Despite Dota 2 being over ten years old, sometimes there are periods when things are very chaotic and uncertain - even on the pro scene. We’re in one of those strange stretches now heading into a Major after a big post-TI shuffle without any significant cross-regional play.
We have the data from Tour 1’s regional leagues, but this can be misleading as long LAN events are all about the ability to adapt rapidly to a converging international meta. Regional leagues are more about dealing with a smaller group of opponents who all regularly play against each other in the build-up.
Perhaps given that we’ve been on the same patch for ages (the longest main-line patch ever), it might be a bit closer to how we saw TI - though even stale patches before have seen teams express some great creativity. To add to the chaos, right after the Major ends, it’s expected that a major patch will be released which could cause some teams to make significant shifts as they adapt to these changes. This makes power ranking the Lima Major participants a difficult task but let’s jump right into who I think will win The Lima Major.
The International 2022 was pretty awful for South East Asia (SEA)- none of their teams made it into the top 8, and they were strewn across the lower half of the standings. This is why I’m putting Geek Slate (2nd in SEA Tour 1) and Talon Esports (3rd in SEA Tour 1) in the D-tier.
Hellraisers came 3rd in EEU Tour 1, however Nikita "Daxak" Kuzmin left the team and a stand-in will be playing instead (OG’s Artem "Yuragi" Golubiev) at the Major. At the top level, a stand-in is generally a huge barrier to overcome, and perhaps Hellraisers go on a run, but my feeling is that it will not be a great event for them.
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Execration is a name that’s been around in Dota 2 for ages, but in recent times they have never been at the top of their game. The fact that they won SEA’s DPC Tour 1 was surprising to many, however with SEA performing poorly at TI (as mentioned above) I think that C-tier seems appropriate.
They’re joined by South America (SA) teams: beastcoast and Evil Geniuses. These teams are filled with some of the top players of their region. . At times these players have been excellent, but consistency was never a strong point. My concern is that even when a SA team is having a great LAN run, they rarely look poised to win the whole event.
One of the oldest Chinese orgs, EHOME, wraps up the C-tier. They’re a relatively inexperienced group of players - between 200 and 450 pro games each and as a squad they’re going to have to deal with their first ‘big’ LAN event (both as individuals and as a team).
Shopify Rebellion, the mostly ex-Evil Geniuses stack that’s been around for ages and TSM (a roster that made changes after TI) are both in my B-tier. Despite TSM beating Shopify in the North America Tour 1 (both in their head-to-head match and overall standings), I value Shopify more due to their vast international experience, perhaps if there was a B+ tier they would be in it.
Knights acquired the Royal Never Give Up slot for Tour #1 (seemingly RNG did, in fact, give up!) and kept a low-profile in the DPC until Week 2 when they 2-0’d LGD in shocking fashion. Luo "eGo" Bin put up some huge numbers in that series and went on to top the Chinese Div 1 DPC in kills per game, with 9.12. This team could end anywhere really - they could boom with great individual plays and simple yet effective strategies, or they could get worked out too fast and bust.
The mid-table results of Western Europe Tour 1 was a disaster: Three teams ended on 4-3 records and after nine tiebreaker games Entity came second - just qualifying for the Major. I have them in B-tier because TI wasn’t that great for them (9-12th) and they replaced only one player (Ivan "Pure" Moskalenko for Alimzhan "watson" Islambekov), so B-tier seems like a safe placement.
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Team Spirit kept things ticking over after winning The International 2021, with a win at PGL Arlington and a 2nd place at Riyadh Masters (biggest non-TI prize pool event of last season). After a disaster at TI2022, they changed out Alexander "TORONTOTOKYO" Khertek for Denis "Larl" Sigitov for Tour #1 - a change which has seemingly re-energized the team. The first real test will be this Major however, so there is pressure on them to perform - and it might take a few more events for them to fire on all cylinders.
Tundra Esports (3rd place WEU) are hard to place. They surprisingly went 4-3 in matches, and 9-8 in games - a step down from what we would expect after such a dominant TI run (although perhaps it’s because they won TI that they were taking the first tour a bit less seriously). It’s hard to judge their mentality coming into this event - if they’re playing anywhere near the top of their game then they belong in S-tier, but if they’re just approaching it on a game-by-game basis then I’m less hopeful of a podium finish.
Rounding out the A-tier are two well-known Chinese powerhouses: PSG.LGD and Team Aster. To be truly consistent I’d have dropped LGD down to B-tier for playing with a sub (Ren "old eLeVeN" Yangwei subbing for Li "项羽" Longwu), however "old eLeVeN" is experienced (1735 pro games, the most of any offlaner who has only played in China) and I think will be able to easily fit into their playstyle. Speaking of experience, Aster is a squad of big names - ~5.7k pro matches combined in total between them.
The International 2022 was all about Western Europe - as they dominated the podium. It’s not surprising that this region is hyped for the first Major. My view is that Team Liquid (1st place in WEU) are the overall favourites, whilst Gaimin Gladiators (2nd place WEU) are in 3rd place.
The only team on a similar level to Liquid, at least in my eyes, is BBTeam (1st in EEU Tour 1) so I have placed them in 2nd place. Both them and Liquid went 7-0 in series during the first tour, and 14-2 in games. Their Egor "Nightfall" Grigorenko, Vitalie "Save-" Melnic, and Danil "gpk" Skutin trio are now 116-52 (69.1%) together - despite the small sample it’s still an impressive record.