Dota 2 expert Ben "Noxville" Steenhuisen is more than ready for the PGL Arlington Major and so are we! “Noxville” has taken a look at the teams entering the competition for us, and has ranked them from C-tier to the top of the board with his top four S-tier teams. Read on to see where each team ranks!
PGL Arlington is one of those events that will always be difficult to predict and preview, and this year is no different. A huge number of qualified players (10) have visa issues, leading to one team (Xtreme Gaming) already withdrawing from the event. This makes it a bit more difficult to predict how the event will go which is crazy given the qualification implications for The International. However, I have reviewed each team’s chances (based on each team’s status at the time of writing) and have ranked them into tiers. Here are the tiers and some facts on each team.
Both beastcoast and Thunder Awakens have had great local DPC leagues this season (both finishing top three in all the tours), and both finished 5th-6th at The Stockholm Major. However, it’s always hard to compare local performances with an international competition, especially given the tumultuous metagame that rapidly develops. Thunder Awakens, for example, are 12-0 on Templar Assassin this patch, and 17-0 on Weaver, which are absolutely brilliant records, but will this performance continue on the international stage?
That said, both teams are in comfortable positions when it comes to TI qualification, and don’t need a big win in Arlington to get them over the line. Thunder Awakens will be without Herrera "Darkmago" Gonzalo, who will be replaced with an unknown substitute.
Entity can’t qualify directly for TI anymore; even a first-place finish in Arlington would leave them shy of the top 12. Arlington won’t even be great preparation for them ahead of the TI Regional Qualifiers as their Carry player, Ivan “Pure” Moskalenko, won’t be able to travel with the team and will instead be replaced by Jonas "SabeRLight-" Volek from TSM.
After Xtreme Gaming, Fnatic are the most ravaged by visa issues. Three of their players can’t make it, and no replacements have been officially confirmed – although the rumours are that it’ll be three TSM players, Enzo "Timado" O'Connor, Jonathan "Bryle" Guia, and Kim "DuBu" Doo-young. They are currently in 10th place for TI qualification, but that can’t feel secure as it’s highly possible that three teams could leapfrog them and push them out of contention.
Their style and teamwork might end up looking like a last-ditch effort during this tournament, but in pure individual talent, they could muster enough form to scramble over the line or block enough competitors from outperforming them.
Natus Vincere have come together only during the last tour – a 6-1 result put them tied first, and a tiebreaker declared them overall second in EEU. It’s very unlikely that they will be able to qualify for TI on points (an approximate 1% chance by my calculations) but this represents an opportunity for the team to spend time playing in a LAN environment together, which will be especially helpful for Georgii "swedenstrong" Zainalabidov, a relatively inexperienced professional player.
Fun fact: Alexey "Solo" Berezin and Volodymyr "Noone" Minenko are the fourth-most experienced pair in the history of Dota 2, having played 1,398 games together. Lin "Xxs" Jing and Ye "BoBoKa" Zhibiao are number one with 1,509 games, and Zhang "y`" Yiping and Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida are number three with 1,406, and both of these pairs will also be present in Arlington.
Quincy Crew made a big call in overhauling their roster for Tour 3, bringing back two ex-Quincy members, Arif "MSS" Anwar and Rodrigo "LESLAO" Santos, along with Adrian "Fata" Trinks (at the time, rumours were that Tal "Fly" Aizik would join them, but he re-joined EG instead). The regular league aspect of Tour 3 was flawless for them except for a loss to EG, something that happened again during the 1st-3rd tiebreaker (which secured Quincy Crew a ticket to the Major).
I rate the team highly because their roster is fundamentally similar to the Quincy Crew roster which was consistently decent on an international stage for a long time – the only change is Avery "SVG" Silverman is out and “Fata” is in.
Talon Esports need a top-three finish just to have a chance of qualifying directly on points – but even that might not be enough. They started in Division 2 at the start of the season, failed to be promoted in Tour 1, shuffled some players, went hard into Tour 2, were promoted, and ultimately finished off the Tour 3 league in second place (after a tiebreaker for first). They’ve not had an opportunity to rack up the points, but nonetheless will be a threat in the Arlington Major (and if not here, then in the regional qualifiers).
They have a combination of explosive talent in Nuengnara “23savage” Teeramahanon along with the professional experience that Damien "kpii" Chok brings to the table (1,629 professional games played). Since Worawit "Q" Mekchai can’t attend due to visa issues, Kenny "Xepher" Deo will be brought in as a sub to play alongside his fellow Indonesians Rafli "Mikoto" Rahman and Brizio "Hyde" Budiana.
Fun fact: Watch out for “kpii’s”, who has an 8-0 record on Brewmaster this patch!
Royal Never Give Up and Aster are similar to each other – they are both highly skilled teams playing in a very competitive region. Although they finished first and second respectively in the China Tour 3, it's hardly surprising that I put PSG.LGD ahead of them in this tournament.
