Dota 2 Major Team Preview: DreamLeague Season 8

Pro Circuit comes to Sweden as DreamLeague Major kicks off December Dota action.

November has come and gone, and the Dota 2 world is preparing itself for an action packed December as the Pro Circuit is set to deliver a busy schedule of events to finish off the year. The second Major of the season will draw the eyes of Dota fans around the world to Jönköping, Sweden for the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals, as eight of the world’s premier teams fight for chance at the title of Major Champion and an opportunity to shake up the Pro Circuit standings. Beginning on December 1 and running through the 3rd, the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals will be the Pro Circuit’s first visit to Sweden and the first Pro Circuit event run by legendary organizer DreamHack. Fans will be seeing several familiar faces at the Major, as the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals will be the first Pro Circuit event without a single debuting team, as the previous five events to begin the season have all had at least one newcomer in the field of participants. With five of the eight participating teams at the Major already holding Qualifying Points at this point in the season, the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals has the potential to catapult a victorious team to the top of the standings, or widen the leads of the Pro Circuit’s current leading squads. At stake in Jönköping is a prize pool of $1,000,000 as well as 1500 Qualifying Points, and we can take a look at how the money and points will be distributed among the participating teams.

1st: $500,000(Total) and 750 Qualifying Points(per player)

2nd: $200,000(Total) and 450 Qualifying Points(per player)

3rd: $100,000(Total) and 225 Qualifying Points(per player)

4th: $70,000(Total) and 75 Qualifying Points(per player)

5th-6th: $45,000(per team)

7th-8th: $20,000(per team)

While the season’s second Major will feature the same pools of money and Qualifying Points as the previous Major at ESL One Hamburg, the format of the tournament has a few significant changes to the format. First and foremost, the Major features no direct invites, instead awarding four spots to the combined Europe and CIS Qualifier, and one spot to each of the other regions(China, Southeast Asia, North America, and South America). The DreamLeague Season 8 Finals will also forgo a Group Stage, placing the eight participating teams directly into a double elimination playoff bracket. All of the series in the playoff stage will be played in a best-of-three format up until the Grand Finals itself, which will feature a best-of-five series. With the Major’s prize pool and format both outlined, we can now focus on the eight participating teams themselves and where they stand heading into the Major.

  • Please note that the “projected finishes” for each team are my own predictions and do not constitute any official or objective ranking based upon specific statistics or data.


Team Secret Secret_logo

Region: Europe

Qualification: Europe & CIS Qualifier Top 4

Pro Circuit Rank: 2nd(1440 Points)

Roster: 1. Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard   2. Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng   3. Adrian “Fata” Trinks   4. Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat   5. Clement “Puppey” Ivanov(Captain)

Projected Finish: Top 4

The Dota 2 season rolls into another month, and Team Secret continues to perform at the insanely high level that fans have come to expect from one of the Pro Circuit’s leading teams. The European powerhouse will be attending its fifth Pro Circuit event of the season, having appeared at every event so far besides the Dota Pit Minor. The team’s previous four campaigns at Pro Circuit LANs have earned the European squad a total of 1440 Qualifying Points, second only to in the Pro Circuit standings. With the team excelling both within the European region and in international play, Team Secret will be looking to dethrone VP and establish itself as top dog in the standings with a victory in Jönköping.

Team Secret’s last Pro Circuit performance came just days ago at the Perfect World Masters in Shanghai, China, where the team came away with a 5th-6th place finish. Falling out of the top 4 at an event is a somewhat unexpected occurrence for Team Secret this season, but the team was playing under some rare circumstance at the Minor. The team’s midlaner, Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng, was unable to attend this event and the European squad was forced to bring in a substitute player; Chinese player Chen “Cty” Tianyu. Within the context of performing with a substitute player, Team Secret’s 5th-6th finish at the Perfect World Masters appears to be more of an outlier for a team that has epitomized consistency so far this season. Given the team’s success in both the European region and on the international stage when playing with its full roster, Team Secret enters the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals as one of the stronger squads in the field.

