Old legends and new challengers to clash in Croatia as Dota Pit Minor kicks off November schedule
The schedule for the Dota 2 season continues to fill up as another series of qualifiers comes to a close. The Dota 2 Pro Circuit will make its way to the coast of the Adriatic Sea in the near future, as the Dota Pit League Minor has joined the ranks of events to finalize their team lineups. Officially titled the “AMD SAPPHIRE Dota Pit League” Minor, the event will mark the second tournament of the season to come to the Balkan Peninsula(PGL Open Bucharest being the other) and takes its place as the first tournament on the schedule for the month of November.
The Dota Pit League has been a staple of the competitive year in Dota 2 for the past few years now, with the organizers having organized 5 previous seasons of the league. The tournament’s new status as an official Minor, combined with a name and branding change, afford it a new level of importance and popularity in the Dota 2 world. The event will return to Split, Croatia for the third straight year, with the Meridian Lav Hotel playing host to some of the world’s best Dota teams from November 2nd-5th. The Dota Pit Minor will adhere to the team count that we have seen most commonly this season, with 2 invited teams being joined by a qualifier winner from each of the 6 regions. Those 8 teams will play for a pool of $300,000 and 300 Qualifying Points, with exact details of the split for the prize money to be released in the near future. As per Valve’s official ruling, the Qualifying Points will be distributed in one of two ways: a split of 150(1st), 90(2nd), 45(3rd), and 15(4th) or a split of 150(1st), 90(2nd), 30(3rd & 4th) depending on whether the tournament format distinguishes between 3rd and 4th place.
It’s time now to take a look at our participating teams for this upcoming Minor in Croatia. While most of these teams will be at least somewhat familiar for those who have read any previous posts, there are also a few notable teams that have finally broken through to join the field of competitors. Disclaimer time: this post will contain some brief and shallow details for each of the competing teams. A more thorough breakdown of the teams to fight it out at the Dota Pit Minor will come around a week before the start of the event itself.
The Direct Invitees
Team Liquid(Europe) – Champions of The International 2017. Not much else would need to be said to qualify Team Liquid for a direct invite to the Dota Pit Minor. This event marks the 3rd tournament of the season that has sent a direct invite to the European powerhouse, and it’s a trend that doesn’t appear to be coming to an end anytime soon. The roster remains intact, and the lineup’s featured status in the latest episode of Valve’s “True Sight” series has somehow placed the team under the spotlight to an even further degree. The reigning TI champions come into this Minor as one of the biggest favorites to win, but the squad will also be playing with a target on its back, as a marquee win against such a prominent opponent could seriously bolster a team’s resume moving further into the season.
Newbee(China) – Falling into the category of statements that should come as a shock to absolutely no one is this: Newbee have been directly invited to another tournament. The TI runner-up joins Team Liquid as the other direct invitee for the Dota Pit Minor, making it the 4th event the team has been invited to so far out of a possible 5. We’ll certainly be seeing a lot of Newbee to start off the season, and with good reason. The team’s roster remains unchanged following the end of the offseason period and just like Team Liquid, Newbee’s featuring in “True Sight” elevated the squad’s prominence among Dota 2 fans worldwide. Barring a series of uncharacteristic mistakes in the team’s early appearances this season, Newbee should come into this event as one of the top teams in the world and a good bet to lay claim to a large share of the prize money and Qualifying Points.
The Qualifier Winners
OG(Europe) – OG came into TI7 at the top of the Dota 2 world, being a 4 time Major champion and the only team to win multiple Valve events(Majors & TIs). However, the team stumbled in Seattle, falling somewhat short of expectations with a 7th/8th place finish. Since then, things have not been much more straightforward for the European squad. The offseason saw the team lose its midlaner, as Anathan “ana” Pham announced a year long hiatus from competitive Dota. To fill the gap in the middle lane the team picked up Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok, a highly talented free agent left teamless after the dissolving of the Planet Odd roster in August. Resolut1on is a skilled player joining an already elite team, but there are very few teams that can simply plug in a new player and continue to produce results at the highest level without some form of drop off. OG have learned this the hard way, as the team’s qualifier season has gotten off to a shaky start. The team missed the mark in 3 straight European qualifiers, with the team reaching the grand finals of the StarLadder i-League Minor European Qualifiers before having the misfortune of running into the white hot Team Secret. OG caught a small break this time though as Secret withdrew from the qualifier, removing one of the greatest obstacles to any team trying to qualify in the region. OG now has the perfect opportunity to remind the Dota 2 world just how they won 4 Major Championships, but it’s a chance that OG has to take advantage of. With OG having not received any direct invites to date and Team Secret leaving the entire European region in its dust, the squad may not have as many opportunities as it would like moving forward.
