Table of Contents
The Dirty Dozen
And Then There Were Nine
Six to Go
More than 2 but less than 4 remain
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ESL’s tournament are consistently some of the best in the Dota 2 scene. Unfortunately, due to their Facebook partnership, even though their English broadcast has had some of the highest production value in their past events, very few people ever actually see that content. Luckily ESL events also often come with some of the worlds best Dota and we can appreciate that whether it be on the Russian stream on twitch, in-game on DotaTV, through a third party caster, or using the official English broadcast. ESL One events have always served to create great memories for viewers at home and those who were lucky enough to be at the event.
While ESL One Hamburg is not part of the DPC season it features some of the top teams in the world such as Virtus Pro, Team Secret, and EG who will be competing with nine other teams in the Barclaycard Arena. From those teams we have two groups of six making up the group stage. The bottom two teams in each group are eliminated while the top two teams make it into the upper bracket of the double eliminated playoff stage with a full best of 5 for the grand finals.
The Dirty Dozen
Since we are in Hamburg we will begin with the European teams. Representing the EU we have Team Secret, NiP, and Alliance. Alliance has started the new DPC season strong by securing their invite to the Kuala Lumpur Major, winning the qualifier to make it here at ESL One Hamburg, and won the online Reshuffle Madness tournament at the start of the month. ESL One Hamburg will pit them against the other regions of the world to see if they can replicate the success they’ve had at home so far. They were able to 2-0 NiP during the Major qualifier and even took a game off of Team Secret so it may be worth seeing if Qojqva can make a successful return to competitive Dota and bring one of the old legendary organizations back with him.
The Ninjas in Pyjamas have also returned to Dota 2, sponsoring PPD’s new team which features Ace, Fata, 33, and Saska along with himself. Like the other two EU teams in Hamburg, NiP also secured their place at the Kuala Lumpur Major through the EU qualifier but have also won the GG.Bet Invitational Season 1 where they repaid Alliance for their earlier loss by 2-0ing them in the semi-finals. Peter leaving NA is seen as one of the bigger moves in the post-TI roster shuffle so NiP is another team to keep an eye on to see how his new venture unfolds. Last but certainly not least from Europe is Team Secret. Puppey rebuilt the team after Ace and Fata left to join NiP by bringing on Nisha, a Polish player who previously played for Kinguin (I really wish his old team name started with a P), and Zai.
Secret have already been hard at work, winning the PVP Esports Championship 3-2 over Fnatic earlier this month where they also 2-0’d PSG.LGD in order to make it to the finals. Team Secret made a strong impression early on in the first DPC season when they won DreamLeague Season 8 and they no doubt want to repeat that performance here in Hamburg and in a few weeks time in Kuala Lumpur. As long as Puppey stays away from any questionable drafts, Team Secret is poised to win the whole thing.
And Then There Were Nine
North America has run into a bit of trouble for ESL One Hamburg as both Sumail and Yawar were denied their visas. This means EG will be playing with CCNC to replace Sumail while Forward Gaming has brought in Excalibur to fill the hole left by Yawar. It is unclear how much this will impact the teams but given the strength of the rosters we may still see both teams make the playoff stage regardless of their troubles. The third team from North America is the revamped CompLexity roster lead by EE. CompLexity also picked up the newcomer Skemberlu, a Filipino player who had previously played for Geek Fam along with Sneyking who had played for VGJ.Storm. CompLexity narrowly missed out on making it to the Kuala Lumpur Major, placing 4th in their qualifier where they used Fear as a stand-in for Skemberlu due to issues getting him into the country in time for the qualifiers. For the DreamLeague Minor and ESL One Hamburg qualifiers they used Jeyo as their stand-in which means this will be the first time compLexity’s full team will be competing together.
Forward Gaming is the old VGJ.Storm roster with one major difference, Universe has replaced Sneyking. The difference in offlaners could take Forward Gaming even further towards the upper echelon of competitive play as their 7th/8th placement at TI8 was nothing to scoff at. It’s hard to argue that adding Universe to an already strong lineup would not strengthen them even further but unfortunately as they will be missing Yawar we will need to wait until DreamLeague to see their full potential. EG is in a somewhat different position even though they have a similar problem. After their 3rd place finish at TI8 no one wonders how this roster will do, it is considered a matter of course that they will continue to perform well together considering there has been no major patch changes since TI. EG qualified to the Kuala Lumpur Major by taking first place and are still on track to dominate the entire region for the foreseeable future.
