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ESL One Hamburg Major Preview - Esportsranks
ESL One Hamburg Major Preview

Announced well before Valve decided to shake up Dota 2’s competitive scene, the ESL One Hamburg Major will finally kick off this Thursday (October 26), bringing together eight (8) Dota 2 teams from all over the world for a weekend full of action.

With as much as $1,000,000 in prize pool up for grabs, a brand new Mercedes-Benz car for the taking and as much as 1,500 Qualifying Points for The International 8, the first Major of the Dota 2 season is set to be a tightly contested one.

For those looking forward to following the ESL One Hamburg Major as it happens, we have the full guide to the event down below.


ESL One Hamburg Major

Image via ESL

Team Liquid and Newbee will both make their second LAN appearance of the season at the ESL One Hamburg Major. The former is coming off a successful title defense at the Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3 Minor earlier this month. The latter, meanwhile, looks to rebound from their disappointing showing at the same tournament where they went home without even a single win.

Joining both are the 6 teams below who each made their way via their respective regional qualifiers:

* Fnatic will serve as HappyFeet’s replacement after the All-Filipino team failed to secure their visas in time for the event.


ESL One Hamburg Major

Image via ESL

Format: The ESL One Hamburg Major will deviate from the standard GSL format that the preceding Minors followed. Instead, it will feature a mixed-length “GSL” format where the initial matches will be a BO1, while the rest will be a BO3.

  1. The eight teams are split into two groups of four where each team will play another team from their group.
  2. The teams from each group will play each other in a BO1 series. The winners will then face each other in a BO3 series for the first seed in their respective groups and a slot in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the losers of the initial set of matches will meet to determine which teams will be eliminated.
  3. The remaining teams will then meet for a second-seed match.
  4. Only the top two seeds from each group will advance into the single-elimination one-day playoffs on October 29 (Sunday).

Prize pool breakdown: The ESL One Hamburg Major will feature a prize pool of $1 million USD and a whopping 1,500 Qualifying Points for The International 8.

The breakdown is as follows:

  • 1st Place — $500,000 / 750 Qualifying Points
  • 2nd Place — $200,000 / 450 Qualifying Points
  • 3rd/4th Place — $90,000 / 150 Qualifying Points

To know more about Dota 2’s new competitive system, be sure to check out the official page for the Dota Pro Circuit.


Team Liquid

A team that probably needs no introduction, the former 36K MMR stack — Ivan Borislavov ‘MinD_ContRoL’ Ivanov reached 9K MMR earlier this month, only to fall to a still-impressive 8.8K MMR — are heading into the ESL One Hamburg Major winners of five straight LAN tournaments.

This impressive run of wins includes taking home the Aegis of Champions at The International 7, as well as successful title defenses at EPICENTER 2017, DreamLeague Season 7 and Starladder i-League Invitational #3.

An extremely talented team with one of the most seasoned veterans of the game in Kuro ‘KuroKy’ Salehi Takhasomi as their captain, Team Liquid have spent the past six months or so as the best Dota 2 team in the world. And, with the team having shown no signs of regression, Team Liquid are the heavy favourites to take their sixth straight LAN title at the ESL One Hamburg Major.


Arguably one of the few teams in the world that can take a series off of Team Liquid and definitely a team not lacking in confidence, the CIS bears known as Virtus.Pro are set to make their LAN debut at the ESL One Hamburg Major.

Though that shouldn’t really be that much of a factor. This is still the same Virtus.Pro team that has stuck together since their formation in August of 2016 and will remain intact through 2018.

Save for their losses to Team Empire in the playoffs of the PGL Minor Qualifiers and IG.Vitality at the Manila Invitational, the latter of which was a show match, Virtus.Pro have looked exactly like the same squad that championed the classic CIS play style throughout last season.

Look for Virtus.Pro to try and repeat at the ESL One Hamburg Major what they did back in 2016 when they made their LAN debut with a 3-0 win against OG in the Grand Finals of The Summit 6.


Are Newbee still a top-tier team? Definitely. While a winless showing at the Starladder Minor definitely hurts the TI7 runner-ups, it’s not enough to discredit the work they put in last season.

Until otherwise proven, Newbee remain one of the best Dota 2 teams in the world and arguably the best in China, which is exactly why it’s more logical to believe that they will bounce back at the ESL One Hamburg Major instead of falling off once again.

TI4 champion Zeng ‘Faith’ Hongda and his squad are just too good to let one off-performance prevent them from securing an early lead against their competition in the race for a direct invite to The International 8.


Fringe Contenders —  The main problem with Evil Geniuses is they’re too good and they know it, which is why they’re prone to relying on sheer skill to outplay their opponents instead of working together as a team. This may work against lesser teams, but against top-tier competition, it has proven to be their greatest weakness.

Dark Horses — It’s a huge fall from top contenders to dark horses for Team Secret, but it’s not like they don’t deserve it. Team Secret‘s run at the PGL Minor, where they failed to reach the playoffs, showed that, while undoubtedly dominant, they still have a lot of flaws to work on.

Biggest Unknown — Fnatic are the biggest question mark of any team playing in the tournament. Although Fnatic’s latest lineup has shown some improvements, it’s evident that it’ll take a while for the team to mesh. Whether or not they’ve meshed enough in time for the ESL One Hamburg Major is a question that we won’t have to wait for long to answer.

Heavy Underdogs

  • Keen Gaming, formerly EHOME.Keen, was the surprise delight of the ESL Hamburg Qualifiers where they made their way from the open qualifiers to securing a slot at the main event itself. And, while hailing from China naturally gives them a benefit of the doubt, the inexperience of their lineup makes them one of the least likely to reach the playoffs.
  • Although SG e-sports failed to cap off their 2-0 upset against Vici Gaming at the Starladder Minor with a berth in the playoffs, their performance was still enough to prove that they belonged with the best of the best. Unfortunately, Infamous’ lackluster performance at the PGL Minor also proved that South American teams still have a long way to go.


The ESL One Hamburg Major will kick off on Thursday (October 26) with the group stages up until (October 28) followed by a one-day playoff on October 29 (Sunday).

More information regarding the schedule is available on the official website.

Will the ESL One Hamburg Major finally be the one tournament that Team Liquid fail to win? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below. 

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