Dota 2 Major Recap: DreamLeague Season 8

The Secret is Out: Team Secret claim first Major Title of season. Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses, Na’Vi round out top 4 in Jönköping

The book is now closed on the second Major of the season, and European squad Team Secret have joined Virtus.pro as the second team to claim the title of Major Champion. Eight teams made their way to Jönköping hoping to lay claim to the title, but Team Secret put together a simply dominant performance that left the other would be challengers in the dust. The European region shined at the Major, as Team Liquid claimed the 2nd place position to lock up both top 2 spots for EU squads. Those top 2 finishes knocked former leader Virtus.pro down a few spots in the rankings, as Team Secret moved from 2nd to 1st and Team Liquid moved up from 3rd to 2nd. The successes in Jönköping were not limited to Europe though, as Evil Geniuses took a huge step forward for the North American region, with its 3rd place finish at the Major moving the squad from a tie for 10th place into 5th in the standings. Finally, Na’Vi joined Virtus.pro as the second representative in the standings for the CIS region, moving putting itself on the board at 8th overall. With the Pro Circuit standings sufficiently shifted following the conclusion of the action in Jönköping, we can take a look at how the participants performed at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals, as well as what each team has coming up on its schedule in the near future.

Team Secret Secret_logo

Place: 1st

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

Coming into the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals, Team Secret had been enjoying one of the most successful starts to the season of all the Pro Circuit teams. The team was making its fifth Pro Circuit appearance of the season(out of 6 events total), and had already secured enough Qualifying Points to hold the second place position in the Pro Circuit standings. This strong start and favorable position for the European powerhouse was agreeable, but the squad was hungry for more as Team Secret made its way to Jönköping. With normal midlaner Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng back in the lineup after a brief absence at the Perfect World Masters Minor, the team was ready to make another push for a top 4 spot at a Pro Circuit event. With a proven record against opponents both in its home region of Europe and on the international stage, the team was playing with all the confidence in the world as the action got underway at the season’s second Major.

Team Secret found itself up against North American squad Evil Geniuses in the first round of the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals, and the European squad immediately put its strength on display. Despite putting up a decent fight in Game 1, EG was simply outmatched as Team Secret claimed a relatively quick 2-0 victory to advance to the next round. The team’s next opponent would be the winner of the Perfect World Masters and the sole Chinese representative at the Major in Newbee. Unfortunately for the Chinese squad, it wouldn’t be able to put up much of a fight against Team Secret either. The European squad tore through Newbee, outmaneuvering its opponent at every turn and laying claim to another 2-0 victory. Team Secret’s first significant test would come in the next round, with the team just one series away from a spot in the Grand Finals and a guaranteed top 2 finish at the Major. The opponent for Team Secret would be the TI7 champion Team Liquid in an all-Europe match up. Team Liquid struck first with a dominant Io-Tiny combo in Game 1, putting Team Secret on the back foot in the series. Team Secret would not be denied though, and the team came storming back to win the next two games and punch its ticket to the Grand Finals with a 2-1 win over the reigning TI champion. The Grand Finals of the Major would see a repeat of the previous series, as Team Liquid fought its way past Evil Geniuses to earn a best-of-five rematch against Team Secret. The initial 2 matches of the Major’s last series would prove to be a true endurance test, with Team Secret winning both games in over two hours of game time. With a 2-0 series lead, Team Secret brought out everything it had in Game 3, closing out the series for a 3-0 win over the TI7 winner and a Major Championship.

Team Secret came into the second Major of the season with the confidence of a team playing at the top of its game. My preview post for this event had Team Secret as a projected top 4 team, but even that prediction seems unable to fully encapsulate the squad’s performance in Jönköping. The European squad lost just a single game in the entirety of the event, posting an 9-1 overall record against top teams from North America, China, and Europe. Team Secret was already one of the Pro Circuit’s top teams, but this dominant performance at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals push the team into the discussion as the best team in the world. The Pro Circuit standings would support Team Secret in that regard, as the team’s performance in Jönköping earned each of its players 750 Qualifying Points, enough to give the European squad the highest point total among Pro Circuit teams. The team will have some time to enjoy its well earned victory, as Team Secret will not see action for the rest of 2017. Team Secret will return to Pro Circuit action in January of 2018 though, with scheduled appearances at the Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor on January 4 and the Galaxy Battles II Major beginning January 15.

