Established powers and hopeful challengers fill out the field of participants as DAC 2018 qualifiers come to an end.
The next few months are shaping up to be quite an exciting time for Dota 2 fans, as the Pro Circuit schedule is filling up with quality events as teams prepare for the long haul on the path to TI8. The most immediate attention is being paid to the upcoming duo of Majors in the ESL One Katowice and Bucharest Major events, but the Pro Circuit doesn’t appear to be slowing down much following those two big events. The Dota 2 Asia Championship 2018 Major will be the next Major to follow after the previously mentioned duo, with the event having completed its run of regional qualifiers and locked in its field of 16 participants. The Major will be jointly organized by PGL and Perfect World, and will be held in the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai, China from the 30th of March through April 7. At stake at the event will be the Major standard prize pools of $1,000,000 and 1500 Qualifying Points.
- Prize Pool information is not available at this time. When the organizer releases the distribution details, this post will be updated to show those numbers.
The field of teams for the DAC 2018 Major has a fantastic mix of teams from various levels on the Pro Circuit. Seven of the Top 8 ranked squads in the Pro Circuit standings will be in attendance at this Major, and eleven of the sixteen participants currently hold Qualifying Points at this point in the season. The list of teams in Shanghai will also feature two squads making their Pro Circuit debut, as previous DAC Champion Invictus Gaming and CIS squad Effect will be attending their first Pro Circuit event of the season. With a mix of established powers looking to hold and expand their advantages and up and coming squads looking for opportunities to climb up the ranks, the DAC 2018 Major has all the story lines and drama needed to set up one of the most exciting events of the season so far. With every team having so much to play for in Shanghai, we can take a short look at what squads will be participating in the action.
- 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
Invictus Gaming (China) – It’s been a quiet season so far for Invictus Gaming, as the DAC 2018 Major will be the Chinese squad’s first Pro Circuit appearance of the season. The team’s direct invitation may have come from its victory in the previous iteration of the event in 2017, but the current iteration of the squad looks significantly different from that previous roster. The team’s moves during the roster lock period saw it add two new players in addition to a shift in position for its former offlaner, changes that the squad will have to adjust to relatively quickly in order to compete on the Pro Circuit stage. We haven’t seen too much to be encouraged by from Invictus Gaming this season, but there’s always hope that this new roster can put the pieces together and emerge onto the Pro Circuit scene with a solid performance on home soil in Shanghai.
Newbee (China) – At the time of the conclusion of the regional qualifiers, Newbee stands as the highest ranked Chinese squad in the Pro Circuit standings. Despite that achievement and the squad’s position as the 4th ranked squad on the Pro Circuit, Newbee has often been excluded by some circles when discussing the top tier of Pro Circuit teams. The triumvirate of Team Liquid, Team Secret, and Virtus.pro has dominated talk regarding the Pro Circuit’s top squads, but Newbee continues to put together impressive performances as it moves consistently towards a Top 8 finish and a TI8 invite. With the chance to play before its home crowd in Shanghai, Newbee will be looking to take another step up the Pro Circuit standings and perhaps overtake one of the “Big 3” with a solid showing at the DAC 2018 Major.
Team Liquid (Europe) – There hasn’t been a whole lot to complain about with Team Liquid’s performance so far this season, as the team continues to hold the 2nd place position in the Pro Circuit standings. At the time of writing this, the European squad has still yet to come away from a Pro Circuit event without a Top 4 finish, and the team has only had to play in a single qualifier to this point in the season (the direct invitation-less DreamLeague Season 8 Major). The defending TI7 Champion still appears to be at the top of its game as it moves ever closer to securing a direct invite to this years iteration of The International. The DAC 2018 Major could be a significant step towards that goal, as Team Liquid looks to keep its streak alive and bring home another Top 4 finish in Shanghai.
