dylan “Phadey” Cyster, Richard “Deathy” Ware, and Wazeer “SmacKa” Kamdar.
  5. Aperture Gaming (ApG)
    1. Rowan “Phalanx” Budhai, Chad “acg” Simpson, Phillip “O’Malley” Swanepoel, Bob “Bob Euls” Yuill, and Willie “Consp1racy” van Graan.
  6. eXdee Gaming (xD)
    1. Tameer “TKC~” Chicktay, Anton “Fury” de Villiers, Daniel “Hunter” de Villiers, Claus “Jappa” von Thelemann, and Damian “Rock Lee” Dangubic.

The two wildcard qualifier spots were earned by:

  1. Bravado Gaming (bvd)
    1. Rynhardt “RDK” de Kock, Donal “225” Quinn, Nash “Mikasa” Dong, Mark “Frank” Lehle, and Jeffrey “ImpacKt” Waller.
  2. Sinister5 (Sin5)
    1. Tristan “Aghanim” Kiefer, Tertius “Traxion” de Bruin, Alex “F3arBender” Burger, Divan “Reapo” Pienaar, and Jake “stunt” Alfred.

VS Gaming EGE DotA2 Talent

VS Gaming EGE DotA2 Schedule

The first upper bracket matches start early Friday morning and fixtures continue until Sunday evening (even continuing after the expo officially closes on Friday). The majority of games will be played on the main stage, but 2x lower bracket games will be played backstage. It’s unclear at this time if these two backstage games will also be live streamed or not.

Friday 28 July

  • WB1 – Main Stage – WRG vs Sin5 (Bo1 10h00)
  • WB2 – Main Stage – PLT vs ApG (Bo1 11h30)
  • WB3 – Main Stage – eN vs bvd (Bo1 13h00)
  • WB4 – Main Stage – xTc vs xD (Bo1 14h30)
  • WB5 – Main Stage – tbc (Bo1 16h00)
  • WB6 – Main Stage – tbc (Bo1 17h30)
  • LB1 – Main Stage – tbc (Bo3 19h00)
  • LB2 – Backstage – tbc (Bo3 19h00)

Saturday 29 July

  • LB3 – Backstage – tbc (Bo3 10h00)
  • LB4 – Main Stage – tbc (Bo3 10h00)
  • LB5 – Main Stage – tbc (Bo3 13h30)
  • WB7 – Main Stage – tbc (Bo1 17h15)

Sunday 30 July

  • LB6 – Main Stage – tbc (Bo3 10h00)
  • Grand Finals – Main Stage – tbc (Bo5 13h30)

Predictions (w/ Devin “HellbirD” Rigotti and Jackie “Rainz” Chung)

To walk you through the event we teamed up with the voice of esports, Devin HellbirD Rigotti, and the man who knew too much, Jackie Rainz Chung. Both of these titans have been around the South African DotA2 scene for about as long as it took Devin’s beard to achieve sentience. This should be interesting…

@SargonDotA2: Alright guys, no messing about. Hit me with some general thoughts about the state of SA DotA2 right now.

Rainz: WRG are probably the guys who are going to be in the finals at EGE, no doubt about it.

HellbirD: I think if anyone were to bet against WRG they’d be crazy. My honest opinion is that at the moment there are so many teams that can potentially come second in the tournament.

Let’s talk about White Rabbit Gaming.

HellbirD: WRG are absolutely monstrous right now. This team is so good, it’s scary. To be perfectly honest I think WRG is better than the old bvd emotion side ever was. I think they’ve reached that tipping point now. The old bvd rapidly decreased in effort towards the end of last year, whereas WRG haven’t stopped. They’ve been pushing really hard to get better, despite a lack of real challenge locally. They went into the European scene and have been competing in tournaments and scrims against strong teams. They’re constantly playing against really high level competition all the time which makes a massive difference over the course of the entire year.

Rainz: I agree with Devin. WRG are really solid. The whole lineup is doing really well. They scrim in Europe and recently performed well in an ESL weekly cup where they came 3rd? Castaway has been grinding to get onto the leaderboards and maintain 7k MMR. The team has been pretty much unbeatable all year. That applies to this tournament as well, they’ll probably cruise through upper bracket and make the finals having only played 3 Bo1s to get there.

