ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major Preview: Schedule, Format, Favourites

Here’s everything you need to know about the ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major — the first Dota 2 Major in the UK — that will kick off later this week.

And then there was two. Time surely flies, doesn’t it? We’re barely a few days away from the history-making lower bracket run of PSG.LGD at MDL Changsha and we’re staring at yet another Major once again. This time, it’s the ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major, the second to last Major of the 2017-18 Dota Pro Circuit and the first ever Dota 2 Major held in the United Kingdom.

Just like any other Major, the ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major will have a lot at stake. The $1 million USD prize pool is nothing to scoff at. However, for the majority of the Dota 2 teams playing in the tournament, it’s the 1,500 Qualifying Points that they want. After all, taking home the title here could arguably guarantee the winning team a slot at The International 2018 and a slice of the still-growing prize pool of $10 million.

If you want to know everything there is to know about the tournament and don’t want to miss out on all the action, we’ve got everything you need to be covered right here.

ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major: What’s at Stake?

Perhaps more important than the $1 million USD prize pool is the 1,500 Qualifying Points that will be distributed solely to the Top 4 teams.

Of the twelve Dota 2 teams in the tournament, only Virtus.Pro and Team Liquid are currently guaranteed a slot at The International 2018. Meanwhile, OG, LGD.ForeverYoungTeam Spirit and paiN Gaming are no longer in the running as a penalty for changing their roster past the roster lock. This means that the five other Dota 2 teams in the tournament will all be gunning for a spot in the Top 4 if not higher.

Realistically speaking, VGJ.Thunder and Newbee are in the most danger of dropping out of the Top 8 of the season leaderboards. The former, most especially. They currently sit in eighth place with only 1,935 Qualifying Points. Assuming that they don’t place in the Top 4 at the China Dota 2 Super Major next week, Evil Geniuses could pass them if they end the ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major in third place. For Fnatic, they’ll need to get second place here to have any chance of receiving a direct invite to TI8. For OpTic Gaming, anything less than a win will be for nought as this will be their last appearance in a Dota Pro Circuit LAN this season.

With so much at stake, expect every Dota 2 team to give it their all as the season nears its end.

Anyone interested in watching the tournament can watch it live at the Arena Birmingham in Birmingham, or for free via VODs or live streaming on Facebook and the Dota 2 client.

ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major: The Competing Teams

ESL One Birmingham 2018

Image via ESL

Twelve of the best Dota 2 teams in the world have gathered together in Birmingham for ESL One Birmingham 2018. Of the twelve, six received direct invites to the event. This includes Virtus.Pro, the winners of ESL One Hamburg and ESL One Katowice, as well as Team Liquid, the reigning TI champions. The rest, save for Team Spirit, had to make their way via their respective Regional Qualifiers — the CIS team Team Spirit were a last-minute addition after Natus Vincere dropped out due to roster changes and they were the only ones who could make it in time.

Here’s a complete list of all the teams who will be playing at ESL One Birmingham 2018:

Direct InvitesVirtus Pro (China); Team Liquid (Europe); Evil Geniuses (North America); Newbee (China); ViCi Gaming (China); Mineski (Southeast Asia)

QualifiersFnatic (Southeast Asia); Team Spirit (CIS); OpTic Gaming (North America); paiN Gaming (South America); LGD.ForeverYoung (China); OG (Europe).

ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major: Format and Prize Pool

Prize Pool: $1 million USD and 1,500 Qualifying Points

1st Place — $500,000 / 750 Qualifying Points
2nd Place —  $200,000 / 450 Qualifying Point
3rd Place — $100,000 / 225 Qualifying Point
4th Place — $60,000 / 75 Qualifying Points

Group Stage: The twelve participating teams will be split into three GSL groups of four teams each. Only the top two teams from each group will advance. The top seed from each group will play an additional best-of-one match to determine which two will advance directly into the semifinals and which one will join the other runner-ups in the quarterfinals. All group stage games will be played backstage.

Playoffs: The remaining six teams will play in a single-elimination playoff. All games will be a best-of-three, except for the Grand Finals, which will be a best-of-five. A third-place decider match will take place on the last day of the event before the Grand Finals.

ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major: Heavy Favourites

Virtus.Pro

ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major

The CIS bears will be looking for their fourth Major title and third ESL One title at the ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major. (EPICENTER)

Betting: 3.75 odds to win ESL One Birmingham outright

The three-time Major champions may not have been able to win a trophy in front of their home crowd at EPICENTER XL, but a fourth-place finish is definitely nothing to be ashamed of.

