Even though the Bali Major will conclude the DPC 22/23 season and will close all questions regarding direct invites to TI2023 in Seattle, we should all expect more surprises and underdog-winning stories in this tropical event. While many will expect more Gaimin Gladiators dominance, there may be more than meets the eye here.
The Bali Major gives off WePlay Bukovel Minor 2020 vibes with it's small, resort-located venue. Perhaps players have found time to relax in a spa with the $888 premium ticket holders. Or maybe even the gamers will get some sunlight, mineral water treatments, or spend some time on the beach instead of getting ready for playoffs.
And while it is not yet clear how spacious the IO Esports and Epulze-hosted arena at AYANA Estate will become, it is doubtful that it will be larger than most esports scenes in other parts of the world. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad, a tournament of such a cozy and close format will help athletes relax and breathe after the stuffy DPCs and DreamLeagues that had to be held in closed and confined boot camps. With the group stage in the books we can only speculate what will happen in Bali.
With that in mind, let's now down to business. Who will be the main favorite of the playoffs for the Bali Major? Are there any interesting storylines to follow? Which underdog has the best odds? Let's figure it out.
Bold Take: No Hattrick For Gaimin Gladiators Would Be A Miracle
Initially, this subheading was 'No Hattrick For GG', however, after watching the DL20 playoffs, I realized that if teams there couldn't stop a relaxed GG squad that wasn't even bootcamping, what could they do in Bali? For the most part the Group Stage bares this out, GG are ready and not sweating much. While they're beatable for sure, there's few who can rival them in a Bo3 during playoffs.
Four huge tournaments in a row for Gaimin Gladiators this year, great job, guys! One record set and another approaching a la OG's famous Three Majors of a pre-historic era. Even though GG went into power-saving mode at DreamLeague and looked shaky in the Group Stage, they still did it. When Quinn "Quinn" Callahan got ganked, Anton "dyarchy" Shkredov covered for him. Outpicked? 'Yo, let's pick this Huskar + Brood + Morph combo. Wouldn't it be fun?'
At the same time, Melchior "Seleri" Hillenkamp, team captain and position 5, said in an interview that the Gladiators developed an addiction to winning. Any professional athlete will confirm Melchior's words; when you win a major tournament for the first time, you will want to do it repeatedly, to a scale of true addiction.
Remarkable, isn't it? And horrifying for every other attending team. Still, this can backfire, supported by the fact that they have already received a TI2023 invite. One of the hardest things in sports is maintaining the balance between relaxation and self-confidence when reaching the top. When the goal goes from "winning the Major to get to TI" to "winning the Major because we can, and it feels great," there's something to worry about.
If Gaimin Gladiators win the Bali Major, it might affect their TI run badly. But who can stop them, really? Weakened Tundra? Relaxed Liquid? Shaky Spirit? LAN-playing BetBoom? Chaotic Neutral PSG.LGD? Or Chaotic Good 9Pandas?
Realistic Take: 9pandas To Achieve Silverware Again
In the last six months, 9pandas showed that Roman "Ramses666" Kushnarev is back, Alexey "Solo" Berezin is going through a third or even fifth youth era, and Gleb "kiyotaka" Zyryanov's Tinker has to be banned at the very first stage. Do not underestimate their coach's work, who doesn't like to give interviews, and the management; after all, just recently, they were a stack of eight people without sponsors and any funding. Now, they're aiming for the stars and have the potential.
While everyone admires and hates Kiyotaka's Tinker, the real revelation is Ramses666, reminiscent of the once deadliest bear.
Here's what he said in a post-match interview on Nix's channel:
"Now I'm a little less involved in drafts. Everything changes daily, so coming to some kind of meta is hard. Everyone plays on somewhat different heroes, so it's difficult for me. Right now, Solo and Nofear are mainly involved in picks/bans. [Question: Are you focusing on your game only?] Yes, I try to understand heroes. I also had a specific character pool at DPC 2023. I play universal heroes, and I enjoy it."
Right now, 9pandas are missing a bit to qualify for TI2023 by direct invite for DPC points. They've already made it to the resort, resting now and waiting for the games to begin. Mathematically, it's almost impossible for them to not qualify. But let's be honest; if they've come this far, why stop? After such a disappointing result at DL20, and a shaky Group Stage, they should be angry and motivated. Taking your first major, while, for some, a sixth, is very important, especially for self-confidence before the International in Seattle. The team has everything:
- A strong carry in decent shape.
