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Dota 2 ESL One Kuala Lumpur 2023: Blacklist, Azure Ray, Falcons, and Tundra take the lead to open Group Stage

Team Falcons and Tundra Esports notably both had perfect 4-0 starts to top the standings in Group B.

Blacklist International, Azure Ray, Team Falcons, and Tundra Esports are leading the pack after the opening day of ESL One Kuala Lumpur 2023's Group Stage. Pictured: Blacklist International Abed, Azure Ray Lou, Team Falcons ATF, Tundra Esports Timado. (Photos: Shopify Rebellion, Azure Ray, Quest Esports, TSM, ESL)
Blacklist International, Azure Ray, Team Falcons, and Tundra Esports are leading the pack after the opening day of ESL One Kuala Lumpur 2023's Group Stage. Pictured: Blacklist International Abed, Azure Ray Lou, Team Falcons ATF, Tundra Esports Timado. (Photos: Shopify Rebellion, Azure Ray, Quest Esports, TSM, ESL)

ESL One Kuala Lumpur 2023, the last big Dota 2 tournament of the year, kicked off with its three-day Group Stage on Monday (11 December).

Even this early into the event, some teams are already proving themselves to be ahead of the competition. The Philippines' Blacklist International and China's Azure Ray are leading the pack in Group A while Team Falcons and Tundra Esports both had perfect starts to sit atop the standings of Group B.

Here's how all the action in day one of the ESL One Kuala Lumpur 2023 Group Stage went down:

Blacklist, Azure Ray tied for top spot in Group A

Many expected the likes of The International (TI) 2023 runners-up Gaimin Gladiators and Eastern European superteam BetBoom Team to be the two teams leading in Group A. Not only were these two squads coming off strong performances in TI 2023, they also boast roster continuity against the other teams in the group that were formed during the offseason.

However, Blacklist International and Azure Ray have defied expectations so far as they finished the opening day of the Group Stage tied for first place in Group A with 3-1 records apiece. Both Blacklist and Azure Ray swept their opening matches against South America's Wawitas Sagazes and Western Europe's Team Secret, respectively, before they themselves faced off and ended up with a 1-1 draw.

Gaimin Gladiators and BetBoom are tied for third place, having split their two matches of the day. The two teams kicked off the action in Group A with a 1-1 draw before they themselves were surprisingly forced to another 1-1 draw in their next matches against Secret and Wawitas Sagazes.

Meanwhile, Secret and Wawitas Sagazes are tied for fifth place with 1-3 records apiece and are in danger of elimination after the Group Stage.

It's likely that Blacklist, Azure Ray, Gaimin Gladiators, and BetBoom will be the four teams headed to the Playoffs from Group A, with the two spots in the upper bracket to be contested between the four of them.

Secret and Wawitas Sagazes are by no means out of the running this early on, but it's looking like an uphill battle for them already.

Falcons, Tundra lead Group B after perfect starts

While competition in Group A looked pretty close, Group B seems to be settled early with all matches ending in 2-0 sweeps and two teams having perfect 4-0 starts.

The star-studded Team Falcons have performed as expected, soundly sweeping China's LGD Gaming and Western European powerhouse Team Liquid to cement themselves as one of the biggest favourites to win the tournament.

Meanwhile, Tundra Esports' decision to sign the ex-TSM roster of Team Undying is already paying dividends as they also had a perfect 4-0 start with sweeps over Chinese superteam G2.iG and Eastern Europe's 9Pandas.

G2.iG and Liquid round out the Top 4 teams for Group B, as they are currently tied for third place with 2-2 records apiece.

Mixed results from Liquid are to be expected when considering they are playing with Jonáš "SabeRLight-" Volek as a stand-in for new offlaner Neta "33" Shapira. Liquid had a good start to the tournament with a sweep over 9Pandas before they themselves were swept by Falcons in their second match of the day.

On the other hand, G2.iG have no excuses for their surprising 0-2 loss against Tundra in their international debut. While they managed to bounce back later with a 2-0 win over LGD, G2.iG have their work cut out for them if they hope to live up to the expectations set for such a star-studded squad.

Finally, 9Pandas and LGD sit squarely at the bottom of the standings after going winless in day one. Unfortunately for the two squads, their abysmal start has most likely cost them both a spot in the Playoffs.

Barring a miraculous turnaround for the bottom two teams, Falcons, Tundra, Liquid, and G2.iG are very likely to advance to the Playoffs from Group B and will only be fighting for the two upper bracket spots.

Here are the results for all the matches in day one of the Group Stage:

Group A

  • Gaimin Gladiators 1-1 BetBoom Team

  • Azure Ray 2-0 Team Secret

  • Blacklist International 2-0 Wawitas Sagazes

  • Gaimin Gladiators 1-1 Team Secret

  • Azure Ray 1-1 Blacklist International

  • BetBoom Team 1-1 Wawitas Sagazes

Group B

  • Team Falcons 2-0 LGD Gaming

  • Team Liquid 2-0 9Pandas

  • G2.iG 0-2 Tundra Esports

  • G2.iG 2-0 LGD Gaming

  • Team Falcons 2-0 Team Liquid

  • Tundra Esports 2-0 9Pandas

Here are the standings after day one of the Group Stage:

Group A

  1. Azure Ray: 3-1

  2. Blacklist International: 3-1

  3. BetBoom Team: 2-2

  4. Gaimin Gladiators: 2-2

  5. Team Secret: 1-3

  6. Wawitas Sagazes: 1-3

Group B

  1. Team Falcons: 4-0

  2. Tundra Esports: 4-0

  3. G2.iG: 2-2

  4. Team Liquid: 2-2

  5. 9Pandas: 0-4

  6. LGD Gaming: 0-4


ESL One Kuala Lumpur will begin with a three-day Group Stage, taking place from 11 to 13 December, and will split the 12 participating teams into two groups of six teams each to compete in a single round-robin format.

The top six teams from the Group Stage will then proceed to the Playoffs, which will be hosted in the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre from 15 to 17 December. The Playoffs will follow a double-elimination format.

For everything you need to know about ESL One Kuala Lumpur 2023, check here.

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