The Dota Pro Circuit season has begun to unravel, and already we’re seeing a few minor surprises in the standings. Team Secret and Mineski have been performing better than expected to many fans’ delight, whereas certain powerhouse teams are yet to show sparks of life. There is still a lot of Dota to be played though, as we’re not even halfway through the season yet and some teams are still finding their groove.
Perfect World Masters will be held in Shanghai, China. It is classified as a minor tournament with a relatively humble prize pool of $300,000. The group stages kick off on November 19th, whereas the main event will be played from the 22nd through the 26th of the same month.
This tournament, in particular, should draw in extra viewers due to the sheer number of big teams participating, but also the fact that it will be only the 2nd tournament on the new 7.07 game version. Some would say the novelty has worn off due to Dota PIT being played on 7.07, but that tournament featured fewer big name teams and ran on a much tighter schedule with no group stage matches at all.
As a Dota fan, it is always interesting to see how teams think of and incorporate new heroes and strategies when a new patch hits, so you should be in for quite a show come the 19th. I expect Perfect World Masters to be a spectacle.
Newbee [direct invite]
Forever Young [direct invite]
Team Secret [direct invite]
LGDGaming [CN qualifier]
ViciGaming [CN qualifier]
compLexityGaming [NA qualifier]
SGe–sports [SA qualifier]
TeamKinguin [Europe Qualifier]
VegaSquadron [CIS Qualifier]
Mineski [SEA Qualifier]
Zhang Chengjun – “Paparazi”
Zeng Jiaoyang – “Ori”
Ren Yangwei – “eLeVeN”
Zhang Zhicheng – “LaNm”
Lu Chao – “Fenrir”
It’s tough to predict who will come out on top amidst a sea of Chinese juggernauts, but if I had to choose one then Vici Gaming is my pick for tournament favorites. Their fresh lineup that was established in September is yet to fully gel, but their recent run of games has been the most impressive of the bunch.
Just in November, they have sported by far the best win rate out of all Chinese teams with an impressive 61%. Keep in mind that most of their games have been against top-tier opposition: OG, VP, LFY, Newbee, LGD.
Of course, stats alone don’t factor in the equation, but the way the team plays and how they are able to dominate their opposition. The experience of LaNm and Fenrir, combined with the skillfulness of their core players, Ori and Paparazi, is a great recipe for success that can carry this team’s success far into the season. The fact that they’ve been placed into an easier group will certainly help as well, but come the main event this won’t matter as much as it seems.
Xu Han – “Moogy”
Song Chun – “Sccc”
Damien Chok – “kpii”
Hu Liangzhi – “Kaka”
Zeng Hongda (C) – “Faith”
The long-standing stable lineup of Newbee that finished runners-up at The International 2017 is still a force to be reckoned with. In fact, they could just as easily win it as VG, but their latest run of form is yet to fully convince me, as they failed to qualify for 8th installment of The Summit.
Newbee may kick things into gear once again and show the world who is the best Chinese team on the scene, but as the competition in the region is as strong as ever, nothing is guaranteed. They may need to get back to the drawing board to think of new ways of surprising their opponents. In any case, it will be interesting to see how they fare against such strong opposition, especially with a new patch fresh on everyone’s minds.
Marcus Hoelgaard – “Ace”
Yeik Nai Zheng – “MidOne”
Adrian Trinks – “Fata”
Yazied Jaradat – “Yapz0r”
Clement Ivanov (C) – “Puppey”
Whenever a tournament is dominated by Chinese teams, the narrative will always be China vs The West, as many Dota fans know themselves. This region rivalry has been brewing ever since the first International, and there’s no reason it should stop now. The battle will be all the more exciting when we consider that Team Secret is the West’s shining beacon of hope, led by fan-favorite Puppey.
Team Secret has been on an amazing run of late, pleasantly surprising neutrals and fans alike by exceeding expectations with their performances at ESL Hamburg 2017, winning 2nd place behind VP. Prior to that, they finished 3-4th at the Starladder Invitational S3, as well as 5-6th at PGL Open in Bucharest.
