Another day, another set of Gold Club games in the books. For the most part, today was a series of stomps. That said, there were several interesting things to take away from those one-sided affairs, particularly the final game of the day. In similar fashion to yesterday, let’s take a look at how each Western team performed today.
Remember when Fnatic was one of the best teams in the world? Yea, that’s still a thing. KSV took the stage first today and dismantled SPT in short order. When Fnatic took their turn at one of China’s candidates, the results were largely the same. Europe’s best team has a control of the macro game that is unsurpassed by any except the very best Korean teams.
What’s particularly interesting about Fnatic thus far is that we’ve had four games, and only one instance of Mene on a support. I’m certain we’ll see plenty of it going forward, but the team clearly values Mene’s strength on his comfort picks, and they’ve shown through the first three games of the tournament that they are willing to experiment with unique drafts in order to put their new flex player in a position of strength. I’m very curious to see how the draft shakes out when Fnatic goes up against Ballistix and Dignitas.
Outside of that, there weren’t many takeaways from Fnatic’s short time on stage today. We saw BadBenny on Tyrael and Sonya, giving us a taste of his bruiser pool, but still showing a preference for tanks over more damage-focused offlaners. Hopefully as the tournament progesses we’ll get to see more options such as Malthael and Dehaka added to Fnatic’s solo lane pool. Everything else was relatively standard from this roster. They’re still really good at playing the video game.
Now, let’s get this out of the way before we go any further. In the battle between EU and NA, there was no contest today. Europe won in convincing fashion with a 2-0. Both games had very rough endings for Roll20, so it is very easy for the casual fan to throw some NA LUL memes around and move on with their day. Additionally, I will naturally have a bit of NA bias in all of my analysis due to the fact that it’s my home region and my favorite region to follow.
Above all else, this series is about learning. I’m not really that interested in just writing “Dignitas beat Roll20 and here’s how it happened.” I want to go a bit deeper. So, obviously today was a success for Dignitas. That said, there are some takeaways that need to be discussed.
Game 1 against Roll20 was an even affair right until the very end. The teams were even in XP and structures throughout most of the game. In fact, right up until the pick on Kure, Roll20 was very much in a position to win the game. What allowed Dignitas to win so suddenly was a superb macro read on Roll20’s decision making. Roll20 had pressured the top lane hard with double bruiser camps. Logic would dictate that you commit a few resources to the top lane for a moment to clean up both camps and preserve as much of your keep defenses as possible, particularly on a map where structure health is so valuable. However, Jaypl and crew recognized immediately that Roll20 would be making a boss play and moved in. Not only did they contest, they went in hard, before Brightwing had time to revive. It was a phenomenal call that shows the leadership of this team is still very much intact with Bakery gone.
Further, POILK executed the final minutes of the game well. It seems that he’s been able to shake off the nerves from his first game yesterday and arrive in China as the deadly ranged threat we know him to be.
That said, both this game and the second one on Infernal Shrines should concern Dignitas fans a bit. The Sky Temple game was very even, and could have been lost had Kure not gotten caught. Game two was an absolute stomp for the first 15 levels, but with a bad call and a messy fight at Roll20’s shaman camp, they allowed NA’s heroes to crawl all the way back to a nearly even contest. By the end, only a heads up play from Snitch kept Roll20 from fully coming back and potentially taking the lead. However, most of the takeaways from today are positive. Snitch is an absolute monster on every hero in the game, his Stukov in Game 2 was a sight to behold. POILK fits into the roster far better than Mene did in the current meta. By the end of this tournament, we may well see the best Dignitas roster in the organization’s history.
Both games today were very tough losses for the NA squad. Game 1 looked extremely promising right up until the end. Roll20 made a calculated risk that unfortunately Dig knew how to answer perfectly. Game 2 is where things seemed to fall apart a bit. Roll20 had no answer for Snitch’s superb Stukov, and just really struggled to deal with the abrupt change of pace between games. That said, the team showed its trademark resiliency and very nearly completed their comeback. If NA fans are looking for positive takeaways from today, I would submit the following:
Dig look to be a solid contender in this event, and Roll20 put themselves in a position where they had an opportunity to win both of these games. More than any other team, this is a roster with the most potential for growth during the event, and as such today has every chance to be a great learning opportunity. Further, no team is undefeated through 2 days, so Roll20 are still very much in contention to make it out of the group stage on the winners side.
One final takeaway from R2e thus far, we still have yet to see Kure on a ranged assassin. Daneski is certainly a capable ranged player, but fans expect Kure to be in the backline making plays for this roster, not relegated to Brightwing and Malfurion. Whether Roll20 are hiding strategies for their later opponents, or experimenting based on data they’ve gathered in scrims, we’ll simply have to keep watching to find out. However, this remains one of the key points to observe as Roll20 progresses through the event.
Before signing off, we should briefly discuss CE. Their Game 2 upset over Ballistix has consequences for our evaluation of every team going forward. Suddenly, Dig’s 1-1 record against them looks far better, forcing us to evaluate Dig higher due to their strong finish in that series. Today, CE showed that if they can create an opportunity and execute, they can contend with the best teams in the world. All of their success in that game stemmed from a single pick on Ballistix’s Falstad, and snowballed from there. Teams will have to respect their aggression going forward and know that if they give CE any opening, they can absolutely run with it all the way to your core.
We now have two data points on each team in the tournament, and know far more than we did yesterday about the relative strength of these rosters. Obviously, this is still nowhere near enough data to properly rank these teams, but let’s do it anyway! To close out today’s recap, here is my GCWC power ranking through two days:
- KSV Black