2018 section of Pro Circuit schedule coming into focus as Captain’s Draft Minor locks in teams.
The Dota 2 season is in full swing now and even as the year is coming to a close, fans can look forward to another batch of Pro Circuit events on the horizon in 2018. One of the first events on the schedule to begin the new year is the Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor. Scheduled to begin on January 4th and run through the 7th, the first Pro Circuit event of 2018 will bring 8 of the world’s best teams to the U.S. Capital in Washington, DC for a chance to compete for $300,000 and 300 Qualifying Points. Organized jointly by DotaCinema and Moonduck Studios, the event will test both the skill and the creativity of its participants as squads will have to adjust to the event’s eponymous Captain’s Draft game mode.
This event in January is not the first time fans will be seeing a Captain’s Draft tournament, as the “4.0” in this Minor’s title would suggest. While DotaCinema has put together other events in its “Captain’s Draft” series, this Minor marks the first time the tournament will shift away from its previous online only format. As a Pro Circuit Minor, Captain’s Draft 4.0 will feature a LAN final, alongside an increase in prize money and a Qualifying Points pool that affords the event with a significantly larger impact on the pro scene than in its previous iterations. The event will feature the Pro Circuit standard for a Minor in terms of prize pools with $300,000 and 300 Qualifying Points up for grabs, with the distribution as follows:
1st: $108,000(Total) and 150 Qualifying Points(per player)
2nd: $69,000(Total) and 90 Qualifying Points(per player)
3rd-4th: $37,500(per team) and 30 Qualifying Points(per player)
5th-8th: $12,000(per team)
With that information covered, it’s time to take a look at the teams that will be heading to Washington, DC come January. Most of these teams are ones that fans will be somewhat familiar with so far this season, but we’ll run through them all anyway and provide a brief summary of where they stand right now. Disclaimer time: this post will contain some brief and shallow details for each of the competing teams. A more thorough breakdown of the participating teams will come closer to the start of the event itself.
The Direct Invitees
Evil Geniuses(North America) – Evil Geniuses stand as the first directly invited team to this event, and while the North American squad has found some success so far this season, it is perhaps not as much as some might have expected from the traditional NA powerhouse. The team has made appearances at one Minor and one Major so far this season, coming away with 90 Qualifying Points that puts it on the board in terms of the Pro Circuit rankings, albeit in a tie for last place. EG seems to be just short of the level it would like on the international stage, and the rise of several strong rivals in the North American region presents yet another obstacle for a squad struggling to reclaim its former place as a leading team in the Dota 2 world.
EG’s last appearance on the Pro Circuit came at the ESL One Hamburg Major, where the team put together a somewhat unimpressive run that left its outside of the top 4. Since then though, EG has looked to be back on the right track, winning the North American Qualifier for the DreamLeague Season 8 Major in December. With the team appearing to be trending upwards, the Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor represents a significant opportunity to keep its momentum going and gain some much needed ground in the Pro Circuit Standings.
Team Secret(Europe) – Team Secret comes into the Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor as the second direct invite, and the European squad definitely has the record to back up that status so far this season. The team has attended 2 Minors and 1 Major so far this season, earning enough Qualifying Points(1440) to claim 2nd place overall in the Pro Circuit Standings. Team Secret has emerged as one of the most dominant teams in the European region, standing with TI7 champion Team Liquid as one of the strongest teams both in the region and in the world. The squad appears to be in top form, and it will prove to be a significant challenge for any team looking to make a statement at the Minor.
The last time we saw Team Secret on the big stage it was playing for a Major title in Hamburg. Though the team couldn’t walk away with the championship in Hamburg, its second place finish still helped Team Secret pull away from the pack in the Pro Circuit Standings. Since its run in Hamburg, Team Secret hasn’t been sitting idle, earning a spot in the DreamLeague Season 8 Major by placing in the top 4 of the combined EU/CIS Qualifier. Team Secret’s upcoming schedule promises to keep it busy, as the team will be participating in both the previously mentioned DreamLeague Major as well as the Perfect World Masters Minor beginning November 19th. With Team Secret playing at such a high level, it would take a catastrophic failure at either of these events to lower the lofty expectations for Team Secret at the Captain’s Draft Minor.
The Qualifier Winners
compLexity Gaming(North America) – With Evil Geniuses receiving a direct invite to this event, the door was opened for a second North American team to earn a spot at the Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor. CompLexity Gaming have only managed to earn a spot in one Pro Circuit event so far this season, but the team has managed to take advantage of that sole opportunity, earning a top 4 finish at the StarLadder Minor. That performance put compLexity Gaming on the board in the Pro Circuit Standings, putting it in a 3 way tie for 8th place with 90 Qualifying Points. CompLexity Gaming has been taking steps forward in the North American region, but the team now faces another significant challenge on the international stage.
Since the team’s appearance at the StarLadder i-League Minor, compLexity Gaming has been fighting to stake its claim as a leading team in North America. Aside from its performance in the regional qualifier for this Minor, compLexity finished 2nd in the North American Qualifier for the DreamLeague Season 8 Major. At the time of writing this post, compLexity Gaming is also participating in the qualifiers for the Dota Summit 8 and is scheduled to compete in the Perfect World Masters beginning November 19th. CompLexity Gaming’s schedule is filling up rapidly, but if the team maintains its current level of play, then the Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor could present a perfect opportunity for it to climb the ranks of the Pro Circuit Standings.
