Participants locked in for season finale in Shanghai as Pro Circuit makes one final trip to China.
It’s last call for teams on the Pro Circuit at the end of April, as the final series of regional qualifiers comes to a close and the field of teams is now set for the China Dota 2 Supermajor. With the conclusion of these last Pro Circuit qualifiers, the Dota 2 world now has a final list of squads that it will have the chance to see on the Pro Circuit stage before the onset of the TI8 Qualifiers later this summer. Organized by PGL and Perfect World, the event is set to return the Pro Circuit to China one last time for the final Major of the season. Running from June 2 through the 10th, the China Dota 2 Supermajor will feature 16 Pro Circuit teams at the Yuanshen Gymnasium in Shanghai, China competing for one last chance at Qualifying Points and the title of Major Champion. Also at stake at the Major are the largest prize pools of any Pro Circuit event so far, with $1,500,000 USD and 2250 Qualifying Points available for the participants. As of the conclusion of the regional qualifiers though, the organizers have yet to announce just how those prize pools will be distributed among the 16 competing teams.
With the China Dota 2 Supermajor serving as the last Pro Circuit event of the year and having an expanded prize pool, the Major has the opportunity to have a significant and final impact on the Pro Circuit standings. With no other events standings between it and the TI8 Qualifiers, the outcome in Shanghai could mean the difference between a direct invite and a grueling march through regional qualifiers for some of the teams in the field. By the time the Major actually begins in June, the landscape of the Dota 2 world may have changed drastically, but for now there are still a lot of questions that are as of yet unanswered on the Pro Circuit. As of the conclusion of the regional qualifiers, one of the participating teams (Virtus.pro) has already secured its place in Vancouver this summer with a direct invite to TI8. Six squads in the field (Team Liquid, Team Secret, Newbee, Vici Gaming, Mineski, PSG.LGD) are currently ranked in the Top 8 but could potentially secure direct invite status before the start of the Supermajor, while one participating team (VGJ.Thunder) is currently ranked in the Top 8 but will not have the opportunity to lock in a direct invite prior to the final Major of the season. Meanwhile, three of the teams set to compete in Shanghai (Evil Geniuses, Na’Vi, TNC Pro Team) are ranked outside of the Top 8 but have enough appearances on the Pro Circuit remaining to potential move into the Top 8 and possibly even secure a direct invite outright. With all of that talk of direct invites and Top 8 seeds, there are also teams in the field either still searching for their first success on the Pro Circuit stage or unable to take advantage of a successful run in Shanghai at all. Two of the participants (The Final Tribe, Team Spirit) do not currently hold Qualifying Points or a rank in the Pro Circuit standings, while three teams (OG, VGJ.Storm, Infamous) are ineligible for invites to TI8 or the TI8 Regional Qualifiers. Of course, with three Majors and a Minor left to play before the start of the Supermajor, many of those positions will likely change before the teams make their way to Shanghai, but even with shifting circumstances the field for this event will feature a variety of narratives and expectations for the teams involved. With that in minds, let’s take a look at the 16 teams that will be fighting for one last chance at glory on the Pro Circuit stage in the final Major of the season.
- 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
Virtus.pro (CIS) – So in case you’re someone who has not paid any attention to the Pro Circuit all season long and are planning to tune in to the final event of the season, let’s go over Virtus.pro’s position one last time. The CIS squad doesn’t actually need to be at this final Major, as the team has held enough Qualifying Points to guarantee a direct invite to TI8 for quite some time now. As we’ve seen from its last few Pro Circuit appearances though, VP is not content to sit back and relax while the rest of the Pro Circuit continues to compete. The CIS squad will once again look to test itself against the best teams in the Dota 2 world at the Major, and will have another opportunity to build up momentum and practice its strategies before the team is actually forced to take a break from official matches over the course of the TI8 Regional and Open Qualifiers.
Team Liquid (Europe) – Team Liquid is in a rather interesting position in terms of its placement in the Pro Circuit standings. At the time of writing, the European squad sits in 2nd place overall but has not yet earned enough Qualifying Points to lock in a direct invite to TI8. However, the team will be participating in both the EPICENTER XL Major and the ESL One Birmingham Major prior to it strip to China for this final Major of the season. A finish of 3rd or better at either of those Majors will allow Team Liquid to secure a direct invite, which would relieve an enormous amount of pressure from the team’s shoulders heading into this event. That being said, the team will likely take the position that we’ve seen VP employ since acquiring its direct invite slot, as Team Liquid will hope to utilize the China Dota 2 Supermajor as a chance to test and prepare itself for a nearly guaranteed run in Vancouver this summer.
Team Secret (Europe) – Team Secret currently stands as one of the top squads on the Pro Circuit, with the European team ranked 3rd overall in the standings. However, by the time the team begins play at the China Dota 2 Supermajor, Team Secret may already have secured a direct invite to TI8. The European squad will be participating in two Majors and one Minor prior to this final event of the season, giving the team multiple opportunities to reach the requisite Qualifying Point total. With the team set to attend four of the final five events of the season, Team Secret would need to suffer a sudden and significant drop in its level of play to miss out on a direct invite to TI8. However, those final events will have fields full of teams looking for a chance to make one last push up the standings, so Team Secret may very well come into this event in need of a quality showing to finish its season strong.
