The PGL Bucharest Major will see sixteen Dota 2 teams collide in Bucharest, Romania starting on March 4 up until March 11 for a chance to take home a huge chunk of the $1 million prize pool and 1,500 Qualifying Points for The International 8.
We’re barely a week removed from ESL One Katowice 2018 where we saw Virtus.pro take home the crown. With the CIS bears returning to compete once again, expect them to headline the tournament as one of the heavy favourites to win it all. However, don’t take the other teams too lightly; Team Secret, who looked wonky after skipping practice to celebrate the Chinese New Year, will likely settle for no less than the trophy after bombing out in 5th-6th place at Katowice. The same goes for the other Chinese teams, Newbee and LGD Gaming, who looked like they were also suffering from a vacation hangover. Of course, you can’t just discount the reigning TI champions, Team Liquid, as well as ViCi Gaming, who finished in 2nd place at a Pro Circuit LAN for the 4th time this season last week.
While most of the Dota 2 teams at Katowice will also be present at Bucharest, there are a number of new faces as well.
So, who exactly are competing at the PGL Bucharest Major? What’s at stake? Who’re the heavy favourites? When will the matches start? Read more below to find out.
What’s at Stake at the PGL Bucharest Major?
Prior to TI7, Valve announced that they were going to make changes to Dota 2’s competitive scene. As a reaction to the community’s call for more stability in the scene, Valve introduced the Pro Circuit system, which initially had 16 Minors and 11 Majors planned throughout the year that will all lead up to Dota 2‘s biggest annual event, The International.
The PGL Bucharest Major is one of those newly minted Majors. Larger in scale than the Minors, but not as grandiose and illustrious as the previous Valve-run Majors, these tournaments offer a minimum of $1 million as prize pool, as well as 1,500 Qualifying Points. The latter is what most teams are after as it will help them secure one of the eight direct invites to The International 8.
Which Teams Are Competing?
The PGL Bucharest Major will feature sixteen of the best Dota 2 teams from all over the world.
Over half of the participating teams earned their entries via direct invites, presumably based on their performance over the first few months of the season. The remaining six then each had to make their way via their respective Regional Qualifiers.
The complete lineup of the participating teams are as follows:
Direct Invites: Team Liquid (Europe); Newbee (China); Evil Geniuses (North America); Natus Vincere (CIS); Mineski (Southeast Asia); CompLexity Gaming (North America); ViCI Gaming (China); LGD.ForeverYoung (China); Virtus Pro (CIS); Team Secret (Europe)
Qualifiers: OG (Europe); Vega Squadron (CIS); VGJ.Thunder (China); TNC Pro Team (Southeast Asia); TNC Pro Team (Southeast Asia); OpTic Gaming (North America); paiN Gaming (South America).
Tournament Format and Prize Pool
Official English Coverage: https://www.twitch.tv/pgl
Prize Pool: $1 million USD and 1,500 Qualifying Points.
Distribution will be as follows:
- 1st Place — $500,000 / 750 Qualifying Points
- 2nd Place — $200,000 / 450 Qualifying Points
- 3rd-4th Place — $90,000 / 150 Qualifying Points
- 5th-8th Place — $30,000
The 9th-16th place teams, which are the teams that won’t make it past the group stages, won’t receive any portion of the prize pool.
- The sixteen Dota 2 teams will initially play in a Swiss format group stages from March 4 up until March 8.
- Only eight teams will advance to the playoffs, which will run from March 9 until March 11.
- Playoffs will be single-elimination. All matches will be BO3 expect for the Grand Finals, which will be a BO5.
Click here for a more detailed explanation of the tournament format, with a simulation based on last year’s The Kiev Major.
Who Are The Heavy Favourites to Win?
Fresh off of their win at Katowice, Virtus.pro now head to Bucharest as one of the heavy favourites to win the tournament. Should they pull it off, they’ll join OG as the only teams in Dota 2 to have ever won back-to-back Majors. Given how only more time together will only serve to improve their chemistry with their latest addition, the recently-crowned ESL One Katowice 2018 MVP Vladimir ‘RodjER‘ Nikogosyan, the only thing stopping Virtus.pro from making history once again is themselves.
The reigning TI champions may have only finished in 3rd place at the Katowice Major, but make no mistake, they’re sure to come back roaring. Only a few teams in Dota 2 boast as much cumulative talent, experience and winning pedigree, and you can only count the teams who’re captained by someone who’s as seasoned and as insanely competitive as Kuro ‘KuroKy‘ Salehi Takhasomi.
The forever runner-ups, ViCi Gaming may receive a lot of flack for “choking” when it counts the most. But hey, 4 2nd-place finishes is still a lot more than what other Dota 2 teams this season could ever hope for. With hangover from the Chinese New Year now no longer a valid excuse, expect ViCi Gaming to show up even better at the PGL Bucharest Major.
Whether it was Team Liquid slipping or Newbee improving or a little bit of both, the fact that they beat the reigning TI champions and got a bit of revenge from getting swept at TI7 has to account for something. And oh, Newbee are one of only four teams to have multiple Pro Circuit titles this season, so there’s that too. An off performance at the Katowice Major where they failed to make it to the playoffs isn’t huge enough of a setback to knock them off as one of the tournament’s favourites.
Storylines to Watch Out For
— Red Bull Esports (@redbullesports) February 26, 2018
Is It Time for OG to Break Things Up?
Heading into the Katowice Major, OG boasted a 37-2 record in the European Qualifiers. While the usual caveats apply, the fact that they won most of those games quite handily was a sign that they were now rounding up into midseason form. Unfortunately, that was not the case once the actual LAN tournament came. OG fell to ViCi Gaming in the opening rounds, while their regional rivals Team Liquid ultimately denied them of a playoff appearance.
Another setback at the PGL Bucharest Major will deal a huge blow to OG’s confidence going forward. If that happens, it’d be a huge surprise if they still kept the roster intact.
Is Team Liquid Slipping?
Success is slow to come and quick to leave in Dota 2. This is why we’ve probably never seen a dynasty rule over the scene yet. Though Natus Vincere’s dominance from TI3 to TI3 makes for a strong case for it. But, that’s not exactly the point. Rather, the point here is that it’s near impossible to build a team that can sustain their success in an ever-shifting meta.
The International 7 winners Team Liquid, however, seemed poised to break the convention. They’ve weathered three roster periods since their inception in December 2016 untouched and have since become the winningest team in Dota 2. Having said that, it’s also no secret that they have failed to win a single Pro Circuit Major this season. Yes, only five teams have beaten Team Liquid so far this season, but all five are playing at the PGL Bucharest Major, which should be a cause for concern.
If Team Liquid can take the Major-sized monkey off their backs and win big at the PGL Bucharest Major, they’ll dispell all notion that they’re slipping.
Tournament Schedule and Predictions
***WE WILL UPDATE THIS SECTION AS SOON AS THE MATCH INFORMATION AND ODDS ARE MADE AVAILABLE **
Are You Ready for the PGL Bucharest Major?
Organized by the same people behind the Valve-sponsored Majors, expect the PGL Bucharest Major to be just as spectacular.
Which Dota 2 team do you think will come out as the winners of the PGL Bucharest Major? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.