DreamLeague ready to host its second event of the season as the Pro Circuit returns to Sweden.
In December of 2017, Dota 2 fans across the world reveled in the exciting action of the DreamLeague Season 8 Major. Now, in 2018, DreamLeague makes its return to the Pro Circuit, though this time on a somewhat smaller scale. The regional qualifiers have concluded for the DreamLeague Season 9 Minor, and the field of participants is now set. Organized by DreamHack as the latest event in the DreamLeague series, the Minor will bring eight Pro Circuit squads from around the globe to the Monster Energy DreamHack Studios in Stockholm, Sweden as the Pro Circuit makes its second trip to the Scandinavian country this season. Set to begin on March 21 and run through the 25th, the DreamLeague Season 9 Minor will feature prize pools of $300,000 USD and 300 Qualifying Points, the distribution of which is as follows.
1st: $125,000 (Total) & 150 Qualifying Points (Per Player)
2nd: $70,000 (Total) & 90 Qualifying Points (Per Player)
3rd-4th: $30,000 (Per Team) & 30 Qualifying Points (Per Player)
5th-6th: $15,000 (Per Team)
7th-8th: $7,500 (Per Team)
The DreamLeague Season 9 Minor may not have quite as much on the line as DreamHack’s previous Pro Circuit event, but as the season goes on and The International 2018 gets closer and closer, teams across the world will be looking for any chances to secure more Qualifying Points in an effort to bolster their resumes. The field of participants features a wide range of squads, as three Top 8 squads will be in attendance (Team Secret, Team Liquid, Newbee) and six of the eight participants hold rankings in the Pro Circuit standings. Opposite ends of the spectrum will be represented in Stockholm, as Team Empire and paiN Gaming will be searching for their first Qualifying Points of the season, while Team Secret could have enough points to guarantee a direct invite to TI8 before the event even begins. With that many story lines and narratives potentially playing out, we can take a quick look at the teams that will be participating in the DreamLeague Season 9 Minor.
- 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 Secret (Europe) – Team Secret have been an absolutely dominant team so far on the Pro Circuit, as the team stands in 2nd place overall in the Pro Circuit standings. The team has a few other Pro Circuit appearances between now and the start of this Minor, so the possibility exists that Team Secret will already have secured its invite to TI8 by the time play begins in Stockholm. With that in mind, it becomes a bit hard to tell what the team will do if it comes into this event no longer in need of further Qualifying Points. The team could take the event a little less seriously if its position is secure, but either way the European squad will be a formidable foe in Stockholm.
Team Liquid (Europe) – Like Team Secret, Team Liquid have put together a truly awe-inspiring performance on the Pro Circuit so far this season. As of the writing of this, the European squad has still yet to fail to earn a Top 4 spot at a Pro Circuit event it attends, a feat of consistency and strength that no other squad has matched. Team Liquid is another of the teams that could potentially have its ticket to TI8 punched prior to the start of the action in Stockholm. Should the team have already secured its spot by the time the Minor starts, the team could take things a bit less seriously overall, which could open a door for one of the other participants to claim an upset victory over the European squad. However, the defending TI7 Champion is not likely to step off of the gas regardless of its situation, and the other teams in the field should be prepared to face Team Liquid at its best at the DreamLeague Season 9 Minor.
The Qualifier Winners
OG (Europe) – OG has made an impressive push over the last few months both within the European region and on the international level. However, as of the time of writing this, the team is still just short of the mark to earn a spot within the Top 8 in the Pro Circuit standings. The team’s recent performances have earned it a fair bit of momentum as it fights its way through the 2018 section of the season, but OG needs to turn that momentum into Qualifying Points if it wants to reclaim a position among the Pro Circuit leaders. With only eight participants in the field at this event and the potential for Team Secret, Team Liquid, or both to already be locked into TI8 spots, OG could have a crucial opportunity to crack the Top 4 and continue its push up the rankings on the Pro Circuit.
Team Empire (Commonwealth of Independent States) – Team Empire will be making its third appearance on the Pro Circuit stage in Stockholm, as the team has previously seen action at two other Minors so far in 2018. At the team’s last appearance it played with Alexander “Nix” Levin as a stand-in, and very quickly announced him as a new permanent roster member soon after. The team has continued to compete with its updated roster within the CIS region, but this opportunity to play at the DreamLeague Season 9 Minor could be the breakthrough that the team has been looking for. With some experienced and established teams in the field, the road will be a tough one for Team Empire, but the possibility is there for the CIS squad to scratch and claw its way into its first Top 4 finish of the year if it can remained composed and consistent in its play.
Newbee (China) – Newbee has been the highest ranked squad in the Chinese region for pretty much the entirety of the season so far. However, as of the time of writing this, that position has been stolen from the team by the surging Vici Gaming. With its long held position as leader of the Chinese region under fire, Newbee will be particularly keen on securing Qualifying Points wherever it can as it attempts to reclaim its former position. With that in mind, the DreamLeague Season 9 Minor presents the Chines a perfect opportunity to earn a Top 4 finish in a field that it is a clear cut favorite in. The squad may have to fight past Team Secret or Team Liquid, but its chances of earning a Top 4 spot in Stockholm look pretty good at the moment.
Fnatic (Southeast Asia) – Fnatic has proven itself to be a team that simply refuses to go away so far this season. The team has recovered from a truly awful start to its 2017-2018 campaign and a series of roster changes and become a legitimate threat and a potential contender on the Pro Circuit. The team’s recent Top 4 finish at the ESL One Katowice Major has it within shouting distance of the Top 8 in the Pro Circuit standings, and a solid performance in Stockholm at the DreamLeague Season 9 Minor could be enough to push the Southeast Asian squad into that elite club. The team will face some stout resistance at the Minor, but Fnatic has already shown us this season that it is capable of hanging with some of the Pro Circuit’s strongest squads.
Immortals (North America) – The season so far has been one struggle after another for Immortals, as the team attempts to raise its standing both in the North American region and on the Pro Circuit. The squad opened up its campaign with a Top 4 finish at the PGL Open Bucharest in October, but has been unable to replicate that initial success since. The team has undergone multiple roster changes throughout the season, and its play within the North American region has been relatively consistent but not necessarily strong enough to earn it spots at Pro Circuit events. With all that in mind, the team comes into this DreamLeague Season 9 Minor in desperate need of a strong showing on the international stage to turn around what has been a season of relative irrelevance for the squad. Should the team manage to put together a run in Stockholm, it could be enough to change the fortunes of Immortals, but it may not have many more chances left otherwise.
paiN Gaming (South America) – paiN Gaming has had a rather interesting run so far this season, as the squad has had to contend with a plethora of issues. The team has been forced to make a few roster moves within the last few months, and have even needed to play with stand-ins in some qualifiers and LAN events due to the roster instability. However, the team appears to have finally gotten those problems under control, and the result is a team that is showing some serious strength within the South American region. The team is dominating regional qualifiers in its home region, both on and off of the Pro Circuit. The big question for paiN Gaming will be whether the team can take those strong regional performances and turn them into something positive on the international stage. South American squads have struggled significantly with that step so far this season, but paiN Gaming will take its shot at becoming the first team from South America to earn Qualifying Points when the DreamLeague Season 9 Minor begins later this month.