Newbee (China) – Newbee currently stands as the top ranked Chinese team in the Dota 2 world, as well as one of the leading team on the Pro Circuit. The squad’s schedule over the final months of the season is set to be busy, as Newbee will be participating in every single one of the final four Majors of the season. With that many opportunities to play on the Pro Circuit stage, the hopes are that Newbee won’t be in any need of a strong performance at the China Dota 2 Supermajor in order to secure a direct invite to TI8. That being said, the team will likely still enter the Major looking for one last chance to test itself and show its strength on the Pro Circuit stage against both international opponents as well its its regional rivals in the field too.
Vici Gaming (China) – With the Pro Circuit season beginning to wind down, Chinese squad Vici Gaming finds itself sitting in a somewhat precarious position. The team is currently ranked 6th in the Pro Circuit standings, but that position could change with four Major and one Minor still left on the schedule. The good news for Vici Gaming is that it still appears to hold its fate in its hands, as the team is set to participate in the final three Majors of the season, including this China Dota 2 Supermajor. A Top 4 finish at one or more of those three Majors will likely be enough to secure a direct invite to TI8, and hopefully Vici Gaming will come into the Major without the added pressure of needing a quliaty performance to avoid the TI8 Qualifiers.
VGJ.Thunder (China) – VGJ.Thunder is yet another squad whose current position within the Top 8 in the Pro Circuit standings could drastically change by the time the China Dota 2 Supermajor begins in June. The team currently sits as the 7th ranked team in the standings, but with fewer appearances on the Pro Circuit left compared to some of its fellow Top 8 squads, VGJ.Thunder’s position is not as secure as the Chinese squad might like. Aside from a potential spot in the GSEC: Thailand Minor (qualifier still ongoing as of now), this Major will be the only Pro Circuit appearance for VGJ.Thunder between now and the end of the season. That means that the Chinese squad will enter the China Dota 2 Supermajor in need of a strong performance to either remain in the Top 8 or climb back into it. No matter the exact scenario, VGJ.Thunder will more than likely be facing an incredibly high pressure situation as it plays on home soil in the final Pro Circuit event of the season.
Evil Geniuses (North America) – Evil Geniuses are currently on the outside looking in on the Pro Circuit, as the teams is ranked outside of the Top 8 as of the conclusion of the regional qualifiers for the China Dota 2 Supermajor. By the time play begins in Shanghai though, the situation for the North American leader may have changed, as EG has appearances at one Minor and one Major scheduled before the China Dota 2 Supermajor. Even if the North American squad earns Top 4 finishes at both of those events, it is still likely to need a solid showing in Shanghai in order to stave off other surging squads at the end of the season. If EG can’t crack the Top 8 then it is still essentially locked in to an invite to the TI8 Regional Qualifier, but the opportunity to avoid playing its regional rivals and going directly to TI8 will hopefully be motivation enough for the team to play at its best in in Shanghai.
Natus Vincere (CIS) – Na’Vi has been having a rough stretch on the Pro Circuit ever since the team’s roster changes in February. Despite the squad’s continued struggles on the international level, Na’Vi is still in a position to challenge for a Top 8 spot if it can turn things around over these last few months of the season. Na’Vi is currently ranked 10th in the Pro Circuit standings, and will be attending three of the final four Majors on the schedule to close out the season. The team has not been faring particularly well on the Pro Circuit stage, but all it would take is one or two solid showings across these last few Majors to keep the team in contention for a Top 8 spot. Unless Na’Vi pulls off an improbable series of wins in its other Pro Circuit appearances, the team will enter the China Dota 2 Supermajor in need of a Top 4 finish to have a chance of receiving a direct invite to TI8.
Mineski (Southeast Asia) – Miesnki’s recent success at the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018 Major has the Southeast Asian team sitting in one of the more favorable positions on the Pro Circuit with a 4th place ranking in the standings. With the team set to participate in all four of the final Majors of the season, it would take a monumental lapse in play from the SEA squad to miss out on a direct invite to TI8. However, the team’s Major Championship may not have dispelled all of the doubts surrounding the squad, as the question now will be whether the team can maitnain that level of play over the rest of the season. With that being said, it is unlikely that the team enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor in need of more Qualifying Points. Regardless of its situation coming into the event, Mineski will have the chance to use the Major to test itself one final time before TI8 begins this summer.
OG (Europe) – OG enters this final stretch of the season still ineligible for invites to TI8 or the TI8 Regional Qualifiers, meaning the European squad will have to run through the Open Qualifiers if it wants to have a shot at a spot in Vancouver. The team’s performance within its home region has continued to be solid even after its roster change, but success on the Pro Circuit stage has been hard to come by for OG. However, the team will have a multitude of opportunities to turn those recent struggles around and end its season on a high note, as OG is set to participate in all four of the final Majors of the season. While the team won’t be able to utilize any Qualifying Points, a Top 4 finish at any of these final Majors would serve as a significant confidence boost for the team and would show that OG is still capable of competing on the international level in spite of its recent struggles. The China Dota 2 Supermajor will give the European squad one last chance to hopefully display its strength before the team has to brace the dangers and trials of the TI8 Open Qualifiers.
