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DreamLeague Major – Ranking the Teams

DreXxiN 2020-01-17 07:00:11
  Dreamleague Major is just around the corner and teams are expected to be in top gear for this event as the winner is almost guaranteed a direct invite for The International 2020. Teams from across the globe will be contending not only for the majority chunk of the prize money but also for the much coveted DPC points that will help them inching a step closer to TI10. This opinion piece is an attempt to rank teams into four tiers with some light analysis that may or may not help you with comparing your own predictions for the event. Without further ado, let's take a look at the participating teams and their chances at the event!

Upper Echelon

Teams in this tier have the best chances of winning the Dreamleague Major. Dreamleague

Vici Gaming:

Vici Gaming are definitely one of the favourites going into the Dreamleague Major. Their current DPC year has started on a good footing with a second place finish at MDL Chengdu Major and taking the gold at ONE Esports Singapore Invitational. Despite losing to TNC at the first Major, VG has quite comfortably adapted to the new patch released since. With LGD missing out on DreamLeague Major, the onus of holding China’s reputation at the event rests heavily on VG’s shoulders. I believe VG is one of the, if not the best team that has a real shot at winning, especially after their hot win streak at ONE Singapore. Dreamleague

Evil Geniuses:

Similarly to VG, EG has started off in the current DPC calendar on a stable yet improving footing. They placed fourth at MDL Chengdu Major prior to the release of the Outlander’s patch. What’s more impressive is – the emergence of dominant EG – that we all got to witness at ONE Singapore. It seemed as if EG had studied the patch in great detail and were hell bent on wreaking havoc against their opponents – something that did actually happen. All of their games throughout the group-stage and play-offs barring two – one tied series against Gambit and a grand finals series loss against VG – were nothing more than an absolute spectacle to see. Can EG win their first ever Major at the DreamLeague Leipzig Major? I certainly think so. I believe it is EG’s time to break the curse.  

Hopefuls

This tier consists of those teams that can give a tough competition to the prospective winners in the Upper Echelon. You can certainly expect them to finish in the top 6. Dreamleague

Team Secret:

  I may receive a lot of flak for placing Secret below VG and EG, but I do have a valid reason – at least I hope I do! Post TI9, Secret decided to take a break from competitive gaming until the first Major. They went into ONE Singapore with a stand-in – Midone replacing Yapzor – as well as a new recruit,  Matumbaman. Despite having immensely skilled players on an individual level, it was apparent that it would cause hindrance at some point, especially with an incomplete and a less cohesive roster. Another factor as to why I’m placing Secret in this category is due to their apparent lack of practice and experience as a newly built team. Although their performance was above average in the group-stage at ONE Singapore, their eventual fall to EG and VG – two of the strongest teams at the moment – in the play-offs creates certain inhibitions in my mind. I think Secret need more time to gel and synergize as a team and in due time we’ll definitely see them lifting a trophy or two, perhaps even at the Dreamleague major.

Dreamleague

TNC:

TNC started off the current year with a bang with back to back wins at ESL One Hamburg and MDL Chengdu Major. Addition of Tae-won “March” Park and Damien “kpii” Chok to the mix seemed to have worked like a charm. Clutch draft execution and strategy – all thanks to March – played an important role in their performance. However, at ONE Singapore, we saw a completely different side of them – a team drafting and playing conservatively at best, lacking synergy and looking scattered altogether. Was that due to the lack of understanding because of the new patch or their inability to adapt? ONE Singapore must have made them realize that being complacent isn’t an option as ONE Singapore was just a precursor to what to expect at DreamLeague Major.

Invictus Gaming:

The Chinese giants have started the current DPC season on a solid footing. Winning the first minor of the season; The DOTA Summit 11 as well as placing a respectable third at the MDL Chengdu Major, iG has definitely set some momentum for themselves. Judging by their performance in the last two aforementioned tournaments, iG has shown dominating performance against a variety of teams across the group stage as well as the playoffs including a 2:0 win over Evil Geniuses. With that said, they also sailed comfortably through the DreamLeague China qualifiers on the new patch alongside notable Chinese teams such as VG, NewBee, Ehome and others. This leads me to believe that yet again they’ll display a good showing at the Major.

