Virtus.Pro claim first Major title, Team Secret, Team Liquid, Newbee round out top 4 in Hamburg.
The season’s first Major has come to an end, and Virtus.Pro came away with the title at ESL One Hamburg. With this event completed, the standings in the Dota 2 Pro Circuit have shifted, as significant Qualifying Points were earned by the top 4 teams in Hamburg. WIth the landscape of the Dota 2 world beginning to change as the season progresses, we’ll take a look at the 8 teams that participated at the Major now that the games have come to an end. All of these teams came into this event with varying levels of expectations, and the time has come to see which teams met or exceeded those expectations, and which teams fell short.
Winnings: $90,000(Total) and 150 Qualifying Points(per player)
After its victory at the season’s first Minor, expectations were understandably high for the TI7 champion. The team was expected to fall within the top 4 at Hamburg, and anything short of that result would have been viewed as a significant disappointment for a team considered to be one of the strongest in the world. Team Liquid looked a bit more vulnerable at this event, no longer the unstoppable juggernaut that had rampaged itself through the previous StarLadder i-League Minor. With series losses against both Virtus.Pro and Team Secret, it appears that Team Liquid’s top competitors may be figuring out how to get to the European powerhouse. Even with those losses, the team’s top 4 finish at the Major earns it enough Qualifying Points to remain near the top of the standings on the Pro Circuit. Team Liquid will have a nearly immediate opportunity to show that the team remains in top form, as the European squad will be participating in the DotaPit Minor beginning November 2nd.
Winnings: $90,000(Total) and 150 Qualifying Points(per player)
Newbee came into this event with quite a few questions and doubts after a surprisingly poor performance at its first LAN event of the season in Kiev. After falling out of that first Minor without winning a single game, the TI7 runner-up looked uncharacteristically weak to begin the season. Solid performances in its home region, particularly in the Chinese exclusive Dota 2 Professional League(DPL), showed that the team hadn’t dropped off in terms of its skill and talent. The question as the team made its way to Hamburg was whether the Chinese squad could produce results against international opponents. With its poor performance fresh in the mind, expectations were lower for the Chinese squad, as it seemed that other teams in the field were better positioned to claim those coveted top 4 spots. Newbee defied those expectations though and fought its way into a top 4 finish in Hamburg. With that solid performance on its record, Newbee have taken the first steps towards reestablishing itself at the top of the Dota 2 world, and erasing the memory of that dreadful performance at the season’s first Minor. The next step may come within the next few days for Newbee, as the Chinese team will be joining Team Liquid as a participant in the DotaPit Minor.
Winnings: $200,000(Total) and 450 Qualifying Points(per player)
Team Secret began the season as one of the hottest teams on the Dota 2 Pro Circuit, as the squad dominated the early qualifiers within its home region of Europe. With so many victories over regional rivals, Team Secret looked to be in a favorable position as the season’s LAN events began. After a top 4 finish at the StarLadder i-League Minor, those initial impressions of Team Secret appeared to be accurate, as the team showed that it was capable of translating its regional success into results on the international stage. A 5th-6th place finish at the PGL Open Bucharest was an unfortunate lost opportunity for the team, but it did little to diminish Team Secret’s position heading into this first Major. The team was projected to be a favorite for a top 4 finish, and the European squad followed through on that projection with an impressive performance that included wins over Evil Geniuses, Newbee, and Team Liquid. The team’s 2nd place finish puts it just below top ranked Virtus.Pro in the standings on the Pro Circuit, setting the squad up as one of the leading teams as the season moves out of its opening month. Team Secret have a few days before it sees action again, as the team is scheduled to resume play in the combined EU/CIS qualifier on November 7th for the DreamLeague Season 8 Major.
Winnings: $500,000(Total) and 750 Qualifying Points(per player)
Virtus.Pro had started out the season surprisingly quite for a team widely considered to be among the best in the world. The team had not been directly invited to any Pro Circuit events, and had participated in just a select few qualifiers. The team’s performance in its home region was encouraging, but this Major would be a significant test on the big stage against some of the best teams in the world. VP’s performance and pedigree made it a heavy favorite for a top 4 position in Hamburg, but the team managed to blow even those lofty expectations out of the water by winning the whole event, knocking off Team Liquid, Newbee, and Team Secret along the way. Those wins against top level competition makes VP’s victory all the more impressive, as the team had often fallen short against those same opponents at international events. The win in Hamburg helps to reestablish Virtus.Pro as one of the strongest teams in the world, as well as the highest ranked team on the Pro Circuit. VP now has a chance to build upon this landmark victory, as the CIS squad will be another of the participant in the upcoming DotaPit Minor.