With MidOne presumably back into the lineup for the Major, Team secret stand as a strong contender for a top 4 spot at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals. The European squad has earned its place as one of the Dota 2 world’s most powerful teams, and there are few teams left that would be considered favorites in a match up against Team Secret. With the field of participants in Jönköping containing so many talented and proven teams, it’s certainly possible for Team Secret to lose a series. However, for Team Secret to drop out of the top 4 at the Major would require the team to lose multiple series at this event, which is an occurrence that appears remarkably unlikely at this point in the season. Should Team Secret put together another top 4 run in Sweden, it stand to strengthen what is already one of the most favorable position on the Pro Circuit. The European squad’s latest campaign will begin with a match up against North American squad Evil Geniuses on Day 1 of the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals.


Natus Vincere 668px-Natus_Vincere

Region: Commonwealth of Independent States(CIS)

Qualification: Europe & CIS Qualifier Top 4

Pro Circuit Rank: T-12th(0 Points)

Roster: 1. Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek   2. Danil “Dendi” Ishutin   3. Victor “GeneRaL” Nigrini   4. Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan   5. Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev(Captain)

Projected Finish: 5th-6th

The season so far has been a kind of “good news and bad news” affair for Na’Vi, as the team prepares for its third Pro Circuit appearance. On the one hand, the squad has experienced an impressive level of success within the CIS region, emerging as a leading team and a potential rival to the current Pro Circuit leader On the other hand, Na’Vi has yet to take that success and momentum from the CIS region and turn it into meaningful results on the international stage. The team’s two previous appearances at Pro Circuit events have yielded no Qualifying Points for the CIS squad, leaving Na’Vi with a somewhat frustrating disparity between its qualifier results and its LAN performances. With a shot at claiming the title of Major Champion, Na’Vi are hoping that the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals will be the moment when the squad  finally makes its breakthrough on the international stage and claims a spot in the Pro Circuit standings.

Na’Vi has spent over a month away from the Pro Circuit stage, with the team’s last appearance at a Pro Circuit LAN being the PGL Open Bucharest Minor back in October. The CIS squad has certainly been keeping itself busy since then though, participating in three Pro Circuit qualifiers as well as two other non-Pro Circuit events. Across those five appearances, Na’Vi has finished no worse than 2nd and earned itself spots in two Pro Circuit LANs(including this Major). The team beat out Team Empire to qualify for the MDL Macau Minor later in December, placed 2nd in the Dota Summit 8 CIS Qualifier after a tough 1-3 series against, and posted a 10-4 record in the combined Europe and CIS Qualifier to earn a spot at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals. Na’Vi’s performance outside of the Pro Circuit has been encouraging as well, with the team coming out with solid performances in the previously mentioned two events. The first was the Adrenaline Cyber League, in which Na’Vi took down mousesports 2-0 before winning an impressive series against 3-1. The other non-Pro Circuit event for Na’Vi was the less relevant, but extremely entertaining Midas Mode tournament. Na’Vi’s 2nd place performance in the event may not have much relevance to the Pro Circuit, but the team’s performance at least shows a creativity and flexibility that could be beneficial for a squad trying to earn its first Qualifying Points of the season. Overall, Na’Vi has been producing impressive results since its last appearance on the big stage, and the team will need every bit of the momentum that it has built up if it wants to make a successful run at the Major.

Na’Vi has been showing all of the signs of a team on the rise, producing solid and consistent results in the CIS region and in its few encounters with European squads. In any other event, these results and the team’s recent high level of play would be enough to push for a top 4 projections. However, the field at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals is absolutely stacked with top tier squads, with five of the eight teams already having Qualifying Points, and the top four squads in the Pro Circuit standings all attending this event. Faced with that level of opposition, Na’Vi could certainly still manage a top 4 finish in Jönköping, but it appears that it would take a misstep from one of those leading squads to make that possibility a reality. The CIS squad come into the Major with a projected 5th-6th finish, with the potential to move into the top 4 if one of the leading teams suffers a setback. Na’Vi will have quite the challenge to open its run for a Major Championship, as the team will face fellow CIS power and number 1 ranked team in its first series at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals.


