After seven months of non-stop action we’ve almost reached the end of the line. One last Major tournament stands between the teams and TI8 in Vancouver, the Supermajor in Shanghai, China. Four teams will have their invites secured by the end of the event and the potential is there for one or two of the current top 8 to be unseated from their position. The Supermajor will look to live up to expectations as 16 teams battle it out in a bo3 group stage that leads into a double elimination bracket with no bo1's. The DPC has certainly saved the best for last.
Liquid have had an interesting run through the Pro Circuit this year. They’ve managed to stay in the top 3 of DPC rankings without winning a single Major this season. On one hand this has been a good testament to their consistency, but on the other hand it shows how they have been unable to close out a Major against top tier competition. They reached major finals twice, falling to Team Secret at DreamLeague S8 and PSG.LGD at Epicenter. Liquid rarely lost a best of 3 to a “weak” team during elimination matches...until now.
Liquid’s losses to Pain Gaming during ESL One Birmingham were initially a serious cause for concern (though, to be fair to Liquid, one of them was a Bo1 where anything goes), over the course of the tournament it became more reasonable. Pain Gaming went on to finish 3rd, being taken down by VP before overcoming Fnatic in the 3rd place match. While Liquid have already locked up their TI invite, this tournament is important for their momentum and confidence going into TI8. Top 4 would be nice, but winning the final Major, the Chinese Supermajor, would be a huge boon.
Secret’s recent form is a stark contrast to their post-TI8 form. Utilizing Ace, one of the best pickups of the off-season, they quickly reached the upper echelons of the DPC rankings. Unfortunately, they were not able to keep that up and have stagnated since. Second at ESL One Hamburg and then first at DreamLeague S8 have propped up their rankings for most of the season, with the rest coming from an assortment of top 4 finishes in minors.
In recent majors, Secret failed to secure top 4 at DAC, Epicenter, and MDL, while they didn’t even attend ESL One Birmingham. These results aren’t particularly encouraging either, as they were knocked out of these tournaments by a large variety of teams. They often made it into the playoff stage but then were knocked out early in the elimination stages. Hopes aren’t high for Secret, but a good showing here would be a nice pick-me-up before TI8.
Evil Geniuses. The former pride of NA have fallen far. An extremely lackluster season has concluded with Misery and Fear being dropped from the squad. With S4 and Fly joining the team as the current replacements, it’s hard to judge what will happen. EG already weren’t doing well and changing things up now, it’s hard to see them doing well with less than a week to prepare when their current lineup attends the Supermajor.
However the possibility still exists that with the experienced leadership of Fly, the return of Sumail to the mid lane, and S4’s seemingly always impactful offlane we might be about to witness the return of the NA powerhouse. Things may be a little bit off as they get used to new team mates, a new patch, and in Sumail’s case a new-old position but it’s clear that almost anything will be better than the previous EG.
The recently invigorated VGJ.Storm is looking good coming into the Supermajor. Coming off a win at GESC Thailand and a second place finish at MDL, they are a team to be reckoned with. In Thailand they took down Keen and Fnatic to secure first, while at MDL they beat OG, Team Secret, and Vici before losing to PSG.LGD in the finals. That’s a very respectable run and goes to show just how much the addition of Resolution has done for the team.
With the recently shuffled EG, there’s no doubt that VGJ.Storm are sitting around top 2 in NA with Optic, though it’s possible that VGJ might actually overtake Optic at this tournament. Resolution aside, these players have never been on a team this successful before. If they manage to do well at the Supermajor, it could boost their status as players for months to come.
Much like Secret, Newbee have done the majority of their heavy-lifting in the early and mid-season portions of the Dota Pro Circuit. The runner-ups from TI have somewhat struggled as of late, with MDL providing their only recent top 4 finish. The concerning thing about this stretch of losses for Newbee is the variety of teams they’ve lost to. While they had a strong lower bracket run at MDL, stopped by eventual champions PSG.LGD, Newbee has fallen to many weaker teams in other tournaments.
