The Dota 2 Pro Circuit returns to Bucharest as 16 teams prepare for the second Major of 2018.
Dota 2 fans can look forward to an exciting and entertaining scenario in the Dota 2 world, as the Pro Circuit will be presenting back to back Majors only a week apart. The second of those events will be The Bucharest Major, and the tournament has recently concluded its set of regional qualifiers to complete its list of participants. Organized by PGL and ImbaTV, the Major will be the second Pro Circuit event to be hosted in Bucharest, Romania after the PGL Open Bucharest Minor came to the city back in October of 2017. Scheduled from the 4th of March through the 11th, the Major will bring 16 Pro Circuit teams to Polyvalent Hall in Bucharest for a chance to perform on the international stage and claim the title of Major Champion. The field of participants at this event is stacked with powerful teams, as all of the Top 8 ranked squads will be attending, and twelve of the sixteen participants have earned Qualifying Points so far this season. With a chance to make a significant impact on its season, the sixteen teams will come to Bucharest looking to lay claim to a portion of the $1,000,000 USD and 1500 Qualifying Point prize pools.
- At the time of writing, information regarding the distribution of the prize pools is not available. This section will be updated as soon as that information is released.
With the field of participants in Bucharest being so stacked with quality teams, the competition is sure to be intense at the Major. The biggest headlines will most likely be stolen by the Pro Circuit leaders coming into the event, but with so many strong teams competing, the potential exists for any of them to put together a strong run and come away with a statement win that would immediately push it into a favorable ranking. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the sixteen teams that will be fighting for the title of Major Champion in Bucharest.
- Disclaimer: 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
Team Liquid (Europe) – It may have been a while since Dota 2 fans have gotten the chance to see the TI7 winner in action, but Team Liquid has earned the right to be selective in its event participation so far this season. After four Pro Circuit appearances and Top 4 finishes at each of them, the team is riding a high of confidence that few teams on the Pro Circuit can match. By the time The Bucharest Major rolls around, it will be Team Liquid’s eighth appearance at a Pro Circuit event, and given the way the team has played so far this season, there’s little reason to believe that the European powerhouse won’t still be holding a favorable position in the standings at that time.
Newbee (China) – Newbee has enjoyed a position at the strongest and highest ranked Chinese squad for the entirety of the season so far, but the team has been away from the Pro Circuit for over a month now and the new year may have new challenges in store for the team. The rise of Vici Gaming within the reason, along with the roster change for LGD Gaming present regional rivals that Newbee did not have to pay much concern to in the early stages of the season. With its lead over its fellow Chinese teams beginning to narrow, Newbee is in need of a quality performance in Bucharest to maintain its place atop the regional hierarchy. By the time The Bucharest Major begins, Newbee will be making its ninth Pro Circuit appearance, so its current situation in the standings may have been resolved or become worse. However, regardless of its ranking on the Pro Circuit, a Top 4 finish at a Major will be a significant boon for the Chinese squad.
Evil Geniuses (North America) – North American leader Evil Geniuses is still adjusting to a significant roster adjustment, as the team recently added a new player and a new coach in addition to shifting the position of two of its current players. Despite the change, the team looked relatively solid in its appearance at the Captains Draft 4.0 Minor at the beginning of 2018. By the time the action gets started in Bucharest, the team should be fully adjusted and acclimated to its new lineup, and we should be able to see the team at its full potential. The Bucharest Major will be the eighth Pro Circuit appearance, and we’ve already seen the North American squad earn a Top 4 spot at a Major this season at the DreamLeague Season 8 Major. We will see if the team’s new lineup is able to replicate the success of the previous one in Bucharest.
Natus Vincere (Commonwealth of Independent States) – Na’Vi may have opened the season on a relatively low note, but the CIS squad has come back with a vengeance to establish itself as one of the leading teams within the region. With Virtus.pro still standings as the preeminent squad team in the region, Na’Vi has had to make the most out of its opportunities to play on the Pro Circuit stage. The last two Pro Circuit events for the team have resulted in Top 4 finishes, and the Major in Bucharest will be the team’s fifth Pro Circuit appearance of the season. The team is likely hoping that its streak of Top 4 finishes is still intact by the time it makes its way to Bucharest, but the CIS squad will have its work cut out for it if it wants to crack the Top 4 at the Major.
