With the end of the year 2017 also comes to a close the first chapter of the Dota Pro Circuit’s first season. In this article, we discuss the highest scoring teams coming into 2018 and how they have been performing so far in the early part of the season.
[Note: Just a reminder that only the points of the top three players for each team counts towards the team’s cumulative score.]
TOP 1: Team Secret
On top of the list is Team Secret, the superteam that Puppey have continuously led from its creation up to its current rendition now. The team had a lot of changes and crazy experiences over the past couple of years (including some pretty intense drama with its former players), which led to a couple of breakups, championship victories and dipping moments. However shaky the team’s history have been, their performance in this season so far shows just how true the old adage is: “What doesn’t kill you makes you grow stronger.” With Puppey on the helm, both in front and in behind the scenes, Team Secret has survived numerous incidents, roster shakeups and terrible losses.
The addition of Fata and Ace into the roster proved to be the secret formula behind Team Secret’s success. Going into the season fresh, Team Secret has gained the top spot by winning when it truly matters, by winning second place in ESL One Hamburg and winning first at DreamLeague Season 8, the two Majors of the season so far. With their most successful roster so far in the organization’s history, will Team Secret retain their momentum into 2018, and earn a Direct Invite to TI8?
TOP 2/3: Team Liquid
The TI7 champions have not been resting on their laurels. Finishing just right behind Team Secret, Team Liquid has been consistent in their performance so far into the season, always managing to secure a podium finish in all of the tournaments that they appeared in so far. The TI championship curse has been ineffective against the chemistry that this team has. Over the course of the season, Team Liquid has shown that their team hasn’t gotten over their heads, still preparing for each tournament carefully as if they were the underdogs. As team captain KuroKy once said, winning the TI once only sets yourself for a new goal: defending the championship successfully in the next one.
If things were to continue as they have been, there’s not doubt that Team Liquid will continue their dominance in the upcoming months towards TI. However, it’s still a long way to go until the next International comes around. The question isn’t whether or not Team Liquid can win tournaments consistently. With the intensity of play and passion that they give out for every match, the question really is: for how long can they keep this up? Will Team Liquid continue their success without burning out?
TOP 2/3: Virtus.pro
Virtus.pro started their pro circuit season with a bang by winning the first ever Major of the season. That alone had guaranteed VP a solid position in the rankings, but the team didn’t stop there. They went on to win a couple more points in the Minors, managing to accumulate just enough to match Team Liquid’s points. Just like Team Liquid, Virtus.pro hasn’t been resting since TI7, and the team continues to hustle on and proving to the world that they are world-class talents. They continue to dominate the CIS region, alongside their kind-of-older-brother Natus Vincere, trading wins with each other. The difference, however, is that VP has been able to convert their regional qualifier wins into actual QP in the tournaments.
Even with Solo sitting out the whole of December, the team still managed to win additional QP in both MDL Macau and Dota Summit 8. With their coach Artstyle, this team is on its way of meeting their full potential. A little more grind will surely make the team shine, and the rest of the 2017-2018 season will be used by Virtus.pro as training ground for TI8.
TOP 4: Newbee
The Chinese scene is a very volatile environment. Players get traded so frequently that it’s sometimes hard to keep track of where everyone else is at all times. Not to mention that there are far too many Chinese professional Dota2 players compared to any other region in the world. Which makes it quite impressive as to how Newbee has managed to stick together for as long as they have. It’s not surprising, though – as Newbee has been able to post consistent results all year round. Having one of the most stable rosters in the league have its perks – an ever-improving team chemistry and ability to concentrate on pursuing goals rather than on building foundations. With their performance, the team even came close to being the first ever two-time TI champions – just falling short in their finals series against Team Liquid at TI7.
But the new season hasn’t been stellar for Newbee. Don’t get me wrong – if you attach their current achievements to almost any other team in the league, it would have been stellar. But it’s Newbee that we’re talking about. Insurmountable expectations are there for the top team from what might be the most competitive region in the world. Newbee’s current points were earned from tournaments where they were directly invited in. But even with their numerous direct invites, Newbee wasn’t able to capitalize fully. Would Newbee finally be able to reassert their dominance in the upcoming new year?
