It has been four months since the hugely successful Boston Major, with the latest installment of the series taking place in Kiev at the end of April. It will be the first Valve event in Ukraine, a country where the eSport enjoys a huge following and one which has produced a fine pedigree of Dota players.
Following the removal of the Lower Bracket at the Boston Major, the Kiev event will herald another revolution as the Swiss group system will be implemented to replace the current GSL format.
This means that all 16 teams will be placed into a single group and the Group Stage will be conducted over four rounds. In each round, teams with the same win-loss record will play against each other, while each game will be in a best-of-three format. No team will play against each other twice and all of the games will take place over 24-25 April.
After a one day break, the main event will start on 27 April, with the best-of-five Grand Finals taking place three days later. The winners will get $1,000,000 from the $3,000,000 total prize fund.
OG are one of the first names that come up when the word “favourite” is mentioned in relation to Dota. The Boston Major winners are the most consistent European team right now and while they succumbed to the reviving Invictus Gaming in the Grand Finals of the recently concluded DAC 2017, they have made the top four in every tournament in which they’ve played since November.
Invictus Gaming are the hot name right now. Reborn on the stage of DAC 2017, iG will be looking forward to making a grand return to Valve events. Watching BurNIng play top drawer Dota 2 again has been hugely heartwarming for a large number of Dota 2 veteran fans.
EG did not play at their best at DAC 2017, finishing 5-6th, but they usually perform strongly at Valve events. Their Manila flop last year was the aberration as they ended up in 13-16th place, but around this EG finished 3rd in TI6 and the Shanghai Major and reached the semis in Boston.
It has been a while since Newbee have won a major tournament outside of China but their efforts at ESL One Genting were enough for them to finish a creditable 2nd. Playing convincingly since TI6, Newbee were impressive at DAC 2017, where they finished 3rd, and it will be truly surprising if they end up among the bottom eight again like they did in Boston.
Virtus Pro breezed through the CIS qualifiers and with two Ukrainian players on their roster, they will certainly be the home crowd favourite. The team were dominant on the European scene prior to the Boston Major and the qualifiers demonstrated that they are still exhibiting this high level of play.
Team Liquid had a rough time after TI6, but winning StarLadder in February was another step on the path to former glories. A strong performance was expected at DAC 2017 but they only finished 9-12th and the fact that they were eliminated in a best-of-one game does suggest weaknesses still persist. In short: they are still looking for their rhythm, but the quality is definitely there.
The quality of players on the VG.J roster has allowed them to make quite an impact since their formation last September, but they hit the backpedal with their performance at DAC 2017. Despite this, expectations are high going into Kiev as having brilliant players such as fy and captain rOtK means they always have the potential to do well.
Who would have thought that TI6 champions Team Random (formerly Wings Gaming) would not be counted among the favourites for Kiev? Their record since their surprise success speaks for itself though as after the Northern Beat Arena, the team have been seriously underperforming. Perhaps leaving the Wings Gaming organization will clear their heads and allow them to focus more.
Team Secret struggled after a rather poor performance at TI6 (13-16th) and failed to qualify for the Boston Major. They have picked up of late but apart from winning the FACEIT Invitational in October and the ROG Masters in November, the Shanghai Major champions have done little in the last nine months.
Thunderbirds (formerly DC) have been in decline since winning ESL One Genting in January and speculation has been rife that some of the problems within the team have been financial as well as managerial. These may have been the reasons behind the Thunderbirds quintet leaving DC earlier in April. The team reached the semis in Boston, but repeating this success in Kiev looks a much tougher task given their current situation.
iG.Vitality have been overshadowed by the main iG roster recently, but they managed to finish 1st in the China Qualifier and the team demonstrated that they can match any top Dota 2 side at DAC 2017, where they finished 4th.
Don’t count them out
Digital Chaos (formerly Team Onyx) surprised the favourites from NP and snatched the first spot in the North American Qualifier. Abed is one of the most impressive players from the SEA region and should be watched closely.
TnC Gaming are currently one of the two Dota 2 pillars of the SEA region (the other being Team Faceless) and winning WESG 2016 was an impressive feat. However, the team still lag behind the big teams in terms of quality and gameplay. The Kiev stage will show whether the gap has been reduced.
Team Faceless have improved significantly recently, particularly as their first encounters with top Dota 2 teams in the Summit 6 and Boston Major felt like something of a cold shower. Iceiceice’s unrelenting training regime helped them finish 3rd in Dota Pit League Season 5 and recent wins against outfits such as Team Liquid at DAC 2017 are indicative of the team’s ability to compete with the big guns.
Appearing at a Valve event will be a whole new experience for SG e-sports and the expectations for the debutants are not particularly high. However, they are a team with nothing to lose and so will have less pressure on their shoulders. A 5-8th spot at the WESG proved that they may not be a pushover.
Aside from a few qualifiers and the Elimination Mode 3.0 event, mousesports (former Ad Finem) have been largely absent from the scene since the Boston Major for unknown reasons. It is hard to be relevant in the ever changing meta if you are not constantly measuring yourself against the opposition and it will be immensely difficult for them to repeat their heroic feat from Boston, where they reached the Grand Finals. However, no-one expected them to be finalists back then either so they remain a dangerous proposition.
There are lots of question marks hanging over this Major but it certainly appears to be one of the most highly contested Valve events to date. There are so many teams among the favourites and quite a few close to that level of play that choosing a winner is tough. Furthermore, some teams’ current form is a complete enigma as they are either new or have been absent from the international Dota 2 scene for a while. And when you add the new exciting group format to the mix, it looks as if the Kiev Major is going to be far from a letdown.