TNC Predator is looking very good right now.
The enduring Southeast Asian contender took first place at ESL One Hamburg and posted arguably the best tournament performance of its storied history. The team completed the victory by defeating Gambit Esports in the finals with a 3-2 score, and looks like a serious threat heading into the MDL Chengdu Major.
The first four games of the grand finals had an interesting dynamic.
Games one and three saw TNC Predator take an early lead, snowball their way to victory, and choke the life out of Gambit en route to victory, with Armel Paul “Armel” Tabios coming through for them big in both games. Games two and four were the opposite from Gambit, as Danil “gpk” Skutin spearheaded an incredibly aggressive style and helped the team score wins off of lopsided kill tallies of 36-5 and 26-8.
In game five, TNC closed things out by taking a page out of Gambit’s playbook. With Armel playing as Alchemist, TNC gained a quick GPM lead. That didn’t slow down or become any less impactful over time, with Armel eventually sitting at double the net worth of the second-best farmer in the game, who happened to be his teammate Kim “Gabbi” Villafuerte.
Gambit could do little more than stall, and while they managed to do a fairly good job of it, Armel broke off pieces of their base any time they weren’t dedicating five players to holding him back. The end eventually came for Gambit and TNC took a 3-2 series win.
This is far from TNC’s first live event win, but the team has historically won at smaller SEA tournaments and at WESG. While those aren’t achievements to shrug off, the performance at ESL One Hamburg saw TNC dominate the group stage with a 9-1 record and slice through Alliance and Gambit in the upper bracket.
The MDL Chengdu Major will boast stiffer competition, but this is a lineup that seems up to the challenge.
ESL One Hamburg was a relatively low-stakes event given the fact that it didn’t take place within the Dota Pro Circuit. That said, it offered the first real taste of some of the new teams that came together after The International 2019.
Gambit Esports and TNC Predator are obviously in a good place after competing in the grand finals. The new Alliance roster also looked very solid, taking third place. Virtus.pro has some work to do, but its new roster certainly has promise. Wind and Rain came in on late notice and established itself as a team to watch in upcoming European qualifiers.
The new Team Liquid, who enjoyed a solid 2018-2019 season under the Alliance banner, had a rough showing as they were eliminated in the group stage with a 3-7 record. That rough finish can be partly dismissed based on the fact that Liquid faced fairly stiff competition and were just one win away from advancing to the playoffs, but that asterisk can’t be placed on Fighting PandaS.
The Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao-led team from North America went 2-8 in groups with those two wins coming over the unheralded Vikin.gg team. Precedent suggests that the team could be one more poor showing away from disbanding.
Ninjas in Pyjamas is in the same boat. The new lineup built around Peter “ppd” Dager didn’t look great to some analysts on paper and was no good in practice. They managed to advance out of the group stage largely thanks to a 2-0 win over Quincy Crew via forfeit. They were still forced to start the tournament in the lower bracket and were swiftly eliminated by Virtus.pro.
All three of these teams are set to compete at Dota Pro Circuits events in the near future with the Fighting PandaS and Team Liquid qualified for the MDL Chengdu Major, and NiP competing at the Dota Summit 11 Minor. A strong performance there would trump their poor showings here, but their odds no longer seem particularly great at those events.