Mineski was one of the best Dota 2 teams in the world...until it wasn’t. Almost overnight, the team that kicked off the 2017-2018 Dota Pro Circuit season with back-to-back grand finals berths went from being “the best in the world” to “pretty good, I guess.”
It stayed active, yes. Direct invites to tournaments came following that early success and there were enough qualifiers happening that Daryl Koh "iceiceice" Pei Xiang and his posse had busy schedules all the way through winter’s end.
But as time went on, Mineski just seemed to lose the crisp play that made it so fearsome in 2017. The result was a steady slide down the standings of tournaments, culminating in back-to-back early exits from ESL One Katowice and the Bucharest Major.
As quickly as Mineski lost it, though, it seemed to gain it back at the Dota 2 Asia Championships.
Despite being the clear underdogs to established heavyweights Team Secret, Virtus Pro and Team Liquid, Mineski looked every bit the part of an elite-level team throughout the tournament. It earned a first-round bye with its strong group stage performance, sliced its way through the winner’s bracket and earning a spot in the grand finals opposite LGD Gaming.
LGD Gaming poised to pull off the win. Hot off a dramatic comeback win over tournament favorites Virtus Pro, the Chinese veterans advanced to 2-1 and forced Mineski’s back to the wall. That situation seemed to bring out the best in Mineski, though, as the team closed out the series, and sealed up first place, with two immaculate games.
While Mineski may or may not cool down over the next few months, the importance of this win cannot be overstated. In addition to the $370,000 top prize, Mineski gains a whopping 750 qualifying points per player in the Dota Pro Circuit.
Now sitting in fourth place in the standings with 3150 points, it almost certainly has a direct invite to The International 2018 in its pocket and now enjoys a wave of momentum heading into the most important weeks of the season.
Play of the Tournament!
Virtus Pro has no chill. The Russian Dota 2 squad already has a direct invite to The International 2018 in its pocket, but it’s still competing at every Major tournament, and still going for the jugular against every single opponent it comes up against.
Because of that, a team needs to bring its A-Game in order to have any hope of taking a win...or they need to get a bit tricky. LGD Gaming took the latter approach in the lower bracket finals of the Dota 2 Asia Championship.
With a lane of barracks down and its tournament life on the line, the team went for a trick play to steal the win, Dark Rifting the entire team onto a dominated catapult. It went perfectly, too, as LGD initiated a huge team fight that set it up to claim barracks and the series win.
Though LGD didn’t quite take the top prize, it delivered the most memorable moment of DAC 2018, bar none.
Tough Blow for NA Dota 2
The clock is ticking on everyone in the Dota Pro Circuit, but no region is feeling that more than North America. While China, Southeast Asia, Europe and CIS are all but guaranteed to have a team given a direct invite to TI8, every team in North America is on shaky footing.
It’s not for lack of talent, of course. Evil Geniuses remains a legitimate contender in any tournament it competes at. OpTic Gaming has looked the part of a potentially high-end team as well and from there? Immortals, Animal Planet, Is GG, Digital Chaos and VGJ.Storm are all capable of making noise during this part of the season.
Still, direct invites to The International won’t be sent out based on “looking good” this year. Teams, quite simply, need to post top-four finishes at tournaments and with just six events left on the calendar, they need to start doing so in a hurry. The Dota 2 Asia Championship was a huge opportunity for OpTic and EG...but ultimately, both walked away empty-handed.
Once again, neither team looked bad at the event. Both looked strong in the group stages and survived the breakout round. Neither one looked bad in defeat, with both receiving their losses from top-four finishers. They can hold their heads high about how they performed in China…but that’s just not enough for them right now. They needed to put points on the board in Shanghai and, ultimately, neither managed to pull it off.
This doesn’t quite kill either team’s direct invite dreams, but it does dial up the urgency even more. OpTic will compete at the StarLadder Minor later this month, while EG received a direct invite to One Birmingham. OpTic will have the opportunity to go to Birmingham as well through the North American qualifiers, but past that? CompLexity Gaming and VGJ.Storm have already snatched up spots in every other tournament, save the China Dota 2 Super Major in June.
Is SEA Dota Great Again?
It’s been an up and down season for Southeast Asian Dota 2. Roster changes, controversy and bouts of inactivity have made it hard to get a good read on where teams, or the region as a whole, stack up at the international level.
While the sample size isn’t yet large enough to say anything definitive, the Dota 2 Asia Championship certainly suggested that SEA Dota is still a force.
In addition to Mineski’s run in the tournament, TnC Gaming was one of the biggest standouts of the tournament, taking first place in its group and mounting a fourth-place run. The week prior saw Fnatic post its best performance of the year, taking second-place at the DreamLeague season 9 Minor and asserting itself as a real contender going forward.
Admittedly, there’s a considerable drop-off behind those three teams. Execration, Happy Feet and the like are all cemented as regional-level, and have struggled to find even a modicum of success in larger tournaments.
Still, things are trending in a very good direction right now. If this keeps up, look for them all to be a force through the Summer.
Dota Pro Circuit Standings Following DAC 2018
As stated, the clock is ticking for teams looking to bypass the TI8 group stages. And not only is the clock ticking, but teams like Virtus Pro (who already have an invite locked up), OG and CompLexity Gaming (who will both have to compete in open qualifiers) are burning away any points they win from here on out.
Because of that, the seemingly minor shifts around the periphery of the top-eight are now hugely relevant, and DAC 2018 featured several of them.
First and foremost, LGD Gaming vaulted into seventh-place after raking in 450 points in Shanghai. The team was already on the board courtesy of two second-place finishes in Minor events, but the boost it received here was more than enough to rocket the Chinese mainstays into position for a TI8 invite.
Unfortunately, Evil Geniuses now finds itself on the outside of the top-eight. That’s a tough blow for the Boys in Blue. Just recently taking first-place at the GESC: Indonesia Minor, it is now forced to post strong results in its upcoming tournament berths.
Behind EG are Natus Vincere and Fnatic. While they are on-paper worse teams than EG and are currently trailing in the DPC standings, they are actually better positioned to claim top-eight spots as they both have more opportunities to compete in the six remaining DPC events.
Every point is precious right now and April is going to put a lot more into circulation as next week will feature the StarLadder Minor, which is then followed by the next Major, Epicenter XL.