Mineski (Southeast Asia) – Mineski is another squad that has enjoyed a safe position at the top of its regional hierarchy so far this season, as the squad is currently leading all other Southeast Asian teams by a fairly wide margin. The Bucharest Major will be the eighth Pro Circuit appearance for the team this season, and Mineski is hoping that by the time it reaches Bucharest that its lead in the region will not have shrunk. With teams like Fnatic and TNC Pro Team beginning to pick up steam on the Pro Circuit, Mineski could use another strong performance at this Major to help secure its position both in the Southeast Asian region and in the Pro Circuit standings. Given the form that the team displayed in its first appearance of 2018 at the Captains Draft 4.0 Minor, it appears that Mineski will have a solid shot at putting together a run at a Top 4 spot in Bucharest.
compLexity Gaming (North America) – After spending the entirety of the season to this point fighting through regional qualifiers to earn spots at Pro Circuit events, North American squad compLexity Gaming finally gets a taste of life as a direct invitee. The team’s regional qualifier runs have helped establish it as one of the most powerful teams in the region second only to Evil Geniuses. With its hold over North America looking more and more secure, the squad can now turn more of its attention to replicating that success on the international level. The Bucharest Major will be the team’s eighth appearance at a Pro Circuit event this season, and the team is hoping that by the time this particular event rolls around that it will be in a position to claim a spot within the Top 8 in the standings. Given the team’s recent performance and its improvement across the season so far, it appears that compLexity Gaming is ready to take that next step and emerge as a more serious contender on the Pro Circuit stage.
Vici Gaming (China) – Chinese squad Vici Gaming has emerged as one of the leading teams both within its home region and on the Pro Circuit stage. The team has strung together three straight finishes within the Top 4 at Pro Circuit events, and currently sits in a tie with Mineski for 5th place in the Pro Circuit standings. That surge of impressive performances has put Vici Gaming far above most of its regional rivals, and has also put it within striking distance of Newbee, the highest ranked Chinese team on the Pro Circuit. The Bucharest Major will be Vici Gaming’s seventh Pro Circuit appearance of the season, and barring some sort of catastrophic meltdown in the month or so between now and the event, the Chinese squad should still be in a favorable position to earn itself a Top 4 finish in Bucharest.
LGD.Forever Young (China) – LGD.Forever Young came into the season looking to be one of the leading teams in the Chinese region, and a potential contender on the Pro Circuit. Unfortunately, that hasn’t quite materialized fully just yet, as the team has found only moderate success both at home and at Pro Circuit events. The Bucharest Major will be the fourth Pro Circuit appearance for the Chinese squad, with its two appearances so far resulting in a single Top 4 finish. Those Qualifying Points may have LGD.Forever Young on the board in the Pro Circuit standings, but it will need several more solid performances to push itself into contention with the Pro Circuit leaders. The team has been looking stronger in the Chinese region of late, but the true test for the squad in Bucharest will be how well its stacks up against international opponents. If the team can mange to get back into its old form, then the potential is there for a strong run in Bucharest for the Chinese team.
Virtus.pro (Commonwealth of Independent States) – After spending a month playing with the team’s coach as a substitute for its usual support and captain, Virtus.pro has its full roster back in action in 2018. The temporary roster change didn’t effect the team much in terms of its level of play, as VP managed to earn two Top 4 finishes at Minors during that month. The team currently sits in a tie with Team Liquid for 2nd place in the Pro Circuit standings, and the team’s confidence and litany of accolades and achievements this season makes it one of the most formidable foes in the field in Bucharest. The Bucharest Major will be VP’s eighth Pro Circuit appearance of the season, and given its track record so far, it should come into the event still holding on to its favorable position. Considering the team has only attending a single event where it failed to finish within the Top 4, the team may have even usurped the number 1 ranking by the time the action gets started at the Major.
Team Secret (Europe) – Team Secret have been absolutely dominant this season, controlling the European region with a brutal efficiency and competing on the Pro Circuit stage with a scary level of consistency. The team will be making its ninth Pro Circuit appearance at The Bucharest Major, and its results at events so far have earned the team a position as the number 1 ranked squad in the Pro Circuit standings. Given how well the team has been playing all season long, it appears that it would take either a series of massive mistakes from the European squad or a sustained and impressive run from one of the other leading teams to take that top rank away from Team Secret. Regardless of whether the team holds the number 1 rank by the time the Major comes, it will present a crucial opportunity for Team Secret to take another step towards securing a spot at TI8.