Virtus.pro(Commonwealth of Independent States) – Going into TI7 Virtus.pro was hailed as the pride of the CIS region, as the squad had the prior several months establishing itself as one of the world’s best teams. The team certainly didn’t disappoint in Seattle, finishing with a respectable 5th/6th position overall. The team decided to keep its roster intact over the offseason period, confident that it could maintain its status at the top of the CIS hierarchy. The team has managed to hold that title for the most part so far this season, but the road has not been as easy as in the past. VP has qualified now for this Minor and the season’s first Major in Hamburg, but missed the mark for qualification for the PGL Open Bucharest Minor. Teams such as Team Empire and Na’Vi have begun the season looking like quality contenders in the CIS region, but this may have something to do with VP’s lack of participation in a couple of qualifiers so far. When VP has gone up against those regional rivals, it has more often than not come away the victors, and it downright dominant fashion at that. The truth of the matter is that while the CIS region may be on the rise, Virtus.pro still sit atop the throne, and the squad will be eager to prove that its domain extends beyond the reaches of its home region. A showdown in Croatia promises a prime opportunity to reassert VP’s skill on a global stage.
Immortals(North America) – We’ll be seeing the Korean North American squad again this season, as Immortals has qualified for its 2nd event of the year. The team finds itself a power player in a North American region with more than a few talented squads, as the region appears to have taken a step forward this season. The team has seen moderate levels of success so far this season, but it remains to be seen if the squad can replicate that success outside of the North American region. The region has seen a handful of team qualify for events so far, but it remains a two or three team race at the top of the hierarchy. The question that Immortals will need to answer is whether its success is a product of significant improvement as a team overall or a result of repeated exposure and adaptation to a small group of its rivals. The Dota Pit Minor will provide an excellent opportunity for Immortals to show that it is capable of showcasing its talents outside of North America.
SG e-sports(South America) – SG e-sports is on the rise in the South American region, as the squad has now qualified for its 3rd Minor and its 4th event in total. Despite changing out 4 of its players during the offseason, the new squad is not displaying some of the post-roster change hiccups that we’ve seen other teams suffer from. Part of this might be due to the fact that the South American region did not really have a clear leader coming into the region. With roster changes affecting just about every notable team in South America, the door was open for any squad that had the talent and could nail down its team’s style and identity. SG e-sports appears to have done that, and the result is a squad that stands at the top of the regional hierarchy. The challenge now for SG e-sports is now the one that every major South American team has faced in the past; breaking out of its home region and finding success on the global stage. The South American region is often overlooked or seen as less important by fans and competing teams, but SG e-sports will have the opportunity to play the underdog and shock the world if it can put together a strong performance in Croatia.
Vici Gaming(China) – Vici Gaming is well on its way to becoming one of the most prominent teams in the Chinese region, as the squad has now qualified for 3 Minors this season after a rough start in its first 2 qualifiers. After moving Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng from the coaching position into the active lineup and adding 3 new players to the roster, Vici has produced a series of strong results. The Chinese squad has been finding a consistent level of success in a region brimming with TI caliber teams and rising stars. This success has earned Vici Gaming a multitude of opportunities to display its talent on the big stage and make a name for itself outside of the Chinese region. A strong performance in Croatia could be the spark plug for a run that sees Vici Gaming at the top of this season’s Pro Circuit.
Mineski(Southeast Asia) – Mineski continues to dominate its home region, as the squad appears to be more than capable of consistently defeated its regional constituents. After replacing 3 of its members in the offseason, the new and improved Mineski roster has run roughshod over the rest of the Southeast Asian region. These impressive performances have netted Mineski spots at 4 Minors to begin the season, and the squad doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. With other SEA powers like Fnatic, Execration, and TNC Pro Team struggling to hit their stride or adjust to roster changes, the chances seem very high that we will continue to see Mineski at future events. The challenge for Mineski now will be converting all of these qualifier victories into Qualifying Points as the team moves from its local region to the global stage.