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The Kuala Lumpur Major Preview: Teams, Schedule, Storylines - Esportsranks
The Kuala Lumpur Major Preview: Teams, Schedule, Storylines

You can consider this period as the calm before the storm, as the next big Dota 2 tournament, the Kuala Lumpur Major draws near.

As the first official Major of the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit, you’d best expect each team to play their absolute best at the Kuala Lumpur Major as they try to gain momentum so they can kick off their season on the right foot. This is especially true for the teams in Europe; the past two TI champions, OG and Team Liquid, are currently on hiatus and are sure to try and reestablish their dominance over the region when they come back.

With the competitive Dota 2 scene never been healthier (and more chaotic, in a good sort of way), trying to keep up with what’s happening and who’s fighting who won’t be easy. Luckily for you fans out there, we’re here to help.

Below, we’ll help you navigate through the trenches and focus in on everything you need to know about the Kuala Lumpur Major next week.

What is the Kuala Lumpur Major? What’s At Stake?

The Kuala Lumpur Major

For more than a week, the best Dota 2 teams in the world will call the Axiata Arena home as they fight over the $1 million prize pool. (Wikipedia)

No event is bigger than The International in Dota 2. This is why, since its inception, Valve has always tried to look for ways to try and hype the event up more.

Back in 2015, Valve introduced the Majors system that scattered what essentially were mini-TI events that led up to the big tournament throughout the year. In 2017, Valve decided to change the system again. Instead of just 2-3 Majors a year, last season had 11, as well as 11 more Minors. Then, in 2018, Valve made some slight changes to their approach of the competitive Dota 2 scene, cutting down the number of tournaments to just 5 of each throughout the year, with each Minor and Major now being held in pairs together to further improve continuity within the season, among others.

Thus far, the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit have barely begun to start. There’s only been one event: DreamLeague Season 10. The Kuala Lumpur Major is going to be the season’s second tournament and first Major. Also, much like the Majors of the past, the Dota 2 Major will feature exceptional presentation and 16 teams fighting on the big stage for a huge chunk of the $1 million prize pool and more importantly, the 15,000 DPC points.

The Kuala Lumpur Major, which takes place at the Axiata Arena, should offer viewers at the event and from all around the globe a chance to finally see their favourite teams in action.

Anyone interested can watch the tournament live at the venue, via streaming on Facebook, Twitch, as well as via the built-in Dota 2 client.

Who’s Competing at the Dota 2 Major?

The Kuala Lumpur Major

Winners of the last Major that PGL hosted, Virtus.Pro will look to recapture this form at the Kuala Lumpur Major. (Virtus.Pro)

The Kuala Lumpur Major will feature 16 of the world’s best Dota 2 teams duking it out in Kuala Lumpur for more than a week of back-to-back action.

The revamped 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit changed how Minors and Majors work this season. Instead of having a mix of direct invites (based on previous performances) and qualifier teams, all teams will have to play in the qualifiers to get a chance to play in any one of this season’s official LAN tournaments.

With each of the six competitive regions guaranteed a slot (minimum of 1 for Minors and 2 for Majors), every team had a fair shot at making it, although this hasn’t stopped the community from criticizing the tournament organizers for their decision to give certain regions an extra slot over others.

Either way, these are the teams that qualified for the Kuala Lumpur Major —Team Secret, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and Alliance from Europe; Virtus.Pro and Gambit Esports from CIS; PSG.LGD, Vici Gaming, and Team Aster from China; Fnatic and TNC Predator from Southeast Asia; Evil Geniuses, Forward Gaming, and J.Storm (North America); paiN Gaming and painX from South America; and last but finally not the least, the winners of the DreamLeague Season 10 minor, Tigers.

What’s the Tournament Format and Prize Pool Breakdown?

The Kuala Lumpur Major

While OG proved that you don’t always have to have a good start to the season by winning TI8, winning the Kuala Lumpur Major still means a lot for all the 16 teams playing in the tournament. (PGL)

The Kuala Lumpur Dota 2 Major is split into two big parts: the GSL-format Group Stages and the double-elimination Playoffs.

Many of the past Majors have followed the same Group Stage format. The 16 teams were divided into four groups of four prior to the tournament. They then play Bo3 matches against two of their group mates. The way that the format is structured, one team will go 2-0, while two others will go 1-1, and finally, one team going 0-2. The team that goes 2-0 will move on to the Upper Bracket. Meanwhile, the team that goes 0-2 will go into the Lower Bracket. Finally, the two teams that go 1-1 will play each other in another Bo3, with the winners going to the Upper Bracket and the losers going into the Lower Bracket.

Finally, at the Playoffs, the Kuala Lumpur Major will follow a more standard approach, where the 16 teams will battle each other in Bo3 matches in a double-elimination format until only two will remain to face off against each other in the Bo5 Grand Finals.

The prize pool is $1 million and 15,000 DPC points, which will be split among all participating teams as follows:

  • 1st Place: $350,000 / 4,950 DPC
  • 2nd Place: $170,000 / 3,000 DPC
  • 3rd Place: $100,000 / 2,100 DPC
  • 4th Place: $80,000 / 1,350 DPC
  • 5th-6th Place: $60,000 / 900 DPC
  • 7th-8th Place: $40,000 /450 DPC
  • 9th-12th Place: $15,000 / 150 DPC
  • 13th-16th Place: $10,000 75 DPC

Who Are The Favourites to Win the Dota 2 Major?