Vici Gaming (China) – Chinese squad Vici Gaming has enjoyed a surge within the past few months that has seen it emerge as a leading team on the Pro Circuit. The team’s string of success at Pro Circuit events catapulted the squad onto a Top 8 spot in the standings, but that position is far from secure heading into a crucial stretch of events in the coming months. If Vici Gaming wants to hold on to its favorable position, its going to have to continue the run of strong play and Top 4 finishes that it had through the end of 2017 and into this new year. The team’s roster remains unchanged following the roster lock period, and a stable and consistent roster may be the key to keeping this squad in contention on the Pro Circuit, beginning with a solid performance in Shanghai.
Virtus.pro (Commonwealth of Independent States) – Virtus.pro has held a position within the top 4 ranks of the Pro Circuit standings for nearly the entirety of the season, and currently holds the 3rd place position overall. However, the team’s recent stint in the spotlight of the Dota 2 world comes from roster changes rather than from the team’s play. The CIS squad added to the roster shuffle drama with a trade that saw VP exchange support players with Na’Vi. The move came as a bit of a surprise for a squad that had been performing so well to this point in the season, but the squad saw an opportunity for what it felt was an improvement and went for it. The roster change shouldn’t have too big of an impact on the team’s play style in the long run, but it will be interesting to see how quickly VP can adjust to its new roster member.
Team Secret (Europe) – By the time the DAC 2018 Major rolls around, there is a legitimate chance that Team Secret will have already secured itself a spot at TI8. The European squad and current Pro Circuit leader sits only around 1800 points away from the amount required to guarantee an invite to this years International. Regardless of whether the team enters the event with a direct invitation secured or not, Team Secret will still be one of the favorites to win in Shanghai. The team has been consistently taking down its opponents across its last few Pro Circuit appearances, including three straight finishes within the Top 4. With the team’s roster remaining unchanged through the roster lock period, there doesn’t appear to be much reason to believe that the squad will be slowing down anytime soon.
The Qualifier Winners
Mineski (Southeast Asia) – The 2018 section of the season has been an interesting stretch so far for Mineski, as the Southeast Asian squad is still the highest ranked team from its region in 6th place in the Pro Circuit standings. The team has earned two Top 4 finishes so far in 2018, but has also put together an incredibly poor performance at the ESL One Genting Minor (9th-12th). The two extremes of the squad’s play this year have shown us both the highs and the lows that the team is capable of moving forward. If the team encounters some of the issues it faced at the ESL One Genting Minor, then it could be in for a rough time in Shanghai. However, if the team can continue playing at a high level and put those problems behind it, then the team has to be considered a viable threat to compete at the DAC 2018 Major.
TNC Pro Team (Southeast Asia) – TNC Pro Team made its debut on the Pro Circuit in impressive fashion, earning a 2nd place finish at the MDL Macau Minor that appeared to set the team up with further opportunities to work its way up the rankings. However, the team’s momentum from that initial success seemed to stall somewhat in the time that followed. The squad has remained one of the leading teams within the Southeast Asian region, but its follow up performance on the Pro Circuit was significantly lacking, with the team finishing within the lower half of the standings at the ESL One Genting Minor. That poor performance was setback for the team to be sure, but TNC Pro Team hasn’t given up on its aspirations for international success. After making a roster change in late January, the team is confident that it can regain that momentum and reestablish itself as a serious competitor on the Pro Circuit, beginning with a solid showing in Shanghai.
Keen Gaming (China) – Keen Gaming burst onto the Pro Circuit scene earlier this season, making an impressive run through the open qualifiers to earn a spot at the ESL One Hamburg Major back in October. The team’s results in its Pro Circuit debut were not fantastic, and the Chinese squad hasn’t been able to make a return to a Pro Circuit event since. A couple of roster changes to start off 2018 has the squad making a bit of a resurgence as its level of play has picked up in the Chinese region. Those strong regional results have earned Keen Gaming another chance to perform on the Pro Circuit stage, and we’ll see if the new Keen Gaming has better luck translating its regional success into results on the international level.