Keen Gaming was one of the more interesting stories at the season’s first Major, as the Chinese squad managed to make runs through both the Open and Regional Qualifiers to earn a spot in Hamburg. Outside of those impressive accomplishments, Keen Gaming didn’t have too many successes on record, which made it hard to get a feel for how the team might perform on the big stage. Even with the wins in the open and regional qualifiers to help it, there wasn’t much in the way of expectations for Keen Gaming as it came into the Major as a relatively unknown squad. The team’s lack of successes in the Chinese region and little experience at intentional LAN events resulted in a projection at the bottom of the standings. However, Keen Gaming showed that it could produce solid results when it counted, coming up with a big 2-1 over South American squad SG e-sports to finish in the 5th-6th place position in Hamburg. That result may not seem so impressive compared to the prestige of the top 4 teams, but the difference between 5th-6th and last place is huge for a squad that very few people had even heard of before this event began. Keen Gaming’s participation at this Major may have been a rare opportunity for the Chinese squad, as the team has not yet qualified for any other events this season. However, the team’s performance in Hamburg showed that it does not lack for talent and potential, and Keen Gaming should remain a team on Dota fans’ radar in the future in a crowded Chinese region.
There are many ways in which I could describe Fnatic’s deficiencies so far this season, most of which would include excessive amounts of expletives and loud noises. However, that wouldn’t look very good in a blog post, so I’ll endeavor to convey this sentiment as politely as possible: Fnatic is currently an awful Dota team. The team has failed to find success in the Southeast Asian region, and managed to make it to this Major only because the teams that finished in front of it in the regional qualifier were unable to attend the event. Optimistic fans and analysts hoped that this opportunity to play on the big stage might be the catalyst for Fnatic to begin competing on a level that matched its talented roster, but that wasn’t meant to be. The team failed to win a game at the Major, falling in the 7th-8th position for a last place finish. The poor showing was pretty much what most people expected from the SEA squad, especially in such a strong field of teams, but it still hurts to see a talented team and a veteran organization struggle to this degree. Fnatic will get another chance at redemption thanks to another stroke of fortune in the form of Mineski withdrawing itself from the DotaPit Minor. With Mineski no longer participating, its slot as the SEA representative falls into Fnatic’s hands, as the team will have another opportunity to turn its abhorrent start around.
Evil Geniuses had begun the season in relatively positive fashion, as the North American squad claimed a top 4 finish at its first Minor in Bucharest. While it wasn’t apparent if the team had gotten back into the form that had made it one of the world’s best teams, hopes were high as EG made its way to Hamburg for the first Major of the season. EG came in the ESL One Hamburg Major as a potential top 4 team, but the NA squad fell just short of those expectations when it was all said and done, finishing in the 5th-6th spot. Missing out on a top 4 spot must have been somewhat disappointing for EG, especially considering just how close the team was to making the cut. The team ended up in the 5th-6th position only after a long and hard fought series in the final match up of Group A against Newbee that could have easily gone either way. Though the team seemed to have trouble closing out its matches in Hamburg, the performances from its players should still have fans and analysts relatively optimistic about Evil Geniuses as the season progresses. Evil Geniuses gets some time to relax and refocus following its performance in Hamburg, as team’s next scheduled event will come on November 11 in the North American Qualifier for the DreamLeague Season 8 Major.
South American squad SG e-sports had opened the season with a series of impressive performances within its home region. Those performances had afforded the Brazilian team with opportunities to compete on the international stage, but SG e-sports had not been able to translate those opportunities into successes. After a 5th-6th place finish at the StarLadder i-League Minor, it seemed that team had the potential to compete on the big stage, but needed the experience to realize that potential. With that in mind, the expectations were modest for SG e-sports coming into the season’s first Major, as the team was projected to most likely fall within the 5th-6th range. The South American team wasn’t quite able to match that projection, as it lost its series against both Team Liquid and Keen Gaming to finish in the 7th-8th position in Hamburg. The group that SG e-sports was put in didn’t do it any favors, as it had to face Team Liquid and would have had to get through Virtus.Pro in order to make it out of the group stage. The last place finish is unfortunate for SG e-sports, but its strong position within the South American region should give the team ample opportunities to continue competing on the international stage. One such opportunity to right on the horizon for SG e-sports, as it will be yet another of the Major teams to be participating in the DotaPit Minor.