Neither have played much outside of China – just RNG’s dabbling in the Riyadh Masters (where they earned a 5th-6th finish, but only had a single loss against Team Spirit). Since Daniel "Ghost" Chan Kok Hong won’t be available in Arlington, two-time TI winner Anathan "ana" Pham will be playing in his place instead.
Of all the teams attending Arlington, BOOM Esports have played the most professional matches this season (133). A top-eight finish will secure them qualification to TI; however, they are already relatively safe (five teams would need to leapfrog them and there are five teams who could do so with a top-eight finish – the rest need more than a top-eight finish).
In the last major, I hyped them up a bit and I feel that the circumstances of that event were unfortunate for them. They arrived very shortly before the event began, had a frustrating group stage, and then were ultimately dealt OG as their first round lower bracket opponents. For this major, I’m hoping that their arrival and preparation is a lot more stable and that they’re able to showcase their skills like they did at the Galaxy Gamer Dubai Invitational.
Evil Geniuses are in a slightly worse DPC position than BOOM Esports. They are one rank lower than them so there is slightly less of a buffer protecting them from having to go through the regional qualifiers for TI. That said, their roster is highly experienced and they will no doubt be backing themselves to qualify straight up with a solid result.
Love it or hate it, Kanishka "BuLba" Sosale’s coaching will provide them a stable platform to win games - and with “Fly” back in the roster there’s extra In-Game Leadership to guide them at each step of the way. If EG are firing on all cylinders then A-tier is a big undervaluation of them - they could be contenders for the top.
Team Liquid are in that precarious 13th position on the DPC Points Rankings. They’ve looked great within Europe throughout the DPC regional leagues this season. Had they beaten BetBoom in the Stockholm Major playoffs they would be 95%+ secured of a place at TI, so Arlington represents a last chance for them and even a top-eight finish is likely to be enough.
There’s no obvious player or strategic weakness in this team – and they’re certainly motivated for at least a top-eight finish.
Fun fact: Michael "miCKe" Vu has a 0-6 record on Ember Spirit this patch, so if you’re a Liquid fan you’re hoping that he won’t be picking that!
Under the Outsiders banner, the squad have a 20-6 (76.9%) record, the overall best of any team this season. The sample is small, but includes wins over most of their big regional competition including Spirit (3-0), BetBoom (2-1), and MindGames (2-0). They lost to NAVI in the regular season but took revenge in the tiebreakers to qualify. Roman "RAMZES666" Kushnarev’s replacement of Ivan "Pure" Moskalenko has seemed like a perfect fit, and this is the kind of scary team who come about once every while - the only question is how long they can play their style before teams work out how to play – and beat – them.
Team Spirit have really been lying low this season, with a first, second, and third-place finish in the three tours, and with a relatively surprising 9-12th result in Stockholm (they lost to beastcoast in the playoffs).
Their best two results have come from non-DPC events: they finished second in the Riyadh Masters (although being in PSG.LGD’s group means they had an easier journey to the finals), and fourth at the Gamer’s Galaxy Dubai Invitational (winning just two best-of-threes, against Nigmax Galaxy SEA and OG). We know from TI10 that they have an incredibly high skill level and are able to beat any team. Although it seems possible that they will fall apart like they did in the last major, I’m willing to give them the respect and suggest they’re more likely to finish in the top four in Arlington.
Tundra Esports were on fire during the last major, going 11-1 in the group stage and then earning two series wins in the playoffs to put them in the Upper Bracket final. There they lost against TSM and many expected them to shrug off the blip and rematch TSM in the Grand Finals – but, unfortunately, OG had other ideas.
Wu "Sneyking" Jingjun was a standout player of the event, averaging 4.35 assists per 10 minutes (number one overall). Leon "Nine" Kirilin also had impressive statistics with a notably high kill involvement at 2.26 kills per 10 minutes (number two – just behind BOOM’s 2.46 kills per 10 minutes). In the time since, they have won Western Europe’s regional league (6-1), but did have a disappointing Riyadh Masters (playing with a stand-in, however).
Just like at the ESL Stockholm Major, OG will use Sebastien "Ceb" Debs as a stand-in for Mikhail "Misha" Agatov. This time will be different, with China being in attendance - if OG plan on a long Lower Bracket run they must acknowledge that the higher level of competition this time around means that it will be even more difficult.
Whilst OG have already qualified for TI, they are a relatively young team and have a relentless ‘keep going and going’ energy.
Fun fact 1: Sebastien "Ceb" Debs’ Windranger was the most frequent player-hero combo of the ESL Stockholm Major, appearing in 13 games with a 12-1 record.
Fun fact 2: Artem "Yuragi" Golubiev played 16 different heroes at ESL Stockholm – the most of any player.
Not much really needs to be said about PSG.LGD. They were the first team to qualify for TI11 with great regional leagues and regional finals, and recently put the cherry on the top by winning the Riyadh Masters on LAN (getting TI10 finals revenge against Team Spirit). The only negative for them in recent times is a lack of ambition for some events: with The International being the big goal in sight, it seems that nothing else matters as much to the team.