Team Liquid 600px-Team_liquid_logo_2017

Region: Europe

Qualification: Europe & CIS Qualifier Top 4

Pro Circuit Rank: 3rd(1350 Points)

Roster: 1. Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen   2. Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barqawi   3. Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov   4. Maroun “GH” Merhej   5. Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi(Captain)

Projected Finish: Top 4

The defending TI champion has gotten off to a fantastic start to its quest to become the first back to back TI winners. The DreamLeague Season 8 Finals will be the European squad’s fourth LAN appearance on the Pro Circuit, with all three of its previous campaigns having earned the team Qualifying Points. Those performances give Team Liquid 1350 Points for the season so far, enough for the team to claim third place in the Pro Circuit standings. This Major in Sweden provides Team Liquid with an opportunity not only to cement its hold on that position, but to potentially pass one of the top two teams.

It’s been nearly a month since Team Liquid was last seen at a Pro Circuit event, as the team has been relatively quiet following its victory at the AMD SAPPHIRE Dota Pit League Minor at the beginning of November. Since then, the team has participated in just two events; one qualifier and one non-Pro Circuit event. The qualifier was the combined Europe and CIS Qualifier for this Major, in which Team Liquid posted a 10-4 record that earned in a spot in Jönköping. The other event was the Midas Mode tournament, of which Team Liquid managed to win the European division and earn $18,000 for charity. So Team Liquid may not have been the most prolific team in November, but its previous performances and successes on the Pro Circuit afford the team the luxury of being selective, and the European squad should still be more than ready to compete and play at the highest level at the Major.

With that in mind, it seems pretty simple to project Team Liquid as a top 4 pick at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals. The team has suffered no drop off in its play recently, remaining one of the strongest teams in the Dota 2 world. Team Liquid has so far never failed to earn Qualifying Points at an event it has attended, having finished in the top 4 in its three previous appearances. The field is full of quality teams and potential rivals for the TI7 champion, but for Team Liquid to fall out of the top 4 would require multiple upsets or mistakes on its part. While a series of missteps and inspired opposition could still befall Team Liquid at the Major, that level of misfortune would come as quite the shock for a team playing so well and so consistently. Team Liquid will begin its journey at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals with a test from Southeast Asia, as the team is scheduled to play Fnatic in its opening series of the playoff bracket. 600px-Virtus

Region: Commonwealth of Independent States(CIS)

Qualification: Europe & CIS Qualifier Top 4

Pro Circuit Rank: 1st(2295 Points)

Roster: 1. Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev   2. Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko   3. Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov   4. Ilya “Lil” Ilyuk   5. Alexei “Solo” Berezin(Captain)

Projected Finish: Top 4 enter the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals riding a high of confidence as the Pro Circuit’s number 1 ranked squad. The team will be making its third appearance at a Pro Circuit event this season, having earned back to back top 4 finishes at the ESL One Hamburg Major and the Dota Pit Minor. VP’s 2295 Qualifying Points may be the most among Pro Circuit teams right now, but the CIS squad will be looking to distance itself even further from the rest of the pack in the standings with a solid performance in Jönköping. Should a rival team manage to claim victory at the Major, VP could potentially lose it position as the leading team on the Pro Circuit, a prospect that the team will most likely not be particularly keen on allowing to become a reality.

