After many weeks of anticipation, the Stockholm Major is finally here.
Also the 11th season of the long-running DreamLeague series of tournaments by DreamHack, in partnership with gaming hardware company, CORSAIR, the third Dota 2 Major of the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit will see some of the finest Dota 2 teams from around the globe battling it out for a shot at the $1 million prize pool and the 15,000 DPC points up for grabs.
As has always been the case, the usual suspects will be playing at the Stockholm Major. However, there are quite a few new faces as well, along with a handful of teams who are looking to redeem themselves after a lackluster start to the season.
So, who are the odds-on favourites? What do the lines say? Which teams are the dark horses?
Read on below to find out.
Odds-on Favourites to Win the Stockholm Major
Team Secret (3.64)
The tournament favourites, Team Secret, have multiple wins under their belt for the season. This includes back-to-back wins at ESL One Hamburg 2018 and ESL One Katowice 2019, as well as a huge win at the Chongqing Major. Their win at the Chongqing Major, in particular, was amazing, to say the least. Having already lost to Virtus.Pro at the Kuala Lumpur Major back in November, Team Secret got their sweet revenge over their frequent scrim partners, soundly defeating Virtus.Pro 3-1 in the grand finals in a series that never really looked close at any point.
Many are already calling this version of Team Secret as the best lineup that Clement ‘Puppey’ Ivanov has ever led, which is high praise but not unfounded.
Prior to the current iteration Team Secret, the most successful five-man lineup of all time in terms of LAN wins was the TI5 iteration of Team Secret, which held a 71-24 (74.7%) before they disbanded following their collapse at The International 2015. The second-best is the current iteration of Team Liquid, who are currently sitting at 217-94 (69.8%). However, as of this very moment, the current iteration of Team Secret are 63-20, which is good for 75.9%.
To think that Team Secret amassed such a record playing mostly in LAN tournaments only serves to prove just how dominant they have been this season. The scary part? To paraphrase a famous anime phrase, this isn’t even Team Secret’s final form.
Team Secret are coming in hot as we approach the Stockholm Major and it’ll be on the other fifteen teams to try and stop them.
Team Liquid (3.98)
The time for excuses is now over for Team Liquid.
Multiple times this season, Team Liquid have had a valid excuse for either their failure to qualify for tournaments — the team took a break to rest following their failure to qualify for the Kuala Lumpur Major — and for posting a less-than-stellar finish — Team Liquid finished in the Top 8 at the Chongqing Major with Chu ‘shadow‘ Zeyu standing in for Amer ‘Miracle-‘ Al-Barkawi, who was out for personal reasons.
At the Stockholm Major, nothing short of a title for Team Liquid will satisfy both fans and critics alike.
High as this expectation may be, Team Liquid have nothing but themselves to blame. As arguably the most successful five-man lineup in Dota 2 history — of the five most successful Dota 2 lineups, they’re the only ones to win a TI and a Major — Team Liquid have done nothing but win over the past two years that the team has been together. Even this season, Team Liquid showed at both MDL Macau 2019 and MegaFon Winter Clash that, when complete, Team Liquid are still one of the best Dota 2 teams in the world.
But, are they still the team to beat? That remains uncertain.
Team Liquid will need to come up big at the Stockholm Major if they are to make believers out of naysayers once again.
The closest thing to a rival that Team Secret has had this season, Virtus.Pro have not been too shabby themselves. They’ve already won a Major, making them the first five-time Major winners in Dota 2 history, and have looked better than every other team not named Team Secret. The only big problem with Virtus.Pro is their tendency to slack off and not take games as seriously as they should, evidenced by their low placements in non-bearing tournaments this season.
Perhaps Alexei ‘Solo‘ Berezin has learned his lesson.
For two TIs in a row, Virtus.Pro came in as one of the hottest teams only to find themselves settling for a Top 6 finish. Although it is not a bad placement by any means, it is clear that this team has set their eyes on more, and it is possible that they now believe that they’re better off taking it easy during the “regular season” so that they feel much more well rested come TI this year.
Given that Virtus.Pro have already mathematically qualified for The International 2019 in August, there’s really no incentive for them to try real hard to win the Stockholm Major outside of pride and sense of accomplishment.
