Table of Contents
Meet the European Defenders
The Challengers around the Globe
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Welcome to DreamHack, welcome to Jönköping and one of the oldest traditions of esports. In recent years DreamLeague had lost a bit of it’s luster but this season marks its return to prominence as the second major of the season.
With a double-elimination bracket and 8 teams in attendance the stage is set for a battle not only for a million dollar prize pool but also 1500 DPC points up for grabs. Can the Europeans do just as well as the Chinese did during the Perfect World Minor and keep those points in their scene or will the numerous challengers from abroad take it home with them? Get ready for some high-end Dota as the second Major champion of the Dota Pro Circuit gets crowned.
As 4 out of 8 attendees are hailing from Europe they very much so represent the strongest the “old world” has to offer at the moment. We have the champions of Hamburg, Virtus.Pro as well as Natus Vincere, looking quite revitalized and “back” (yet again) representing the CIS community. For the Western European scene we have TI Champions Team Liquid and Hamburg runner-ups Team Secret carrying the torch as OG missed out on DreamHack with their current struggles since the post-TI shuffle.
Meet the European Defenders
Virtus.Pro and Team Liquid are certainly among the favorites to take home the entire event as both teams show no signs of letting up and will be hungry to gain some more DPC points. Taking two majors in a row would also be quite the success for VP and the achievement-starved CIS region after the longest drought was just ended in Hamburg. For TL Jönköping is also a chance to further drive home the point that Hamburg was just a hiccup and that the TI-Winner’s curse is just a myth. So far they seem utterly unaffected by it as their dominance is still largely felt throughout the scene via their two already bagged Minor championships.
Team Secret would love to be counted in the same row as VP and TL but unfortunately for them their recent performance at the Perfect World Masters was not the boost the silver medalist in Hamburg was looking for. While partly excused by the lack of their complete roster, DreamLeague Season 8 finals are very important for Puppey & Co. to keep their momentum and to fill the void left by OG in the European powerhouse category. If Secret is not quite up to the level of the two front runners Na’Vi has to be even more so the odd one out.
The story of Na’Vi being down and then back again has been already retold countless times, but this time around there seems to be more credit behind their claim to be “back”. Not only do they make it more consistently out of the CIS qualifiers but their performances on LAN have been nothing to scoff at either. While still empty-handed in terms of DPC points, their recent victory over VP in a Bo5 on LAN in the Adrenaline Cyber League was impressive to say the least. Then again they also just lost to Team Spirit in the qualifiers for Galaxy Battles, so how good Na’Vi actually are is difficult to say at the moment. Keeping that in mind DreamLeague is doubly important for them as their performance in Sweden will decide if the recent months are just a repeat of their never-ending story or the start of a “true” rebirth of the team that dominated Dota 2 in its infancy.
Travelling to the icy north we have some of the best of the other regions in attendance at Jönköping. Leading the charge are without a doubt Newbee, recent champions of the Perfect World Masters and with vengeance in mind for their lackluster performances earlier in the season. Following the Chinese giants are the ever-present North American darlings of EG. With the return of Fear expectations had been high for EG, but approaching the second major of the season all they have to show for is a measly third place at PGL Open Bucharest. Not only has their performance in inter-regional competition been disappointing but even more worrisome is their lack of a stranglehold on the NA scene. With new challengers clawing at their heels from all directions EG has much to prove in Sweden.
The Challengers around the Globe
The other two teams have a distinct lack of pedigree that Newbee and EG can boast of. Fnatic has been struggling ever since they imported EternalEnvy and pieliedie from the North American scene and their lack of results so far has been quite the letdown. But since they brought in Abed to replace Excalibur Fnatic have become a much more serious threat to the competition. While they still cannot completely escape Mineski’s clutches in the SEA region, their recent form has shown a remarkable amount of improvement from what we had seen from them during the ESL One Hamburg Major. Now heading to their second major with a stronger lineup they might be able to finally give their massive fan base the success they have been hoping for.
Hope is the term that coincidentally characterizes the South American representative Infamous the best as well. With the advent of the new Dota Pro Circuit chances have been given aplenty to a region that prior had just been a footnote in competitive Dota. But neither the reformed SG e-sports or Infamous had been quite able to recapture the magic that was the Brazilians upset of Secret during the Kiev Major. With SG having had their shot at Hamburg it now falls to Infamous to carry the weight of a region’s hope on their shoulders, will they step up to the momentous task in front of them or crumble like before?
Virtus.Pro vs Natus Vincere
Who would win? The Hamburg Major champion, who had been among the top teams for month or “some washed up team that should have given up long ago”? Prior to the recent weeks the question would have been incredibly easy to answer. With the result of the Adrenaline Cyber League and Na´Vi’s current upwards trajectory it gets quite a bit harder however. With domestic matches it also is hard to predict what happens as the teams know each other very well. Nevertheless Virtus.Pro’s superior skill, experience and captainship should win out over Na´Vi, especially considering that Na´Vi had also just lost to Team Spirit, who are far from the strongest the CIS region can boast.
Prediction: VP 2-1 Na´Vi
Team Liquid vs Fnatic
On paper this is a matchup that should be incredibly easy to call and in contrast to the first one I have little doubts that TL can meet the challenge from SEA with ease. Fnatic has been too inconsistent and flaky to present a real challenge to the reigning TI champions. While Abed’s addition is a step in the right direction for Fnatic they need more time to truly become a threat to the established top tier teams.
Prediction: TL 2-0 Fnatic
Team Secret vs Evil Geniuses
This matchup has undoubtedly the potential for the best games out of all Ro8 matches at DreamLeague Season 8. Two teams with some of the strongest individually skilled players in the world and both with a burning need to prove the strength of their roster. Secret to make us all forget about their performance in Shanghai and EG to finally retake their spot among the elite teams. I expect this one to go the distance of 3 close maps, but in the end Secret should come out on top. EG might just as well pull off the victory here though as we have not seen them play officials for quite a while and their strength is hard to gauge with all the potential within their roster.
Prediction: Secret 2-1 EG
Newbee vs Infamous
If there is a David vs Goliath matchup at DreamHack it certainly is this one. Newbee coming in hot from their victory at the Perfect World Masters against the on paper weakest team in attendance. I see little chance for the South Americans to upset the Chinese favorites here but then again so did we all when SG clashed against Secret during the Kiev Major. Can Infamous take down their giant? Unfortunately I don’t think so.
Prediction: Newbee 2-0 Infamous
Semifinals and Further:
According to my predictions this would lead into the matchups TL vs VP and Secret vs Newbee in the Winner Bracket, who will take it all the way from there? A difficult question that I don’t trust myself enough to answer. These 4 are all close to each other in strength if they are at their top form, making it anyone’s tournament to take. For the Lower Bracket I see EG and Na´Vi making it past the first elimination round but how will the matches go from there? Everything seems possible, we might as well just see those two make a inspired run from the Lower Bracket back to the finals, all I can say is that we are in for quite a treat of top-tier Dota 2. Be sure to find out during the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals this weekend as we crown the second Major champion of the season.