The next Dota 2 Major begins on Thursday and runs through to 7 April. The Dota Asia Championships 2018, taking place in Shanghai, has attracted some of the game’s best talent, undoubtedly enticed by a $1,000,000 prize pool, not to mention the all-important 1,500 Pro Circuit Points on offer.
With 16 teams in attendance, this tournament is one of the larger ones. Six teams have been invited, with the other ten having earned their places via regional qualifiers.
The tournament will begin with a Group Stage consisting of two groups of eight teams. Within these groups, each team will face each other in a best-of-one Round Robin format. The top two teams from each group will qualify directly for the Main Event Playoffs, whilst the bottom two will be eliminated. The remaining four from each group will advance to the opening stage of the Main Event, called the Breakout. This is a best-of-three single-elimination match with the winners going through to the Playoffs and the losers going home.
With eight teams remaining, the Playoffs will be a standard double-elimination format. All matches are to be best-of-three, except the first two stages of the Losers’ Bracket, which are best-of-one, and the best-of-five Grand Finals.
Two of the invited teams will particularly want to win here – Team Secret and Team Liquid. These squads are the closest to qualifying for this year’s International and both are strong contenders to win this event.
Team Secret enjoyed a crushing victory earlier this month at DreamLeague Season 9 with an absolutely staggering performance – winning the event without sustaining a single defeat. They showed some remarkable tactics, with Ace opting for a seldom-seen long-ranged fighting Lone Druid build. Their signature support heroes – YapzOr’s Rubrick and Puppey’s Chen – forced their enemies to counter-pick heavily. If they can get themselves into similar positions here, they promise to be strong contenders for the trophy.
Team Liquid, on the other hand, seem to be flagging a bit. Despite some great successes earlier in the year, the team’s position on top of the leaderboard has been slipping, resulting in Russian team Virtus.pro overtaking them in Pro Circuit Points and being the first to qualify for The International. After Katowice, Bucharest and DreamLeague, the TI7 champions seem to be getting outclassed, although they still managed 3rd place finishes in all of them. One reason for this may be related to the absence of star player Miracle-. He is set to return for DAC so it will be interesting to see if Liquid’s form picks up.
Virtus.pro, too, have been invited. After annihilating the competition at the Bucharest Major, this group – like Team Secret – is on the rise again. With the Russian team tearing through OpTic Gaming, VGJ.Thunder and Team Liquid in the Romanian capital, they’ve shown they have what it takes to beat the TI7 champions and more. If they can continue that momentum in Shanghai, they’ll be hard to stop, but having already guaranteed their place at TI8, it will be interesting to see whether their intensity will falter.
Vici Gaming have also received an invite and the Chinese outfit will be targeting winning the competition. Although a formidable prospect, they haven’t won any significant events so far this year, placing 2nd at best at ESL One Katowice. Defeated time and again by Virtus.pro, VGJ.Thunder and especially Newbee, this team have their work cut out if they hope to win here.
Vici’s recent nemesis Newbee will also be attending. Another invited team from China, they have had some mixed results so far this year. An early victory at ESL One Genting showed good promise, but their performances have been slowly slipping since. After suffering an upset at DreamLeague S9, having been defeated by Fnatic in the semi-finals, Newbee will have to up their game if they want to claim the crown in Shanghai.
The last team to be invited, Invictus Gaming, are in a similar boat to many of the other teams in attendance. Although a formidable and highly-skilled outfit, this Chinese group simply seems unable to match up to the biggest players on the scene. Without any real recent victories to brag about, Invictus have struggled to place highly in Chinese events, let alone international tournaments.
The non-invited teams include Mineski and TNC Pro Team, both having progressed through the SEA Qualifiers. VGJ.Thunder, LGD Gaming and Keen Gaming all earned a spot via the China Qualifiers, whilst Evil Geniuses and OpTic Gaming make their way over from North America. OG earned the European spot, whilst paiN Gaming have worked their way from South America and Effect from the CIS region.
Of all these qualifying teams, a few are worth keeping an eye on. VGJ.Thunder are on the up after two 2nd place finishes at the Bucharest Major and GESC. Although they were defeated by two teams competing in this very tournament (Virtus.pro and Evil Geniuses respectively), their recent improvement and impressive game control makes them potential dark horses.
Evil Geniuses, too, are a cut above. Although they only managed their first win earlier this month at GESC: Indonesia, the team are extremely experienced, with TI5 winners SumaiL and Fear in their roster. They may have declined slightly since then, but they are still a tough proposition and could spring a few surprises.
LGD, too, have a legacy of success and could do well if they put a run together. Having finished 4th at TI7, this Chinese group were considered to be one of the world’s top sides until very recently. Their most recent performances have been lacklustre, but even so, they have the potential to send a few teams home.
This tournament heralds the beginning of the second half of the Dota 2 season and the race to qualify for TI8 is only getting more intense. With only one team having qualified so far and 1,500 points on the line here, winning this tournament will go a huge way towards securing a place at the biggest competition in Dota.