With their TI invite locked up, Newbee doesn’t have much to prove at the Supermajor. A high placement seems unlikely considering the competition, though they should be expected to reach a modest finish. This should give Newbee a good opportunity to iron out issues with their play before TI.
Winner of the SEA qualifier, TNC is a strong dark horse candidate for the Supermajor. TNC may be underrated because of their lack of strong finishes lately, but unfortunately for them that’s more because they’ve missed so many tournaments losing to Fnatic in the SEA qualifiers. In their two most recent majors they were eliminated by PSG.LGD and VP, teams that no one could blame them for losing against.
It’s hard to predict where TNC will finish in China this time. If their recent performances are anything to go by, they will hope for favorable brackets and to avoid VP and PSG.LGD for most of the tournament. While it is possible for them to swing an upset against these heavy-hitters, chances aren’t great.
Ah yes, another day, another Mushi stack. This iteration of Mineski has all but secured their TI8 invite and managed to do it with relatively few top 4 finishes, riding mostly on the coattails of their strong DAC performance. Mineski have been decent in recent months, taking down strong contenders in one tournament and losing to these same opponents in the next. The question is, which Mineski will we see at the Supermajor? The one that takes down PSG.LGD two series in a row, or the one that reaches top 6 and then flames out? There is one thing you can rely on: never count Mushi out.
Na’Vi has had a rough time. Unfortunately for them, they are most certain “not back” at the moment. The recent removal of LeBron from the roster and subsequent replacement with velheor has left the team looking about the same, which is not good given how they were performing before the change. Even without seeing any tournaments played with this roster, it’s hard to see this improving Na’Vi enough for a strong placement. Their recent results have mostly involved losing in qualifiers or dropping out early in tournaments they were directly invited to. It’s a shame they are in this state; they managed to win the CIS qualifier for ESL One Birmingham, but withdrew because of their roster change.
With the successes of VG and PSG.LGD, VGJ.Thunder will look to maintain their top 8 position, and therefore their invite to TI by acting as a gatekeeper at the Supermajor. Only a few of the teams attending have any chance of removing VGJ.Thunder from 8th place, but with so much on the line Sylar and company will do everything in their power to either remain where they are or advance up the rankings to safer ground.
VGJ.Thunder has had a lot of ups and downs through this season, placing as well as 2nd at the Bucharest Major but then collapsing entirely and finishing 9th-12th during DAC. They then followed DAC with another 2nd place finish at StarLadder where they finished behind OpTic Gaming. A good placement here could wipe away the inconsistency that has plagued the team just in time for TI8, something which is crucial if they hope to go far in Vancouver.
With OG pulling out from the Supermajor it has given OpTic another chance to qualify to TI8 through DPC points. They currently sit in 9th, only 135 points behind VGJ.Thunder, which means any placement in the top 4 would secure their spot assuming VGJ.Thunder does not perform better than they do. OG’s implosion has been a godsend for PPD and his ragtag group from NA. They thought they would have to go through the qualifiers, which given their strength one would think wouldn’t be too hard, but there is always a risk that the team wouldn’t have made it. Now another chance has opened itself up to them, and you can be sure OpTic will do everything they can to surpass VGJ.Thunder and claim their direct invite at the last DPC tournament of the season.
OpTic have proven that they have the ability to make top 4 at the Supermajor as they come off a win at StarLadder and a 2nd place finish at ESL One Birmingham. With the team looking good we may very well see the rankings shuffle when so many thought everything was pretty much wrapped up.
The favourites from China, PSG.LGD have already secured their invite to TI8 after winning both Epicenter XL and the MDL Changsha Major’s. They safely sit in 2nd place in the rankings with Fy leading the team in a similar fashion as when Vici Gaming was on top of their game. With the addition of xNova we’ve seen the team transition from a potential threat to a real contender in many of the tournaments they enter. With TI quickly approaching they might be the best bet for the Chinese team that upholds the “rule” that this is China’s year. It would also keep the tradition of no player winning TI twice should they be the ones lifting the Aegis at the end of August.
