It was an upset when, in the group stages, Fnatic took a single game off of Secret. Secret being in the lower bracket is something no one predicted, especially not so early on and especially not to the recently reformed EHOME. Not only that, CDEC have won every game so far, Cloud9 have been knocked out early (though that I did see coming) and Empire, having lose to a very strong LGD 2-1, get knocked out by MVP.Phoenix, another dark horse of TI5.
I want to start off by saying the Secret getting knocked down to the lower bracket isn’t the end of the world. iG is their next opponent and, having seen the way iG are playing, it doesn’t look good for the TI2 winner’s run at a TI5 victory. Then they’ll probably go on to face Virtus.Pro of Complexity Gaming, which, again, Secret are highly likely to beat, so while no one expected EHOME to 2-0 Secret, it’s not exactly a big thing. It will be big if, like in Starladder Series 12, they get knocked out here in the second match of the main event. It’s not impossible, just not particularly likely.
However, moving onto Empire. I think most people expect either Virtus.Pro or Empire, or both, to get into the upper bracket, but to have 2 would have been greedy for the CIS scene, especially facing the Chinese giants and EG and Secret. However, the fact that Empire went from facing arguably the strongest team in China to being knocked out by MVP.Phoenix is entirely another factor. I think perhaps Empire were aggressive Io-Bristleback and Templar Assassin game 1, and then, trying to use the TA against them with a Tusk and Undying in the mix in their favour, they came up against a Phantom Lancer who just wouldn’t die. They had no way to deal with the masses of illusions being spammed out of the PL and ultimately fell to something that is very easily counterable.
Then, of course, we come to Cloud9, the people I had pegged to come 5th in TI5. They now have the grand claim that they came 9th-12th, losing VG who have found a little bit of form since the Group Stages. Yet again, it was Cloud9’s passive playstyle and inability to close games when ahead that hurt them. I was very critical of them in my analysis of their team, but I think what is most surprising, now, is the success of Chinese teams. EHOME, LGD and CDEC are now guaranteed top 6, and over $1 million, and with one of VG or MVP.Phoenix being guaranteed that also. I still think Secret will power through and reach the final 4, and EG will as well, I hope, but it is looking poor for other Western teams and, yet again, I have the question of VIRTUS PRO, WHY!??!??! They just lost the first game against Complexity, and when I say lost, I mean “threw.” I’ll grumble back to watch it now.