The Qualifier Winners
OG (Europe) – European squad OG had a slow start to the season, as the team struggled to get itself onto the Pro Circuit stage early. However, a surge near the end of 2017 finally saw the team finally reemerge as a contender on the international level, as OG claimed back to back Top 4 finishes at Minors to earn its first Qualifying Points of the season. The team has maintained that momentum into 2018, claiming another Top 4 finish at the Captains Draft 4.0 Minor at the beginning of January. With its position in the Pro Circuit standings favorable but not secure, the European squad is looking for another chance to put its strength on display. The Bucharest Major will be the team’s sixth Pro Circuit appearance, and OG will be looking to take advantage of this critical opportunity to continue its rise through the standings and contend with the world’s top teams again.
Vega Squadron (Commonwealth of Independent States) – CIS squad Vega Squadron has had a rough time so far this season, with the team struggling to find its rhythm in its home region. The team’s lone success so far was winning the regional qualifier for the Perfect World Masters Minor in November, but the team found itself unable to make much of an impact in its Pro Circuit debut in Shanghai. Since then, the team has shown some marginal improvement in the CIS region, but it still hasn’t been able to compete on a consistent basis. The recent loss of multiple players from the team’s roster doesn’t help it much either, but the team has managed to put together a mix of stand-in players that have earned Vega Squadron another chance to perform on the Pro Circuit stage. The Bucharest Major will be the team’s second Pro Circuit appearance of the season, but with the roster still relatively unstable and the field full of strong and proven squads, Vega Squadron’s chances of earning its first Qualifying Points of the season seem incredibly low. However, the team’s use of multiple stand-in players may present an angle for the team that its opponents may not be expecting, though it would still take a near miraculous effort from the CIS squad to crack the Top 4 at the Major.
VGJ.Thunder (China) – VGJ.Thunder opened its campaign on the Pro Circuit with an appearance at the season’s second Minor that didn’t go particularly well for it, as the team finishes outside of the Top 4. Since then though, the team has been slowly working its way up the hierarchy within the Chinese region, moving closer and closer to earning more opportunities to return to the Pro Circuit stage. The team’s persistence has paid off for it, as the team has not only improved its position within its home region, but has also earned multiple spots at Pro Circuit events this year. The Bucharest Major will be the third Pro Circuit appearance for VGJ.Thunder, and unless the team cracks the Top 4 at the ESL One Genting Minor at the end of January the team will come into Bucharest still searching for its first Qualifying Points of the season. With the field packed with formidable and accomplished opponents, the road to a Top 4 finish will not be an easy one for the Chinese squad. We will see if the team’s improvement and success at home will be carried over onto the international stage.
TNC Pro Team (Southeast Asia) – TNC Pro Team spend much of the early stages of the season in the background in the Southeast Asian region, as teams like Mineski and Fnatic stole the regional spotlight on the Pro Circuit. However, the team managed to get itself going in the last months of 2017, stringing together multiple Top 4 finishes in regional qualifiers and third party events, and claiming a 2nd place finish in its Pro Circuit debut at the MDL Macau Minor. Though the team has not yet attended any events aside from that single Minor, TNC is already beginning to reassert itself as a leading squad within the Southeast Asian region. The Bucharest Major will be just the third Pro Circuit appearance for TNC Pro Team, but if its manages to replicate its recent regional success on the international level, then the team has a chance of not only catching up to Southeast Asia leader Mineski, but also establishing itself as a top squad on the Pro Circuit as a whole.
OpTic Gaming (North America) – North American squad OpTic Gaming spent much of the early season attempting to break through its regional qualifiers, struggling to find opportunities in a region largely dominated by Evil Geniuses and compLexity Gaming. The team made its Pro Circuit debut at the Dota Summit 8 in December, but was unable to convert that opportunity into Qualifying Points. Since then, the team has been fighting to make its way back to a Pro Circuit event, a process that was made slightly more difficult following the revocation of the Major status for the Galaxy Battles II event. The Bucharest Major will be just the second Pro Circuit appearance for OpTic Gaming, but the team is hoping that it will be able to take its opponents by surprise and put together a run in Bucharest to put itself on the board in the Pro Circuits standings.
paiN Gaming (South America) – Its been a season of uncertainty and instability for South American squad paiN Gaming, as the team has had issues keeping its roster together so far. The team began playing under the paiN Gaming name in early November, though that roster underwent a small change of one player before the organization officially announced its lineup. However, that roster proved unable to be maintained as well, and now the squad has a vacancy that it has yet to fill, which is never a good sign for a team trying to make its mark on the international level. The Bucharest Major will be the South American squad’s second Pro Circuit appearance, but given the fact that we still don’t know what the team’s full roster will look like by the time the event starts, its hard to have much confidence in its ability to put together a strong performance in Bucharest. We will have to see if paiN Gaming can find a new player and successful integrate them into the lineup before the Major begins.