The Dota 2 Manila Major: what you need to know before the finals

The final weekend of Dota 2’s Manila Major looms for the remaining teams in Valve’s $3m tournament. As MVP Phoenix, LGD Gaming and Team Liquid fight to stay alive in the lower bracket, OG take on Newbee for the first Grand Finals spot in the upper bracket. It’s been a long road for all five teams since the group stages, and though they all started in the upper bracket, they’ve had their fair share of ups and downs along the way. Here’s the story so far, to get you ready to jump into tomorrow’s deciders and the final showdown on Sunday.

MVP Phoenix didn’t start out as a tournament favourite (coming through group D in second place behind LGD) but quickly gained traction with the home crowd. Their first match on the main stage saw them dump the analysts’ pick Team Liquid—fresh off their runner-up placing in the same arena a month earlier at ESL One Manila—into the lower bracket with a clean 2-0.

Liquid themselves are on a bit of a hot and cold streak. That ESL second place to a completely overlooked Wings team from China was a bit of a pride-denter, but victory at Epicenter weeks later showed their international strength. With teams like Evil Geniuses and Secret in complete disarray from frankly awful roster compositions, Liquid have seen their chance to claim the ‘Best in the West’ title. That first day falter to MVP has only spurred them on as compLexity, Na`Vi and Fnatic have all fallen 2-0 to them in the lower bracket. They’re not out of the woods yet, however, as they face the winner of MVP vs. LGD to continue.

LGD face MVP first thing in the morning and should hold the advantage over the South Korean side. The all-star Chinese team took a drama-free 2-0 over MVP in the group stages and have only lost a very close 2-1 series against Fnatic since then. Fellow countrymen Vici Gaming Reborn couldn’t stop them either and, aside from upper bracket frontrunners Newbee, LGD are looking like the strongest East Asian side in the tournament.

Onto the upper bracket, where the final two undefeated teams in the playoff stages are Newbee and OG. Newbee are a remarkable case, having made it into the Majors through the China qualifiers after Kpii and Kaka joined in late March. This Saturday’s winner’s bracket final is a rematch between the two teams, as Newbee defeated OG 2-0 in their Group A match securing the top spot for the playoffs. Since the knockout tournament began, Newbee have sent American underdogs Digital Chaos and South-East Asian side Fnatic to the lower bracket where both have since perished. Perhaps the past few days have been a little too easy on Newbee and they’ll be unprepared for OG after sitting on their laurels?

OG, by comparison, have had the rougher route through the upper bracket. First facing off against a resurgent Na`Vi followed by Liquid-slayers MVP Phoenix. Neither proved any trouble for OG, however, both succumbing to fast 2-0 sweeps. The final match against MVP saw zero casualties on OG’s side in one of the most brutal displays of dominance ever seen in professional Dota. These are not qualifier teams, both direct invites with strong tournament placings in the past three months. It speaks to the skill of the team that mid player Miracle-, often hailed for his absurdly high solo MMR of 9000, has yet to die since playoffs began, at one point going 17/0/5 as Invoker against Na`VI.

Regardless of who makes it through the MVP-LGD-Liquid three-way at the bottom, OG is certainly looking like the team to beat at the top. Here are the matches to look out for and when to see them:

MVP Phoenix vs. LGD Gaming (Lower Bracket)
Saturday 10:00 PHT/03:00 BST
Friday 22:00 EDT/19:00 PDT

Newbee vs. OG (Upper Bracket)
Saturday 13:20 PHT/06:20 BST/01:20 EDT
Friday 22:20 PDT

Team Liquid vs. [MVP/LGD] (Lower Bracket)
Saturday 16:40 PHT/09:40 BST/04:40 EDT/01:40 PDT

Lower Bracket Final
Sunday 10:00 PHT/03:00 BST
Saturday 10:00 EDT/19:00 PDT

Grand Final
Sunday 15:00 PHT/08:00 BST/15:00 EDT/00:00 PDT