It’s happening! CSL’s Grand Finals will be happening, and Dota 2 is included. It’s been a rough few months for basically everyone alive, especially for those of us that are interested in activities outside of our homes. Instead of talking about that--because let me tell you, I’ve had all I can take of that topic and I go out of my way to avoid the news--let’s take a look at the upcoming Grand Finals!
Our first Grand Finals team is none other than the University of Illinois at Chicago, who has punched their ticket with a shiny 2-0 feather in their cap. With the exception of a single loss to The Ohio State University back in early February, UIC has completely dominated everyone that they’ve played against this season. Okay, I’ll say it: UIC is the best team of the season and will likely win the grand finals as well. I’m sure their coordinator Michael “gocolts12” Lederer is going to screenshot this and bring it up for literally years to come.
Let’s take a look at the remaining teams in the rest of the bracket. The University of Toronto will be waiting for the winner of the University of Waterloo and Stony Brook University match, which will definitely be explosive this coming weekend. Toronto was previously undefeated before their series against UIC, and that 2-0 result may have surprised them most of all. SBU and Waterloo also have very good records all season, but let’s disregard that and focus on the playoffs. SBU was sent to the lower bracket by Waterloo in the quarterfinals; Waterloo then lost to UIC in the semi-finals. Back in March, we were hyping up SBU vs UIC, ignoring the fact that Waterloo is a great team, so it’s almost like every team wants a piece of UIC.
Another weekend has come and gone in this weird reality where all days feel the same, so let’s take a look at the aftermath to keep us grounded. Waterloo and SBU fought for the right to face Toronto in the lower-bracket finals, and after an excellent back-and-forth series, Waterloo came out on top. It almost seems like SBU is suffering from some sort of 3rd-4th curse these past 3 seasons, as they’ve been unable to convert a great season performance into a better finals placement. 4th best team in the whole league is still fantastic, though I imagine they are unhappy with anything less than the championship.
The lower bracket finals between Toronto and Waterloo turned out to be another tight series between two Canadian teams. Toronto eventually came out on top 2-1, and their coordinator Julian “synphonics” Fong had a few things to say about their Ontario rivals: “Waterloo [is] a pretty strong team, [and] they were the toughest team we faced during the regular season as well.” When asked about his feelings concerning their series expectations, Fong added, “I think the games went pretty much as expected. We got some comfort picks that we wanted and were ready for some of their heroes that they picked.”
Toronto’s rematch with UIC means the team will have to prepare twice as hard to avoid getting devastated again, and Fong commented on the lessons learned from that unfortunate series: “UIC prepared well against us; their bans put us into an uncomfortable spot. We learned from that series that we need to flesh out our strategies even further in order to beat them.”
To avoid too much Canadian bias, I also asked Lederer his thoughts on his team’s performance this year, what lessons they’ve learned since last year, and how they planned to convert this season’s successes into a championship. He said, “This year feels quite different from last year for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that we’re competing online. I think the pressure of the main stage last season got to us, and we didn’t get a lot of opportunities to practice before the grand finals. We definitely learned a lot about preparation before the biggest matches of the season, and we’re confident we won’t make the same mistakes as last year.”
To close things out, I asked what additional preparations were involved--if any--when playing against a team they’ve already 2-0’d. Lederer responded, “Some of our favourite strats are not a secret to most teams, but we’re firm believers in not changing our style until our opponent proves they can beat it. Our Alch drafts are just one example of that. We’re always developing new strategies, so we feel ready for virtually anything Toronto can throw at us, and we always have something to fall back on. One thing is for sure though: we definitely respect Toronto and we are not slouching in our preparation.”
Grand Finals will take place May 30th at 4:00 PM PST on our Twitch channel. We hope to see you all there!