So far, since adding Vladimir ‘RodjER‘ Nikogosyan to their Dota 2 roster, Virtus.Pro have yet to fail to place in the Top 4 of any event they’ve played at while winning two more Major tournaments. Granted, it’s only been 4 LANs since, but Virtus.Pro has so far proven that you should only bet against them at your own risk, especially when there’s a brand-new Mercedes-Benz waiting for the tournament MVP.

Team Liquid

ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major

Despite having already achieved the pinaccle of Dota 2 success, winning a Major has eluded Kuro ‘KuroKy’ Salehi Takhasomi for his entire career. (Team Liquid)

Betting: 4.00 odds to win ESL One Birmingham outright

For the second time (and second Major) this season, Team Liquid failed to defend their title at EPICENTER XL, losing 3-1 against PSG.LGD in the Grand Finals. So, maybe, just maybe, a Major trophy just isn’t in the cards for them. But, even if that is true, don’t expect even destiny to stop Kuro ‘KuroKy‘ Salehi Takhasomi and the reigning TI champions from trying their best to try and finally get that Major trophy — Team Liquid’s star mid player Amer ‘Miracle‘ Al-Barkawi already has two under his belt from his time with OG. 

At this point last year, Team Liquid started their run of dominance with a win at Starladder i-League Invitational Season 4 that eventually saw them win 8 of the 15 LAN tournaments they played in, finishing outside of the Top 4 just once. Don’t put it past them to do the same this year as they gear up to try and defend their title at The International 2018.

ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major: Storylines to Watch out For

Will ViCi Gaming Finally Win a Tournament?

ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major

ViCi Gaming will look to win their first tournament this season at the ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major. (ViCi Gaming)

The second-place curse is real for ViCi Gaming; they have gone on to take second place in nearly half of all the LANs they’ve played in this season for a total of four runner-up finishes in 9 LANs so far.

For any other Dota 2 team, a second-place finish at any event would be a cause for celebration. If you have multiple of them, then that’s good. But that’s probably not enough for ViCi Gaming. After all, they are arguably one of the most talented Dota 2 squads in the world, headlined by their young core duo of Zhang ‘Paparazi‘ Chengjun and Zeng ‘Ori‘ Jioyang.

While their spot at TI8 is all but guaranteed right now, a win here will be huge ViCi Gaming and their confidence.

Will We See Another Dark Horse Run?

ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major

The play of Djardel Jicko B. ‘DJ’ Mampusti will be crucial if Fnatic are to secure at least a second-place finish at ESL One Birmingham. (Fnatic)

We’ve seen some amazing dark horse runs these past four Majors. VGJ.Thunder kicked off the trend by finishing in second-place at The Bucharest Major. This was followed with a win by Mineski, a team that almost everyone had already counted out and was reportedly close to disbanding, at DAC 2018FlyToMoon then turned a lot of heads with their third-place finish at EPICENTER XL, where they successfully took out Virtus.Pro and very nearly eliminated Team Liquid in the lower bracket finals. Finally, we saw VGJ.Storm prove that they’re ready to throw it down with the big boys by finishing in second-place at MDL Changsha.

Defined as a “competitor about whom little is known but who unexpectedly wins or succeeds”, the only teams that probably fit that description in this tournament are paiN Gaming and Team Spirit. But, if we stretch that definition into a team that “unexpectedly wins or succeeds”, then anyone other than Mineski, ViCi Gaming, Team Liquid, and Virtus.Pro are legitimate dark horse candidates. In particular, all eyes will be on either one of Fnatic, OpTic Gaming and Evil Geniuses to see if they can make a deep run here.

Considering that Mineski were arguably in the same position until they won DAC 2018 back in April, it’s not impossible for any team other than the heavy favourites to go on and win this tournament.

Can Newbee Break Out of their Slump?

ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major

Song ‘Sccc’ Chun and the rest of Newbee will have to step up their play if they want to safely secure their direct invite to TI8. (Newbee)

Newbee have gradually performed worse after winning ESL One Genting 2018 back in January, so seeing them notch a fourth-place finish at MDL Changsha was quite a surprise. Unfortunately, they probably won’t be able to follow it up with a stronger performance because their coach Wang ‘SanSheng‘ Zhaohui will not be able to join Newbee in Birmingham after failing to secure his visa in time.

Without a coach to help them out with their draft, there’s a huge possibility that Newbee could fall back into the same old habits that have been proven to be ineffective with teams having already figured out how to play against their comfort heroes.

All odds courtesy of ArcaneBet unless otherwise stated. 

Which Dota 2 team do you think will win the ESL One Birmingham 2018 Major? Do you think we’ll see a dark horse team turn heads at the tournament? 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.