Nigma:

Yes, they couldn’t make the cut to the Major via qualifiers. Yes, we saw them struggle in terms of synergy and gameplay in the qualifiers and eventually having to see them at the Bukovel Minor. Yes, they seemed extremely shaky during the group-stage of the Minor with half of their games going to a full series. Yes, we saw them lose to RNG in the upper bracket in a closely contested series and falling to the lower bracket. But as Miracle- says, “Upper bracket is for b*****s!”, Nigma displayed the uncanny resilience and their famous lower bracket run – that led them to win TI7 – at the event and ended up taking sweet vengeance against RNG in the grand finals, and thus earning the last coveted spot at the Major. After taking a break from the first Major and leading up to the Bukovel Minor, we’ve seen Kuroky and co. only get better. While their true test lies against top tier teams at the Major, one certainly cannot neglect this team’s insane potential and growing prowess. I believe they can make a comeback and have what it takes to win the DreamLeague major.
Related: Nigma Analysis; Individual movements and Strategies

Potential to cause upsets

This list consists of those names that are capable to cause upsets at any given point of time against the stronger teams.

Alliance:

The newly formed squad of Alliance has a stable mixture of veterans and new blood that depicts potential. Half of the squad has experience playing at the highest level including The International whilst the remaining also have the same credentials barring TI. While this particular squad was picked up by Alliance, everyone was quite skeptical on how this roster would turn out for real. Going by their results in the last few tournaments, they have a good chance to pull an upset against the top teams considering favourable match-ups. While Nikobaby has been a stand-out player with a solid backup from Fata, Handsken and 33, it is Limmp that worries me. He has outshined his opponents when he get his favoured/aggressive style heroes that can create space across the map; however, once you take that away from him, Alliance as a whole struggles.

Team Liquid:

This team is young, full of promise, has great potential and given us top notch performances in the past. However, the only thing keeping them at bay is their inconsistency. In order to stand-out amongst the rest, Team Liquid needs to show a consistent performance throughout. Their on/off style is a cause for worry which in turn is detrimental for themselves. If you judge them by their past performance, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. They didn’t make it past the group stage at ESL One Hamburg and the recently concluded ONE Singapore whilst having a top 6 finish at MDL Chengdu Major. Whether the problem lies with their mindset, coaching, or just bad luck, we still cannot rule them out as they are quite capable of taking games off top teams.

Virtus Pro:

In the new season, VP has gone through a massive roster change with only Solo and Noone retaining their spots in the team with the new inclusion of Resolution, and two new players to the scene in Save- and epileptick1d. While the Reso, Solo, Noone trio have seen the best and worst there is in this industry, the other two are fresh faces to the scene. It is reminiscent of the old VP line-up that was built from scratch and eventually became a powerhouse with time. This is also the reason why I don’t rank VP highly at this Major since they are a new team and are yet to strike the right chord in terms of synergy and mutual trust.

Natus Vincere:

I would like to think that the current Navi roster is raw when it comes to talent. Potential is aplenty but finesse is missing. The Ukrainian giants have been struggling to field a top notch roster for the past few years after the eventual demise of their old TI winning roster. Recent additions of 9pasha and Illias replacing Blizzy and Sonneiko, respectively, has been a good move that brings in the much needed stability around their set-up. Barring Illias, everyone else has exposure of playing at the top level at various LAN events across the globe and had a top 8 finish at the recently concluded ONE Singapore. They will certainly be counted among the underdogs at this event and only time will reveal the extent of potential that this roster has.  