LGD Gaming (China) – The season got off to a relatively positive start for Chinese squad LGD Gaming. However, following one of the more drastic and brutal declines we’ve seen in recent times, the team found itself struggling to stay afloat both within the Chinese region and on the international stage. The team underwent some roster changes to begin the new year, and the new lineup has already gotten to work on shifting the fortunes of the beleaguered organization. With the team appearing to be back on the right track, LGD Gaming come into the DAC 2018 Major with a significant opportunity to push itself back into the spotlight on the Pro Circuit.
VGJ.Thunder (China) – VGJ.Thunder has been a team that has been flying under the radar for most of the season to this point. The squad didn’t have any Qualifying Points to its name prior to the 2018 roster lock shuffles, but the addition of a new player netted the squad 45 points and got it on the board in the Pro Circuit standings. 45 points isn’t exactly an awe-inspiring sum at the moment, but VGJ.Thunder have been slowly building itself up over the course of the season, and the team appears to be ready to challenge its opponents on the international stage. We’ve already seen a small glimpse of what the team can do at the ESL One Genting Minor, where the team came just one win away from taking down fellow Chinese squad Vici Gaming and earning a place in the Playoff Bracket. Should the squad hold on to that momentum and high level of play, then the door is open for a strong run in Shanghai at the DAC 2018 Major.
OG (Europe) – European squad OG got off to a slow start to begin this season, but the team finally appears to have found its footing on the Pro Circuit within the last month or two. The team has strung together three straight Top 4 finishes at Pro Circuit events, including taking its first Minor Championship of the season at the MDL Macau Minor in December. OG has been hanging around the edge of the Top 8 in the Pro Circuit standings for a while now, but a solid performance in Shanghai at the Major could be that push the team needs to claim a place among the Pro Circuit’s leading squads. We’ll see if the European squad can continue to maintain the level of play that sparked this recent run.
Effect (Commonwealth of Independent States) – After working its way through the CIS region throughout the early months of the season, Effect has finally broken through and earned itself a chance to play on the Pro Circuit stage in Shanghai. The team recently went through some roster changes with this most recent roster lock period, and have changed three of its five players since the beginning of the season. Roster changes usually introduce some uncertainty for a team, but Effect has a small advantage in that regard due to the fact that its two most recent addition to the roster had already ben serving as stand-ins with the team for a while. With the roster solidified, Effect is looking like a much stronger and more confident team, and they will get the chance to but that on display as it makes its Pro Circuit debut at the DAC 2018 Major.
Evil Geniuses (North America) – When North American squad Evil Geniuses announced roster changes towards the end of 2017, there were some concerns that the team’s chemistry could take a hit in the middle of the season. Those concerns proved to be largely insignificant, as the new lineup was able to earn itself a Top 4 finish at the ESL One Genting Minor just about a month after those roster changes. The team appears to have adjusted well to its new lineup, but that team’s cohesiveness won’t necessarily be its biggest challenge in Shanghai. The field of participants at the Major contains some accomplished and formidable opponents, but the North American squad will still be considered a contender should it maintain its recent level of play.
OpTic Gaming (North America) – After earning a place at the DOTA Summit 8 Minor last December, it appeared that North American squad OpTic Gaming was poised for an emergence onto the Pro Circuit scene. However, the team’s Pro Circuit debut was not particularly strong, and the squad has been working towards returning to a Pro Circuit event ever since. Even in the face of fiercer competition and an increased number of squad within its home region, OpTic Gaming has maintained a level of strong and consistent play that has it still sitting near the top of the regional hierarchy. The hope for the squad now is that it can take those regional successes and carry them over onto the international stage as the team gets its second chance to perform on the Pro Circuit stage in Shanghai.
paiN Gaming (South America) – It’s been a season of uncertainty and instability for paiN Gaming so far, as the squad has had to deal with roster issues for months. The organization signed a new roster at the end of November, but that lineup has already had to be altered. With the roster lock period freezing lineups through TI8, paiN Gaming are hoping that this version of the team can keep together long enough to carry on a run on the Pro Circuit. The new lineup has seen some early success within the South American region, but the team is in for a tough challenge in Shanghai against some of the world’s most formidable opponents.