ESL One Hamburg 2018 Power Rankings: Breakdown and Analysis

As part of our build up to the first big LAN of the 2018-19 season, we’re doing a ESL One Hamburg 2018 power rankings where we give you the rundown on each team, and what their chances of winning are going into the competition.

On October 23, twelve teams from all over the globe will gather in Hamburg, Germany, to compete for a $500,000 prize pool. The second ESL One Hamburg will host some of the best in Dota 2, and over the course of five days, teams will duke it out until only one team remains to lay claim to the trophy and a lion’s share of the prize pool.

Given the relatively new season, it’s difficult to rank how the teams stack up against each other. The online qualifiers offer only a mere glimpse of the strength of each team, as the pressure of playing in front of thousands of people is an understated but important factor, which made ranking these teams a difficult task.

Having said that, with nearly a week to go before the festivities start, here is our ESL One Hamburg 2018 power rankings.

Note: Our ESL One Hamburg 2018 power rankings have been updated to reflect the last-minute roster changes of Evil Geniuses and Forward Gaming due to visa issues.

1. Virtus.Pro

ESL One Hamburg 2018 Power Rankings

So far, history has proven that Virtus.Pro are unstoppable in ESL One events. (Virtus.Pro)

At their best, Virtus.Pro are arguably the best Dota 2 team in the world. At their worst, they are still pretty good, but they’re a lot less dominant.

As the reigning ESL One Hamburg champions, they should sit on top of our ESL One Hamburg 2018 power rankings, but losing Ivan ‘Artstyle‘ Antonov as their coach is a huge blow to the team, and it remains to be seen which Virtus.Pro we’re going to see in Germany.

If it’s the same Virtus.Pro that won four Major titles last season, then a successful title-defense is highly likely. However, anything less than that will make winning here a difficult task.

2. Team Secret

ESL One Hamburg 2018 Power Rankings

If Team Secret can stop stubbornly picking off-meta heroes in unconventional roles just for the sake of doing so, a deep run at ESL One Hamburg 2018 is all bug guaranteed. (PVP Esports)

Since their inception, Team Secret have always found a way to be the team to watch, and occasionally, the team to beat. The verdict is still out on the latter. However, they remain an entertaining team to watch nevertheless.

A win at PVP Esports Championship may not amount to much in the grand scheme of things and Yeik ‘MidOne‘ Nai Zheng might not be in top form once again, but with two other cores who are each capable of picking up the slack and taking over games, especially Michal ‘Nisha‘ Jankowski, sleeping on Team Secret is a risk that only the most foolish of teams will do.

3. Evil Geniuses

ESL One Hamburg 2018 Power Rankings

For the first time in four years, SumaiL will not be joining Evil Geniuses in a LAN due to Visa issues. (Valve)

Losing a player like SumaiL hurts, A LOT.

A team whose play style revolves around lane dominance, having someone as skilled as Quinn ‘CC&C‘ Callahan standing in and playing mid helps minimize the drop-off, but he is no SumaiL. Nobody really quite like is.

A dominant laner who is a nightmare matchup, especially in the 1v1 mid meta we have today, SumaiL’s presence in the middle lane has been instrumental to Evil Geniuses’ success for so long and not having the luxury of such a player means that Tal ‘Fly‘ Aizik will have to adjust their gameplan to account for their stand-in.

Fortunately, even without SumaiL, the boys in blue feature a stacked team of veterans that are among the best at their respective positions.

With the four-time Major champion Fly as their captain and a coach in Kanishka “Sam” ‘ BuLBa‘ Sosale, there’s no doubt that Evil Geniuses will come into ESL One Hamburg 2018 prepared, but whether or not they have prepared enough to win the tournament is a question that’s likely on everyone’s mind.

4. Team Aster

ESL One Hamburg 2018 Power Rankings

Founded and coached by Xu ‘BurNIng‘ Zhilei, Team Aster have the necessary talent and intelligence to land a solid placing. However, as a relative new team, expect them to go through the usual growing pains of adjusting to each other and finding their identity first.

But, despite the caveats, Team Aster has the right mix of veterans and proven talent, with an X-factor in rookie midlaner Deng ‘Dstone‘ Lei, to win the tournament and establish themselves as a solid top two team in China.

5. ViCi Gaming

ESL One Hamburg 2018 Power Rankings

The presence of paparazi alone is enough to make ViCi Gaming dark horses, but the entire team has to mesh if they are to become legitimate contenders. (ViCi Gaming)

A team full of youngsters, ViCi Gaming is an incredibly talented squad. You could argue that they’re the most talented team in all of China. But, as we all know, talent alone doesn’t win you games, and even though Zhang ‘Paparazi‘ Chengjun proved that he alone can carry a team to upsets and tournament berths two years ago, there’s a huge difference between pulling the occasional upset and winning tournaments against established powerhouses.

Bai ‘rOtk‘ Fan will have his hands full making sure that ViCi Gaming lives up to their potential, and with the talent already in place, that will happen eventually. However, it remains to be seen if it will be at ESL One Hamburg 2018.

6. Ninjas in Pyjamas

ESL One Hamburg 2018 Power Rankings

The question with Ninjas in Pyjamas is not whether or not they are good, but how good they can be. (Ninjas in Pyjamas)

One of the best Dota 2 teams in Europe will look to make plenty of noise at ESL One Hamburg 2018. Behind one of the most brilliant captains in the world in Peter ‘ppd‘ Dager and a plethora of cheese strategies courtesy of Marcus ‘Ace‘ Hoelgaard  and Neta ‘33‘ Shapira, this is a team that does nearly everything in the game well and thus, should never be counted out.