The Qualifier Winners
PSG.LGD (China) – As of the conclusion of the regional qualifiers for the China Dota 2 Supermajor, PSG.LGD stand as the 8th ranked team in the Pro Circuit standings and is in line for a direct invite to TI8. However, that position is far from secure for the Chinese squad, and by the time this Major rolls around in June, there is a chance that PSG.LGD may be on the outside looking in in terms of the Top 8 teams on the Pro Circuit. The Chinese squad will have a few opportunities to bolster its position prior to the Major in Shanghai though, as PSG.LGD is set to participate in both the EPICENTER XL Major and the MDL Changsha Major before this final event of the season. If all goes well for the team at those events, then the China Dota 2 Supermajor could be more of a victory lap for the team as opposed to a must win event. Whether the team enters the Major in desperate need of a Top 4 finish to hold onto a TI8 invite or it enters with little to no pressure as a guaranteed participant in Vancouver, PSG.LDG will more than likely be looking for one final chance to show off its strength on the Pro Circuit stage before the chaos of TI sweeps over the Dota 2 world.
VGJ.Storm (North America) – VGJ.Storm has an opportunity to build up a considerable amount of momentum over the final month or so of the season. The North American squad is now set to attend three of the final five Pro Circuit events of the season with this qualification for the China Dota 2 Supermajor. Unfortunately for the team, it won’t be able to make much of an effective push up the standings over those final appearances, as the team is not eligible for invites to TI8 or the TI8 regional qualifiers. That being said, one or more quality showing on the Pro Circuit stage would put the team in an advantageous position heading into the Open Qualifiers for TI this summer.
Infamous (South America) – Infamous enters this final stretch of the Pro Circuit season in an interesting position, as the team is currently the only team in the South American region to hold any Qualifying Points. However, the South American squad underwent a roster change at the end of March that forfeited its eligibility for direct invites to TI8 and the TI8 Regional Qualifiers. While the team is set to participate in two of the final four Majors of the season, including this China Dota 2 Supermajor, Infamous won’t be able to make any use of its potential Qualifying Point earnings. With that being said, the South American squad will still enter the Major with something to prove in its final Pro Circuit appearance of the season. Infamous has been solid against its regional rivals so far this season, but a strong showing in Shanghai will give the team a level of confidence and credibility on the international level that it has been lacking to this point in the season.
TNC Pro Team(Southeast Asia) – At the conclusion of this final set of qualifiers for the season, TNC Pro Team still stands in a position to potentially compete for a Top 8 spot in the Pro Circuit standings. The Southeast Asian squad is currently ranked 13th overall on the Pro Circuit, and would need a rather significant string of success over the course of these last few events in order to make that climb all the way up into the Top 8. As one of three Southeast Asian squads to hold Qualifying Points on the Pro Circuit, TNC Pro Team is pretty much guaranteed a spot in the TI8 Regional Qualifiers regardless of its performance over the final events of the season. That gives the SEA squad a nice fallback option, but the allure of a direct invite to Vancouver will still be incredible motivation for the team to play its absolute best at this final Pro Circuit event of the season.
The Final Tribe (Europe) – At the conclusion of the regional qualifiers for the China Dota 2 Supermajor, The Final Tribe is a squad that has had limited opportunities to play on the Pro Circuit stage. With one Minor and one Major appearance on the schedule for the squad over the final months of the season, The Final Tribe will get its chance to compete on the international level and potentially earn its first Pro Circuit success of the season. Unless the team manages to earn 1st place finishes at both of its upcoming events, The Final Tribe doesn’t really factor into the equation in terms of the Top 8 teams in the Pro Circuit standings. While the team may not be able to win itself a direct invite to TI8, solid showing in its final two Pro Circuit appearances can potentially help The Final Tribe secure an invite to the TI8 Europe Qualifier for a shot at a spot in Vancouver.
Team Spirit (CIS) – Team Spirit has been a team that has not had too many opportunities to be in the limelight within the CIS region to this point in the season. The squad has performed well in regional qualifiers and has consistently been able to challenge some of the leading teams in the region, but has not been able to secure spots at Pro Circuit events until now. This appearance at the China Dota 2 Supermajor will mark Team Spirit’s debut on the Pro Circuit stage, but the CIS squad won’t be able to make use of any Qualifying Point it would earn if it managed to pull off a Top 4 finish. The team’s roster changes near the end of February made Team Spirit ineligible for TI8 invites, meaning the CIS squad is destined for a date with the TI8 CIS Open Qualifiers this summer. With that constraint hanging over the team’s heads in Shanghai, the focus for Team Spirit at the Major will be to put together its best performance on the Pro Circuit stage and gauge where it stands on the international level. A solid showing against some of the Pro Circuit’s leading teams at the China Dota 2 Supermajor would give Team Spirit a sense of confidence and momentum as it prepares for its run through the Open Qualifiers.