 

Natus Vincere 668px-Natus_Vincere

Place: 4th

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

After a strong of successful events across both the Europe and CIS regions, Na’Vi appeared to be on the right path towards claiming a spot as one of the Pro Circuit’s leading teams. Na’Vi’s recent performance has seen the CIS squad go toe to toe with some of the world’s best, but the team still entered the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals without any Qualifying Points. Two previous campaigns at Pro Circuit events had not yielded a top 4 finish for Na’Vi, but the team came into the Major with confidence that it could finally achieve its long sought after breakthrough.

Na’Vi opened up its campaign in Jönköping with an all-CIS match up as the team faced Virtus.pro in the first round. Na’Vi lost Game 1, but managed to fight back in a 71 minute long match in Game 2 to even up the series. Unfortunately, Na’Vi didn’t manage to carry that momentum in the deciding game of the series, losing Game 3 for a 1-2 opening loss that dropped it down into the lower bracket. The lower bracket would provide Na’Vi with another challenge, as it came up against SEA representative Fnatic in an elimination series. Fnatic put up a solid fight, but in the end Na’Vi pulled out a 2-1 victory to keep itself alive at the Major. The next round would see Na’Vi fight Chinese powerhouse Newbee for a place within the top 4 teams in Jönköping. The winner of the Perfect World Masters struck first in this series, taking down Na’Vi in Game 1 to take the momentum in the series. However, Na’Vi regrouped and came back strong to claim two straight games and turn the series around for a 2-1 win and the team’s first top 4 finish at a Pro Circuit event. The next round brought an end to Na’Vi’s run with a series against North American challenger Evil Geniuses. Na’Vi fell short against EG, losing the series 0-2 to finish 4th overall at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals.

The recent performances from Na’Vi led to a renewed sense of confidence in the team coming into this Major, but even this performance somewhat exceeds the expectations for the CIS squad. My prediction post had put the team in the 5th-6th place range, mostly based on the strength of the other leading teams in the field rather than any weakness on the part of Na’Vi. Some of those leading squads took each other out or faced some struggles in Jönköping, paving the way for Na’Vi to step in with a string of solid performances. The top 4 finish at the Major finally puts Na’Vi on the board in the Pro Circuit standings, and the team has built up valuable momentum as it leaves Jönköping. That momentum will be tested soon, as the team is set to participate in the MDL Macau Minor beginning on December 8th.

 

Team Liquid 600px-Team_liquid_logo_2017

Place: 2nd

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

The season has gotten off to a fantastic start for the defending TI champion, as Team Liquid stands as one of the leading teams on the Pro Circuit. The DreamLeague Season 8 Finals was the team’s fourth appearance at a Pro Circuit event, with the European squad having claiming a top 4 finish in each of its previous three campaigns. This trip to Jönköping provided an opportunity for the team to make its record at Pro Circuit events a perfect four for four in terms of earning Qualifying Points, as well as a chance to improve its already strong position and potentially claim the top spot in the Pro Circuit standings.

Team Liquid would begin its run at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals with an opening series against Southeast Asian squad Fnatic. Team Liquid was quick to strike against the SEA team, taking Fnatic down in a relatively quick and decisive 2-0 series to advance to the next round. The opponent for Team Liquid’s next series would be Virtus.pro, the Pro Circuit leader and the winner of the previous Major. VP came out strong and took a win in Game 1 of the series, but Team Liquid was quick to respond with back to back victories to take the series 2-1 and knock VP into the lower bracket. The TI champion would find itself up against a fellow European squad in the Winner’s Bracket Finals, as the team would fight Team Secret for a spot in the Grand Finals. Team Liquid pulled out the Tiny-Io combination to overpower Team Secret in Game 1 and shift momentum in its favor. That momentum wasn’t enough to stop Team Secret though, as the European squad came back with two straight wins to claim a top 2 spot at the Major and force Team Liquid into an elimination match to earn its place in the Grand Finals. That elimination match would be against Evil Geniuses, but Team Liquid was more than ready to take on the North American challenger. EG was simply run over, with Team Liquid dominating the series for a quick and easy 2-0 win capped off with a 20 minute long Game 2. With EG out of the picture, the path was clear for Team Liquid to seeks its revenge in a Grand Finals rematch between itself and Team Secret. Team Liquid made its opponent work for the win, but in the end the European squad didn’t have enough in it to halt the advance of Team Secret, losing the series 0-3 and finishing in 2nd place at the Major.