In a tournament jam-packed with teams prepared to give everything in front of their home crowd, the Perfect World Masters may be Secret’s biggest test yet. It will be one of the tournament’s main storylines to follow, making us all the more excited for kick-off.
Kam Boon Seng – “NaNa”
Chai Yee Fung (C) – “Mushi”
Daryl Koh Pei Xiang – “iceiceice”
Anucha Jirawong – “Jabz”
Michael Ross Jr.– “ninjaboogie”
Mineski has been one of the best up and comers so far into the season, ranking 4th on the Pro Circuit ladder with a completely fresh lineup, but not without a few familiar faces in it. Veteran fan-favorites Mushi and iceiceice have returned to the scene in great style. Joined by relative unknowns in NaNa, Jabz and ninjaboogie, they’ve been recording fantastic results wherever they go.
The team finished runners-up at the Starladder Invitational S3, won the PGL Open Bucharest, and won 5 of the 7 qualifiers they participated in. It is a record even the best of the best can envy. The question remains whether Mineski can keep up their levels of performance we’ve seen so far, and there’s no better venue to explore that than this upcoming tournament.
LGD and LFY
LGD has been one of the most stable teams in recent years, with the only recent roster change being in September, bringing in fy to replace the departing eLeVeN. The same can be said for LFY, whose latest change was bringing in Inflame and Ahfu back in May.
History tells us that having two teams from the same organization usually doesn’t work out too well, but that cannot be said for LGD. Their rosters have been a force to be reckoned with throughout the entire year, consistently performing at a similarly high level – even reserving 3rd and 4th place at The International. As such, it comes as no surprise that these teams have very similar records and rankings.
However, LFY has yet to make the Dota Pro Circuit ladder, so they will have much more to fight for at the Perfect World Masters. They certainly have what it takes to go all the way, but not without a handful of fierce matches along the way. LGD is on the ladder with 202.5 points, but that is way off teams such as Liquid, Secret and VP who sport some 1000-2000 points already.
Both teams will need to bring their A game, but when it comes to winning the tournament I see LGD edging out their counterparts, as they have a much better record overall against the opposition they’ll be facing.
Vega, Kinguin, SG e-sports, compLexity
The rest of the teams will have to be thrown in the underdog basket, as none of them have shown the level needed to win a tournament of this stature.
SG e-sports has finally given some hope to the South American scene, finishing a respectable 7th– 8th place at ESL Hamburg 2017 and 5th– 6th at the Dota PIT league. We may see a decent showing from them at Perfect World as well, but the team still has significant growing to do if they are to compete for the trophies.
Chessie and Limmp’s return to compLexity has shown mixed results so far. They failed to come ahead in many of the qualifiers they participated in, but a 3rd-4th place at the Starladder Invitational S3 and 2nd place at the WCA NA finals gives some promise that the NA scene may yet have another decent contender among their ranks.
VegaSquadron has witnessed a remarkable fall from grace ever since their admirable 4th place finish at DreamLeague Season 7. The team has not won even a penny in competitive outings since July this year, which is especially surprising considering they’ve had roster stability for most of that time. Vega has what it takes to pull off an upset or two, but as it stands right now I wouldn’t hold my breath for them.
Lastly, we have the Polish squad of Team Kinguin, full of unknown players even to passionate followers of the scene. This team’s recent record shows so little that I wouldn’t even call them bad, simply unknown.
Most of their showings have been in qualifiers, and they’ve only participated in two tournaments, recording respectable results albeit not against top opposition. I’m sure Team Kinguin will come into the tournament relaxed and with confidence. Nobody knows what to really expect from them, and the pressure is most certainly off their shoulders. I predict them to finish last, but I wouldn’t mind being proven wrong and pleasantly surprised. Everyone loves a good underdog story.
This tournament comes at a great time for the competitive scene when many powerful teams are still experimenting with new strategies in an effort to outwit each other.
Perfect World Masters may be classed as a minor, but in the eyes of fans, it’s as major as it gets. It will answer many questions to Dota fans and clear up the Dota Pro Circuit ladder even further ahead of the new round of exciting tournaments come December.
All that is left for us fans is to sit back, enjoy the show and of course – cheer on our favorite teams.
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