The Kuala Lumpur Major

Winning ESL One Hamburg 2018 gives Team Secret some serious momentum heading into the Kuala Lumpur Major. (Team Secret)

Team Secret

Led by Clement ‘Puppey‘ Ivanov, the retooled Team Secret roster have been as good as advertised.

So far, Team Secret already have two titles under their belt, including a big one at ESL One Hamburg 2018. Given how more time with the team should only serve their chemistry well, Team Secret should be the heavy favourites to win the Kuala Lumpur Major.


The longtime CIS powerhouse hit a rough patch at TI8 and the weeks after it. Although they did win one online tournament, you’d have to take their results there with a grain of salt — their biggest competition was Ninjas in Pyjamas and Team Secret with Danil ‘Dendi‘ Ishutin playing as a stand-in.

Ivan ‘Artstyle‘ Antonov is already out of the team, and we’ve yet to see the CIS bears really play like they have been playing over the past two years. At this point, we might not even see them be as dominant as before.

Nevertheless, Virtus.Pro are good enough to be a contender even when they’re not firing in all cylinders. However, they’ll need to be in top shape if they want to win and become the first team to win five Major titles in Dota 2.

Evil Geniuses

Most of last season was rough for the North American fan favourites. However, Evil Geniuses managed to rebound just in time for the biggest tournament of the year and notched third-place at TI8. With Tal ‘Fly‘ Aizik leading the team, and TI3 winner Gustav ‘s4‘ Magnusson playing in the offlane, Evil Geniuses have never had a more stacked roster. Mind you, this is a roster that has seen some pretty big names don their jersey.

Although Evil Geniuses have remained relatively quiet since The International 2017, we should expect them to be in top form at the Kuala Lumpur Major.


As it turns out, China didn’t really take lightly to seeing only one Chinese team finish in the Top 8 at TI8. The fact that TI9 is set to be held in Shanghai only gives them even more of a motivation to do better this season.

While it is unfortunate that Yao ‘QQQ‘ Yi is out on vacation and will not help PSG.LGD at the Kuala Lumpur Major, we shouldn’t just be quick to forget just how stacked this roster is. Sure, they didn’t look that good at the PVP Esports Championship, but that was a tournament that had zero bearing and we all know just how much the Chinese can “turn things up”, or to speak, when it counts.

After winning two Majors last season and being a match point away from winning TI8, PSG.LGD are well worth keeping an eye on at the Kuala Lumpur Major.

Storylines to Follow at The Kuala Lumpur Major

The Kuala Lumpur Major

Composed of some of the best talents that Southeast Asia has to offer, the pressure is on Fnatic to deliver and put on a good show at the Kuala Lumpur Major. (PVP Esports)

Are Virtus.pro Losing their Edge?

Virtus.Pro set a pretty high bar for themselves by winning 4 Majors in a single season. For reference, the only other team to win more than 1 Major last season was PSG.LGD with 2, and you could argue that Virtus.Pro could’ve won 5 had they played at MDL Changsha.

Mind you, it wasn’t just that Virtus.Pro won titles either. It was the way they dominated their opponents. True to their mascot, they were like bears who mauled and beat down their opponents into quitting. Their aggression and coordination was a sight to behold, especially when Vladimir ‘RodjER‘ Nikogosyan came into the team later into the season and made an already great team into one of the best in Dota 2 history.

We haven’t seen that Virtus.Pro lately though. You could argue that they weren’t even present at TI8, where Virtus.Pro looked uncharacteristically sloppy and Vladimir ‘No[o]ne‘ Minenko was not dominating his lanes as usual.

So, what happened? We don’t know. What we do know is that a low placement here will spark discussions on whether or not Virtus.Pro have finally plateaued and if a roster change is necessary.

Will Southeast Asia Defend their Home Turf?

Three SEA teams will be playing at the Kuala Lumpur Major, which gives Southeast Asia a chance to defend their home turf and show that the region is home to the best Dota 2 teams in the world.

Unfortunately, we know next to nothing about their representatives. Both Fnatic and TNC Predator changed their roster for the season and thus, we don’t know what to expect from them in a LAN setting against international competition. Meanwhile, we saw Tigers play and win the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor, but we all know just how much better the opposition is going to be at the Kuala Lumpur Major.

While we should expect all three teams to put on a good showing in Malaysia, expecting them to successfully “defend” their home turf and win the tournament is akin to setting yourself up for disappointment.

Who’s Number 1?

So far, there’s not a single team that stands heads and shoulders above the rest of the competition. Team Secret are the front runners. At least, for now. But, we all know just how quickly things can change, and in a tournament with such high stakes, the hierarchy could be turned on its head by the end of it all. Not to mention, we’ve yet to see the likes of Team Liquid and the defending champions, OG, play in a LAN since The International 2018.

If nothing else, the Kuala Lumpur Major should help us sort the legitimate powerhouses from the would-be contenders.

Which teams are you most excited to see playing at the Kuala Lumpur Major? Do you think we’ll see the usual powerhouses dominate and win the tournament? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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