Team Liquid entered the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals as a near lock for a top 4 spot, and the team didn’t disappoint. The team fell right within my projected range, and its 2nd place finish in Jönköping earned the team enough Qualifying Points to move into the 2nd place position in the Pro Circuit standings. The team posted a 7-6 overall record at the Major, which may not look so imposing at first glance, but looks somewhat better when one takes into account that five of those six losses game to Team Secret. Team Liquid’s inability to bring down its regional rival may be disappointing to fans of the team, but at the level that Team Secret is currently playing at, I don’t think that event a TI champion can be too discouraged by this loss. Team Liquid come away from the Major in Jönköping in a much stronger position than it held coming into the event, and the team will have some time to enjoy that new position before it gets back into Pro Circuit action. Team Liquid have no scheduled events between now and the end of the year, as the European squad’s next Pro Circuit appearance is currently the Galaxy Battles II Major beginning January 15.

 

Virtus.pro 600px-Virtus

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $45,000

Virtus.pro entered the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals as the number 1 ranked team on the Pro Circuit, having amassed 2295 Qualifying Points as a team across two previous Pro Circuit events. Those successes have established VP as one of the strongest teams in the world, and the CIS squad was riding a high of confidence as its came to Jönköping looking to replicate its success in Hamburg and win a second Major title on the season. Despite having one of the deepest and strongest fields of participants at a Pro Circuit event so far, VP stood in a favorable position to produce another solid performance.

Vitrus.pro would begin its run at the Major with a match up against fellow CIS squad Na’Vi in the opening round. VP drew first blood with a win in game 1, but Na’Vi wasn’t going to go down without a fight. The CIS squads fought it out to the end in game 2, with the match lasting just under 71 minutes and including four Divine Rapier purchases as Na’Vi clawed its way back into the series. The third game proved a significantly shorter affair, with VP managing to close out the game and the series for a hard fought 2-1 victory over its regional rival. VP had faced a significant challenge in its opening series, but it was about to come up against an even more frightening threat, as the CIS squad’s next opponent was TI7 winner Team Liquid. VP came out firing against the defending champion, taking game 1 behind a strong Terorblade pick up. Team Liquid quickly recovered from its Game 1 loss though, taking the next two games of the series to hand VP a 1-2 loss. Forced into the lower bracket, VP had no more room for error if it wanted to make its way back into a top 4 position. Unfortunately for the CIS squad, it came up against a determined Evil Geniuses in its next lineup. Game 1 proved to be an endurance test for both teams, as EG managed to take the win in a 63 minute long game behind huge performances from Arteezy and Suma1L on Gyrocopter and Medusa, respectively. VP would need to regroup to take Game 2 and keep itself alive in the series, but EG wasn’t going to allow the CIS squad to regain its momentum. Virtus.pro took a gamble with a Tinker pick, but EG was able to keep VP’s cores contained, leading to an 0-2 loss for Virtus.pro that ended its run in Jönköping with a 5th-6th place finish.

For VP, finishing outside of the top 4 comes as a rather shocking surprise for one of the Pro Circuit’s leading teams. My preview post for this event had put VP as a fairly safe bet for a top 4 finish, but there’s a reason why the matches are played in-game and not on paper. The team’s performance in Jönköping may not have been quite as strong as many had been expecting, but there is little reason to panic just yet. The team took a hard fought win over Na’Vi, and the loss to Team Liquid is not ideal but also not necessarily unexpected. The results that may be a bit concerning for VP is its 0-2 loss to Evil Geniuses. EG have looked inconsistent to this point in the season, so whether this loss is the result of a lapse in focus for VP or a breakthrough from EG remains to be seen. Either way, Virtus.pro remain one of the Pro Circuit’s most powerful and dangerous squads, and the leading team within the CIS region. VP will have some opportunities to regain its momentum in the days following the conclusion of the Major, as the team is set to compete in both the MDL Macau and Dota Summit 8 Minors.

 

Newbee Newbee_logo

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $45,000

After winning the Perfect World Masters just a few days prior to the start of the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals, Newbee came to Jönköping as a confident squad with a favorable position at the Major. After storming through a litany of Chinese squads in Shanghai, the team was hoping to carry its momentum over against a much more western-focused field of opponents at the Major. As one of the five squads in the field of participants in Jönköping to enter the event holding Qualifying Points, Newbee stood as one of the leading teams at the Major, but the Chinese squad was in for a tough test against some of the world’s premier teams at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals.

