What you need to know: DreamLeague S13 preview
The second Major of the Dota Pro Circuit is upon us. The DreamLeague S13 Major, held in Leipzig, runs from Jan. 18 to Jan. 26. Over two weeks, sixteen teams from all over the world will clash for $1,000,000 and 15,000 DPC points, all in a bid to lay claim to a berth to The International 2020.
The Leipzig Major sees some tier one teams finally make their appearance in a Major tournament. Two of the top four teams at TI9, Nigma and Team Secret, enter the fray. Unfortunately, OG and PSG.LGD, skipping yet another tournament and falling in the open qualifiers respectively, will not be attending the event.
With how top-heavy the DPC rankings usually are, any points are valuable even for the underdogs. In the 2018-2019 DPC, the 12th-placed Keen Gaming had 1140 points, less than one fourth-place finish at a Major tournament. One good result could see a team book their ticket to Sweden.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the favorites and dark horses in the Leipzig Major.
Vici Gaming is on a hot streak. They barely skipped a beat when they lost their former captain Pan “Fade” Yi to Team Aster, opening with a bang in the first Major of the season, demolishing every series except for the final one against an off-the-charts TNC Predator.
They immediately followed up that effort at the ONE Esports Dota 2 World Pro Invitational with a resounding lower bracket run that saw them finish the event with a eight-game winning streak, sweeping Evil Geniuses in the grand finals.
New addition Xiong "Pyw"' Jiahan has somehow proved to be an even more aggressive roamer and playmaker than Fade, albeit with a smaller, more specialized hero pool. VG’s dual blades in Zhang “Eurus” Chengjun and Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang remain as sharp and versatile as ever, while Zhou “Yang” Haiyang and Ding “Dy” Cong prove to be consistent backbones of the team. The practically perfect and smooth blend, VG will be the favorite until proven otherwise.
Fresh off their win at the WePlay! Bukovel Minor, the ex-Liquid team went one of the longest routes possible to get to the Major. Nevertheless, the long journey just might have been the spark they needed to get fully warmed up and prepared, much like OG’s Open Qualifiers campaign in The International 2018 that saw them win their first Aegis of Champions.
With Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi’s squad, there might be no need to put too much stock into their group stage performance. As Team Liquid at TI9, they were just three games away from elimination without ever seeing the main event, before making a lower bracket run all the way to the grand finals. As Nigma, they once again went down to the loser’s bracket before winning the whole thing.
It wasn’t an easy journey either. They executed pixel-perfect teamfights. They came back from humongous gold deficits. They played into the wee hours of the morning and persevered through it all to emerge as a contender for this event.
Nigma is dangerous. At the flip of a switch, they can instantly become one of the best teams in the world. With arguably some of the best players in the world in every position, it’s little wonder why they always seem capable of demolishing any team in their way.
The cosmopolitan all-stars have gone from strength to strength. With every event attended this season, EG has improved their placement, but they’ve always fallen hard at their final hurdle. These include a loss to the surging underdogs Invictus Gaming at the MDL Chengdu Major and being swept at the ONE Esports Invitational by VG.
Undoubtedly, the team is stacked with talent. Three of the four players in the world to have reached 10,000 MMR? Mechanical skill is not lacking whatsoever, but they’ve lacked the killer instinct that so many championship teams possess.It’s not the end for them, however. It’s still early in the season and with some of the greatest minds in Dota 2 present in one team, it looks like only a matter of time before they claim their first premium tournament trophy since the DOTA Summit 9 in 2018.
Team Secret, perennial home of all-stars. They’ve recruited yet more big names, poaching TI7 winners in carry player Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen and head coach Lee “Heen” Seung Gon.
As to be expected, there were some growing pains. The inclusion of MATUMBAMAN created a conflict in positions with Secret’s wunderkind Michal “Nisha” Jankowski, who switched back to the mid lane.
MATUMBAMAN’s return to playing a true one position after years of playing the sacrificial core and Nisha’s adaptation back to mid hasn’t been entirely smooth-sailing. They played their first LAN tournament at the ONE Esports Invitational, just managing to finish in the top half Yet, it was clear that MATUMBAMAN still had room for improvement, while Nisha hasn’t totally shaken off his tendency to farm in a meta where mid players are expected to rotate heavily. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules, and it’s up to Clement “Puppey” Ivanov to figure out the proper, fitting attire for his team.
While they did finish last place in the ONE Esports World Pro Invitational, they lost their lower bracket series to Vici Gaming, eventually winners of the tournament and also a team that they bullied in the finals of the MDL Chengdu Major.
Yet, they’ve looked far from impressive since their Major championship. The SEA team’s final qualification match for the Major was plagued with connection issues for their opponents Cignal Ultra, and we will never know whether TNC was fated to win or lose that battle. They tumbled out of the ONE Esports Invitational on the first day of the playoffs.
So far, it looks like they’ve been relatively slow to adapt to the meta. While they’ve been excellent at drawing out games, the luxury to do so has shrunk with the new update. If TNC has been watching the Bukovel Minor closely, however, Nigma has been a shining example of how to play a drawn-out game. If TNC manages to find the drafts they need in time, it won’t be surprising to see them take the podium once again.
The upstart Chinese team was a delightful surprise at the MDL Chengdu Major. Having dominated the preceding Summit 11 Minor, they shocked even the most ardent of supporters as they ended up third at the Major and would have secured a TI ticket with their DPC points total in the 2018-19 season.
The secret to their success has been a fast-paced, aggressive playstyle. On the surface, it looks like they are playing with utter disrespect for their opponents, but they have proven surprisingly reined despite their young ages.
One player, however, is the definition of disrespect. Zhou "Emo" Yi, IG’s mid laner, plays like he’s the best player in the world, constantly diving and making mind-boggling high-risk, high-reward plays. Much more often than not, the youngster’s immaculate skill pulls him ahead, but the mishaps that occur from this sort of play are perhaps just as, if not more entertaining than his brilliant ones.
Image via Dreamhack