A Complete Preview of the ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 8

Eight of the best Dota 2 teams from all over the world will collide at the ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 8 in Jönköping, Sweden on December 1-3. Already one of the biggest annual events in Dota 2, the eight season of DreamLeague just got even bigger, with more teams participating and higher stakes with as much as $1,000,000 USD and 1,500 Qualifying Points for The International 2018 on the line.

The second Major of the season brings together quite a few familiar faces; of the eight teams playing, six played at the ESL One Hamburg Major back in late October. Although, one of them, specifically Fnatic, are a completely different team now after adding Abed ‘Abed‘ Yusop to their lineup. The other two teams, Infamous and Natus Vincere, are no strangers to playing in a Pro Circuit LAN. Both are looking to score their first Qualifying Points of the season.

Regardless of who wins, it’ll be a must-watch event — and we’re here to give you a quick rundown of the event format and the full list of participating teams, as well as other crucial information.

The Participating Teams

ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 8

Image via DreamHack

The ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 8 Major is the first Pro Circuit LAN this season to forgo direct invites. Instead, all of the 8 teams had to make their way via their respective regional qualifiers, including the defending back-to-back champions, Team Liquid.

Below is a list of all the Dota 2 teams who will take part in the DreamHack Winter 2017 festivities:

The Prize Pool and Format

Official Streams: twitch.tv/dreamleague & twitch.tv/dreamleague2

Prize Pool: As per Valve’s guidelines for Pro Circuit Majors, the ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 8 will have $1,000,000 USD and 1,500 Qualifying Points up for grabs. Distribution is as follows:

  • 1st Place — $500,000 USD / 750 QP
  • 2nd Place — $200,000 USD / 450 QP
  • 3rd Place — $100,000 USD / 150 QP
  • 4th Place — $70,000 USD / 75 QP

Format: The ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 8 Major will kick things off with a double-elimination playoff format right from the get go. There will be no group stage. Each match will be a BO3, including the first round of the lower bracket matches. Grand Finals will be a BO5.

The Heavy Favourites

ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 8

Image via Team Liquid

Team Liquid

Never before has a TI champion been as dominant as Team Liquid have since going on their lower-bracket rampage at The International 7. Although they dropped their shroud of invulnerability after losing to Team Secret and Virtus Pro at the ESL One Hamburg Major, the fact is that they’ve won 6 LAN titles in 7 tries and will always remain a favourite to win any tournament they play in. Even a new patch hasn’t slowed them down, as they won the AMD Sapphire Dota Pit League in early November with a reverse-sweep of ViCi Gaming in the Grand Finals.

Perhaps the most individually skilled team playing at the ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 8 Major — 4 out of 5 of their players have reached 9K MMR and their captain, Kuro ‘KuroKy‘ Salehi Takhasomi is a former carry of the year awardee — watching Team Liquid play is like poetry in motion. Their synergy and chemistry are unmatched. Even when they make mistakes, it’s beautiful watching them recover as they take a mile every time their opponents give them an inch.

Team Liquid have nothing left to prove. Expect, of course, to show everyone that it is possible to win 2 TIs in a row. And while The International 8 is still months away, a Major under their belt will put them in prime position to take the season lead with 750 more Qualifying Points added to their name.

Virtus Pro

It’s common knowledge that bears hibernate during the winter, but the CIS bears are just as active as ever these days. They remain the biggest threat to Team Liquid’s grip on Dota 2’s competitive scene and have shown so far that they will stop at nothing to prove that they’re the best team in the world.

Having played together for more than a year, Virtus Pro know all too well what their strengths and weaknesses are. Their captain Alexei ‘Solo‘ Berezin has yet to deviate from what works best for them. Although his farm, or lack thereof, has sometimes hurt them in crucial games, Solo knows that the team is at its best when all 4 are allowed to be as greedy as possible, even if it means leaving less than crumbs for himself.

While Virtus Pro may have found themselves an unlikely rival in this season’s Natus Vincere lineup, they remain CIS’ finest. Having already won one Major this season, expect them to satiate their ever growing hunger by winning two Majors in a row.

Newbee

While Newbee haven’t exactly had the best start to their season, they have slowly picked up their play since. They’ve finished in the Top 4 of the past two Pro Circuit LANs they played in. But, more importantly, Newbee roared to a dominant 3-0 win over ViCi Gaming in the Grand Finals of the recently concluded Perfect World Masters Minor.