The last Pro Circuit event for came at the beginning of November at the Dota Pit Minor in Split, Croatia, where the team earned a 4th place finish. VP has been busy since then, qualifying for two more Pro Circuit events(including this Major) and earning a second place finish at a non-Pro Circuit event. VP defeated both Vega Squadron and Na’Vi to claim a spot at the Dota Summit 8 Minor, and earned its spot at this DreamLeague Season 8 Major with an 8-6 record in the combined Europe and CIS Qualifier. The team’s non-Pro Circuit appearance came at the Adrenaline Cyber League in Moscow, where VP took a 2-0 win against Team Empire before losing 1-3 to Na’Vi in the Finals. VP appears to still be in top form, and the team’s recent qualifier success has it building up momentum heading into the season’s second Major. comes into this Major as the leader in the Pro Circuit standings, and one of the strongest teams in the Dota 2 world. With that in mind, it’s just about impossible to predict anything lower than a top 4 finish for a squad that has been performing so well to start the season. We’ve yet to see this team under perform in any capacity this season, and that trend doesn’t appear to be in danger of coming to an end in Jönköping. As with any team, there always exists a possibility for upsets and unexpected runs. However, for a team that has been as strong and consistent as VP, it would take an unprecedented meltdown to knock the CIS squad out of the top 4. will begin its campaign at the Major with an all-CIS battle, as the team is set to take on Na’Vi in its opening series.


Newbee Newbee_logo

Region: China

Qualification: China Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: 4th(1035 Points)

Roster: 1. Xu “Moogy” Han   2. Song “Sccc” Chun   3. Damien “kpii” Chok   4. Hu “Kaka” Liangzhi   5. Zeng “Faith” Hongda(Captain)

Projected Finish: Top 4

Fresh off of a victory at the Perfect World Masters, Chinese squad Newbee comes in to the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals as the leading team in its region and one of the highest ranked teams on the Pro Circuit. Newbee’s 1035 Qualifying Points across four Pro Circuit events has earned the team a 4th place position in the standings, and the squad will be endeavoring to increase that total as it makes its fifth Pro Circuit appearance in Jönköping. With a talented and experienced lineup that has found success both at home and on the international stage, there doesn’t appear to be much that can stop Newbee as it looks to keep its momentum going into the Major.

Newbee’s last LAN performance on the Pro Circuit came just days ago at the previously mentioned Perfect World Masters. The team put together an impressive showing on home soil, as the Chinese squad beat out nine other teams to claim the title in Shanghai. The Chinese squad posted a 13-6 overall record at the Minor, earning a series win or tie against every opponent it faced other than Team Secret(0-2 group stage loss). Of course, with the Perfect World Masters having ended so recently, Newbee haven’t played any other official matches prior to the start of the Major. However, with the team’s performance in Shanghai as a measuring stick alongside its recent results in Chinese regional qualifiers, Newbee is definitely trending in the right direction heading into the DreamLeague Season 8 Final.

With the team riding the high from its victory at the Perfect World Masters, Newbee looks to be one of the top tier teams in Jönköping with momentum and confidence on its side. With this in mind, Newbee can be projected as a fairly safe pick to land a top 4 spot at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals, even in such a strong field of teams. While there are certainly teams at the Major that can defeat Newbee in a series, the team’s recent play makes the Chinese squad one of the tougher opponents to get through at this event. Should the team hold its momentum and avoid any big missteps, then it sits in a strong position to earn back to back top 4 finishes and continue its climb up the standings. Newbee’s quest for a first Major title will begin with a series against Infamous, as the Chinese squad will take on the South American team on Day 1 of the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals.


