Darth Vader's Blog: What happens in grou
The group stage of The International 2013 is finally over. Factoring in the victories of Na`Vi at the Alienware cup, it's hard to measure fairly the results in the groups as well as reasonably consider them to be a real indicator of how strong the favorites really are. With this said, let's try and take a detached look at the current situation and compare it with the one we had last year in the same spot.
It would be reasonable to start with the fact that the final standings in the group stage differ significantly from what we saw in 2012. Only two teams managed to perform as good as they were able to at The International 2012 - Orange and DK. On the other hand, LGD who demonstrated the best result (14:0) in the group stage in 2012 could barely find their way out to the upper bracket in the ongoing event. Dignitas guys are most likely damn jealous.
Because of great performance by Na`Vi, Alliance and fnatic, one might have gotten an impression that the Asian teams underperformed comparing to their results in 2012. It's only true if we consider the current results of the matches alone. Nevertheless, if we take a look at the actual number of the teams from Asia in the upper bracket then we won't see the difference from the last year. LGD, DK, IG, Orange will commence their Bo3 matches in the play-off just like they did in 2012. Zenith got replaced by TongFu who managed to finish 5th last year. The real difference is only in the small details. Let's add that in 2012 we saw only seven Asian teams participating in this tournament while this year we have eight.
It may sound pretty strange but Alliance chose to fight against an Asian team and not fnatic. Well, yeah, LGD looks like the most desirable opponent after the group stage (in theory). They haven't performed too well, made some questionable picks (like in the second game versus Natus Vincere), seemed very confused at times, and also they prefer to back off as soon as they see just a tiny sign of possible failure. By the same token, it's worth considering that even though Alliance lost some games against fnatic, LGD have a 3-0 score by maps against them. Some might say that their choice is dictated by the fact that the Swedes don't want to knock out another European team from the bracket but I think it's just a stone-cold calculation. Right now it's hard to say whether it's right or not though.
As for Natus Vincere, the team found themselves in a bit funny situation. According to the rules, they should pick an opponent from those who placed 3rd and 4th in the other group but that would be Orange, IG and TongFu who finished with the same statistics (8 wins, 6 losses). The additional round should have been played out but it hadn't. Na`Vi decided to avoid literally the beaten track and chose Orange instead IG or TongFu whom they happened to play, and most importantly - defeat, in the past (Alienware, International 2012).
The group stage wasn't designed for some to be a hero. In fact, it was designed to separate the wheat from the chaff. The bonus opportunity to choose an opponent which Na`Vi and Alliance have for the first round of the play-off isn't really that valuable as the upcoming matches are going to be very different from what we've already witnessed here because what happens in groups, stays in groups.