What the 2018 Dota 2 Asia Championships Has Taught Us

The 2018 Dota 2 Asia Championships kicked off the unofficial stretch run of the 2017-18 Pro Circuit. Heading into the tournament, Virtus.Pro were looking to continue their Major hat trick with a fourth Major trophy. Meanwhile,  Team Liquid were hoping to win their first after welcoming back a supposedly reinvigorated Amer ‘Miracle-‘ Al-Barkawi. The last of the triumvirate, Team Secret, came into the tournament as heavy favourites once again; their form seemingly restored after their win at DreamLeague Season 9.

When the 2018 Dota 2 Asia Championships was all said and done, however, no one could have predicted the results. Team Secret didn’t even make it to the playoffs; Team Liquid advanced, but saw their run of consecutive Top 4 finishes in LAN tournaments that stretched for 320 days come to an end. In fact, of the triumvirate, only Virtus.Pro advanced deep enough to earn Qualifying Points. And of the six Chinese teams, only LGD Gaming made it far enough into the last day to give the hometown crowd someone to cheer about.

In the stead of the usual powerhouses were Mineski and TNC Pro Team, who exceeded all expectations with their performance at the 2018 Dota 2 Asia Championships. Especially Mineski, who ultimately ended up winning the tournament.

Hard Work Pays Off

They say that hard work pays off when talent doesn’t work hard, but what do you get when you have a group of talented individuals working hard towards a common goal? Glory. That’s what you get.

With Tang ‘71‘ Wenyi as their coach, who is notorious, among many other things, for drilling his players hard, Mineski went from failing to make the playoffs in all but one of the LAN tournaments they attended since the turn of the year to dropping only 4 of the 19 games they played to take home the trophy at the 2018 Dota 2 Asia Championships. And though this isn’t the first time that Mineski have won big this season, the presence of 71 is a sure sign that they’re not going to go into yet another slump this time around.

The Rise of Southeast Asia

2018 Dota 2 Asia Championships

Though they’re still far away from securing a direct invite to TI8, TNC Pro Team’s fourth-place run at the 2018 Dota 2 Asia Championships should give them a lot of confidence in the coming weeks. (PGL)

Mineski aren’t the only Southeast Asian team to go from winning little to winning big at the 2018 Dota 2 Asia Championships. TNC Pro Team too showed that they have what it takes to go toe-to-toe against international competition even after the departure of their former captain Theeban ‘1437‘ Siva.

After going 4-3 during the group stages, TNC Pro Team went 4-0 in the tiebreakers, which was good enough for the top spot in Group A. And though their inexperience showed in their series against ViCi Gaming and once again when they were eliminated by Virtus.Pro, their performance was good enough for a Top 4 finish and more importantly, it put them back on the proverbial map.

With Fnatic also on the rise, it won’t come off as a surprise if we saw three Southeast Asian teams getting a direct invite to TI8 this August.

The End of an Era

It feels wrong to say this because, technically, Team Liquid’s reign has yet to end. They are still the defending TI champions and are basically guaranteed of a direct invite to The International 8 with 4,734 Qualifying Points secured. But it’s still worth mentioning that the 2018 Dota 2 Asia Championships is the first time since the Starladder i-League Invitational #2 back in May of 2017 that they failed to finish in the Top 4 of a LAN tournament.

Team Liquid’s 320-day run is the second-longest in Dota 2 history and included Top 4 finishes at 16 consecutive LAN tournaments. The only team to top them are Natus Vincere, who had finished no lower than fourth place in 13 straight LAN tournaments from 2011 to 2013.

There’s no doubt that Team Liquid are going to bounce back. Perhaps this loss is just what they need to motivate themselves to get back on the top once again.

Chinese Teams Are Doing Okay

2018 Dota 2 Asia Championships

LGD Gaming’s 2nd-place finish at the 2018 Dota 2 Asia Championships makes it the third time that a Chinese team finished in second place at a Major this season. (PGL)

Sure, three different teams from China have gone home as runner-ups in as many Majors this season (with more in Minors), but that’s no slight. Really, it’s just proof of the strength of competition in China and how much more competitive things are going to get in the months ahead.

In between Newbee, ViCi Gaming, VGJ.Thunder and LGD Gaming, the Chinese Dota 2 scene now have four teams fighting for the top spot, with plenty more just waiting for an opportunity to strike and stake their claim.

The sheer depth of competition in China is bad news for the rest of the world. After all, 2018 is a Chinese Year according to the TI cycle. Although it remains true that their strategies have become a bit one-dimensional, which has led to some low finishes in Pro Circuit LANs, experience suggests that it’s only a matter of time before Chinese teams find a way to start dominating once again.

South America Needs Help

Whether it comes in the form of an organization sponsoring a team to play there or the teams stepping it up and bootcamping in other countries, something needs to happen. Only a few tournaments remain in the Pro Circuit and not a single team from South America has come close to achieving a Top 4 finish and securing Qualifying Points for The International 8.

At this point, it’s safe to rule out any chances of a South American team receiving a direct invite to TI8. Perhaps this was expected. But still, the teams and organizations over there have to do something about it.

North America had Evil Geniuses to help put the region on the map. Southeast Asia had whatever teams Chai ‘Mushi‘ Yee Fung and Daryl Koh ‘iceiceice‘ Pei Xiang were on for years. MVP.Phoenix also helped to elevate the level of play in the region. South America needs to have that one team that forces every other team to match up to them. Or else, they’ll risk yet another early exit at TI8.

We’re In For Quite The Ride

With 2 Minors and 4 Majors scheduled, as well as the TI8 Qualifiers, the next two-three months are going to be lit. (Valve)

The previous tournaments were great and all. So too was the 2018 Dota 2 Asia Championships. But, as mentioned earlier, the final stretch of the 2017-18 Pro Circuit has only just begun. With only 2 Minors and 4 Majors to go, expect the matches to become even more intense as teams fight it out for the last few available direct invites for The International 8.

So, sit back, relax, and enjoy, because we’re going to be in for quite the ride.

What do you think were the biggest takeways of the 2018 Dota 2 Asia Championships? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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