TOP 5: Evil Geniuses
Evil Geniuses loves the players that leave them the most. After winning the aegis back in 2015, they released Aui_2000 in favor of their prodigal son, Arteezy, who has left earlier in the year with zai to form the first version of Team Secret. Shortly thereafter, Arteezy left with UNiVeRsE to rejoin Team Secret. After winning third in TI6, Fear retired for the first time and ppd moved on to an executive role in the organization. A month after, it was revealed that they have signed Cr1t- to be their new team captain, and, guess what, Arteezy returned again. At the start of the year 2017, the team had Arteezy, Suma1L, UNiVeRsE, zai and Cr1t- playing for the team. And it was a successful iteration of the team, winning the Manila Masters as well.
But come the new Dota 2 pro circuit season, and the roster was shaken up for who knows why. ppd and zai left the team to form their own team (which has so far been unsuccessful in garnering any QP), which forced Fear to come out of retirement to lead the team again. Their performance in the current season has been a mixed bag, but successful nonetheless. But their performance wasn’t good enough, apparently. They released UNiVeRsE to sign MISERY into the team, as their final act for the year. With MISERY’s arrival as the team’s new captain, will the team now perform better, or will Arteezy’s curse continue to haunt EG?
TOP 6: Mineski
With Mineski’s move towards a more globalized front, the organization’s professional Dota2 team has also moved on from its strictly-Filipino roster into a more diversified one. This move turned out to be the best move for Mineski, as they secure the top spot in the SEA region thus far. What less can you expect from a group of experienced, tried and tested icons of Southeast Asia?
For a time, this team of hardened veterans have held a strong grip on the SEA region. For most of the season so far, they have kept their closest rivals, TNC Pro Team and HappyFeet, from enjoying any success in the global scene, by serving as the new gatekeepers of the SEA region alongside Fnatic. Their discipline in-game has been a great counter to the region’s more aggressive gameplay. But despite their dominance in the SEA region, Mineski has yet to make a lasting impact in the international stage. Even worse, it looks like TNC and HappyFeet are starting to learn how to take on Mineski effectively. Would Mineski be able to retain their lead for the rest of the season?
TOP 7/8: OG
The team built around best buddies N0tail and Fly have a whole lot of accolades hanging on their belt. Starting from scratch, N0tail and Fly searched for formidable teammates that complemented their style of gameplay. Starting with Miracle-, Moonmeander and Cr1t-, the team posted great results. Before the new season, they have the distinction of having the most Valve major championships. After TI6, the team added TI champion s4, introduced the rookie ana and the threw in JerAx into the mix. Before TI7, OG added two more Majors into their trophy case, winning both in Boston and Kiev.
However, OG hasn’t been as dominant as they have once been in the new season. They have been absent in the first two Majors of the season, and it has been a slow start for the them in general. Things started to pick up for OG when they took in Resolut1on as their mid-laner back in September, appearing in their first Valve LAN event at Croatia. Before the year ended, OG managed to secure a Minor championship to show that they’re still alive and kicking. With Resolut1on in tow, will OG finally be able to reclaim their Major championships come 2018?
TOP 7/8: Vici Gaming
Vici Gaming has been one of the top teams of China, with their legacy coming all the way back from 2014 when they finished second against Newbee in The International. They fell just a little short the year later, finishing 4th in TI5. Although they missed the two most recent Internationals, Vici Gaming remained a relevant name in the Chinese scene, with their most recent achievement being finishing second in WCA 2016.
The team’s current lineup was built exactly for the new season. Fenrir, who has been the face of the organization for a long time, was called up from Team VGJ to once again be part of the main VG roster. LaNm has come out of retirement to play once again; eLeVeN has joined the team as a loaned sword; their rookie midplayer Ori is starting to show some flair; and Paparazi’“` continues to impress the world with his strong performance every single game that he is in. Vici Gaming is looking for a comeback in this new season, and as far as VG is concerned, they are on their way back to the top.
TOP 9: Natus Vincere
Natus Vincere has all the stuff that legends are made of, but many would argue that they may be overstaying their welcome. Although a lot of people would say that Na `Vi is way past their prime and Dendi should definitely retire, they remain as one of the most popular teams in the whole of esports. It’s surprising how Na `Vi has been able to tide the waves and stay positive despite their dismal performance in the recent years. Perhaps a lot of it could be attributed to Dendi’s virulent positivity, but whatever the organization’s source of motivation is, Na `Vi will be here to stay.
