Image by PGL
Dark Horses are the most exciting part of every tournament. A team very few have high hopes for, but who have shown moments of brilliance and are guaranteed to upset at least one of the heavy favorites. Today we are going to look at the most exciting Dark Horses of the Arlington Major.
Truth be told, the team was supposed to be in our previous post, where we discussed tournament favorites. However, having a last-minute stand-in rarely works out in favor of the team. ana is a legend for a reason and he did have some recent high level experience in the Riyadh Masters tournament, but it’s not the same as having your full roster present.
The stand-in situation is not the only thing that makes RNG a Dark Horse, however. Their drafting style is also somewhat different from what we are used to. They rely on a very small pool of support heroes and can be very creative with their cores. For example, Somnus is among few mid players who still plays Lina at a very high level, while Ghost played 18 different heroes in the last season.
This is why we believe that the stand-in situation might result in a substantially lower performance. However, RNG is still the number one seed from the Chinese region and they are still a force to be reckoned with and a treat to watch.
The only SEA team that made it to Arlington Major unscathed. Two times SEA DPC winners and a very respectable contender for the champions title. BOOM Esports is a team that is slowly approaching the status of an ultimate Dark Horse: the one to take it all.
They certainly have the talent and the coordination to accomplish this feat. What we are worried about is the pressure of a large-scale international LAN event. This is not the first for the team, but last time, at ESL One Stockholm, we didn’t see the BOOM we were used to seeing during the DPC. They looked a lot more timid and perhaps more importantly, it didn’t look like they were having fun in their game.
Looking at the draft stats for the team in the last three months it is clear that they want to have fun playing Dota. They rarely go for late-game oriented, macro characters, instead relying on individual mechanical skill and immense midgame tempo with heroes like Kunkka, Razor and Death Prophet. This is a fun team to watch that will give even the strongest team a run for their money.
We hope we don’t need to remind anyone that the last major SA placed above both EEU and SEA and the current DPC leader is, in fact, an SA team, with a second team in the Top5. The region keeps being underrated by the general community, while showing an incredibly high level of Dota time and time again. Thunder Awaken specifically also has some of the most unique drafts of this DPC that might come as a surprise to everyone else.
Snapfire, Bane and Abaddon are their big supports of choice and while Bane is undeniably meta, the other two are pretty rare. Snapfire is particularly exciting to us as a very versatile support with a ridiculous amount of damage, who can transition or flex into a core. When paired with a generally more aggressive meta, tons of catch on other support heroes and a very tempo-oriented approach to carries by Thunder Awaken, what we get is an explosive mixture of pure fight.
Thunder Awaken is not a team that wants to rush your throne or choke you out in your base. It is a team that wants to fight with you time and time again. Sure, sometimes they will overextend and lose, but most of the time they will emerge victorious getting more and more battle experience in the process.