7. Forward Gaming

ESL One Hamburg 2018 Power Rankings

Adding better players don’t necessarily always translate to better results and that’s something we’ll find out soon enough with Forward Gaming. (Forward Gaming)

Last season, VGJ.Storm turned a lot of heads with their performance. Avery ‘SVG‘ Silverman finally proved that his ideas worked in the international stage, and Yawar ‘YawaR‘ Hassan finally found a team that was good fit for him chemistry wise.

Now, they’re running it back together again, albeit under a different banner and a different, better offlaner in TI5 champion Saahil ‘UNiVeRsE‘ Arora.

Or, at least, they would’ve been, if not for visa issues. Instead, for now, Forward Gaming will have to play with Steve ‘Xcalibur‘ Ye as their stand-in. Although a capable player in his own right and arguably more mechanically skilled than YawaR, the fact remains that Forward Gaming will have to accommodate the play style of a complete stranger in a tournament filled with heavy weights.

Given their circumstances and the fact that this is their first LAN together as a team, expecting Forward Gaming to make a deep run here is foolish at best.

8. Alliance

ESL One Hamburg 2018 Power Rankings

Micke ‘miCKe’ Nguyen may have had a successful career in Heroes of Newerth, but it remains to be seen if that can translate into his career in Dota 2. (The Alliance)

Alliance finding themselves this low in our ESL One Hamburg 2018 power rankings is less about how good they are as a team and more about how they have not played much together in a LAN setting.

As proven many times already in Dota 2, there’s a huge difference between performing well online and in LANs where you literally see hundreds if not thousands watching your every move. The crowd and tense atmosphere can be too much for some players, and an untested team like Alliance might find it difficult to adjust.

Although the presence of Jonathan ‘Loda‘ Berg should help mitigate some of the pressure, not having a solid, stable presence inside the booth when they’re playing might prove detrimental for this young, but inexperienced squad.

9. CompLexity Gaming

ESL One Hamburg 2018 Power Rankings

While unproven as a team, compLexity Gaming’s latest lineup has enough collective talent to make it big if everything clicks. (CompLexity Gaming)

As with any team with Jacky ‘EternaLEnVy‘ Mao in it, you’ll never know what you’re going to get. But, with the mercurial talent now playing as a captain from the position five, his team can enjoy the benefits of his crazy ideas more and suffer less when his risk-heavy decisions do not pan out.

Perhaps the biggest problem with compLexity Gaming is how well they’re going to adjust with Andrei ‘Skem‘ Ong now finally in their lineup.

If they can accommodate Skem well and he performs, compLexity Gaming can prove that their spot in our ESL One Hamburg 2018 power rankings is rather low. But, if the exact opposite happens, which is highly likely, then this ranking is just right.

10. Mineski

ESL One Hamburg 2018 Power Rankings

Having failed to help his team qualify for anything, it now falls on Mushi to try and rally his team at ESL One Hamburg 2018. (Mineski)

Speaking of low placements in our ESL One Hamburg 2018 power rankings, it’s been a free fall for Mineski.

From a team that won DAC 2018 and ultimately placed in the top 12 at TI8, Mineski disbanded most of their roster and are now left without a solid identity. Chai ‘Mushi‘ Yee Fung as a captain is going through the expected adjustments of moving from a core role to a support role, but it’s the rest of the team that has looked out of sorts.

Kam ‘Moon‘ Boon Seng remains solid, however, the performance of the other cores makes it a legitimate concern if Damien ‘kpii‘ Chok and Thiay ‘JT-‘ Jun Wen should switch positions.

11. paiN Gaming

ESL One Hamburg 2018 Power Rankings

Having failed miserably at TI8, paiN Gaming will now look to MISERY to try and steer the team into the right direction. (paiN Gaming)

When paiN Gaming took the risk and brought Aliwi ‘w33‘ Omar over, they went from being crowned the dubious distinction as the best Dota 2 team in South America to being legitimate dark horses that could take games off of anyone.

We’ve yet to see proof if Rasmus ‘MISERY‘ Filipsen will have the same effect on the team or not.

Considering how well paiN Gaming performed at an ESL event last year with roughly the same roster, they could easily prove their placement in our ESL One Hamburg 2018 power rankings wrong. But, smart money’s on that not happening .

12. EVOS Esports

ESL One Hamburg 2018 Power Rankings

As a team that has barely had any international experience and quality wins, every single game will be an uphill battle for EVOS Esports. (EVOS Esports)

The last team on our ESL One Hamburg 2018 power rankings has a lot and tough road ahead of them in Germany. They have very little international experience and little to show in the way of quality showings. But, who knows? We’ve seen bigger runs in big tournaments built on less, and the lack of team on EVOS Esports might just prove to be an advantage.

As a team tabbed as a replacement for TNC Pro Team, who backed out of the tournament, we have very little reason to believe that EVOS Esports will even make it out of the group stage. But, it’s always a nice feeling to see a team prove everyone wrong.

Final Thoughts

While technically not part of the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit, ESL One Hamburg 2018 is a must-watch tournament as it will serve as this season’s first big international LAN.

With a $500,000 prize pool and a forgiving format, the twelve participating teams will look to use this tournament to their advantage and pocket themselves some winnings while gaining some experience against international competition.

Click here for our ESL One Hamburg 2018 preview.

What do you think of our ESL One Hamburg 2018 power rankings? Which team do you think we ranked too high or too low? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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