Fnatic Fnaticlogo

Region: Southeast Asia

Qualification: Southeast Asia Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: T-12th(0 Points)

Roster: 1. Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao(Captain)   2. Abed “Abed” Yusop   3. Khoo “Ohaiyo” Chong Xin   4. Djardel “DJ” Mampusti   5. Johan “pieliedie” Åström

Projected Finish: 5th-6th

Fnatic’s season got off to one of the worst starts possible for a team that was expected to emerge as a leading team in Southeast Asia and a competitor on the Pro Circuit. The team just couldn’t seem to put things together, struggling significantly against regional rivals and failing to convert its few opportunities on the international stage. After back to back last place finishes at ESL One Hamburg and the Dota Pit Minor, the team opted to make a change. The team moved Steve “Xcalibur” Ye into a substitute position and brought in free agent Abed “Abed” Yusop, formerly of Digital Chaos. The change appears to have had the desired effect, with Fnatic playing at a significantly higher level than it had been prior to the roster shift. With Abed inserted into the lineup, Fnatic are beginning to look like a team that can compete for a leading spot in the SEA region as many had been hoping for at the outset of the season. The team will make its third appearance at a Pro Circuit event in Jönköping, but this will be the first event the team has attended with its new roster.

Fnatic’s last Pro Circuit performance came at the beginning of November at the Dota Pit Minor, just days before the team’s acquisition of Abed. The 7th-8th place finish in Croatia was certainly a disappointment, but the new look Fnatic is doing everything it can to put those rough performances behind it. Since the roster change, Fnatic has won two regional qualifiers and earned a top 4 finish in another. The team won a spot at the Dota Summit 8, taking 2-0 wins against Execration and TNC Pro Team, and capping its run off with an impressive 3-2 win over SEA powerhouse Mineski. Fnatic followed this performance up with another successful campaign, defeating Mineski again and winning two series against TNC Pro Team to earn its spot at this Major in Jönköping. The team’s other qualifier run was for the MDL Macau Minor, which ended in the semifinals after an 0-2 loss to TNC. These performances are incredibly impressive for a squad that was struggling against these same opponents only a few weeks ago. Fnatic has yet to earn any Qualifying Points at this point in the season, but the new lineup’s recent success has fostered some hope that the SEA squad may be close to its long awaited breakthrough on the international stage.

Fnatic’s recent improvement has been very encouraging, as the team had been looking better and better in its matches. However, those improvements at this point in time don’t feel like they’ll be enough to help Fnatic get over the hump in the face of so many established powers in the field at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals. The team comes into the season’s second Major with a projected 5th-6th place finish by my estimation, which would represent a significant step forward from its previous LAN experiences. The new Fnatic roster has not yet been tested on the international stage, but its regional results of late paint the picture of a team heading in the right direction, and with teams like Evil Geniuses and Infamous appearing to have some hurdles to overcome themselves, there is potential for Fnatic to play a larger role at the Major. The team is going to be thrown straight into the fire in Jönköping though, as Fnatic’s opening series of the Major will be against defending TI7 Champion Team Liquid.


Evil Geniuses 600px-EG

Region: North America

Qualification: North America Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: T-10th(90 Points)

Roster: 1. Artour “Arteezy” Babaev   2. Sumail “Suma1L” Hassan   3. Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora   4. Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen   5. Clinton “Fear” Loomis(Captain)

Projected Finish: 7th-8th

Evil Geniuses began the season with aspirations of leading the North American region once again and contending with the titans of the Pro Circuit. Unfortunately for the North American squad, those aspirations have not quite come to fruition as the team has faced some struggles fully establishing itself both at home and on the Pro Circuit. The team will be attending its third Pro Circuit event with the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals, but it has found only minor success in its two previous campaigns. EG has earned 90 Qualifying Points so far this season, which not only puts it fairly far down the ranks of the Pro Circuit standings, it also positions the squad as only the second highest ranked team from the North American region(compLexity Gaming is tied for 8th with 135 Points). The situation is not ideal for EG, but a chance to compete with so many of the Pro Circuit’s leading teams is an opportunity that the North American squad could take advantage of in Jönköping.

