School is back in session
After The International the Dota scene goes into a sort of hibernation, almost like a school does during the summer holidays. But just as the school kids, the players of the teams stay active. This year featured one of the biggest, and most interesting, shuffles the western scene has seen. During previous years shuffling the amount of freshmen in the Dota scene has been small, but this year is different. We see no clear super team alá Secret. No one group of seniors who get together to bully the playground and steal the other kids lunch money.
Players remaining from TI5 squad: 1/5
In: EternalEnvy (Cloud 9), w33(4CL), Misery(Cloud 9), PieLieDie(Retired)
Out: Arteezy (EG), S4 (Alliance), Zai (Break), Kuroky (5jungz)
Going into TI5 Team Secret must have felt confident, and with good reason. They had dominated the scene for the months leading up to the tournament and, very famously, decideded to not scrim during the break before TI saying they didn't want to give away strategies. This descision played a key role in many debates regarding Secrets debacle in Seattle. But to many observers there was something more missing than strategy. The players didn't function as a unit. They seemed disconnected. Shortly after the tournament it became clear that Secret had huge internal issues. The rift had grown too big and in the end s4, zai, arteezy, and kuroky all decided to leave secret.
Left was Puppey. In a little less than a month he had gone from captaining the team a majority of fans believed would win TI5, to being left on his own. He was a leader without a following. And he only had one month to put together a team to compete in the first of the new majors. So Puppey went searching. In the hockey town of Toronto he found his carry. In the woods of Sweden he managed to track down an old man willing to battle once again. In Romaina he fought off bears to bring in his mid. Last, but not least, he rummaged through the Danish country side and found a grand wizard to complete his line-up. He had succeded.
All in all this shuffle may end up being a good thing for Secret. Those of us who follow the players on social media could ourselves witness Secret falling apart in a spectacular way. Will Puppey, by not filling the team with superstars, avoid the same situation?
Players remaining from TI5 squad: 5/5
Very few fans looked twice at Virtus.Pro before going to Seattle in August. As it turns out, neither did many teams. VP was a team you easily dismissed as not good enough. The big hope for the CIS scene was, as is customary now days, Team Empire. fng and friends should be happy with a top 10-finish. And at first, everything went as predicted. VP ended up in 5th place of the groups, after a tie-breaker versus CIS rivals Team Empire, and was relegated to the lower bracket. But once there VP pulled off a lower bracket run superseeded only by the Chinese all-stars in Vici Gaming. VP managed to eliminate three teams before eventually falling to xiao8's LGD Gaming. Even if the players faces were filled with disappointment as they walked off the stage, I believe that no one on the team had problems sleeping well after such an incredible feat.
The time after TI5 also signaled that the team was happy with their own performance. A team from the CIS region, a scene known for its unstable rosters, sticking together after TI is something you don't see every day. But VP fought valiantly in Seattle and hopefully we'll see another great run from them in New York!
Players remaining from TI5 squad: 5/5
CDEC Gaming took the Dota 2 world by storm at The International. There is simply no other way of describing it. A team from the play-ins managed to get to the grand finals of our world championship. The teams in the play-ins has always been kind of a joke. They’ve been said to get a free tourist visa. CDEC singlehandedly changed that. Once the other teams realized what a thread CDEC was everyone tried to mimic their play. They ran the meta. Their playstyle was so aggressive and clean. Their execution almost perfect. For the longest time it seemed like their Cinderella story would come true. But in the finals they were finally figured out. Time and time again EG lured them into clever traps and simply out played the young Chinese squad.
When a team has so much success they tend to stay together, and CDEC is no exception. The team has steamed on with their TI5 lineup. So they should be favorites to win in New York, right? Well not quite. The team failed to win the Chinese qualifier, a qualifier played shortly after the release of 6.84. We are now in a similar position. ESL New York starts a little less than a week after 6.85 was released. Is that enough for drafter Q to find the winning strategy? If so, the table is set for them to reclaim some of their pride. CDEC and EG are on different sides of the bracket, so the only way the two will face off is in a grand finals.
Players remaining from TI5 squad: 4/5
Out: Aui_2000 (Digital Chaos)
In: Arteezy (Team Secret)
What EG did after TI is something we've never seen before, in the history of Dota. The kings of Dota, the conquerors of Seattle, the winners of TI, decided to kick a player. The only possible way to react was shock. Aui_2000, support extraordinare and all around well-liked guy, was removed from EG not even a week after the biggest win any of the players had ever seen. To fans it seemed like the team finally had crossed the fine line and gone mad. And to replace him they took back Arteezy. The player that had left them high and dry for a better offer, just before DAC 2015 (a tournament EG managed to win in the end). Everyone was, rightfully, baffled by what had happened. Only days after Aui_2000 was interviewed by Thorin who, despite pushing him hard, never got an emotional statement out of Canadian. In the end EG and PPD realized that a statement had to be made. Thanks to a long blog post PPD managed to save what must have been the worst handled roster move since the last time Aui was kicked from a team.