- An experienced captain, able to neutralize tilts of this very carry.
- One of the strongest mid players in the world at the moment with cheesy heroes.
- No less cheesy-vector-talented player in the fourth position.
- A calm, confident offlaner who will do everything required to win and do it well.
Incalculable Take: BetBoom
9pandas' neighbor in EEU are the all-star BetBoom gang. BetBoom are regarded as Fantastic, talented, competent and skilled covid-era teens from VP.Prodigy who have great potential to win it all. However, there's the problem, where's the LAN placements? Even with Alexander "TORONTOTOKYO" Khertek's help they just can't seem to get over the line.
The situation before TI2023 is very ambiguous. 9Pandas and Team Spirit will most likely receive direct invites according to DPC points. This way, BetBoom will have no rivals in the Regional Qualifiers, so they already have a Plan B with high chances of success in the bag. But after all, the experience of playing in such a tournament is essential, and besides, guaranteeing yourself a place among the best in advance and relaxing calmly before traveling to the USA is right, isn't it?
Honestly, I don't know how BetBoom will do this time. They had a nice Group Stage, beating GG but losing to Bleed. It's just too hard to predict. BB's Operations Director confirmed that the guys work with a psychologist five times a week, and she will travel with them to Bali. Indeed, they have enough potential to win. Moreover, after crushing almost everyone at the DL20 should help. But will they? I'd say it's better to not bet on BetBoom.
Dream Take: Ammar and Quest to Win
The most fantastic, mesmerizing, wholesome and terrific situation that can happen at Bali Major is "The Triumph of Ammar and Quest Esports". In this case, the guys will get the required number of DPC points for a direct invite and troll all their competitors in the table. Yes, the chances are… low, but het they still exist!
Quest Esports are the main underdog of Bali Major 2023. First off, without pressure and in the right greenhouse, Ammar "ATF" Al-Assaf's talent has finally blossomed the way it had to. Quest's team understands how to play off this guy and how good he can be in the right conditions. They provide him with everything he needs. Quest plays a very unorthodox Dota, where often the classic combination of pos1+pos2 cores turns into pos1+pos3 cores, and sometimes even only Ammar is given a carry-like offlaner and sent to the farm. At the same time, the other four players set the pace for the game.
Firstly, it's just enjoyable to watch and in their last DPC Tour, they slammed the door pretty loudly, closing out Team Liquid twice and OG once and took third place in the league. Imagine the motivation in the minds and hearts of Quest Esports players. And the pressure.
As Ben "Noxville" Steenhuisen, a well-known esports stats and data connoisseur, states, Quest has 0.62% ~= 160:1 odds of winning this one. Despite that, LFG, AMMAR!
What else to say? China, NA, SEA.
Here's a few words for the oft-unmentioned teams from the remaining regions.
Lu "Somnus" yao and his stellar team will definitely not get to TI2023 through invites after gaining too few DPC points and having a sad performance in the Groups Stage. So, all eyes will be on the Regional Qualifiers, where they are already waiting for Xtreme Gaming. Team Aster and their newly crowned Emperor will have to work hard to get as high as possible and earn points, namely, at least 7-8 places. After a harsh start, they made it into the Upper Bracket. Good stuff!
PSG.LGD, though, had a decent run at DreamLeague 20. They made it almost to the Grand Finals and played well, so it was not a coincidence. They need the DPC points for an invite.
North America? Nouns looked good recently, and managed to entertain a lot of people during their Group Stage run. But it was their first time at a major tournament, and even Filipe "Astini" Astini's guidance couldn't help. Shopify Rebellion, even before the start of the tournament, felt unlikely to tear their veins for this one as they already have a place for a home TI already guaranteed by DPC points. And as expected, chill they did.
Surprisingly, South America surprised everyone. First, Evil Geniuses, who were considered a very strong team, played so poorly, they dropped out first. Some say it was due to illness and jetlag, but sources might say otherwise. beastcoast, meanwhile, were the team people predicted to struggle for a place in the lower bracket. But they did an amazing job with a stand-in and got into the upper bracket! Well done!
Southeast Asia disappointed. The strongest teams, Bleed and Blacklist, failed to please the fans. Execration, obviously, dropped out not winning a single game.
If you want to read a more detailed overview of Bali Major 2023 Group Stage, go here.
Who will you be rooting for at the Bali Major 2023 Playoffs?