Newbee’s first opponent at the Major would be South American squad Infamous, an opponent that frankly wouldn’t be much of a challenge for the Chinese powerhouse. Newbee dominated the match up, claiming a quick 2-0 victory and sweeping aside the South American challenger. The next round would provide a stark contrast to the easy victory Newbee had taken previously, as the team found itself facing off against Team Secret. Newbee found itself on the other side of a rout this time, as the squad was bowled over by Team Secret for an 0-2 loss is surprisingly quick fashion. The loss to Team Secret dropped Newbee down to the lower bracket and a clash with CIS squad Na’Vi for the chance to stay alive at the Major and earn the final spot in the top 4. After taking the win in Game 1, Newbee were looking confident as it attempted to close out the series. However, Na’Vi came storming back into the series, putting together back to back wins to claim the final top 4 spot and knock Newbee out of the Major with a 5th-6th place finish.

Newbee falling out of the top 4 was a surprising result for the Chinese squad, as the team had been looking exceedingly strong coming into the Major. My preview post had Newbee as a good bet for a top 4 spot, but the strength of the field at this event has led to some strong performances from teams that had appeared weaker prior to the start of the action in Jönköping. Newbee’s loss to Na’Vi is a bit disappointing, but not necessarily an upset considering how strong the CIS squad has been looking recently. In that regard, Newbee doesn’t appear to be in any danger of a backslide on the Pro Circuit just because it missed the top 4 mark at this event. The only concern for Newbee from this event may be its performance against Europe and CIS, as the squad failed to close out against Na’Vi and was handily defeated by Team Secret at this Major. The answer to this concern may not be coming for some time though, as Newbee has a bit of a hiatus from the Pro Circuit coming up in the wake of the Major’s conclusion. The team’s next scheduled appearance at a Pro Circuit event or qualifier is the Galaxy Battles II Major set to begin on the 15th of January.

 

Fnatic Fnaticlogo

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $20,000

Fnatic may not have come into the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals as a favorite to win the event, but the SEA squad had hope that the season’s second Major would go its way. After the team’s recent roster change, Fnatic has been looking like a much improved squad in the SEA region. Those improvements earned the team its spot at the Major, and Fnatic came to Jönköping looking for a key performance to turn around what has been a regrettably bad start to the season.

The team’s run at the Major got off to an inauspicious start, as the SEA squad was put up against defending TI Champion Team Liquid in its opening series of the event. While Fnatic have certainly looked stronger within its home region of late, bringing down the TI winner proved to bee a bit too hard a task for the team handle. A quick 0-2 loss the Team Liquid dropped Fnatic down to the lower bracket for a series against Na’Vi. Fnatic would put up a much stronger fight against the CIS squad, losing a 60 minute long game to open the series before coming back with a win in game 2. Fnatic came just short of completing the series comeback though, taking the loss in game 3 and losing the series 1-2 to end its run at the Major with a 7th-8th place finish.

Fnatic’s recent string of improved play had hopes relatively high that the team could be close to turning the corner on what has been an awful opening to the season. Just about no one had Fnatic as much of a threat to win the event, but the regional success had set up hope that the team could move past its traditional last place finish. The preview post for this event had Fnatic as a projected 5th-6th place team, but that prediction proved a bit too optimistic for the SEA squad. The team may have looked better in its series against Na’Vi in the lower bracket, but the opening loss to Team Liquid left no room for error for Fnatic. In that context, the team’s poor result in Jönköping is not as damning as it may have otherwise appeared. The key for the SEA squad will be how the team plays moving forward and whether it can maintain the level of play in its home region that got it to the Major in the first place. Should the team do that, then the opportunities to play on the international stage will continue to be there for Fnatic, beginning with the squad’s appearance at the Dota Summit 8 Minor on December 13th.

 

Evil Geniuses 600px-EG

Place: 3rd

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

EG came into the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals as a team with a solid record and a talented roster, but lacking a signature win at this point in the season. The team has performed well within the North American region, despite rising challenges from teams like compLexity Gaming, OpTic Gaming, and Immortals. The squad had been doing an admirable job facing international opponents as well, claiming a top 4 finish at the PGL Open Bucharest Minor and a 5th-6th place finish at the ESL One Hamburg Major. The downside for EG was that these performances hadn’t earned them much traction in the Pro Circuit standings, as the previously mentioned performance in Bucharest gave the team a total of just 90 Qualifying Points. EG needed a statement win, and the action in Jönköping was a crucial opportunity for the North American squad.

