Dota 2 returns to LAN with the ONE Esports Singapore Major 2021! In this preview our resident expert Adam Boothe provides his insight into the teams to watch and where value may lie in the market. Read on to find out more.
An international event is coming around the corner and the good news is, it is offline! Other than a sold out arena with a roaring crowd, this is the closest thing to a proper LAN competition. It will be the first time since DreamLeague at Leipzig in January of 2020 we have been treated to such an event. Unlike some of the other esports we love, the Dota scene became painfully aware of what a non-Dota Pro Circuit (DPC), non-The International calendar can do to the community.
While by no means on its last legs, we witnessed a number of organizations move out of this game last year - knowing they would be paying salaries yet would see little-to-no positive return, with no International, no majors, and no LANs. However, even living off the fumes in a few regions, we got here: to a major; to a $500,000 event; to placing the spotlight on the other MOBA.
I hope we get to see well-prepared, desperate teams. I want to see 70-minute games where everyone is 25, the game doesn't even look like Dota anymore, and victory or defeat rests upon a single thread -of legendary play or colossal failure. During the past year, Dota was not one of the esports titles which thrived in a non-traditional sports world, so we should be taking nothing for granted here. I would love nothing more than the viewership to come pouring back to this great title - from Southeast Asian fanaticism to the West coast United States where Dota is called 'home'.
Dota 2 Singapore Major Format
From March 27 through until April 4, we will witness 18 teams vie to attain not only large sums of prize money, but those scarce DPC points as well. Unlike most prior Dota events, teams do not arrive in Singapore on an even footing with one another. Instead, based upon performance in their respective qualifying rounds, each club has been designated a particular stage of the event from which they begin their journey.
First up is the Wild Card, featuring two teams from Europe, two from China, and one from Southeast Asia and the CIS. It is a bit difficult to assess which stage is the most unforgiving, but arguments can be made for this opener. The six teams play a round-robin, best-of-two to determine which two teams progress.
The round following this will bring those two teams against another six teams which scored better in the DPC qualifiers. The eight teams will then play a subsequent best-of-two round-robin to determine which six progress to the playoffs. The top two squads will progress to the upper-bracket, while the bottom four will be one loss away from a lower-bracket exit.
Who are the best teams in Dota 2 Singapore Major
While there are a few talented and established teams which did not qualify for this event, most would agree the vast majority are in attendance. The four best-performing European teams for the past year have all entered: Secret; Alliance; Liquid; and Nigma. Sorry OG fans, they really were one of the more inconsistent teams, despite their generally entertaining brand. While China's order of qualification is a bit of a head-scratcher given their long and storied history, the players are not surprising in the least.
From South East Asia, TNC is noticeably not in attendance, however perennial top-dog Fnatic is through to the upper-bracket already. The two South-American squads which enjoyed trading a number one title within their region both come in at the second and third rounds. Beastcoast is currently the more in-form team however that can change at any given moment.
If you were betting on the scene last year you may have become familiar with the rising stock of Virtus Pro's junior team. Not too long after they popped up on our radar they usurped the main squad as the representatives of the Russian polar bear. And, unlike some flash-in-the-pan teams, they impressed more and more as the online era droned on. Coming in second at the region's qualifying event was Natus Vincere, who also got promoted from their prior club of Flytomoon. These two were consistently the cleanest at most, if not all, their events. Gambit is the third CIS squad to sneak in, and it is hard to know what to expect from them - all year long they seemed to dabble between the top level of Dota and the two right below it. They had a lot of questionable results, though some good ones as well, in order to make it here.
And we now arrive at our North American competitors. Absolutely no one is surprised to see Evil Geniuses once again top the region with the Quincy Crew stack coming in behind them. This trend has been consistently witnessed year after year, regardless of the specific names on the respective rosters - it wouldn't be a 'normal' Dota LAN if this was not the case!
Who are the contenders in the Dota 2 Singapore Major
Travel, visas, personal health, and other commitments are a factor in a team’s ability to compete, even in non-COVID times. So seeing just five players not able to make it from their home to Singapore is actually quite impressive. The affected rosters (at the time of writing) are T1 (SEA), Neon (SEA), Navi (CIS), Nigma (EU), and Quincy Crew (NA). The stand-ins also range in ability, so not all teams may be affected equally, but it could take some of the momentum out of each, especially when you look at the field of competition.
It is unsurprising to see Team Secret leading on the outrights board at every sportsbook, including our very own at Pinnacle. That being said, Pinnacle has the best price out there currently at 2.42. As dominating as Clement “Puppey” Ivanov and co. have been through the online era, this is just not a number I will ever attach myself to for an 18-team event of the world's best. Additionally, we have not seen Secret play anyone outside Europe on LAN in over a year. Several factors heavily impact the price here and you can be the judge of perhaps where you would ballpark their number.
The most obvious benefit, and certainly the most justifiable, is their position as one of the six teams guaranteed a berth into the upper-bracket of the playoffs already. The next three teams on the outrights also possess this bye – Virtus Pro, Invictus, and Evil Geniuses. While I was not surprised Beastcoast was not in the top six price-wise, I was surprised Fnatic trailed behind at eight.
Aster, PSG.LGD, and Alliance have all been placed ahead of the South East Asia number ones, which is a bit curious. Even given lesser form or talent, which is still not incredibly lopsided, FNC only need to win eight maps to lift the title. LGD on the other hand, likely needs to win eight to progress out of the first Wild Card stage.
In the case of Quincy Crew, Nigma, and NAVI, their price is being impacted by their entry point and also quite clearly the lack of their official starting roster. My recommendation is to look at the best payouts for the path of least resistance, at least out of the gate. So the two teams I am going to look to add before Friday night are Virtus Pro and Evil Geniuses. They are currently priced at 5.58 and 9.64.
All said and done, this should be the best Dota competition we have had in over a year. Whether noob or veteran, I hope you have a profitable and enjoyable first LAN back!
Find all of the markets for the Singapore Major here.
*Odds are subject to change.