Make no mistake, however. Even when they are on cruise mode, Virtus.Pro remain one of the best Dota 2 teams in the world, and it doesn’t take much to set them off.
Evil Geniuses (8.08)
The honeymoon period has long been over for the current iteration of Evil Geniuses, and fans are now itching to see if this team can actually win it all.
Talent-wise, Evil Geniuses are arguably on top of the Dota 2 scene. The amount of championships, experience, and innate talent between the players on the current Evil Geniuses roster dwarfs that of pretty much every Dota 2 team in the scene right now save for a few. But, talent doesn’t win championships, and for all the potential that Evil Geniuses supposedly have, they have yet to come up with a trophy in hand when they’re up against elite competition.
Evil Geniuses haven’t been bad. Back-to-back 3rd-place finishes at both the Kuala Lumpur Major and the Chongqing Major are huge and any team would give to have those. This is especially true when you factor in how Evil Geniuses also placed third in their first ever big LAN together at The International 2018.
Unfortunately, Evil Geniuses are not just any team.
As already mentioned earlier, Evil Geniuses boast a collection of players gathered to win. That’s not something they’ve done a lot since they formed.
While Evil Geniuses most likely will have the entire season to figure out what ails them, another third-place finish at the Stockholm Major will likely warrant some concerns on whether or not this team can successfully contend as presently constructed.
Are there any Dark Horses to Watch at the Stockholm Major?
With as many sixteen Dota 2 teams competing at the Stockholm Major, there are quite a few teams who stand to have a chance at winning the tournament outside of the tournament favourites. Namely, these are Fnatic and Vici Gaming.
If they had a complete lineup, we’d have thrown in both EHOME and PSG.LGD there as well. But, they don’t. EHOME will be playing with two new players on their roster, and none of their recent showings suggest that they’ve managed to maintain their previous form let alone improved. Of course, we might be wrong and Zhang ‘xiao8‘ Ning might have found a way to get this team to gel together in little time. But, we highly doubt it. On the other hand, PSG.LGD are still missing Lu ‘Maybe‘ Yao and it’s hard to put any stock on the team’s chances when they’re playing with a relatively unknown substitute in Guo ‘Xm‘ Hongcheng.
Vici Gaming playing at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor and winning was akin to smurfing. If nothing else, the experience might have brought the team back closer together, especially after management decided to bring back Pan ‘Fade‘ Yi, who responded by helping Vici Gaming cruise through their competition in Kiev. Meanwhile, Fnatic host arguably the best players in SEA at their respective positions and have, at times, looked like they’re very close to establishing themselves as true contenders.
The lack of consistency is what holds these Dota 2 teams back from elite status, and the Stockholm Major might just be where they finally realize their potential.
Full Betting Odds for the Stockholm Major
- Team Secret at 3.64 odds
- Team Liquid at 3.98 odds
- Virtus.Pro at 7.74 odds
- Evil Geniuses at 8.08 odds
- PSG.LGD at 12.11 odds
- EHOME at 13.14 odds
- Vici Gaming at 15.04 odds
- Fnatic at 17.18 odds
- Ninjas in Pyjamas at 17.18 odds
- Forward Gaming 21.22 odds
- Keen Gaming at 21.22 odds
- Mineski at 26.29 odds
- Chaos Esport Club at 31.37 odds
- Natus Vincere 31.37 odds
- J.Storm at 41.51 odds
- Infamous at 82.08 odds
When and How to Watch the Stockholm Major
The Stockholm Major, otherwise known as CORSAIR DreamLeague Season 11, will get underway with its group stages on March 14 and will run through March 15, followed by the playoffs stage from March 16 to March 24, with a mid-tournament break on March 20-21 to allow the tournament organizers enough time to setup the venue at the Annexet in Stockholm, where the final three days of the event will be played in front of a live audience.
The CORSAIR DreamLeague Season 11 can be seen live, for free, on Twitch and in the Dota 2 client.
All betting odds courtesy of ArcaneBet.
Which teams do you think will stand out at the Stockholm Major? Will we see one of the favourites winning it all? Or will one of the underdogs rise up to the challenge and pull off an upset run? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.