18 teams ready to battle in Bulacan for first Major title of 2018.
The first month of the 2018 segment of the season is ready to serve up even more Dota 2 action, as the team list for the Galaxy Battles II Major is coming into focus. Organized by Fallout Gaming and Purpose Win this upcoming major is the second installment in the Galaxy Battles series of events that began last June in Shenzen, China. This time, the event will come to Southeast Asia, as the participating teams will make their way to the Philippine Arena in Bulacan from January 15th through the 21st. The eighteen teams (sixteen by the time the Main Event starts) will be playing for a chance at a prize pool of $1,000,000 USD and 1500 Qualifying Points, although at this time there is no information available regarding the distribution of those prize pools.
We may not know the exact distribution of the prize money in Bulacan, but with so many teams in the field and the event’s status as a Pro Circuit Major, the stakes are sure to be high as each of the participating teams looks to get its year started with a positive result. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the teams that will be fighting to claim the title of 2018’s first Major Champion.
- 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
Newbee (China) – Newbee comes into this event as the highest ranked Chinese team on the Pro Circuit, and the standard bearer for Chinese Dota so far this season. The Galaxy Battles II Major will be the team’s sixth Pro Circuit appearance of the season, and the Chinese squad will be looking for a quality performance to push it even further up the rankings on the Pro Circuit. With so many teams in the field, Newbee will have its work cut out for it, but the team has shown that it is capable of maintaining its composure and playing at the highest level regardless of the pressure or the situation. We will see if the Chinese leader can put together another impressive run in Bulacan to start off 2018.
Infamous (South America) – The direct invite that South American squad Infamous received to this event may have been a bit baffling to some in the Dota 2 world, but the fact remains that the team will be attending 2018’s first Major. The Galaxy Battles II Major will be the third Pro Circuit appearance for Infamous, though its previous two campaigns on the Pro Circuit stages did not go particularly well for this squad. Even with a less than impressive track record, Infamous has been presented with an incredibly valuable opportunity to compete on the Pro Circuit stage against some of the world’s best teams. Infamous may not be expected to finish very highly at this event, but underdog stories aren’t unheard of in the Dota 2 world, and the South American squad could have a surprise in store for fans and opponents alike.
OG (Europe) – European squad OG enters this Major as one of the Top 8 teams in the Pro Circuit rankings, though that may change by the time this event starts. At the time of writing this, OG is preparing to compete in the Captains Draft 4.0 Minor, the results of which could alter OG’s ranking on the Pro Circuit. Whether that event helps or hurts OG is not particularly relevant, as this team should still come into the Major as a formidable opponent and a threat to win the event. The Galaxy Battles II Major will be the team’s fifth Pro Circuit appearance of the season, and should present the squad with a prime opportunity to continue climbing up the Pro Circuit ranks. Should the European squad manage to hold its own against some of the more prominent opponents in the field, it has a solid chance to claim another Top 4 finish and build some much needed momentum in 2018.
TNC Pro Team (Southeast Asia) – A bit of a late addition to the Pro Circuit ranking, TNC Pro Team has finally emerged on the international stage after a somewhat quiet opening to the season. The Galaxy Battles II Major will be only the team’s second appearance on the Pro Circuit stage, but the SEA squad has been building momentum within its home region for the past few months, and looks primed to make a run to start 2018. The team has the talent and experience on its roster, as we’ve seen over the last year or so, all it needs now is the chance to perform. This upcoming Major provides the team with just that chance, as the squad will look to push itself into the upper echelon of teams in the Pro Circuit rankings.
LGD.Forever Young (China) – One of three Chinese teams in the field at the Galaxy Battles II Major, LGD.Forever Young comes into this event looking for a solid performance to boost what has been a moderately successful campaign so far. This Major will be the squad’s third Pro Circuit appearance of the season, with the previous two attempts resulting in a single Top 4 finish for the team. That one Top 4 finish has LGD.Forever Young on the board in the Pro Circuit standings, but the team is in need of another strong finish if it wants to make a move to climb further up the ranks. We’ve seen the team perform at a high level previously this season, the question will be whether the Chinese squad can recapture that momentum in Bulacan.