EG’s bid for glory and a top 4 finish at the Major would face quite the roadblock in the team’s opening series in Jönköping, as the North American squad found itself up against Team Secret in the first round. In the face of the European powerhouse, EG simply didn’t have enough in it to put up much of a fight, losing the series 0-2 and immediately dropping down to the lower bracket. The threat of elimination seemed to spark something in EG though, as did a much more amenable match up with South American squad Infamous in its first lower bracket series. EG breezed through Infamous, claiming a 2-0 victory in under one hour of game time and moving on to the next round and a series against the winner of the previous Major, Virtus.pro. The Pro Circuit leaders pushed EG to the limit in Game 1 of this series, but the North Americans pulled out the win in an impressive 63 minute long match. Game 2 saw VP take a gamble with a Tinker pick, but EG was able to shut the CIS squad down to take a shocking 2-0 victory over VP that secured Evil Geniuses a top 4 spot at the Major. EG would go from one CIS opponent to another as its journey through the lower bracket continued, this time going up against Na’Vi. EG once again managed an impressive 2-0 win, overwhelming Na’Vi behind huge performances from UNiVeRsE and Arteezy. This latest win had EG just one series away from the Grand Finals, but the squad’s impressive run would come to an end just short of that mark. A match up against defending TI champion Team Liquid handed EG its first loss in the lower bracket, as the European powerhouse quickly swept EG 0-2. The loss to Team Liquid ended what had been a shockingly strong run for EG, and led to the North American squad claiming a 3rd place finish overall at the Major.

EG had been looking stronger as a team in the time leading up to the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals, but a performance like the won the North American squad put on in Jönköping was completely unexpected. My preview post for the Major had EG listed as a projected 7th-8th place team, as the squad’s somewhat inconsistent performances against international competition had seemingly not been fully overcome. That projection and assumption was proven to be disgustingly inaccurate, as EG looked downright dominant in its run through the lower bracket. The team ended its run at the Major with a 6-4 overall record, losing matches only against the top 2 squads of the entire event in Team Liquid and Team Secret. Such a performance launches EG into the stratosphere on the Pro Circuit rankings, as the team moves from a tie for the 10th place position to a 5th place position overnight. The win also establishes EG as the leading team in the North American region in terms of Qualifying Points, and gives the team a lot of momentum as its returns to its home region. EG will have plenty of chances to turn that momentum into further success in the near future, as the schedule is filling up nicely for the North American squad. The team will be participating in the Dota Summit 8 Minor later this month, and have been directly invited to both the Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor and the Galaxy Battles II Major in January.

 

Infamous LOGO-INFAMOUS-COMERCIAL

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $20,000

Infamous has been making some significant moves within South America recently, rising to become one of the region’s leading teams. Attending just its second Pro Circuit event of the season, Infamous didn’t come into the Major with an exceptional level of experience on the international stage. Despite this, the South American squad was hoping to put together a solid run in Jönköping, and potentially make a surprising breakthrough to earn the South American region’s first Qualifying Points on the Pro Circuit.

The opening series for Infamous was not exactly a favorable match up for the South American squad, as Infamous faced off against Chinese powerhouse Newbee to begin its run at the Major. Infamous proved to be little challenge for the Chinese squad, as the South American squad was quickly routed 0-2 in a series that lasted less than an hour of game time. The loss dropped Infamous down into the lower bracket, where it would face North American squad Evil Geniuses in an elimination series. The team’s second series didn’t go much better than the first, as Infamous was simply run over by EG in another lopsided 0-2 loss that again lasted less than an hour of game time. With an average game length of just under 29 minutes, Infamous was swept out of the Major with an 0-4 record and a last place finish in the 7th-8th position.

Coming into the season’s second Major, the expectations were about as low as possible for Infamous, with the team being projected as a 7th-8th place team in the preview post for the event. That projection proved accurate as the team struggled significantly on the international stage, getting repeatedly overwhelmed and outplayed by its opponents. The team’s recent steps and improvements within the South American region have certainly been encouraging, but Infamous still has a long way to go if it wants to truly compete at the highest level of play. Infamous may not have been able to put together a solid performance in Jönköping, but the team hasn’t run out of chances on the international stage just yet. The South American squad has another Pro Circuit appearance on its schedule this month, as Infamous will be playing in the MDL Macau Minor just days after the conclusion of the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals.

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