I’d like to briefly thank @mattys_gaming for creating a visualisation of all historical veto and win percentage information for each team attending the Major, from which much of the following information is sourced.
Owen “smooya” Butterfield was confident in his team’s ability to make top eight at this major, claiming previously his side would breeze through the first two stages winning six maps, and dropping two. The German side has had a more turbulent experience in the first stage; they find themselves at round five with a two win and two loss record, following close losses to Vega (16-19) and compLexity (12-16).
BIG’s final match in the main qualifier is Danish side OpTic, one of the stronger teams in the fifth stage. The teams have never played each other head to head, but I’ll take a look at how the veto will most likely pan out, and how the two teams face up on the expected maps.
With the best-of-three set to be vetoed on the traditional process, two bans, two picks, one ban, and one final pick in an A-B-A-B-A-A-B pattern. On a team’s map pick, the opposing team will decide the side they start on, with the team in the B position in the pick order choosing the starting side. The highest seed team, which by the Buchholz system is OpTic, will decide if they want to ban first or second.
With the current predictions we have, the first two bans will be Mirage and Cache, as they are BIG and OpTic’s respective perm bans. When we look into the past results of both teams, we can take a well-educated guess in what the picks will be.
Dust 2 is shown to be an extremely exploitable weakness for OpTic, falling into the hands of a BIG clan who are more than comfortable to play it. With the Danish lineup, OpTic have failed to win a Dust 2 match on LAN, the closest match being a 16-8 loss to NiP in the European minor.
In stark contrast, BIG would consistently first pick the map against top-tier competition throughout the ESL One Cologne play-offs, and had left it as their deciding map in all three series at ESL One Belo Horizonte. The team boasts wins against Liquid, Na`Vi, NTC, a 16-1 trouncing against G2, and a close overtime loss against FaZe on the map, all at LAN.
During the major qualifier, BIG have only banned the map once, against a Renegades side that had previously beat them 16-13 in Cologne. With the disparity in results between the team, it’s safe to say that Dust2 will be played, and most likely won by the Germans and Brit.
While I can’t be nearly as confident in guessing OpTic’s first pick, there are some good indications to what they would like to play.
In a normal series, OpTic would commonly favour picking Nuke or Inferno first, while OpTic may have reservations in picking Inferno, it seems to be a favorable matchup for them to pick. The main factor being that OpTic’s most commonly played map is inferno, at 20 recorded games since May 1st, second only to BIG’s ban Mirage at 15.
BIG made much of their name on Inferno, but that spark has been somewhat extinguished since adding smooya. It would be unfair to say they aren’t comfortable on the map, seeing four wins out of nine matches played since his addition, including a close loss to smooya’s countryman Rory “dephh” Jackson’s compLexity earlier in the Major. In the same time period, OpTic have seen eight wins out of twelve games played.
With a fresh demo to watch of BIG playing, as well as the historical advantage, OpTic should feel comfortable if they do decide to play with fire on Inferno.
Both teams seem comfortable enough on their own picks, and while BIG winning on OpTic’s pick is much more likely than the inverse, this series will most likely be extended to all three maps. I can’t say with much confidence on how the final stage of the veto will go, however BIG have a fair amount of liberty in what they chose to remove.
The remaining maps match up in BIG’s favour, with Train being the only map that favours OpTic by win percentage. BIG aren’t uncomfortable on that map, but with a broad map pool it will likely either be banned or not the final pick for them.
If this veto follows, Nuke and Overpass will be the remaining maps. Nuke would logically be a fine map for BIG to play under usual circumstances, even with the team only having played twice on the map with smooya, they were both 16-8 wins. It however won’t likely see play in this major system, due to the fact playing it would allow the opposing to choose a CT side start, giving them a large advantage. If this map is however picked as the final map, it will most likely be due to OpTic picking it, being comfortable after having a fresh demo of BIG playing the map, potentially granting BIG the CT side.
The most likely map to decide the series will be Overpass. The teams look similar judging by the statistics, with fairly even win percentages in the last three months. BIG look confident on the map however, with more maps played overall on the map, and having not banned it at any stage in the major so far.
The match is set to be close, with current betting odds reflecting this too. Overall, BIG’s map pool contrasts OpTic’s in a way that gives them the edge in the series however. I’m confident in saying that Dust 2 and either Overpass or Nuke will be played in the series, two maps in the best of three that look favourable to send smooya’s side on it’s way to a promised top eight finish.