Six to Go
TNC Predator’s withdrawal from the tournament has allowed EVOS Esports to take their place, an Indonesian team without much notoriety who claimed second in the SEA qualifiers by beating 1437’s Tigers 2-0 in the lower bracket finals. There isn’t much to say about EVOS as we have rarely seen them in the past, always overshadowed by the likes of Fnatic, Mineski, or TNC’s rosters. Hamburg could be a great experience for them and who knows, maybe like Kinguin or Ad Finem before them we’ll find a diamond in the rough.
The other SEA team attending ESL One Hamburg will be Mineski, Mushi’s team with JT-, Moon, Kpii, and Febby on it. Unlike most of the other teams at ESL One Hamburg, Mineski is off to a poor start in the DPC. They’ve failed to qualify to both the Kuala Lumpur Major and the DreamLeague Minor, losing to Team Admiral, Boom ID, and Tigers. They received an invite to ESL One Hamburg but will have to prove they deserved it otherwise their fellow SEA teams may end up blocking them from attending too many events in the future as the competition only gets tougher and tougher inside the region.
The only team representing South America in Germany will be Pain Gaming, with hFn, W33, tavo, Kingrd, and Misery. Misery has replaced Duster as the 5 position player on the team after TI8 and he reunites with w33ha in doing so. Pain Gaming went undefeated through the Kuala Lumpur Major qualifiers, going 10-0 overall, further solidifying themselves as the team to beat in the region. It is extremely likely we will see them representing South American Dota at most of the tournaments this year as the gap between them and the rest of the SA teams still seems quite large. The question for Pain Gaming will be can they use their countless opportunities to make some deep runs during the DPC tournaments this year and make their way back to TI come August.
More than 2 but less than 4 remain
We left some of the best for last as Virtus Pro, Vici Gaming, and Team Aster round out the teams attending ESL One Hamburg. Virtus Pro remain unchanged after TI8, maintaining their powerful roster of Ramzes, No[o]ne, Pasha, RodjER, and Solo. One change did occur with Artstyle leaving the team and ArsZeeqq replacing him as the coach. Despite that change Virtus Pro remain the terrifying bears they have been known as for over a year now, demolishing the Kuala Lumpur Major qualifiers and winning the Maincast Autumn Brawl 3-0 against No Pangolier after beating NiP in the semi-finals. VP are certainly one of the favourites to win ESL One Hamburg but it also wouldn’t be surprising for them to run into some tough competition along the way.
Team Aster could very well deliver some of that competition. With Sylar, Dstones, Xxs, BoBoKa, and Fenrir joining forces we aren’t really sure what to expect just yet. The cynical part of me wants to say we’ve seen these players fall short in the past despite showing us moments of brilliance. We all remember BoBoKa’s Monkey King and Earth Spirit but he hasn’t had the same impact on his games in a long long time. Sylar is no longer the unbeatable carry who could farm his team to victory every game and Fenrir’s recent time on Vici Gaming has come with mixed results. Yet the star power on the team makes us hope great things are in their future and with the newcomer Dstones who knows, maybe Team Aster will shock us with what they can do.
Lastly we have Vici Gaming where only Paparazi and Ori remain from the old roster which held so much promise under the support duo of LaNm and Fenrir combined with the core power of the carry and mid laner. Yang, Fade, and Dy have joined Paparazi and Ori to complete the team, their first outing a success during the Kuala Lumpur Major qualifiers where they finished 2nd and even took down PSG.LGD 2-1 after beating Newbee 2-0 in the upper bracket. While the team is under new leadership it is undeniable that Paparazi and Ori work very well together as a 1-2 combo, their familiarity with each other and understanding of how the other likes to play Dota 2 may bring them success in Hamburg as long as the other three are up to the task as well.