Chaos Esports Club:

While this roster has one of the better individually talented players in North America, it is inconsistency and roster instability that has been plaguing the team for long. Initially when the team was formed, everyone was quite excited to see the Hassan brothers (Sumail and Yawar) playing together whilst teaming up with CCnC, MSS and SVG. However, the conflict of roles played a spoilsport as many tweaks and adjustments were needed. However, Sumail soon left the team and ever since, Chaos has been trying out players to fill their last spot. Currently, with DM as their try-out, Chaos will go into the Dreamleague Major hoping for a good result, although I’m unsure whether they’ll actually deliver considering the little-to-no time they’ve had at their disposal of competing against the top teams in the new patch.  

Beastcoast:

The Peruvians have surprised everyone along the way – be it at TI when everyone pegged them on the bottom of the list, or at other events in a similar fashion. Arguably, Beastcoast is the Dark Horse at this tournament, and while they can take games against top teams – as they have done in the past – it’ll be interesting to see how this team shapes up during the event. “Can they be stable throughout the event and somehow manage to take games consistently against the top teams?”, is the real question in place. Personally speaking, I like to see this team play, but I’ll still expect them to place somewhere in the lower half of the rankings, especially now, when top teams are back into the fray at Dreamleague Major.  

Lower Echelon

This category consists of teams that will most likely end up at the bottom half of the table since expecting a top eight finish will be exceeding beyond expectations.

Fnatic:

It is very tricky when it comes to this team. They are normally beasts when it comes to playing in the SEA regional qualifiers for any event with a guaranteed spot alongside another behemoth, TNC. In fact, they are so good that they have managed to gain an upper hand against TNC a majority of the times. However, this consistency is restricted only when it comes to the regional competition, at least for the past few events, where the team has consistently had a finish in the bottom half of the ladder. Their record against teams from other regions is below average and this is precisely the reason as to why I don’t have high hopes from them. On paper, Fnatic have one of the, if not the best individually skilled players in the scene alongside a new acquisition – 23savage – a promising young carry that became known since his time on Team Jinesbrus. In the end, I don’t think they stand a chance against the top teams unless their new coach Sunbhie comes up with an out of the box idea in terms of draft and synergy.  

Pain Gaming:

In the past year, Pain Gaming  have clearly been replaced by Beastcoast as the number one South American squad in Dota 2. It is relatively less likely to see anything from this squad at an international event of this magnitude. While they did manage to outclass Beastcoast in the SA regional qualifiers to grab the first spot at Leipzig, we cannot deny the fact that Pain doesn’t have much international exposure for their newly built team. Combine this with their chaotic and aggressive style of play, they can certainly take teams by surprise in a best-of-one, but ultimately, I don’t see them going a long way at the event.

Team Aster:

The legendary Burning’s squad is nothing but a piece of the puzzle that is yet to be solved. The team has been extremely unstable while performing at any event. They have a talented line-up comprising of Sccc, Fade, Boboka and others but are far off from even scratching the surface of their actual “potential”. Going into the Leipzig Major, we cannot possibly consider this team as a top contender at the Dreamleague Major considering their conservative and outdated style of play as was evident at ONE Singapore.  

Reality Rift:

Not much is known about this team apart from a few recognized names like Kyxy, Nutz and Alacrity. However, one thing that we do know is the fact that Reality Rift had a dream groupstage and playoffs run at the SEA regional qualifiers. Besting TNC and drawing with Geek Fam alongside a convincing win against Cignal Ultra in the playoff that secured them a spot at Major, is something that anyone can only dream of. However, I don’t expect them to have much impact when it comes to an international event such as the Dreamleague Major, since they’ll simply be like a fish in an ocean filled with sharks. Nonetheless, it’ll be good exposure for them and might learn a thing or two in process.
Feature image credit: Dreamhack Image credits: ManLok Fung/ESPAT Media Nigma Image credit: WePlay! Esports Twitter Fnatic Image credit: Fnatic Twitter If you enjoyed this article, follow the author on Twitter at @Karyb4u.
 

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