EG’s last appearance at a Pro Circuit event was at the previous Major in Hamburg, where the team posted a 5th-6th place finish. EG came close to cracking the top 4 at the Major, losing out in the final series of the group stage in a long and hard fought 1-2 loss to Newbee. Since then, the team has been somewhat quiet in its home region, participating in just one qualifier as well as a non-Pro Circuit event for charity. The non-Pro Circuit event was the Moonduck Studios run Midas Mode tournament, in which EG posted a 4-5 group stage record before losing 0-2 to VGJ.Storm for a 3rd place finish in the North American Division of the event. The Pro Circuit qualifier, and the more relevant of the team’s recent results, was the North America Qualifier for this Major. Evil Geniuses won its opening series against Digital Chaos 2-0, then proceeded to defeat compLexity Gaming in its next two series(2-1 & 2-0) to secure the North American slot at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals. The sample size may be somewhat limited in size, but the recent performance from EG has to instill some hope that the team is ready to make a statement at the Major.

Evil Geniuses and its fans may have hope for a strong performance at the Major, but that hope does not appear to be matched by high expectations for the North American squad. The field of teams in Jönköping is one of the strongest we’ve see at a Pro Circuit event, and EG may not be able to overcome its prior struggles in the face of such staunch opposition. With that in mind, EG comes into this Major with a projected finish in the 7th-8th range, as the team doesn’t appear to be fully ready to take on the world’s leading teams. EG’s recent success in the North American region is impressive, but the jump to making a successful run at the Major appears to be somewhat out of reach for the squad as it stands right now. EG’s run at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals will begin with a tough match up against Team Secret on Day 1 of the event.



Region: South America

Qualification: South America Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: T-12th(0 Points)

Roster: 1. Alonso “Kotarō Hayama” León   2. Mariano “Papita” Caneda(Captain)   3. Steven “StingeR” Vargas   4. Elvis “Scofield” De la Cruz Peña   5. Christian “Accel” Cruz

Projected Finish: 7th-8th

Coming into the second Major of the season, Infamous has emerged as a powerful squad in the South American region. After the majority of the season saw SG e-sports control the South American scene, Infamous is among the leaders of a handful of squads looking to shake up the hierarchy in the region. The team will be making its second appearance at a Pro Circuit event this season, as the South American squad previously participated in the PGL Open Bucharest Minor in October. That performance in Bucharest didn’t earn Infamous any Qualifying Points, but the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals represents an opportunity for Infamous to perform on the international stage and potentially claim the first Qualifying Points of the season for a South American team.

As previously mentioned, the last Pro Circuit appearance for Infamous was at the PGL Open Bucharest Minor, though the team’s performance was not ideal. Infamous lost 0-2 series against both LGD Gaming and Team Secret to finish last in its group and earn a 7th-8th place position at the event. Since then, the team has participated in three other Pro Circuit qualifiers, finishing progressively higher in each one. The team posted a 3-4 record in the qualifier for the Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor that earned it a third place finish among four participating teams. A few weeks later, the team followed up that performance with a second place showing in the qualifier for the Dota Summit 8,defating paiN Gaming 2-0 before losing to Sacred 1-3 in the Finals. Most recently, Infamous had a successful run through the South America Qualifier for MDL Macau in December, defeating Thunde Awaken, Sacred, and SG e-sports to earn its place at the Minor. These recent results show the significant improvement of the team within its home region, but it remains to be seen if the South American squad can replicate that success on the international stage.

Infamous have been making impressive improvements in the South American region since its last appearance on the Pro Circuit, but that improvement likely won’t be enough to fuel a successful campaign in Jönköping. With the top four teams in the Pro Circuit standings all participating at this Major, there isn’t much room for a team like Infamous to make a Cinderella run unless one of those top teams makes a series of mistakes. With so many strong teams in the field of participants, it doesn’t seem safe to project Infamous as anything higher than a 7th-8th position at the DreamLeague Season 8. With the team performing more consistently against its regional opponents, there is a always a small chance that things go perfectly for Infamous at the Major. For that unlikely chance to turn into a top 4 run in Jönköping, Infamous is going to have to face down some of the toughest opponents on the Pro Circuit, beginning with Newbee as Infamous will match up with the Chinese powerhouse in its opening series.


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