Steven R. April 21, 2019
ESL One Mumbai had a lot of strange things going on in the background, but everything under the spotlight went exactly as expected.
Keen Gaming took first place at the tournament, scoring its first live event victory in organization history. It is also the first trophy in the pro Dota 2 careers of Keen players Song "dark"' Runxi and Zhai "一" Jingkai.
The squad won the top spot with a 3-0 rout of Mineski in the grand final.
The first two games were standard affairs. Mineski and Keen kept step with one another through the laning phase until Keen kicked off the mid game with strong and clean team fights. Keen kept Mineski from ever getting close to gaining the lead back, which led to a quick 2-0 start for the Chinese team.
Game three ended the same way, only much more quickly. While Mineski was able to match CS with Keen in the first two games, Keen found a dramatic farming lead in the third game. Playing as Ember Spirit, Wang "old chicken" Zhiyong racked up nine kills in the first 20 minutes of the game to score an almost insurmountable gold lead. That allowed the rest of Keen’s cores to comfortably farm and gain experience, which the team converted into a 31-minute victory to close out the series.
The win is a big one for Keen. Though the team entered as one of the favorites to win ESL One Mumbai and lived up to that billing with an easy run through the group stages, the squad started in the playoffs with a shock loss at the hands of Natus Vincere. That set Keen up for a tricky voyage through the group stages, but the Chinese group worked their way way to the grand finals by eliminating The Pango, TNC Predator, and Natus Vincere in a lower bracket finals rematch.
While this should have been a big statement from Keen, the team’s performance was almost forgotten amidst what has been a wild tournament.
Less than a week before the event was set to begin, the event was hammered by a series of late withdrawals. Though there was a solid lineup of competitors and decent action throughout, the biggest story of the tournament wasn’t Keen’s prowess but was the drama surrounding Team Team’s sudden release of two players. The general indifference towards Keen’s excellent showing was reinforced with ESL One Mumbai’s ending, which saw Keen brushed aside to announce that Mineski’s Kim "Febby" Yong-min earned the MVP award and a Mercedes-Benz as his prize despite his posting a 5-25 K/D in the grand finals.
Keen does have the look of an elite Dota 2 team right now. The team is well positioned to earn a direct invite to The International 2019 and could mathematically guarantee a spot in the event with a strong showing at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major.