Captain’s Draft 4.0 will be the first significant Dota 2 tournament of 2018, taking place from 4-7 January in Washington DC. There will be a total prize pool of $300,000 and 300 Pro Circuit Points on offer, which could be crucial for teams hoping to participate in this year’s International. Hosted by Moonduck, the studio behind the recent debut of Midas Mode, this competition will be more orthodox in its format, but no less exciting.
The first stage of the tournament is a fairly standard GSL-style format as the teams have been split into two groups, dubbed Group Horse and Group Hippo. The former consists of Team Secret, Team Empire, Vici Gaming and Mineski, while the latter contains Evil Geniuses, OG, compLexity Gaming and paiN Gaming. These teams will face each of the others in their group, with all matches best-of-one.
However, no teams will be eliminated at this stage. Instead, the performance in this round determines the seedings for the second stage, which is a typical single-elimination bracket, with each match best-of-three except the Finals, which will be best-of-five. True to form for Moonduck, this method of play for a tournament is slightly unusual, but remains broadly similar to other minors.
Two teams received an invitation to the tournament – Evil Geniuses and Team Secret.
Although they haven’t had any significant wins since the Manila Masters in May, Evil Geniuses remain a force to be reckoned with – and a fairly impressive 3rd place spot in Moonduck’s previous tournament, Midas Mode, could mean a good showing from them this week. However, late in December they did make some adjustments to their roster after the departures of coach SVG and captain UniVeRsE, with the duo being replaced by BuLba and MISERY respectively. MISERY is famed for his versatile playstyle, whilst BuLba has a penchant for innovation, devising the March of the Machines early-game build for Tinker. It remains to be seen what impact these new players will have and whether they will be able to gel immediately with their teammates.
Team Secret, meanwhile, have been enjoying more success recently, having finished in 1st place at DreamLeague Season 8 last month. They defeated TI7 champions Team Liquid 3-0 and Evil Geniuses 2-0 along the way and with no major upsets or roster changes since then, it’s safe to say that Team Secret are the favourites heading into Captain’s Draft.
Team Empire earned a spot at the tournament through the CIS qualifiers. They, too, have seen some roster adjustments recently, with Chappie and VANSKOR replaced by Silent and yoky-. Their most recent performance saw them take home the gold at the ROG Masters 2017, but it’s difficult to say how these changes will affect their play, particularly as yoky- has yet to play for the team.
compLexity Gaming, from North America, have had little to brag about lately, but there’s always the chance of a sudden reversal of fortune. CompLexity have had a great number of players come and go over the last 12 months, which has made consistent play difficult, with Chessie (who has since returned), Justin, canceL^^, 747, monkeys-forever, DeMoN and Feero all leaving the team in 2017. After a few months of relative stability, though, they might be able to start 2018 strongly. Fourth at the Perfect World Masters and 5th at the DOTA Summit 8 suggest this team could surprise.
OG came through the EU qualifiers and they are another team with a strong recent record, having claimed 1st place and $130,000 at MDL Macau in December. Coming in 7-8th place at TI7, the team is certainly not to be sniffed at, and could take home a share of the prize pool this week.
Vici Gaming qualified from China, despite their most recent performances being quite mixed. Second place finishes at the Perfect World Masters and AMD SAPPHIRE Dota PIT League in November suggest they do have potential though. They’ve also had a rather tumultuous year, with five players dropping out. With a new roster of Paparazi灬, Ori, eLeVeN, LaNm and Fenrir, they seem to be on the rise once more, with over $140,000 in winnings since the current line-up was formed back in September.
South American outfit paiN Gaming hail from Brazil and are considered one of the nation’s strongest teams, although they’ve had little experience outside their home country. Meanwhile the more established Mineski made it through the SEA Qualifiers. A 2-0 victory over top-seeded team LGD Gaming to win the PGL Open Bucharest coupled with a 2nd place finish at the StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 3 in October suggests they are also in good form and will certainly prove an obstacle for the other hopefuls this week.
This tournament is too close to call as although Team Secret may appear to be the favourites, with teams such as EG, Empire and Mineski in the mix, the outcome is far from clear. With the various roster changes and player replacements that took place at the end of 2017, many of these teams are almost completely new so a few could be dark horses. It promises to be an unpredictable event.