ESL One Los Angeles has featured some of the best Dota 2 action since the game was paused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the best part of it has been the European and CIS league. After taking the holiday season off, top squads are back in action and lesser-known teams are making real noise.
The lower bracket finals are coming up tomorrow, with The International champions OG set to take on a surging Vikin.gg.
OG underwent a significant shakeup after The International 2019, with three of its two-time championship-winning players stepping away from the game and a new squad coming in to replace them. The new lineup debuted in the ESL One Los Angeles Major qualifiers with an impressive run, dropping just one map across five series.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented the team from competing at full strength with star mid laner Topias Miikka “Topson” Taavitsainen and new off laner Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng separated from the team. This has forced the team to compete with different substitutes, with OG using this lineup during ESL One Los Angeles’ European and CIS league:
33 joins after being cut by Alliance under somewhat questionable circumstances. He was still performing well for the team ahead of his release and has performed reasonably well for OG. Also stepping in is Ceb. The former OG off laner retired after TI9 to take on a staff position with OG, but he doesn’t seem to have dulled too much during his time on the shelf.
Also making a change is SumaiL. Though the former Evil Geniuses star is known for his mid lane prowess, he replaced Anathan “ana” Pham as OG’s carry. He has been flexing between the two positions in ESL One Los Angeles, and remains an incredible playmaker.
Despite all those handicaps, OG has been rock solid throughout ESL One Los Angeles. The team went 5-2 in the group stage with an 11-5 record on maps. Even in its current state, OG is still clearly a fearsome Dota 2 squad that can take on all comers.
The European region is by far the strongest in Dota 2 right now and that’s been most obvious in the ESL One Los Angeles European and CIS league. Despite coming into the event as afterthoughts, Chicken Fighters and Vikin.gg both wildly exceeded expectations throughout the event. The underdogs faced off in the lower bracket semifinals to determine who would face OG, with Vikin.gg coming out on top.
Most Dota 2 fans are likely unfamiliar with Vikin.gg, given the lack of star power on its roster:
BOOM and Seleri are the most seasoned players on the team, with BOOM competing for Hippomaniacs for three years and Seleri competing on various regional-level teams. The remainder of the roster is made up of younger talent, with Vikin.gg being their first real professional team.
Vikin.gg has quietly performed well in numerous European leagues, but ESL One Los Angeles represents its best performance to date regardless of how things end for the team. The team went 4-3 in the group stage, taking wins over B8, Gambit Esports, Cyber Legacy, and OG. In the playoffs, it handed eliminations to Alliance and a heavy favorite in Team Secret.
Vikin.gg’s performance at ESL One Los Angeles has been a surprise, but the team hasn’t been bulletproof throughout. Though the team posted wins over a number of formidable opponents, they also suffered defeats at the hands of opponents such as HellRaisers and Team Nigma.
While Vikin.gg can’t be bought into as an elite Dota 2 team as of yet, they certainly look hot enough right now to consider betting on them against OG and they have already proven that they have what it takes to. OG is objectively the better team here, but with the odds currently skewed to the point where Vikin.gg is a three-to-one underdogs it’s worth giving them a good look.