Just like VG, Na `Vi is also looking at a comeback season. They have managed to appear in four LAN events, and even nabbed a podium finish in one of the two majors. But we’ve seen this sort of comeback from Na ‘Vi before. They would look strong and dominating in the CIS region during the season before TI, but they would fall short when it comes to TI. They always appear strong right before the qualifiers for the International come around, and by the time they are fighting in the qualifiers, it would seem everyone else have already figured them out. For now, with the huge chip on their legendary shoulders, the aim should be to skip the qualifiers and get straight into TI by accumulating those points for the Direct Invite.
TOP 10: TNC Pro Team
It could be argued that TNC has been the face of Filipino esports in the recent times, returning esports back into the mainstream with their tremendous win in WESG 2016. When firing from all cylinders, TNC is a powerhouse, a scary opponent that will capitalize on their opponents’ mistakes and would never lose ground once they get the ball rolling. Their maximum potential is only limited by their consistency, where the team usually falls through deep slums before going back on the top demolishing everything in their path. Earlier in the year, the team found leadership in 1437. 1437 infused his experience and discipline into the team’s raw talent to bolster TNC and make their gameplay more refined, leading to even more success this year. Despite falling short in TI7, the team decided to stick together, and has never stopped improving ever since.
However, despite their victories, it hasn’t been an easy ride for TNC this season. In spite of the team’s strong chemistry and unshakeable faith towards each other, they struggle in getting through qualifiers as Mineski and Fnatic continue to guard the gates. They showed up in exactly one LAN event this season so far, but TNC made sure that they could win when it counts the most. Securing second place in MDL Macau has put TNC on the charts, but it would take more victories and more appearances in LAN events before they could secure a direct invite to TI8.
TOP 11/12: Fnatic
Fnatic have had a long history in Dota. They were once the home of N0taiL and Fly before they moved on to Team Secret. After posting poor results at TI4, the team disbanded. But shortly after, Fnatic rebuilt their Dota2 squad and moved their base of operations in Southeast Asia. Ever since, DJ and Ohaiyo have been the faces of Fnatic, and they continue doing so now with a brand new team featuring a mixed bag of international stars. Ahijt, QO and Febby were replaced by EternalEnvy, Xcalibur and Pieliedie during the post TI7 shuffle. And most recently abed has come in to play as the team’s midplayer, with Xcalibur moving in to the sub position.
Fnatic’s performance so far in the season has been a hit or miss. They secured four LAN events from the SEA Qualifiers, but managed only to win second in one Minor. It may be that the team is really strong on paper, but their transition to the SEA server has been problematic, especially with regards to their training regiment. They might be able to dominate the SEA region, but the lack of reliable pubs have made it agonizing for EternalEnvy to adapt against the rest of the world. With who could arguably be the best position 2 and 6 players in the world, how would Fnatic stack up in 2018?
TOP 11/12: LGD Gaming
Finally, we come down to LGD Gaming. What can be said of LGD is that the only consisting thing about them in the past three years has been Maybe. Although LGD have been around since TI2, and has always been a mainstay of TI ever since, none of LGD’s original members have sticked around to build a lasting legacy that teams like OG, EG and Na `Vi have. But despite that, the organization has been able to secure high caliber players that has brought the LGD Gaming success in varying degrees.
With Maybe still active in the team, LGD may have had the most rotations in their roster than anyone else in this list. Of course, the aim of LGD is not only to qualify for The International, but to have their names etched in the Aegis of Immortals. All of LGD’s changes in their roster have been made with this goal in mind. Although they started out strong with a second place finish in Bucharest, LGD subsequently fell into a slump, from which they haven’t recovered from yet. To end the year, the organization has decided that it’s time to let go of Victoria and Ame. To replace them are two rookies in the form of Sea Mew and Chalice. 2018 will be a great time to test the two’s mettle, and see if they are the change that LGD needs to achieve their ultimate goal.
Neutral has been playing video games since he was a little kid. He started being competitive when he and his brother would bet favors for each other depending on who wins at the PS2 game Naruto Shippuuden. Recently he has been playing Dota2 and Animal Crossing on his revived 3DS. It is his dream to be part of the formation of the eSports version of UAAP through UP Gaming Guild’s Impetus Intercollegiate Dota2 League.
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