The WePlay AniMajor, the second and final Major tournament of the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC), finally kicked off on Wednesday (2 June) with defending Major champions Invictus Gaming (IG) having a strong start in the closely-contested first day of the Wildcard Stage behind an excellent performance from star midlaner Zhou "Emo" Yi.
IG looked like they haven't lost a single step despite having their coach Su "super" Peng stand-in for position 5 support player Chan "Oli~" Chon Kien, who unfortunately missed the WePlay AniMajor due to a false positive COVID-19 test.
While the defending Major champions started their campaign in the WePlay AniMajor with a scrappy draw with Southeast Asian team Execration, they finished day one strong with a huge 2-0 win over Team Nigma. Emo set the tone for IG with a stellar performance on Ember Spirit in game one, finishing with 19 kills and 26 assists against just two deaths to lead his team to a 43-minute victory.
IG ended the first day of the Wildcard Stage atop the standings with a win and a draw. They will have to continue their strong start in day two — where they will be playing against Team Secret, Vici Gaming (VG), and AS Monaco Gambit — if they wish to qualify for the Group Stage and earn a second-straight Major championship.
Despite their loss to IG, Nigma still had a solid day one showing as they scored the only other 2-0 victory of the day over AS Monaco Gambit as well as a draw with VG.
Here's how all the matches for the first day of the Wildcard Stage went down:
Team Secret 1-1 AS Monaco Gambit
Team Nigma 1-1 Vici Gaming
Invictus Gaming 1-1 Execration
Team Nigma 2-0 AS Monaco Gambit
Team Secret 1-1 Vici Gaming
Execration 1-1 AS Monaco Gambit
Invictus Gaming 2-0 Team Nigma
Vici Gaming 1-1 Execration
Here are the standings for the Wildcard Stage after day one:
With six out of the eight matches in day one ending in 1-1 draws, it is still unclear which teams will survive the Wildcard Stage of the WePlay AniMajor.
Nigma, VG, Execration, and AS Monaco Gambit have already played three of their matches and will need to win at least one of their two remaining matchups in order to stay in the running for a spot in the Group Stage. Meanwhile, IG and Secret can't rest on their laurels as they still have three matches left to play.
At the end of the second day of the Wildcard Stage, the two teams with the best record will advance to the Group Stage to join the six teams that have been directly seeded to the Group Stage. Unfortunately, the four other Wildcard teams will be going home early.
The WePlay AniMajor will run until 13 June as the participating teams battle for their cut of the US$500,000 prize pool and 2,700 DPC point pool. For everything you need to know about the WePlay AniMajor, check here.
The WePlay AniMajor also serves as the final chance for teams to earn DPC points in order to secure a direct invite to The International 10 (TI10), which will be held in Stockholm, Sweden this August and features massive US$40 million prize pool.
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