After a tense final series of Dota 2 that went to a fifth match tiebreaker, Tundra Esports won the ESL One Fall 2021.
The tournament was subtitled 'Bootcamp Edition' because it was the first tier-1 event to start right after Valve dropped their latest Dota 2 patch. This would generally suggest that the tournament meta was yet to form, but that is partially true. Nothing has changed in 7.30 to take the focus away from neutral stacking. That being said, the hero changes were substantial enough that a reassessment of hero strengths was in order.
This is exactly where Tundra Esports proves their mettle. As the balance of Dota 2 gets more nuanced with each major patch, Tundra Esports exemplifies the kind of team that can push even such an impossibly complex game to its limits.
Tundra Esports' approach to Dota 2: Can they become the next OG?
Innovation is nothing new in the professional Dota 2 bootcamps. To get a strategic edge after a patch meta has run its course, every team needs to reinvent the wheel to some extent if they want to have a shot at TI or even at the Majors.
But generally, the meta has evolved enough before TI that nearly no strategic stones are left unturned. That's why the vast majority of games at that point boil down to who gets the better opening at the drafting stage and whether the bans cover the requirements for a certain draft to work.
Yet, within a 7.29 meta that had gone stale after almost half a year, Tundra Esports had managed to develop relatively unexplored, innovative, and functional solutions in the TI qualifiers for the final European slot. Tundra remained undefeated all the way up to the grand finals and eventually lost to OG, the defending back-to-back TI winners.
Nevertheless, the glint that we had seen in Neta "33" Shapira's Helm of The Dominator rush on Tidehunter, or Leon "Nine" Kirilin's downright menacing mid-Winter Wyvern was no fluke. Tundra Esports shows sparks of the one quality that arguably makes OG what it is - finding the cracks within the meta circle. After losing the TI slot, some believed that Adrian "Fata" Trinks' stack knows how to exploit gimmicks and oversights left in the patch.
But even if cheese picks are part of their arsenal, Tundra Esports has since gifted their fans with some of the smartest Dota 2 in recent history. Their absence from TI does not mean they are any less deserving of their tier-1 presence and that they can defeat PSG.LGD in a finals series is proof enough.
PSG.LGD may have got their revenge in the upper bracket finals of OGA Dota 2 PIT Invitational, but with their Keeper of The Light mid and Night Stalker hard support, Fata and his friends continue to think outside the box. Above all, Tundra Esports' playstyle is a testament to how flexible Dota 2 can be.
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This article reflects the opinions of the writer.