By Radu Muresan
March 3, 2019
With the third Major of the Dota Pro Circuit knocking at the door, we are more or less at the half of the 2018-2019 competitive season.
So far, this has been the most unusual season of the last five years, with several teams stealing the show at every tournament and everyone else fighting for scraps.
If the DreamLeague Season 11 Major goes the same way as the first two Majors, the minimum number of points required for a direct invite to The International 2019 will be ridiculously low.
In this article, I will provide an analysis of the most important teams in Dota 2 at this moment and some insights into their pecking order. Ahead of the next few events, the big question is, “What can we expect?”
Well, unless there’s a big patch coming, and there is one coming within a week or two, the teams that have already deciphered the current meta are likely to keep on winning. But let’s see what the future might hold even if the next patch won’t be significant enough to change the game dramatically.
The current standings table looks like the graph of an exponential function. And the ridiculous part is this: there are plenty of teams that have a tiny number of points but are currently qualified for The International 2019.
So Team Secret has the same status as Alliance, both of them being in the top 12. The only problem is this: Team Secret has 7950 points while Alliance has 225! That’s how big the gap is between the haves and the have nots.
To get a better picture of how the best Dota 2 teams stand compared to each other, here’s the complete table of the top 15 competitors:
This table clearly shows that even at the top, among the very best in the world, the differences are huge.
On the one hand, the current situation kills much of the unpredictability of any professional tournament. On the other hand, the huge skill difference between some of the teams and everyone else ensures that at the summit, there will always be a small number of competitors who will provide some very spectacular matches during the final stages of each event.
But as experience has shown, even there you can have one team knocking out their opponent rather quickly. At the Chongqing Major, for instance, Team Secret won the first two games (combined) against Virtus.pro in less than 40 minutes! And this was the Grand Final.
Here’s a brief analysis of the five teams who have shown the clearest signs of strength over the last few months.
This is currently the best team in the world, even though Virtus.pro has the same number of points within the Dota Pro Circuit.
Since the big roster changes at the start of the new season, Team Secret has dominated the professional Dota 2 scene, winning event after event. In total, they won four titles at the following tournaments: PVP Esports Championship, ESL One Hamburg 2018, the Chongqing Major, and ESL One Katowice 2019.
They also placed second at the first Major of the season, the Kuala Lumpur Major.
It seems that Nisha and zai have turned out to be some of Puppey’s best career choices when it comes to player transfers. He certainly has a reputation for being a great captain and someone who knows what needs to be done to make use of a player’s full potential. But in these two cases, he took things to a whole new level.
Just consider the fact that Secret ended the previous season being the fifth-best team in the world (possibly the fourth if we take the whole season into account), and now they’re the best.
Everything seems to have clicked for the Europeans, and the only question that remains is this: Can they actually win The International this year? If they do, Puppey will be the first player in Dota 2 to hold two TI titles. That says a lot about the depth of this game.
In the first eight editions of The International, not a single player has managed to win the tournament twice!
Virtus.pro ended the 2017-2018 competitive season with some incredible results, including four Major titles, five Major Grand Finals, and numerous other top placements at Dota Pro Circuit events. In light of these achievements, their 5th – 6th place result at The International 2018 was viewed as a disappointment.
However, Solo and his squad have developed a playstyle that’s solid all the way through. Few teams can defeat them in a Bo3 match these days.
Just like last season, Virtus.pro started this one in style, with no less than six top-three placements at big events. In particular, two of these events were the Kuala Lumpur Major (first place) and the Chongqing Major (second place).
At the moment, Virtus.pro is one of the five teams that dominate the professional scene. So for the upcoming events, any result that’s worse than 5th – 6th is unthinkable at this point. In fact, anything below the 3rd – 4th place would be a huge surprise, but let’s imagine that Solo and his crew are human beings and not Dota 2 machines, so some missteps are still possible.
VP’s main obstacle to success, apart from Team Secret, seems to be their desire to succeed. It’s a common thing for them to win a Major and then go to some much easier tournament and lose.
For example, they finished third at the recent MDL Macau 2019, and they even got close to finishing 7th – 8th! Their group stage was a complete disaster, and it looked as if the team just didn’t want to play. In that sense, VP can be very methodical in their approach, trying their best and revealing their real strategies only at big events. When there isn’t a lot of money involved, it feels like they simply use the “322” approach and move on.
Apart from OG, who managed to disappear even faster than Wings Gaming from professional Dota after winning The International, Team Liquid has been the second most underwhelming team of this season.
In terms of results, they’re sitting at number 10 within the Dota Pro Circuit, with 450 points.
Looking at Team Liquid’s playstyle during a match, you can clearly tell that this competitor is much stronger than what the tables show. KuroKy, Miracle- and the rest of the crew are almost as good as they were two years ago when they were competing at full strength. The only difference is their momentum. They’ve gotten to a point where they no longer see themselves as capable of being the best.
But that’s starting to shift.
At the recent MDL Macau 2019, Team Liquid won the title by defeating Evil Geniuses in the Grand Final. The score was 3 – 1, and not a single game lasted for more than 30 minutes.
It was a very impressive display of skill on Liquid’s side, and I do expect them to keep their current form and get a top-three result at the upcoming DreamLeague Season 11 Major.
EG has been one of the most exciting teams to watch this season, and their consistency has been great. After The International 2018, where they finished third, they went on to get the same result at the first two Majors of the new season.
Subsequently, they are now pretty much guaranteed a spot at The International 2019, and the team is only getting stronger and stronger.
Based on their latest results, EG is probably the fourth-best team in the world right now, after Team Secret, Virtus.pro, and Team Liquid. The DreamLeague Season 11 Major will likely be a testament to that, although we may see Fly and his crew on the third position again, should one of the other giants fail to deliver.
The thing that makes EG a great team is their ability to play their own game almost every time. It’s not the best game by any means, but it has a mix of strength and consistency that almost guarantees a good result.
At the recent MDL Macau 2019, EG finished second, even though they played with some stand-ins.
After their second place at The International 2018, PSG.LGD lost a gear and started the new season slightly weaker than people had expected. But they’re still up there with the greatest. Right now, PSG.LGD is sitting at number four in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings.
Their 2250 qualification points are the result of a 5th – 6th place at the Kuala Lumpur Major and a fourth place at the Chongqing Major.
The team is clearly on an upward trend, but it certainly feels like they missed the start. Both Team Secret and Virtus.pro seem to have a much better understanding of the current meta, and the likes of Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid are also slightly stronger at this point. The upcoming Major should clarify the situation and give us a better idea of where PSG.LGD stands in the global rankings.
But as a prediction, I do believe that Team Liquid is stronger than them at this point, in spite of the points difference.
Tags: Dota 2