Infamous will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Pain Gaming who finished 3rd at the ESL One Birmingham Major only a week ago, the South American region’s first real success in what feels like forever. The players on Infamous are all veterans of Dota 2 with Papita leading the team from the mid position. Kotaro, StingeR, Matthew, and Accel have all given Peruvian Dota something to be hopeful for but have failed to deliver on that hope up till now. If Infamous can follow Pain Gaming’s path, even just a little bit, it would be a huge success for them as they head towards TI qualifiers. They are without a doubt one of the strongest teams in South America; it is time for them to prove that they have what it takes to stand on the world’s stage.
The best team in Sweden was a position that only a few years ago Alliance held a tight grip on. Now, however, that organization is only a shell of its former self, and the Final Tribe has stepped up in an attempt to claim that spot. Truthfully they haven’t been doing all that bad for themselves, as Era, Frost, Jonassomfan, Pablo, and Handsken have qualified to a number of events during this DPC season. While their results haven’t been exactly what they wanted, they have proven to be able to deal with their fellow teams in Europe. The experience they gain from playing against stronger teams at these events along with the experience of the members on the team make them a likely candidate to find themselves playing in Vancouver at TI this year, even if they don’t have much of a chance at winning. For now they can see what works and what doesn’t at the Supermajor and go forward from there.
Team Spirit were far and away the best team coming out of the CIS qualifiers for the Supermajor with a record of 4-1-0, the closest team behind them being Empire at 1-4-0. While Team Spirit isn’t seen very often at international events they have some of the oldest and most well known players to have ever played in the CIS region. Fng leads the team, Illidan, G, and DKPhobos play the 1, 2, and 3 while Biver makes up Fng’s support partner. It is unfortunate for them that the one event this year they placed third at, Galaxy Battles, had its status as a Major revoked but aside from that tournament a single 7th-9th place at ESL One Birmingham is all Team Spirit has managed to accomplish during the season. Their qualifier runs are almost always ended short by Vega Squadron or Effect, which makes their qualification to the Supermajor an opportunity they can’t waste. Their ability to make it to TI may very well hinge on how much they can absorb from other teams and improve over the next couple of weeks.
While Newbee, VGJ.Thunder, and PSG.LGD seem to be on everyone’s radar, Vici Gaming has somehow slipped through this season reasonably unnoticed. They sit 6th overall, with a nearly secured direct invite unless a very specific list of things happen during the Supermajor. They finished 2nd at ESL One Katowice and 3rd at the MDL Changsha Major, but ran into trouble during ESL One Birmingham where after losing their first bo1 match they ended up finishing 10th-12th (after being 2-0’d by Team Liquid). Vici Gaming recently won DPL Season 5 Top with a 3-0 over Newbee which goes to show that even if by some small chance they don’t keep their TI8 invite, they should have no problem making it through the qualifier. On top of their success we’ve seen Vici Gaming start to experiment as LaNm has taken up a support Tidehunter multiple times to varying success. While we said PSG.LGD had the best chance at securing the Aegis for China, Vici Gaming comes in at a close 2nd.
The favourites for the tournament. Virtus Pro has been the best team in the world for months now. While they haven’t won everything they’ve shown the same degree of skill, confidence, and stability that makes them an ever-looming threat to any team that faces them. If it was only individual skill there may have been counter-measures available to beat Virtus Pro and knock them off their throne but with Solo’s leadership and No[o]ne’s thirst to always be the best, and to prove that he’s the best, they leave very few openings to be exploited. Virtus Pro is 1st in the rankings by a mile, earning over 10,000 points with 4 Major championships under their belt this season. Should they win the Supermajor it will be their 5th Major victory, breaking OG’s record, albeit with some somewhat subpar “Majors” along the way.
Current DPC rankings can be seen here