Evil Geniuses (North America) – EG enters the Galaxy Battles II Major as the highest ranked North American squad on the Pro Circuit, with a 5th place position overall. By the time the team makes it to what will be its sixth Pro Circuit appearance at the Major, it may very well have a different position in the standings. EG is another of the teams that is set to participate in the Captains Draft 4.0 Minor prior to its trip to Bulacan. EG underwent some significant roster changes to start out the year as well, dropping Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora and adding Rasmus “MISERY” Filipsen, in addition to changing the positions of Clinton “Fear” Loomis and Sumail “Suma1L” Hassan. Those roster changes and positional shifts raise a lot of questions about how this team will perform, but by the time the Major rolls around we should have a better idea of what to expect from this new EG lineup.
Team Liquid (Europe) – The defending TI Champion makes another appearance on the Pro Circuit, as the European powerhouse is set for its first performance of the new year. The Galaxy Battles II Major will be Team Liquid’s fifth Pro Circuit LAN of the season, with its previous four appearances earning the squad enough Qualifying Points for a tie for 2nd on the Pro Circuit. Even though the squad doesn’t hold the top spot in the standings, Team Liquid still has to be considered one of the strongest and most dangerous squads in the world, and a definite favorite to win this Major. We’ll see if the TI winner can maintain its impressive form as the season moves into 2018.
Virtus.pro (Commonwealth of Independent States) – VP has had about as successful a start to the season as a team could hope for, with the CIS squad currently standing in 2nd place in the Pro Circuit rankings. The Galaxy Battles II Major will be the sixth Pro Circuit LAN for the CIS powerhouse, and the team has been more than impressive to this point in the season. Even with the team’s coach standing in for the team for two events, VP managed to earn back to back Top 4 finishes and even won the Dota Summit 8 Minor.With this much talent, experience, and momentum on its side, VP comes into this event as one of the strongest squads in the field and one of the favorites to win the first Major of 2018.
The Qualifier Winners
Team Secret (Europe) – It seems a bit strange that a team that currently sits at the top of the Pro Circuit rankings would find itself having to fight through a regional qualifier to make it to the first Major of 2018, but here we are. Team Secret will be making its seventh appearance on the Pro Circuit, with its previous events leading to the team’s 1st place position on the Pro Circuit. Team Secret has been dominant both within the European region and on the international stage, and there doesn’t seems to be any indication that the team is going to be slowing down any time soon. With the team entering this event what a potential chip on its shoulder from the lack of a direct invitation, watch out for Team Secret to have a huge performance in Bulacan as the squad attempts to remind the Dota 2 world just why it stands at the top of the rankings.
Team Spirit (Commonwealth of Independent States) – It has been a quiet season for Team Spirit so far, with the team struggling to find its place in a top-heavy CIS region. The squad has seen its fair share of regional qualifiers this season, but this trip to Bulacan represents the team’s first success, as well as its first appearance on the Pro Circuit. The team has undergone a roster change since the start of the season, with Bogdan “Iceberg” Vasilenko being replaced by Ilya “Illidan” Pivcaev. That new roster won the team its first qualifier for this event, and it will be interesting to see how well the team can perform on the Pro Circuit stage against some of the strongest competition in the world. Team Spirit may not be turning many heads coming into this event, but don’t be surprised if the CIS squad puts on a good show in its Pro Circuit debut.
OpTic Gaming (North America) – North American squad OpTic Gaming is another of the teams heading into this event that has undergone some roster changes to start the new year. At the end of November, Rasmus “MISERY” Filipsen left the squad and was replaced around a month later by Neta “33” Shapira. Its hard to say what we will see from this team following that roster shift, but the North American squad should still be able to compete even with it adjusting to its new player. The Galaxy Battles II Major will be OpTic Gaming’s second Pro Circuit appearance of the season, and the team will be looking to take advantage of its opportunity to perform on the biggest stage in the Dota 2 world.
paiN Gaming (South America) – South American squad paiN Gaming is dealing with some roster issues of its own as the team enters its second Pro Circuit appearance of the season. The team’s midlaner Leonardo “Mandy” Viana left the team at the end of November, and the team has been playing with stand-ins ever since. That situation will not have a permanent resolution by the time the Galaxy Battles II Major rolls around, as the organization has already announced that it will be playing with Aliwi “w33” Omar as a stand-in for this event as well. It will be interesting to see how well w33 integrates with the Brazilian squad, but the expectations have to be low for the squad coming into this event. With the team’s roster issues and the use of a stand-in at this event, the team more than likely won’t be a big threat at the Major, but don’t be surprised if the South American squad puts up a decent fight with its unorthodox roster.
