A hot start translated into a big win for one of the newest teams taking over the Chinese Dota 2 scene. Sparking Arrow Gaming swept Vici Gaming 3-0 today to win BEYOND EPIC China.
Sparking Arrow Gaming has defeated amazing Vici Gaming in the Grand Finals to win BEYOND EPIC: China - Epic Esports Events, RuHub, and Beyond The Summit’s latest online tournament. The victory comes after their unexpected success in the group stages of this stacked China region event, which saw them fight off heavy hitters CDEC Gaming and Team Aster to secure an Upper Bracket spot.
The team is almost completely made up of newer players from the former Royal roster, with only two having played prior to the 2017 season. Among those two, only Ou “Op” Peng has any real tier-one experience, having played for Invictus Gaming during The International 2017.
The relatively new team got off to a hot start, going 4-1 in the group stage with proven talent like PSG.LGD, who they would later eliminate in the playoffs. Their only early loss was to CDEC Gaming, who took one game off of them during the Winner’s Match. As the top seed, SAG took on Vici in the first round due to the veteran team struggling against Royal Never Give Up in the group stage. It was a close series, but Vici came out on top thanks to a massive 13/1/15 performance from Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang’s Ember Spirit in game three.
Falling to the lower bracket, SAG immediately rallied in their elimination matchup against the formidable PSG.LGD. Although they’d avoided playing LGD, still one of the best teams in China, during the group stage, SAG quickly showed it was no fluke they’d made it this far. In a dominant display of prowess, they crushed LGD in just 25 minutes with their Terrorblade easily winning lane and their mid Viper stomping the opposing Dragon Knight into the ground. After scoring two kills in the middle early, the team could snowball their top lane advantage into a push for a victory. LGD regrouped for game two, taking away some of the more dangerous picks from SAG in bans, but even in this loss it didn’t feel like SAG was out of control. In their final and decisive win, they once again broke out the Terrorblade and bulldozed their way to the Lower Bracket Final.
There they faced a dejected Royal Never Give Up. Facing their former sister squad, they dominated in two decisive games. Here they also showed it wasn’t just Anti-Mage or Terrorblade that God-King Son HuaLian could carry on, having a pair of Phantom Lancer games that would make any one-position jealous. In a combined match time that only just exceeded their losing effort to Vici Gaming in the playoff opener, Sparking Arrow was in the finals.
Here, in their most impressive performance yet, the team swept VG in a pair of dominant games. VG had seemingly forgotten all the lessons they’d learned from the previous meeting, while SAG had fully adapted to their opponents’ delaying style. In their first game, they used some potent early harass from the Clockwerk, a support Ru “RedPanda” Zhihao has been exceptional on all tournament. On one of his clear comfort heroes, RedPanda was able to create opportunities for his carries, leading to a game one stomp. Game two would be even more dominant. A defeated and dejected VG barely looked able to muster a defense as White-logist’s Templar Assassin ran at them again and again. Even though SAG’s mid laner gave away two early deaths to his opponent, it was the gold he slowly gathered that started to add up. In the final 15 minutes of the game, during a sustained siege on the mid, TA was unstoppable, cleaning up VG on the way to SAG’s victory.
But the team’s elation was short-lived. As previously mentioned, the final had mistakenly been played in a best-of-three format, meaning there was one more game to be played. SAG and VG squared off one final time in a repeat matchup. Once again going back to picks which had proved foundational throughout the tournament, SAG picked up the Anti-Mage and Clockwerk support, and looked to shut out this final game. Vici were not prepared to go down without a fight though, and attempted to cut down on SAGs late game power with strong harass from Disruptor and Centaur Warrunner in the early lanes. But despite this attempt, SAG’s carries were once again able to snowball with another phenomenal performance from White-logist. Shutting down their opponent’s Dragon Knight, the mid lane became the focal point of SAG’s victory. The team once again sieged highground and finally secured their win after a hard-fought 40-minute game.
Sparking Arrow Gaming are an underdog team that has risen from Tier-two success to winning a major tournament in just a few months. The former Royal lineup stuck to their own style for the majority of the event, only adapting by speeding up their already frantic pace to defeat a constantly stalling team. It’s exciting to imagine where the ceiling for this new face at the top of the region will be, as from early results they seem more than equipped to hang with the very best in China. BEYOND EPIC: China was an incredible event, but if you’re starved of Dota 2 action already, have no fear, new events are coming soon.