Image credit: VS Gaming

Next up is Energy eSports. Is this their time?

Rainz: Since Chelsea has started making more calls this year eN have come together. He’s playing excellent in the offlane as well. oDu has also been doing really well recently after a difficult start to the year. Then they have strike as a really solid support – which is really important. I really like the eN team this year. They almost made the grand finals at two events back in May so I think they really deserve to make the finals at EGE. Third time’s the charm?

HellbirD: I believe that on a very good day eN can beat WRG, but the problem is that eN can also lose to anyone in this tournament on a bad day. They’re so unreliable. You expect them to do very well in the tournament, but at the same time they could potentially bomb out against bvd or xTc quite easily.

xTc Gaming is up next, suffering some internal struggles we hear?

HellbirD: I think it’s entirely possible that xTc get dropped to the lower bracket after the first Bo1. If xTc are not firing at 100% by the time they go into this tournament, I could see them coming last or second last and going home early. But at the same time, as ridiculous as this sounds, I also believe it is entirely plausible that xTc could come 2nd.

Rainz: I completely agree. xTc might have trouble this LAN. But xTc do have the potential to come top 3 again though. It’s a different situation for them now. If they maintain the mindset of coming out and winning the final VS Gaming LAN of the year and go full out, they can do it. I don’t know how they’re preparing themselves, but I think they are bootcamping. That’s a very good sign of them saying, “Before one or two of us leave xTc we should go all out and play our best.” It’s possible, but these brackets are tough for them.

Next up is Pulse Gaming. Thoughts?

Rainz: Not much to say honestly. We’ve seen Doppl3r and SmacKa since DotA1 days. These guys are individually good players and they could even beat ApG in their first game. Wazoo actually joined PLT as well which was a surprise. He’s been in VNR for like 20 years. It’s a very individually skilled team, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll beat teams like eN or WRG. You’ve never really seen PLT play as a team and get into the top 4 at an event. It’s been a real struggle for them all year.

HellbirD: PLT are a weird one for me, because their players individually are better than their team is combined. You look at these players on paper and you think, “Yes, these are all really good players.” The likes of Doppl3r has represented some really strong sides, as has SmacKa. PLT are full of top tier players but they just don’t get results. Theoretically they could go far, but in all likelihood they’re going out 7th or 8th. I’m old school, so I want to see these guys go far. I’ve played with and against these guys, so I want success for them. But I just don’t see it happening here.

Aperture Gaming is up next? Will they finally catch a break?

HellbirD: There are teams here that are going to be on tilt because of roster shuffles. Even considering that is the general trend, ApG have the most unstable roster. The reality of the situation is that if you look at the individual skill of the players it doesn’t warrant this poor run of form recently. The players just seem to have lost that winning mentality they had last year. They’re probably really demotivated and beating themselves up a lot. They’re probably going into every match thinking, “We’re going to lose.” Obviously I’m speculating here, but how can we expect a team in that position to get wins off anybody? Their one redeeming quality is their playstyle. South African teams are very reactive instead of being proactive. ApG is actually quite good at reactive DotA. Will that get them far enough? I don’t know.

Rainz: This is a hard one. O’Malley has been solid all year. Phalanx rejoining was also positive for ApG. I think they didn’t have enough time to prepare for the LAN event back in May. They’ve been together a little longer now, so they could gel by this LAN. They picked up Consp1racy just before the LAN though, which is a bit of a curveball. You can’t really say much about him because we just haven’t seen enough of him competitively. I’m excited to see someone new and we might see a better ApG at EGE. But they have a tough seed and it’ll be tough for them.

Image credit: VS Gaming

Now let’s focus on eXdee Gaming, since Ridditz probably skipped straight to this section.

Rainz: Haha, probably. I’ve been very impressed with TKC in mid recently. I remember he played Puck in one of the recent tournaments, and I thought he did really well. He could become the next Castaway or something. Then Jappa is also a really solid offlaner who has impressed everyone a lot. Plus the Fury Crystal Maiden spam is worth mentioning.   