VGJ.Thunder (China) – VGJ.Thunder comes into this first Major of 2018 as one of three Chinese participants, but the squad has not quite received the same level of attention as its fellow Chinese squads. That difference in attention is not necessarily without reason, as VGJ.Thunder hasn’t really been able to establish much of a presence on the Pro Circuit this season. The team will be making its second Pro Circuit appearance at the Galaxy Battles II Major, and the Chinese squad will be looking for its first Qualifying Points of the season in Bulacan. The team ended 2017 looking significantly stronger within the Chinese region, but it has still yet to be seen if the team can carry that success over onto the international stage. The Galaxy Battles II Major will be a perfect test to see if the squad is able to take that next step an compete on the Pro Circuit on a more regular basis.
Mineski (Southeast Asia) – Mineski has spent most of the season as the dominant team within the Southeast Asian region, but that control began to slip slightly at the end of 2017. With teams like Fnatic and TNC Pro Team beginning to look stronger both in the Southeast Asian region and in international play, Mineski finds itself in need of a strong performance at this Major to help it retain control over its home region. The squad is more than capable of putting together a Top 4 run in Bulacan, as the team opened the season with back to back Top 4 finishes at the season’s first two Minors. The field is stacked with powerful teams at this event, but Mineski has the talent and experience to potentially come out on top against some of the world’s best teams.
The Wild Card Hopefuls
- Note: Only two of these teams will qualify for the Main Event
Team Kinguin (Europe) – Team Kinguin comes to the Galaxy Battles II Major as one of the four teams that will compete in the Wild Card Stage for one of two spots at the Main Event in Bulacan. The Polish squad has been looking impressive within the European region, and most recently managed to lock down its first Top 4 finish at the Dota Summit 8 Minor to close out 2017. With increasingly solid performances in Europe and experience on the Pro Circuit, Team Kinguin is heavily favored to win one of the two Wild Card slots and earn its place at the team’s third Pro Circuit LAN of the season.
Team Empire (Commonwealth of Independent States) – Team Empire managed to earn itself a 2nd place finish in the CIS Qualifier for this event, missing the mark to qualify outright but earning a second chance in the Wild Card Stage. The team has been achieving more and more consistent results within the CIS region, which is particularly impressive considering the fact that squads like Virtus.pro and Na’Vi have been dominating the region for most of the season so far. Should the team make it through the Wild Card Stage, it will be Team Empire’s second appearance at a Pro Circuit event this season.
Skyville (Southeast Asia) – Southeast Asian squad Skyville was the team that won the New Blood Championships 2017, earning it a chance to play in this Wild Card Stage against two Pro Circuit squads. The team made a relatively dominant run through the NBC bracket, posting a 7-1 record that included a 3-0 victory over the runner up and final Wild Card attendee, PG.Barracx. The chances of Skyville making it to the Main Event are rather small, as the team will have to get past some formidable professional teams to earn a spot, but the possibility always exists for an underdog team to come out on top, and it would certainly create an interesting story line for a team in its Pro Circuit debut.
PG.Barracx (Southeast Asia) – Southeast Asian squad PG.Barracx has the other team to come out of the New Blood Championships 2017, with the team having earned a second place finish at the event. The team posted a 4-3 overall record at the event, falling short in the Finals against Skyville 0-3, but still earning a chance to play in the Wild Card Stage. Like Skyville, the chances that PG.Barracx manage to qualify for the Main Event are not very high, but the chance to play against Pro Circuit teams in any capacity has to be seen as a valuable opportunity. Even if the odds are against it, PG.Barracx could be the team that shocks the Dota 2 world if it can manage to pull off an impressive run and make its past two Pro Circuit squads as well as the team that it lost to in the NBC Finals.