Taking a closer look at what happened during pre-DPC Qualifiers
Long months of waiting, seasoned with the mysterious yet annoying silence from the developers, are finally over, and we are expecting the main part of the official Dota Pro Circuit to start very soon with a full-fledged final at the end. Two seasons have two divisions for each of the six regions with DPC point allocation, the competition to get to the upcoming Major is now on, and the great and terrible The International, set for August, looms on the horizon—yes, everything is back to square one. True, the system has been slightly changed, and you can read about the innovations here, but in this article, we will analyze what has already happened: Deciders results, Upper Division teams, Lower Division participants, and all the drama that happened over the last week and a half of Qualifiers. Davai!
Let's start with a quick overview of each region's groupings prior to the start of the Qualifiers. In the picture below, you can see that the strongest and best local teams received direct invites to the Upper Divisions of the DPC league. Four invites each region, four places to be decided by trial: to get to Upper Division, the teams had to make their way through Closed Qualifiers, or Deciders (putting North America aside because everything is difficult and sad there, we'll talk about NA at the end).
Almost everyone had questions to the invited teams' list: European top teams (Alliance, Vikin.gg) suffered from the high competition; the same thing happened in China; in North America, the newly formed Sadbois, led by PPD and Fear, received an invite; the tops have formed in Southeast Asia, but there are a lot of fixed matches, and everyone is accusing each other; in the CIS people did not understand why Team Spirit and Live To Win received invitations; only in South America everything is more or less clear – the strongest got invites, the rest fought on equal terms in Deciders.
However, during the Deciders, everything became clear: the best showed themselves and progressed deservedly, the worst flew without a chance, and those where the battle was equal, showed an excellent Dota. So, on the 5th of January, The Qualifiers began. Southeast Asia started first.
A real success story has happened in this region: while the grandees received direct invites or teams like Neon and 496 were just proving their potential in the Quals, a small org named Vice eSports broke into the Upper DPC league. These guys more than deserved to be on the top list, showing excellent and cheerful Dota. It is also interesting that in Southeast Asia, we have 22 Filipinos out of 40 participants, that is, 55%.
Unfortunately, they don't have many chances to get to Major; the difference between the levels is too great. However, this is a great experience for the players and a chance to show off the team that floats in the lower tier.
The second region to finish the Quals was South America. Interestingly, this region is also, let's say, populated by a particular nation, Peruvians: 27 out of 40, which is a bit more than 2/3. Huge!
The only team that does not have Peruvians on their squad is SG e-sports, whose line-up is full-Brazilian. And while the strongest teams have gone to the Upper Division and there was no real struggle, the Lower Division looks much more interesting with aggressive and equal teams fighting each other and promising us some mad and fun Dota. In particular, it's worth mentioning Blood For Blood (and not even for their nicknames), as well as 0-900, which Vitoria "Guashineen" Otero praised separately.
But in China, a real drama broke out. Royal Never Give Up, who hit the move in recent months, were unable to make it to the Upper Division, which was a real frustration for the players. Of course, four direct invites were received quite rightly and fairly, but besides these giants, there are a whole bunch of real Dota monsters in the region. Yes, it was obvious that Team Aster and Invictus Gaming would advance to the top division, and RNGs were simply not lucky to run into IG, who didn't want to give up the slot.
By the way, meanwhile, Valve has banned Newbee as an organization and their five players forever, including one TI winner, for match-fixing.
Probably, after Europe, it will be the densest and high-quality region in the sense of Dota. During the online era, the Chinese have put things in order inside their Dota world; there were no sudden and huge reshuffles and player swapping recently; everything is stable here, and because of this, it is very tense. We'd like to see the clash between China and Europe regions as soon as possible.
Though, the Lower Division is also a pretty interesting thing to watch because Sparking Arrow, Phoenix, RNG, and CDEC are participating.
In Europe, the situation is a little more prosaic than in China: only two of the strongest teams did not receive direct invitations, while the CIS was separated for their own region. Nevertheless, Alliance and Vikin.gg came through the Qualifiers without any problems, and the remaining two slots were decided in a fair battle by teams with good potential.
It's nice to see that the mudgolems, who, although they could not find an organization, managed to correct the composition after a small conflict in the team and made their way to the top division. Chicken Fighters was formed from two recently disbanded lineups: 5men and Ninjas in Pyjamas. All in all, Europe has become the most balanced and fair region in terms of getting into the Upper Division.
And now for the most dramatic and controversial region. From the very beginning, Valve called Live To Win and Team Spirit, and no one understood why. And although TS are former Yellow Submarine who have shown themselves excellently in the last couple of months, and Live To Win has not shown anything special yet, it was in this region that the deciders showed everything as it is.
Gambit, Winstrike, HellRaisers, these are the names, aren't they? In fact, it turned out that the guys from NoTechies (new Solo's stack), Team Empire, EXTREMUM, and NoPango are stronger. There's nothing to say about B8, who were simply not ready to play, and moreover, Dendi has a coronavirus to add to that.
Danil "Dendi" Ishutin on B8's results:
It is a pity that we could not take advantage of two attempts to break into the first division. Everyone was on an equal footing with a new patch and had 5 days to prepare. As it usually happens, meta and the hero pools suit someone better. Or sometimes people make not quite correct conclusions about the patch. Over time, everyone will catch up.
About our games. Our drafts are not yet entirely confident and some of the opponent's ideas turned out to be stronger. This is a normal team-building process and you'll see more in time. The atmosphere in the team is good. A very unusual experience for me personally, but I like the way the training process goes. It remains only to convert it into a result!
Regarding the COVID-19, playing is not that awesome, your head doesn't want to work at all, but even with it, these games could have been won. We made mistakes, but we also learned. See you in the second division!
Unfortunately, in North America, things are pretty bad with Dota. The only financially stable team that remained is Evil Geniuses, who returned to the region from Europe, where they spent almost the entire online season of 2020. Surely, EG signed the great iceiceice, but they will compete with at least three or four stacks: first, there are well-built and confident 4Zoomers and Quincy Crew, as well as the recently formed PPD and Fear mix Sadbois, who look very cool on paper and have the potential. In addition, Black N Yellow, 5ManMidas, and Undying are very promising, and there's only one team left to be decided.
Meanwhile, the Lower Division is in trouble. Due to the lack of teams, squads from open qualifiers can go there, Valve approved. One should not expect a high level of Dota there, though. Nevertheless, we can all congratulate SirActionSlacks' team called Arkosh Gaming.
The approved lineups for the pre-Major League must satisfy all neutral fans: a bunch of cool teams, invincible giants, nimble underdogs, a two-month tournament, each region has its own organizer, and the DPC motivation has finally returned, which is the most important. Plus, a LAN-final to become the cherry on top.
The games start on January, 18 in all regions, finishing the league before March. Although, CN is the only region to complete the mini-tourney on March, 14 due to the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Unfortunately, there are also disadvantages to the new system: very cool players were left behind the first season of DPC-21. No[o]ne, RAMZES666, 23savage, SumaiL, 9pasha - these five players will miss the first part of the Road to TI10. Surely, they can be included in their squads without losing points, but there are not so many chances for this, and I really wanted to see the guys at the tournament.
Overall, it seems that this year, Valve is trying out the tournament system that we will see after TI10. Obviously, the beta version which we see today and which we will follow until August is just a test and preparation in order to understand all the pros and cons of it, hear the opinions of players, teams, and the audience, fix the broken, and launch it right next season. It pleases that Valve are taking advantage of the difficult world situation and are trying to profit from it, trying to find the golden mean of the ideal official DPC season.
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