Midas Club Elite(South America) – The South American region has largely been a two team affair so far this season, with SG e-sports and Infamous claiming most of the region’s spots in Pro Circuit events. Midas Club Elite haven’t made an appearance on the Pro Circuit up until now, and it appears that the squad may not be making another anytime soon, at least not under this name. The roster that earned the spot in the Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor has been recently playing under the Pain Gaming organization, and that roster situation has not been entirely made clear as of yet. No matter what name this roster plays under, the South American squad will face a extremely difficult challenge in Washington, DC.
Under the Pain Gaming organization, this Midas Club Elite roster hasn’t been able to replicate the success that got it to the Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor. The team has fallen short in the regional qualifiers for both the MDL Macau and Dota Summit 8 Minors, leaving its trip to Washington, DC as the team’s only scheduled opportunity to earn Qualifying Points. It seems unlikely that Midas Club Elite makes a significant impact at this Minor, but if the team can put together a solid run as an underdog team, it stands a chance to earn a spot as South America’s first representative in the Pro Circuit Standings.
OG(Europe) – With Team Secret’s status as a direct invitee pulling it out of the regional qualifiers, an opportunity presented itself for another European team to make the jump onto the international stage. OG managed to take advantage of that opportunity and earn itself a spot at its 3rd Pro Circuit event of the season so far. OG’s season has not gotten off to as hot of a start as some might have been expecting. The European region has proven difficult to break out of for squads not name “Team Secret”, but OG may have finally found the chance it needs to make its mark on the Pro Circuit this season.
OG has participated in only a single Pro Circuit event so far this season, falling into the 5th-6th range at the DotaPit Minor at the beginning of November. The team’s somewhat disappointing finish in Croatia epitomizes what has been a relatively inconsistent run for OG to begin the season. At times, such as in the qualifier that earned the team its spot at this Minor, OG has looked every bit the talented and experienced squad that people expect to see. At other times OG has appeared to be a step or two behind its opponents, dropping matches against rival teams that appear to be favorable for it, at least on paper. OG appears to be heading into right direction now, with the team still alive for a spot at the DreamLeague Season 8 Major, in addition to winning a spot at the MDL Macau Minor and receiving a direct invite to the Dota Summit 8 Minor in December. Between all of these opportunities and the team’s participation in the Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor in January, OG holds its own fate in its hands as it works to join the ranks of teams to have earned Qualifying Points this season.
Team Empire(Commonwealth of Independent States) – Team Empire has recently undergone a roster shift, with the announcement that Vladimir “Chappie” Kuzmenko has been moved to an inactive position and replaced at carry with Airat “Silent” Gaziev. The move might be what Team Empire needs to push itself over that last metaphorical hill and into contention at a Pro Circuit event. Team Empire has yet to participate at a Pro Circuit LAN, though not for lack of trying as the team has fallen just short of qualification multiple times(including 4 2nd place finishes). With Silent in the lineup, Team Empire are hoping to convert those near misses into successes and turn around what has been a somewhat frustrating start to its season.
The CIS Qualifier for this Minor may have been the first that Team Empire has won, but it may not be the only success that it finds before the Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor actually begins in January. The team is just days away from participating in the CIS Qualifier for the Galaxy Battles II Major. The team appears to have some opportunities on the horizon, but it remains to be seen if this new iteration of Team Empire will be able to make the most of its chances and breakthrough onto the Pro Circuit.
Vici Gaming(China) – Vici Gaming has quickly emerged as a strong contender in a Chinese region that does not lack for talented and experienced squads. Even amidst the crowd of strong Chinese teams, Vici Gaming has managed to make a name for itself, participating in 2 Pro Circuit events so far this season and bringing home enough Qualifying Points(270) to hold the 6th place position in the standings. Vici Gaming has done what many up and coming Chinese squads often fail to do: translate success in the Chinese region into results on the international stage. With experience and proven results both at home and on the global stage, Vici Gaming is a leading team in the Pro Circuit Standings with opportunities to continue climbing.
Vici Gaming’s last performance at a Pro Circuit event was its 2nd place finish in Croatia at the Dota Pit Minor. Since that top 2 finish, Vici Gaming has continued to perform at the highest level in the Chinese region. The team placed in the top 4 in the Top Division of the Dota 2 Professional League in China, defeated Newbee twice as well as LGD.Forever Young to win its spot in this Captain’s Draft Minor, and are in the grand finals of the Chinese Qualifier for the Dota Summit 8. The combination of these success and opportunities with the team’s previous results this season have Vici Gaming coming into this event as one of the stronger teams in the field, and the Chinese squad will be ready to put its skills on display in Washington, DC.
Mineski(Southeast Asia) – So far this season, Mineski has had near uncontested control of the Southeast Asian region, winning qualifiers left and right and dominating its regional rivals. With other SEA teams beginning to improve and team’s like Fnatic making roster changes, Mineski’s run of domination may come to an end in the future, but for the time being the team still stands at the top of the hierarchy in the region. Mineski has attended 2 Pro Circuit LANs so far this season, claiming top 2 finishes in both events that has the team sitting in the 4th position in the standings as the SEA region’s sole representative.
Mineski is set to participate in this Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor, but the schedule between now and the event’s start in January is quite busy for the SEA squad. The team is currently playing in the grand final of the regional qualifier for the MDL Macau Minor, and is set to play in the qualifiers for both the DreamLeague Season 8 and Galaxy Battles II Majors in the coming days. Add onto this the team’s upcoming competition in the Perfect World Masters Minor beginning November 19th and you can see just how much Dota Mineski has lined up for itself. Regardless of the results of these other competitions, by the time January rolls around Mineski will still be one of the best teams in the world, and its trip to Washington, DC will present a prime opportunity for the SEA team to continue to build upon its strong start to the season.