After a thrilling weekend at Birmingham’s 1st Dota 2 Major, ESL One, Esports writer and Gaming editor Roshni Patel covers the action, as Virtus.Pro remain undefeated and annihilate OpTic Gaming in the finals

Redbrick Gaming Editor, who also occasionally dabbles in the dark arts of other sections. Graduating July 2018
Images by Nicole Yarwood

It’s not every day that you get to cover a Dota 2 major, and even rarer still is it held in your own Birmingham backyard. Where better to host the UK’s first Dota 2 major, ESL One, with almost 10,000 spectators and stream to almost 30,000 viewers, than the UK’s second city? Streaming the group stages online via Facebook, the weekend saw a series of thrilling live stage matches, which often went down to the wire, as players fought tooth and nail to continue on to Sunday’s grand finals.

Proving that they’d earnt their semi final byes, both OpTic Gaming and Virtus.Pro, sent their quarter final winning opponents, paiN Gaming and Fnatic, to the 3rd place play offs to warm up the crowd before their grand entrance. And ironically, warm up the crowd is exactly what they did, as Birmingham took paiN Gaming under their wing and cheered for them throughout the 3rd place play-offs.

While match 1 seemed fairly sedate, paiN Gaming pushed on with stronger heroes and forced a surrender from Fnatic, despite their attempts to deny paiN Gaming any advantageous items or abilities, such as ‘Strength of the Immortal’, which in the end, aided paiN Gaming in their victory. Determined not to be taken out in 2 games, Fnatic quickly pulled it back, shutting out paiN Gaming, pushing aggressively and all but defeating their elemental in a mere 29 minutes, forcing a surrender from paiN Gaming. However, after a quick break, paiN Gaming returned with a vengeance, as they fought against Fnatic with all their will, turning the tide midway through the game, to come from behind on kills to take the game, as Fnatic called time mere seconds before their objective fell.

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With the crowd suitably warmed up ready for the final match, Alex “Machine” Richardson called in the grand finalists; the top tier teams who had dominated through the group stages and the semi finals the day before, and who were now fighting for money, glory and the pro circuit points to secure their place at The Internationals in August.

Starting out with a cast of wildcard picks, Virtus Pro was hastily written off by the analyst desk. Yet despite the odds, they all but slaughtered OpTic Gaming, with 3 of their members not dying once throughout the quickly fought match. In game 2, however, OpTic Gaming looked to make a come back; taking the lead in kills and strongly defending their towers while pushing forwards. But it wasn’t to be as Virtus Pro ended OpTic’s kill streak and quite explosively took the match, destroying far more of OpTic’s base than initially expected, considering OpTic Gaming’s earlier lead. Perhaps slightly off focus after their previous defeat, OpTic Gaming once again came under heavy fire in the 3rd match, as Virtus.Pro killed them 26 times to their 5, forcing a rapid surrender within 20 minutes, despite leaving much of the map untouched.

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Lifting the trophy up high, Virtus.Pro was bathed in confetti and met by hearty cheers of congratulations from the arena, from fans who had been avidly watching Virtus.Pro’s undefeated journey to the finals from the stands and the streams over 5 days. $500k richer and having earnt 750 pro circuit points, Virtus.Pro hold their lead at the top of the board and have safely secured their invite to The Internationals 2018, the biggest and most prestigious Dota 2 event of the year. As the event came to an end, and the rain continued to pour, there was a feeling of elation from ESL, as their bold move had paid off, signalling the beginning of more tournaments to come.