In what will be the first 16-team tournament of the 2017-18 Pro Circuit, the ESL One Genting Minor will see the top teams on the leaderboards — and then some — vying for the $400,000 prize pool and 400 Qualifying Points for The International 2018.
Team Secret and Team Liquid look to be the heavy favourites heading into the event. The two direct invites have proven so far this season that they stand heads and shoulders abov the rest. However, don’t discount the other teams just yet; Newbee and ViCi Gaming are skilled enough to give the European giants a run for their money. Of course, there’s Virtus Pro as well, who will welcome back their captain Alexei ‘Solo‘ Berezin after a long absence. Also in the tournament pool as well are the likes of Evil Geniuses, Natus Vincere, LFY, Mineski, Fnatic, who all are not lacking in confidence, talent and skill.
Different from our usual power rankings, our goal here is to organize all the teams participating in this tournament alone. In this case, we’ll rank the 16 teams slated to play at the Genting Minor. Recent play, of course, carries a lot of weight, and we’ll put heavier consideration in results that came in Pro Circuit tournaments.
ESL One Genting Minor 2018 Power Rankings
16. SG e-sports
15. Planet Dog
14. PENTA Sports
12. CompLexity Gaming
9. TNC Pro Team
8. Natus Vincere
7. Evil Geniuses
5. ViCi Gaming
3. Virtus Pro
2. Team Liquid
1. Team Secret
Teams to Beat: Team Secret & Team Liquid
So far, Team Liquid and Team Secret have enjoyed a duopoly of sorts of the Pro Circuit. Of the 9 Pro Circuit tournaments held so far, both teams have already won a combined 4 — a staggering amount considering Team Liquid have only attended 4 (winning 2), while Team Secret went on to appear only in 6 (winning 2 as well). As a result of their dominance, both teams currently hold a sizeable lead in the season leaderboards over other Dota 2 teams not named Virtus Pro.
Make no mistake, Team Liquid remain the reigning TI champions. Their epic title-run back in August in Seattle still carries as much weight as it should. Anyone with half a brain will take them 9 times out of 10 over any team in the world, arguably even over Team Secret. But their shroud of invincibility has long since faded; Clement ‘Puppey‘ Ivanov proved with a 3-0 sweep of Team Liquid in the Grand Finals of the DreamLeague Major that he remains one of the best captains in Dota 2, especially with the right pieces around him.
With these two teams in the field, the other 14 teams will be hard-pressed to make a deep run. It be that big of a shock if we saw both teams go at it again in the Grand Finals.
Team on the Rise: Evil Geniuses
Running a tri-core lineup fails more often than not. There’s just not enough space for every one of the cores to farm the map, while leaving some for the other two players. But teams have done it before, with Team Liquid and Team Secret, and to some extent Mineski, willingly switching roles between their three cores, with one taking the fall early on and making space for the other two.
Evil Geniuses could be the next team to do it. They certainly have the talent do so. Artour ‘Arteezy‘ Babaev and Syed Sumail ‘SumaiL‘ Hassan are the sort of players that teams build around and the boys in blue have the luxury of having two of them on the same roster. Meanwhile, Clinton ‘Fear‘ Loomis remains the most versatile player in all of Dota 2 and his ability to play a sacrificial role in the 2 spot while not necessarily falling behind too much in farm is a sight to behold.
With Andreas Franck ‘Cr1t-‘ Nielsen now having had half a year to shape him back into mid season form at the 4 spot and a strong captain in Rasmus ‘MISERY‘ Filipsen, the ESL One Genting Minor could be the tournament where Evil Geniuses catapult themselves back on top of the Dota 2 scene.
Dark Horse Candidates: Fnatic and Natus Vincere
The addition of Saahil ‘UNiVeRsE‘ Arora seems to have gone well for Fnatic so far, ensuing drama be damned. After losing to TNC Pro Team in their first online qualifier match as a team, they’ve since gone on to beat Mineski, Execration and Geek Fam to secure a Minor spot. They’re surely going to miss the unpredictability that Khoo ‘Ohaiyo‘ Chong Xin brought to the team, but anyone who knows their Dota 2 will take UNiVeRsE‘s stable and safe, albeit farm-heavy, playstyle in the offlane any day. Besides, they’re unpredictable enough as it is with Jacky ‘EternaLEnVy‘ Mao on the team.
Speaking of unpredictability, does anyone know when Natus Vincere will start playing more consistently? It’s like they can go from world beaters to the second-best team in CIS from game to game and you’ll never know which one you’re going to get. Danil ‘Dendi‘ Ishutin has proven himself many times over this season that he has a lot more Dota 2 left in him, while their latest additions Vladimir ‘RodjER‘ Nikogosyan and Vladislav ‘Crystallize‘ Krystanek have both been a revelation so far.
So far this season, Natus Vincere are 2-2 in top 4 finishes in Pro Circuit tournaments, with a 3-1 title win over Virtus Pro at the non-DPC Adrenaline Cyber League LAN. If nothing else, the black and yellow are as good of a bet as any to finish in the top 4 at the ESL One Genting Minor. Anything beyond depends a lot on which Natus Vincere will show up in Malaysia.
Biggest Question Marks: Virtus Pro and LFY
Both Virtus Pro and LFY are coming into the ESL One Genting Minor with huge changes to their roster. The former will welcome back their captain, who has been out on vacation since December. Meanwhile, the latter will try to give their “underachieving” lineup a jolt by swapping the ever-so-stable Xie ‘Super‘ Junhao with Ou ‘Op‘ Peng, who is no stranger to playing with a farm-hungry core (Du ‘Monet‘ Peng) after spending much of last year with Xu ‘BurNIng‘ Zhilei.
LFY’s mid-season change isn’t temporary; it’s only until after the ESL One Genting Minor. However, they could easily make it permanent if the team finishes in the top 4. As for Virtus Pro, they underwhelmed in their last appearance with Solo, bombing out in 5th-6th place at the DreamLeague Major. Going back after a month away could’ve rejuvinated Solo, but we’ll never know. Virtus Pro might have a hard time adjusting back to him after playing mighty well in their three-peat at the Summit 8 Minor with team coach Ivan ‘Artstyle‘ Antonov at the five.
Newbee and ViCi Gaming may be the best Dota 2 teams that China has to offer this season, but they have yet to justify themselves as the teams to beat and they’re far too strong to be considered rising teams. The same goes for Mineski, even if their performance post-7.07 has left much to be desired.
The rest of the Dota 2 teams in the pool — TNC Pro Team, CompLexity Gaming and VGJ.Thunder — are capable if underwhelming at times. Had this been any other tournament with Team Secret and Team Liquid sitting out, they might have had a chance to make a deep run. But, so long as those two are in the field, their chances of making a deep run — or anyone else’s for that matter — are close to none.
Which team do you think will win the ESL One Genting Minor? Do you think we’ll see Team Liquid and Team Secret battle it out in the Grand Finals once again? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.