HellbirD: xD are a very complete squad. Anybody who goes into a match against xD and thinks, “This is going to be an easy game” is going to find themselves in trouble. Any team that can take a map off WRG, even if WRG weren’t taking it 100% seriously, is a team to worry about playing. Rainz mentioned Jappa and TKC and I agree. But you also have Rock Lee who is very Scant-like, helping guide the younger players with his experience and knowledge. Hunter could also be the next RDK, he’s a very smart player who is mechanically strong. Don’t let his demeanor fool you. His form isn’t great at the moment, but if he can make good decisions then xD can be a massive threat.

Let’s talk the bvd shuffle next.

HellbirD: Since this team joined bvd they’ve been quite underwhelming, that’s the honest truth. RDK has never gotten the exposure and opportunities that he should have, considering how good a player he is. I legitimately think that there was a long time where RDK was an exceptional player and no one cared. Teams were set, there wasn’t a space for him, and he never really got anywhere. Then he built a side around himself, and that’s where they found a lot of success. Then at bvd he’s fallen back into this underwhelming position again. If he finds that form with this lineup and bvd start winning, RDK will bring the whole team forward with him. Then they could become scary over the course of just a single tournament.

Rainz: Due to the recent changes bvd can now pick more defensive heroes like Dragon Knight in the midlane. They no no longer need to necessarily aim to win midlane outright. Because that’s where RDK comes in, he gets the space to farm up. This is done by the likes of Mikasa who plays the more impactful role, to help find that space on the map for RDK. Frank is also a good addition to the team, where he gets to do his usual nonsense all over the map with his signature strong early game heroes.

Sin5 are the last team to discuss. How do you rate this team?

Rainz: Sin5 are underdogs in this event. They come into this event after just missing out on the LAN in May. They’re definitely a team to look out for in the future, I think. At this LAN I am keen to see them in action.

HellbirD: I think they’re using a standin, which could totally mess with them at this event. Not having your core 5 lineup at any event is just such a pity. Sin5 could be a side that, at a later stage, could become a serious challenger in South Africa. Not just because of their players, but because of the MGO’s management and what they’re doing for their players. The fact that they have an actual top notch coach is going to make a big difference. This is why you need to be scared of Sin5 if you’re anyone excluding WRG.

Predictions! Which team is going to end where?

HellbirD: 1st WRG, 2nd eN, 3rd xD, 4th bvd, 5th/6th xTc and Sin5, 7th/8th PLT and ApG.   

Rainz: 1st WRG, 2nd bvd, 3rd eN, 4th xTc, 5th/6th xD and ApG, 7th/8th Sin5 and PLT.

I have WRG in 1st, eN in 2nd, xTc in 3rd, bvd in 4th, xD and Sin5 at 5th/6th, with PLT and ApG finishing 7th/8th. I have to say, some fairly interesting predictions. Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

HellbirD: Yes, I’d like to get on my soapbox for a bit if that’s fine?

Of course. Go ahead!

HellbirD: I just want to appeal directly to everyone who loves DotA2 in this country. Right now we’re seeing DotA2 lacking the kind of support that it had in previous years; The title isn’t getting as much love as the likes of CSGO. This is that opportunity where the eyes are on the community. It’s a critical time where we need people to support these teams and the event. If you live in Cape Town, come on out and show your support. If you’re at home, tune into the live stream. The production quality is there and the quality of DotA2 is there too. I guarantee you’ll enjoy the spectacle. Being involved in this LoL event this past weekend, I saw firsthand how a title that once had hundreds of teams playing can be whittled down to just a handful of teams struggling to find support for the title they are so passionate about. If you enjoy DotA2 in South Africa, now is the time to show your support. Everyone is watching, so be there and be counted. We’re at that point now.

A really good appeal, and hopefully people come out and support the teams or tune into the live stream. Well that’s all my questions so thanks for your time guys.

HellbirD: Thanks man, it has been fun.

Rainz: Thanks for having us!

No problem!

About @SargonDotA2

Chris "@SargonDotA2" House started writing about competitive local esports in 2016, focused primarily on DotA2 since he played competitively around that time as well. Since then we keep him locked up, churning out DotA2 articles as often as we can make him do it. @SargonDotA2 is sometimes referred to as the Batpanda...