First quarter 2017
2017 started well for Team Empire, but they’re yet to shed the title of Virtus.pro’s understudy. VP remains the gatekeeper of the CIS. TE had a couple of early slip-ups in January. The first was Royal Arena #2, a tournament of lesser significance than most. The second was the SLi Season 3 European Qualifier, which was a big deal. Empire’s last place finish forced them to miss out on a $300,000 prize pool.
However, that didn’t keep Empire from flipping the switch in February when DAC 2017 was on the line. Virtus.pro, favorites to win the qualifier, went 0-4 and missed the playoffs altogether. Effect won group A and went undefeated, but Empire beat Effect twice to reach China in April.
Empire lost that form in March; a 3rd Place finish at the Kiev Major CIS Qualifier put Empire behind Natus Vincere and (winners) Virtus.pro. A dead last finish at the Kiev Major would have been Team Empire’s greatest prize earning of the year thus far.
Q2,2017 – Two meetings prove TE is Virtus.pro’s understudy
Team Empire’s second quarter began in China at the Dota 2 Asia Championship 2017. TE finished ahead of many teams that viewers suspected they wouldn’t. Their 5-6th Place tie with Evil Geniuses earned Empire $37,000. Team Liquid, Wings Gaming, Team NP, LGD.ForeverYoung, Team Faceless, and Team VGJ all had shorter runs at the Dota 2 Asia Championship than Team Empire. This was a great start to Q2.
The form shown at DAC 2017 carried over to Empire’s next tournament, DreamLeague Season 7 EU Closed Qualifier. Though, an 8-6 record at the DreamLeague Season 7 EU Division wasn’t enough to reach the $175,000 prize pool available at the Main Tournament in late July.
Come May 2017, Empire faced Virtus.pro twice in the finals of major regional tournaments (Mr. Cat Invitational Europe and the Russian e-Sports Cup 2017). These two losses earned Empire a total of $25,000. They obviously weren’t favored in either of these matchups, because Virtus.pro is the CIS leader; though, on the bright side, Team Empire capitalized on the Lootbet Invitational and reached the DOTA Summit 7. Empire placed dead last at Summit 7 and earned $2,500.
Do you see Team Empire as Virtus.pro’s understudy? Let me know on Twitter what you think of the mini-rivalry they’ve got going in 2017.