Dota 2 Dynasties: Why Has No Team Truly Ever Dominated Dota 2?

Dota 2 dynasties don’t exist.

That’s a hill I’m willing to die on.

Sure, the argument exists for Natus Vincere as a true dynasty. After all, the CIS organization won the first International and placed second in the next two. However, in terms of traditional sports context, teams and organizations aren’t crowned as “dynasties” for almost winning tournaments — it’s a fictional title reserved only for teams that have won their particular sports (or esports) world championship at least twice in a row.

Surprisingly enough, that’s not something that has happened in Dota 2 yet.

Other esports titles have seen the rise and dominance of a number of teams. In League of Legends, there’s SK Telecom T1, who, save for this year, had consistently ranked at the top of the scene. Then, in CS:GO, there’s Fnatic, who were the first team to capture two straight Major titles, among others, and there’s Astralis, who are well on their way to establishing themselves as a true dynasty if they already haven’t.

In Dota 2, however, no Dota 2 team has ever captured two world championship titles yet, let alone two straight. The Dota 2 International tournament, which serves as Dota 2’s biggest annual competition, has seen the Aegis of Champions exchange hands every year. In fact, since Natus Vincere, who made it all the way to the Grand Finals of The International 2012 (and also 2013), the defending champions have never made the Grand Finals of the TI the following year.

This, then, begs the question, why aren’t Dota 2 dynasties a thing? Surely, there must’ve been some pretty dominant teams in the scene, right?

Below, we pointed out a couple of reasons why we believe there aren’t any Dota 2 dynasties, nor why it most likely will never be a thing.

Extremely Volatile Competitive Scene

Dota 2 Dynasties

A strong second half and a Top 8 finish at The International 2018 weren’t enough for OpTic Gaming to stick together and give the new season another go. (Valve)

It’s no secret that Dota 2 is a very “title or bust” kind of game. Teams like Virtus.Pro and Team Liquid are rare exceptions. This is especially true in the case of the latter, who will celebrate their second-year anniversary together in January of 2019. But, it’s also only likely because the team has been extremely successful. Case in point, Team Liquid have won a total of 11 LAN tournaments. This includes winning The International 2017. Not to mention, of the 23 LANs they have attended, only four times they have failed to place in the Top 4, and two of those low placements came in their first few months together.

For example, as a result of their two-year dominance, Team Liquid now hold the second highest LAN win percentage in Dota 2 of all time at 63.07%. When you take into account how unsuccessful Team Liquid were before Kuro ‘Kuroky‘ Salehi Takhasomi joined the team post TI5, this is an impressive record.

So, basically, Team Liquid have every reason to stay together. Other teams? Not so much. Even when they’re mildly successful, as such was the case with OpTic Gaming last year, who won a Minor and placed Top 8 in their first ever TI together and still were let go following TI8.

Although the scene is already admittedly less volatile now because of the Dota Pro Circuit, Dota 2 still arguably has the most top-heavy and unstable competitive scene compared to other esports titles like League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

An Ever-Changing Metagame

Dota 2 Dynasties

Patch 7.20 changed Dota 2 once again, forcing teams to forget most of their previous strategies and try to come up with new ones to adapt to the new meta. (Valve)

In Dota 2, the meta is set by a combination of the status of the current patch and which teams are able to find out what works best at a particular moment. Often, even when nothing is changed, the meta still changes from tournament to tournament, and it’s the teams who can figure this out first (or adjust to it faster) who are often the most successful.

While Dota 2 still allows for teams to sport their own individual playstyles, the changes in the meta can often dictate how successful a team can be. For example, when the patch nerfed the “illusion” meta hard, OG, who had won both the Boston Major and the Kiev Major during the 2016-17 season, had a hard time keeping up. As a result, the four-time Major champions went from title contenders to a middle-of-the-pack team that could lose to anyone at any given moment.

Even right now, nobody has yet to figure out what works best.  The introduction of 7.20 — and any of the subsequent patches –brought about multiple changes to the game. Although we did see some of the top Dota 2 teams give us a glimpse of how the best perceive the current meta at the MegaFon Winter Clash, it was a non-bearing tournament. Thus, we should take the results with a grain of salt.

Given that a patch is still likely to come soon, the way the game is played right now could be totally different from how it’s played once the Bucharest Minor, the first DPC LAN tournament of 2019, kicks off on January 9.

Mental and Physical Fatigue

Dota 2 Dynasties

Some could argue that Dota 2 dynasties already exist, with Virtus.Pro among the shortlist, but until the CIS powerhouse wins at least one TI, their legacy will not be set in stone just yet. (Virtus.Pro)

Staying on top isn’t easy. Every other team is gunning for you. As a result, you’re constantly trying to find ways to reinvent yourselves so your opponents can never really fully figure you out. At the same time, you’re also trying to figure out how your play style fits best with the current meta.

Virtus.Pro’s success last season is a good example of when mental and physical fatigue kicks in. After dominating the season to the tune of four Major titles, Virtus.Pro, who were essentially shoo-ins to appear in the Grand Finals heading into The International 2018, were eliminated much earlier than anticipated. Although a top 6 finish is still commendable, there’s no doubt that it was way below their expectations.

Virtus.Pro’s performance at TI8 is just one of the many examples of teams who suffered from having the target on their backs for too long.

Simply put, when you’re the best, everyone wants a piece of you. It doesn’t help that the subsequent patches usually force the meta to deviate from your winning play style. Even if this does help prevent the meta from getting stale, it also makes it extremely difficult for teams to retain their success for too long.

Final Thoughts

Already, we’ve seen the TI curse kick in with OG failing to make it to the Chongqing Major after taking an extended break. Although we’re not really counting the defending champions out just yet, it wouldn’t also come off as a surprise if they bombed out of the Bucharest Minor early. They face the impossible task of playing to expectations while also adjusting to a new meta as they try to incorporate a new player in Per Anders Olsson ‘Pajkatt‘ Lille.

This, then, begs the question, will Dota 2 dynasties ever be a thing? Or, will we see the game we love continue to remain the enigma wrapped in a riddle that it’s always been?

It’ll be at least a year or two before we find out an answer to that question, if it even comes to that. However, even though no Dota 2 dynasties exist, the Dota 2 scene has never been healthier, with multiple teams vying for the top spot and any one of them at risk of free falling at any given moment.

What do you think about Dota 2 dynasties? Do you think we’ve already had one? If not, which team do you think will be able to accomplish the fictional achievement first? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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