The beginning of the 2017/2018 Dota 2 season is rapidly approaching and with that, fans can begin awaiting a tidal wave of high-quality action. But while the dates for the tournaments are known, many of the teams that will be playing in them remain a mystery.
In the aftermath of The International 2017, a number of high-end organizations disbanded and a slew of top-notch players became free agents. New teams have emerged from that explosion, while other teams have shaken things up in an effort to get over the proverbial hump.
Even as this is being written, the dust is still settling over the Dota 2 scene and that makes it worth taking a look over which teams are gone, which have changed and which are still changing heading into September.
Teams That Broke Up
One of the saddest parts of Dota 2 is seeing teams chopped up and scattered to the wind. While it has been proven many times over the years that chemistry is everything, the loosely organized nature of the Dota 2 competitive scene has seen many promising squads blown up at the first sign of adversity.
This year was no different, as multiple organizations are hitting the reset button. Here’s an abridged list of teams that broke up:
Planet Odd- The 2016 Digital Chaos squad established themselves as one of the best in the world when they made a surprise second-place run at TI6, and that success continued after they split from the organization in 2017. Strong showings at a number of tournaments including ESL One Genting, the Boston Major and Galaxy Battles showed that they were no one-hit wonders and the group was getting positive results as recently as July at DreamLeague season 7. Alas, failing to qualify for TI7 was more than the group could handle and they quietly split in August.
Team Faceless- Following TI6, there was a huge void in Southeast Asia and veteran star Iceiceice was happy to fill it. Leaving the Chinese scene behind, he founded Team Faceless and popped up in almost every big tournament in 2017. Unfortunately, while Faceless made it into almost any event they fancied, they never really posted especially strong results under the brighter spotlights and when they washed out early from the TI7 SEA qualifiers, they were quick to break up.
Cloud9- Team NP, made up of NA veterans and helmed by EternalEnVy, was one of 2017’s most popular groups, combining solid results with wacky in-game moments. A roster shakeup in May, however, saw them attempt to make the jump from “fan favorite” to “world-class team” and the results were initially positive as they placed highly in a number of LAN tournaments. Unfortunately, an embarrassingly bad performance in the TI7 group stages was followed by a Day 1 exit and that would be the end for the newly minted Cloud9.
Alliance- The TI3 champions suffered a steady decline after claiming the Aegis of Champions but completely fell off the map once the Valve Major Era began in 2015. They consistently qualified for big events starting in 2016, but struggled to take home any serious checks throughout the year. The wheels came off in 2017, however, as they failed to qualify for TI7 and disbanded as a result.
SG E-Sports- The Brazilian squad’s breakout performance at the Kiev Major was followed by a flop at the TI7 South American qualifier. With business about to pick up in Dota 2 south of the equator, change is inevitable at all levels, but especially at the top. The result was SG E-Sports dissolving before ever truly being able to establish itself at the international level.
New Teams That Sprung Up and Old Teams That Got Shaken Up
The other side to the sad break-ups are the fun, new lineups that form from the wreckage. Few teams have remained untouched since TI7 and that has resulted in a number of roster shakeups, and a few all-new teams.
Evil Geniuses- The boys in blue had a disappointing run at TI7, finishing 12th place, but their dominance beforehand warranted them giving it another go. As such, they made a subtle, but significant change by bumping Zai in favor of returning former captain Fear.
EHOME- The most enduring organization in Chinese Dota 2 is returning after quietly disbanding earlier this year. Some of the names are famously associated with the EHOME organization like Old Chicken and Cty. Others are new, like the addition of former Wings Gaming players Faith_bian and y`.
OG- Mid player Ana is taking a break from the game, and OG has found a surprising replacement in TI6 runner-up and Team Empire sub Resolut1on. While immensely talented, the Ukrainian has been most successful as a carry in recent years, making his transition to the mid role an interesting storyline heading into this new season.
Fnatic- Fnatic looked hot at the TI7 qualifiers but cooled down in a big way at the actual tournament, washing out of the group stages with a 2-14 record. With that, the organization seems to be returning to its western roots, adding Cloud9 expats Pieliedie and EternalEnVy, as well as EU journeyman Xcalibur alongside the returning DJ and Ohaiyo.
The Yet-to-Be-Named Saksa and w33 Stack- There is plenty of unclaimed territory near the top of the EU circuit. Former Planet Odd players w33haa and Saksa are looking to change that with their new squad, which also includes ex-Complexity Gaming player Cancel^^, Team Secret’s Khezu and, interestingly, Timado from Peru’s Infamous.
Mineski- Mineski has been a staple of SEA Dota’s second tier of teams for a while now. They’re looking to jump to the top, however, by adding Jabz and Iceiceice, from Team Faceless, and NaNa from WG.U.
Phoenix Reborn?- What does the future hold for the MVP brand in Dota 2? Nobody knows. But the five players they sent to TI6 last year have seemingly reunited to form their own new team after mediocre runs in other organizations.
Teams With Gaps to Fill
While the picture for each region is becoming clearer, there is still much work to be done. Top-end teams around the world have blank spots on their rosters that need to be filled and with the tournament season starting soon, they’d better get on the ball!
Na’Vi- They still have Dendi! Don’t worry! Pajkatt and Biver are gone while General and Sonneiko are sticking around. They’ll need new carry and support players, but there are plenty of options out there for them.
Alliance- Veteran carry Loda is coming out of retirement to build a new team. It is unknown, however, whether the team will stick to its all-Sweden approach or will begin looking to players born outside the country.
Infamous- The Pride of Peru did reasonably well at TI7 but the good times didn’t roll on for long. Timado left Infamous behind to join the previously-mentioned w33haa and Saksa stack while Kingteka’s on-again-off-again relationship with the team is back to being “off.” The team would likely benefit from a veteran player from outside South America, similar to 1437 in TnC.
Team Secret- Europe’s top team lost MP and Khezu to two of the newly formed teams. The core group of Puppey, Yapzor and MidOne is still exceptional, however, and they will likely remain one of the best in the region.
What Comes Next?
The sheer number of free agents is daunting to look over across all regions and the pool of talent is still deep enough that all the gaps in established teams could be filled with enough people left over to form multiple new organizations.
Any moves ought to come as soon as possible, though. The season officially begins on September 21, with the regional qualifiers for ESL One Hamburg. That tournament, in addition to boasting a $1 million prize pool, kicks off the new Major/Minor era where teams earn direct invites to The International by winning points based on their performances at Valve-approved events.
While there hasn’t historically been much of a rush to pull teams together without strict, Valve-mandated deadlines, teams’ hopes of playing in The International dwindle with each event they miss. The clock is ticking for groups like Team Secret and independent players like Misery.
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