Always the champions of defensive and disciplined Chinese Dota, Newbee showed in their win against ViCi Gaming that they can turn it up a notch when necessary. In particular, their core duo of Song ‘Sccc‘ Chun and Xu ‘Moogy‘ Han proved they remain one of the best at their respective positions, with the latter playing with some new-found confidence.

With that said, Newbee will need all the confidence in the world as they look to avenge themselves against Team Liquid and hopefully take home the ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 8 trophy.

Team Secret

Playing without Yeik ‘MidOne‘ Nai Zheng crippled the team at the Perfect World Masters. No offense to the so-called “6-minute god” Chen ‘Cty’ Tianyu, but Team Secret are at their best when they try to make space for each other instead of playing 4 protect 1. However, now that MidOne is back, Clement ‘Puppey‘ Ivanov can rest easy knowing that the entire team will be on the same page at the ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 8.

Puppey remains one of the more ingenious drafters of the game, often baiting opponents into picking seemingly advantageous picks only to turn it against them. This works more often than not, especially against lesser teams. And even when it doesn’t, only a few teams in the world has as much individual skill and talent to fall on as Team Secret have with their new lineup.

With the ever so stable Adrian ‘Fata‘ Trinks in the offlane and Marcus ‘Ace‘ Hoelgaard forcing out respect bans every game, MidOne is now free to focus on just winning his lane and snowballing to the win. But, of course, every team needs that X-factor to disrupt their opponent’s strategies and Team Secret have that in spades with Yazied ‘YapzOr‘ Jaradat, who essentially plays as a 4th core for the team, which often gives them an unfair advantage late in the game.

Look for Team Secret to use the ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 8 Major to rebound from their less than stellar performance in Shanghai last week.

The Biggest Storylines to Watch Out For

Just How Good Is Fear as a Captain?

Since placing 3rd at The International 4, never before have Evil Geniuses looked less dominant. Even last season, when they were criticised for “only” finishing in the Top 12 at The international 7, the boys in blue, under the stewardship of Andreas Franck ‘Cr1t-‘ Nielsen, could always be counted on to make a deep run if not win the entire tournament. But now, they’re only a shell of their former self.

Much of the blame falls on the Dota 2 veteran, Clinton ‘Fear‘ Loomis. Having recently returned to the active roster after serving as the team’s coach last season, he now captains an Evil Geniuses squad that fields one of the most individually skilled lineups in the world and yet almost always seem to come up short.

We’re already 5 LANs into this season and Evil Geniuses still haven’t figured out what works best for them. Do they go 4 protect 1, favouring Artour ‘Arteezy‘ Babaev more? Or do they try to go with a greedy, tri-core lineup with Fear and Cr1t trying to buy as much space as possible for the rest of the team? Regardless, with the ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 8 Major just a few days away, Evil Geniuses will need to figure things out soon.

Are Fnatic Legitimate Contenders?

The addition of Abed Azel ‘Abed‘ Yusop has coincided with Fnatic securing their first Pro Circuit Qualifier this season and they’ve since added a second win. More importantly, however, Fnatic now look more like the team that Jacky ‘EternaLEnVy‘ Mao probably envisioned when he made the huge move from North America to Southeast Asia.

Of course, the question remains if whether or not Fnatic really are playing better or if Southeast Asia’s resident gatekeepers, Mineski, are just playing worse. A deep run in Jönköping, Sweden against international competition will likely help provide a bit more clarity.

Is NaVi Back?

Who isn’t a fan of Natus Vincere? Led by one of the old guards in Danil ‘Dendi‘ Ishutin, NaVi were one of the best teams in the early years of Dota 2. Although the team’s lustre has since faded, the black and yellow’s latest lineup has given many of their fans a reason to hope that the phrase “NaVi is back” will finally ring true after so many years.

While Natus Vincere are still far away from being championship contenders, their win at the Adrenaline Cyber League LAN last week at the expense of Virtus Pro proved that they’re well on their way to becoming one.

If they can be just as successful at the ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 8, expect to see more and more Natus Vincere flairs in the weeks ahead.

The ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 8

ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 8

Image via DreamHack

The second Major of this year’s Dota Pro Circuit, the ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 8 will kick off on December 1 and conclude on December 3.

For more information, be sure to visit the tournament’s official website at dreamleague.dreamhack.com.

Which team do you think will win the ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 8? Do you think Team Liquid will walk away with another successful three-peat? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest on your favourite Esports titles.