Just two teams from the Mumbai have managed to stay on the ESL One circuit as it heads back to Birmingham for some spicy memes and perhaps some cheeky Nando’s. These are Keen Gaming (the Mumbai winners) and TNC, the latter having an uneventful groupstage before getting eliminated just as they started heating up.
Both of these teams had to qualify, along with Forward Gaming (who trumped over Complexity in a 5 game thriller); and Alliance - winners of the 8-team EU/CIS joined qualifiers.
Joining the qualifying teams are 8 invited teams: Secret, EG, Liquid, OG, LGD, NiP, Gambit & Vici. The field represents all 5 of the top 5 teams by Glicko 2, 8 of the top 10 (Virtus Pro bizarrely pulled out to play in another event, Fnatic didn’t even play in the qualifiers). Alliance is the only team out of the top 16 - they are 17th in the world.
The favourites are clear: Secret, LGD, Liquid and Vici represented 70% of the winning teams of a 1 million iteration Monte Carlo simulation. Add in EG, OG and NiP and you’re closer on 95%. Most of this just hinges on Team Secret - currently the best team in the world, and statistically the most powerful team ever. To win ESL One Birmingham you very likely need to beat Team Secret and there’s only a few teams that can do that. Over their last 100 games they've gone 78-22. The only team they've lost the equivalent of a series against in that time is LGD (at MegaFon and Chongqing), VP (at MegaFon and Chongqing - but they aren't at ESL One), NiP (DreamLeague S11 EU Qualifiers ) & Vici (DreamLeague S11 main event). In the time since these losses Team Secret has snowballed out of control.
If there one big elephant in the room, it’s the new patch - 7.22, which launched just days ago. Although the brains-trust of Sunbhie, Puppey, and the rest of Secret are adept at dealing with changes it’s obviously a time of turmoil, experimentation and high variance.
Overall I think that we’re going to see two of the top 4 (Secret, LGD, Liquid, Vici) in the finals. I’m going to stick with a LGD/Secret finals prediction, a series that goes to the wire.