With the Dota 2 season approaching its cusp, pressure is boiling over as the reality of The International 8 sets in for those teams competing for a slot at the premier event. Find out why the stakes couldn’t be higher this weekend in the Dota Pro Circuit in this week’s edition of the ESI Gambling Report.
ESL One has arrived in Katowice, Poland at the Spodek Arena, for what is sure to be a clash of one of the greatest displays esports has to offer. Spanning across two weekends, ESL One and IEM will organise competitions in Counter Strike: Global Offensive, StarCraft 2, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds as well a bringing a Dota 2 major to Poland for the first time.
Aside from $1,000,000 (£718,860) in prize money on the line for the top Dota 2 finishers, the stakes are even higher in Katowice. With 1,500 Pro Circuit points up for grabs and the season halfway over, there is an underline of importance for teams looking to advance in the rankings. Spectators should expect to see nothing less than an unsparing skirmish between every team at IEM, as an invite to The International 8 may ride on their Katowice performance.
Front of the pack
With no shortage of world-class talent attending Katowice, the predatory campaign for first at the top of the Dota food chain is cutthroat. At the front of the pack is Team Liquid. The International 7 champions haven’t eased up at all when it comes to their dominance of the Pro Circuit, thus making them the clear favourites this weekend in Poland. Despite taking the backseat to a zealous Newbee squad at ESL One Genting, the series was hard fought, placing Liquid in 2nd after a 2-3 loss.
Liquid can’t take all the blame for failing to clinch first place in Genting, though. An explosive performance from Newbee had all eyes on the Chinese stars as they breezed by some of the best squads in professional Dota including faultless victories against Vici Gaming and Team Secret. Newbee is arriving in Katowice spirited and with the dynamism needed to mirror their Genting staging. In the peripherals of Newbee’s championship crusade there exists another team currently parading its zenith in the league: Virtus Pro. With an improvised roster fortifying their crest moving into ESL One Katowice, Virtus Pro will surely represent a crux in any team’s agenda.
Leading the Pro Circuit in qualification points is Team Secret, another fearsome European squad to look out for alongside Liquid in Poland. Team Secret is entering this tournament with increasingly good pace after their first place finish at DreamLeague Season 8 last year, launching them to the top of the leaderboard. A catalyst in Team Secret’s success has been Clement “Puppey” Ivanov, regarded as one of the most prolific captains in Dota. Known for his versatility and experimentation – especially in key matches – Puppey serves as a sound foundation for the rest of the team while proving effective in a myriad of roles.
Although teams sitting in the middle of the pack are adept in every sense of the word, they lack a consistency separating them from the other tier one squads. While Evil Geniuses have lacked a top Pro Circuit finish this season, they will likely still have their autograph support from the crowd; fundamental changes in EG’s player roles seems to have unbalanced their chemistry and effectiveness, the group will need to band together to overcome the erroneous discord. Mineski was a team on fire at the start of the season, however, they have dropped off significantly as of recent. Even so, there seems to be space for the Southeast Asian squad to turn the page at Katowice, as they aim for a high placing finish.
In spite of their middle standing status, Vici Gaming will pose a threat to any opponent they cross paths with at the tournament; a top six finish in Genting and two grand final appearances against Secret and Liquid that stretched the distance demonstrated VG can hang alongside the big guns.
While eight other teams must battle vigorously upwards from the qualifiers to see any Pro Circuit points, OG, compLexity Gaming, LCD Gaming and Fnatic appear the only squads fit to rival any of the top contenders at the Spodek Arena.
While most bookmakers are only accepting wagers on the first round of action at the time being, there’s still opportunity to bid on your picks for ESL One Katowice. Here are some of the best respective places to stake (at the time of writing):
|Team Secret||Team Liquid|