So where does EG stand now? It's hard to tell. The teams has not played any broadcasted games since TI. And with the introduction of 6.84 we saw that EG sometimes needs extra time to adjust to a patch. But there is no question about the fact that they now have one of the strongest support duos, if not the strongest, in the Dota scene. While it has been quite a while since Fear played support he brings important experience to this, otherwise, fairly young team. This together with the strategic mind of PPD promises to make EG a competitor for first prize. Not only in New York this weekend, but the entire year.
Players remaining from TI5 squad: 5/5
In a scene as unstable as the CIS scene shuffles are a thing that happens every week. Players are recruited to captain a team, only to be released shortly after. Entire teams disband after losing a single Bo3. If you fail to qualify for TI you disband. That has been true. Until now. Vega Squadron came into the play-ins for The International as one of the favorites to qualify. In the end it all ended in tears though. After two tough 2-1 losses the team were out and people started betting on how long it would take them to disband.
But Vega sticked together. And they are stronger due to that. In a stacked qualifier for the tournament they managed to fight their way through monkey business, NaVi, and NiP to qualify for new york. Outside of the NYC qualifier they managed to take 5jungz to a game 5 in the qualifiers for the Nanyang Dota 2 Championships, again beating out some of the top teams in Europe. And Vega will have to continue to perform. They have the toughest possible opponents in the first round of the playoffs; current TI champions EG. But if Vega does what they’re good at, and stick together, who knows where they’ll end up?
Players remaining from TI5 squad: 2/5
In: Black^, DJ, Net
Out: kYxY, JoHnNy, Kecik Imba
Fnatic was one of the first team eliminated from The International this year. And even though many predictions had placed them in the bottom few slots, it must have been a disappointment for the Malaysian squad. Right after TI Mushia and Ohaiyo removed the other 3 players from the roster and instead brought in crowd favorite Black^, former RAVE player DJ, and their former teammate Net.
In New York, Fnatic will face maybe the hardest opposition in the first round. The reborn squad of Team Secret will undoubtedly push Fnatic to their limits. And maybe that is exactly what they need, because there is no doubt the lineup shows promise, but making them play as a squad will surely be the biggest difficulty they will face.
Players remaining from TI5 squad: 0/5
Editor's note: Fire was picked up by Archon after this article was written.
From the ashes of several TI5-era teams that failed to qualify for the main event, Brian “FLUFFANDSTUFF” Lee’s unsponsored team name of choice, Team FIRE, has been rekindled. Jio “Jeyo” Madayag’s return to North America, abroad since his kick from EG in February 2014, serves as a second shot at redemption after Rave’s failure to escape the TI5 SEA qualifiers following an impressive performance at DAC. Eric “747” Dong, whose mid talent on Void Boys was only eclipsed by the mystique of their enigmatic carry PatSoul, and David “Moo” Hull, whose performance on ROOT led the squad to a first place finish in the first BTS Americas tournament over TI5-bound compLexity and Archon, round out the core roles. FIRE’s support duo of FLUFF and Bryant “whiteBeard” Lehwald are no strangers to one another: they had teamed up in a previous incarnation of FIRE and an iteration of Sneaky Nyx Assassins.
FIRE’s performance in the ESL qualifier has solidified their place in the upper crust of the whirlpool of reconfigured North American teams, trading series with 2nd place darlings DigitalChaos and keeping just behind pace of the new Cloud9. In a scene where the only constant is change, it’s not unlikely to see FIRE break through and qualify for coming LANs like The Summit 4 and the major in Frankfurt. It’s no surprise that FIRE enters the weekend as underdogs, as any North American team whose name doesn’t start with “Evil” and end with “Geniuses” would be, but it would be unwise to count out the new squad with everything to prove.
Players remaining from TI5 squad: 3/5
Out: Burning (Vici Gaming), Faith (TongFu)
In: Rabbit (Newbee), super (Wings Gaming)
After a disappointing run in Seattle, where the former TI champions dropped out of the tournament in the second round of the losers bracket, iG was a defeated team. But they bounced back. After the department of Burning and Faith from the roster they instead brought in Rabbit and super, and since they have been able to produce some good results. The most notable one being the victory against LGD, who finished 3rd at TI, in the qualifiers for this tournament. Unfortunately they fell short and lost in the finals against EHOME. But after EHOME failed to obtain visas for the USA the invite was given to iG.
ESL One is going to be an incredibly important tournament for iG. The first major is on the horizon and unless they want to leave Frankfurt as quickly as they left Seattle, iG is going to have to get in as much LAN practise as possible. A deep run in New York would be exactly what this team needs.
Contributors: Julmust, DOCTORHECKLE
Contributors: Julmust, DOCTORHECKLE