The DAC 2018 Major signalled the stretch run of the 2017-18 Pro Circuit, which is the time for teams to start stepping up their play. Or else, they risk missing out on a direct invite to The International 8 and having to play through the Regional Qualifiers, where dozens if not hundreds of teams will try their luck just to earn a spot at Dota 2’s biggest annual tournament.
With only 4 Majors and 2 Minors remaining, we’ve seen quite a few teams make the most out of their limited chances. The recently-crowned DAC 2018 Major champions Mineski headline the list of teams who showed up when it counted the most. But, their Grand Finals opponent, LGD Gaming, are not too shabby either, and have firmly put themselves on the radar with yet another 2nd-place finish — and this time in a Major!
As has always been the case, our rankings are based on each team’s current form. We do put some weight into past achievements, but not as much as their recent showings, especially in Majors. After all, our goal is to organize 10 of the best Dota 2 teams in a way that reflects who’s the most and least dangerous as of the time of writing.
It should already go without saying that you should take our rankings with a grain of salt. They are, by no means, definitive and should not be looked upon as championship odds. Case in point, the reigning TI champions, Team Liquid, who definitely are not looking strong right now, will remain one of the heavy favourites entering ANY tournament unless they disband or perform poorly in consecutive tournaments. The same goes for the three-time Major winners Virtus.Pro, and to some extent Team Secret. But, because of the way things have been recently, especially with their showing at the DAC 2018 Major, we’ll have to penalize them.
Having said that, let’s get right on to business.
10. TNC Pro Team – 495 QP
Hands up if you thought that TNC Pro Team had a legitimate chance of reaching Top 3 or even Top 2 at the DAC 2018 Major? If so, you weren’t alone. A lot of people thought that TNC Pro Team could go all the way, especially because of how well they played throughout the tournament. But, their performance came with a caveat; they’re a best-of-one specialist, struggling to close out series’ as soon as the opponents make the necessary adjustments against them.
This was the story against ViCi Gaming in the playoffs of DAC 2018 Major, and once again, against Virtus.Pro, where TNC Pro Team ended up winning Game 1 only to come up short in Games 2 and 3. Was it inexperience? Maybe. Though Theeban ‘1437‘ Siva somewhat forced TNC Pro Team to play slow, which was seen as a detriment by many onlookers, he provided a steadying hand and years of experience to the table that the team could count on.
Now that 1437 is out of the picture, Carlo ‘Kuku‘ Palad has taken the helm as the team’s captain, and while TNC Pro Team are definitely playing more like their aggressive selves, their adjustments in-between games could use some work. They’re currently 8-17 (47%) in best-of-three games over the past two months, but are 13-18 (72%) in best-of-one games in the same span. The best part? All of their best-of-one wins have come against international competition in LAN tournaments.
If TNC Pro Team can find a way to improve their performance in best-of-three matches, they’ll have a legitimate chance of earning a spot in the Top 8 of the season leaderboards and a direct invite to TI8.
9. VGJ.Thunder – 1665 QP
The effect that Leong ‘ddc‘ Fat-meng has had on the team is clear; VGJ.Thunder are noticeably better than they’ve been all season long since he joined the team. The looked like they were on the up-and-up with second-place finishes at GESC Indonesia (Minor) and the Bucharest Major (Major), only to falter at the DAC 2018 Major where they couldn’t even advance to the playoffs.
Maybe it was just bad luck. They did draw Team Liquid during the breakout stages, and who the hell would expect the reigning TI champions not to finish on top of their group? But, that sounds more like an excuse than anything else. Especially since they went 2-5 during the group stages, which is not something you’d expect from a top team like them.
With at least three teams breathing down their neck, VGJ.Thunder will need to win Starladder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5 because it’ll be a while before they qualify for another Pro Circuit LAN.
8. ViCi Gaming – 2,160 QP
Where most had already expected ViCi Gaming to come at least second (which they have in 4 out of 9 Pro Circuit LANs they’ve attended), they have bombed out rather early when they didn’t finish as runner-ups. At the Bucharest Major (Major), 5-round Swiss-system format was unforgiving as ViCi Gaming couldn’t even make it out of the group stages, while a Top 6 finish was all that they could muster at ESL One Genting 2018 (Minor) and at the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018 (Major).
ViCi Gaming are easily one of the best Dota 2 teams in China, even in their off days. If they can find just find a way to win a Major (or come in second place again) in the next few weeks, they’ll have all but guaranteed themselves a spot at The International 8.
7. Newbee – 2,220 QP
To rank a team as successful as Newbee have been this season just speaks to the strength of who’s above them. Yes, Newbee are one of the few teams this season to have won multiple Pro Circuit LANs. The only problem? They’ve only won Minors, and they typically have not had strong showings at Majors.
Make no mistake, though, Newbee are still the creme of China’s proverbial crop. They remain the top contender to win TI both because of their consistency and because it’s China’s year — it’s a running joke that China wins TI every even years and others winning odd years. It’s just that it’s hard to reward them with a high placement given how they’ve played recently.
6. Evil Geniuses – 1,335 QP
We #BleedBlue 'til the end.
It's no secret the season isn't coming together all to plan, so as we look towards our final Major appearances, we're about to go doubly hard — for the fans that stick by us, even in defeat. pic.twitter.com/sw7Co7uaw2
— Evil Geniuses (@EvilGeniuses) April 5, 2018
People do sure love to hate on Evil Geniuses, don’t they? If they win, it’s mostly only because of the strength of their competition, or the lack thereof. If they don’t end up placing high, then critics are quick to jump on them. But hey, that’s the life of a genius (get it?).
Kidding aside, Evil Geniuses remain one of the most versatile, well-coached and experienced teams in Dota 2. They remain a match-up nightmare capable of pulling off weird strats successfully, with Syed Sumail ‘SumaiL‘ Hassan feasting on the 1v1 opportunities he now frequently gets in the offlane.
With their window of opportunity closing, however, Evil Geniuses will ideally need to place second at ESL One Birmingham 2018 (Major) if they want to secure their spot at The International 8.
5. Team Secret – 4,710 QP
This is probably the lowest we can place Team Secret all season long. They’re all but guaranteed a spot at The International 8 already and could’ve just been saving strats at the DAC Major 2018, which might just explain their off-meta picks and top 12 finish. But still, nobody expected Team Secret to do that badly when they were just fresh off a win at DreamLeague Season 9 (Minor).
With Team Secret pretty much assured of an invite to every remaining Pro Circuit Major, they have still have some time to officially secure a spot at TI8 and prove many of those who are quick to doubt them wrong.
4. LGD Gaming – 1,821 QP
LGD Gaming looked scary in the lead up to the DAC 2018 Major and they delivered when they nearly won the whole thing, succumbing to Mineski in the Grand Finals only after pushing the eventual champions into a fifth deciding game.
If they can follow up their DAC 2018 Major performance up with another second-place finish (or hopefully, a win) at EPICENTER XL, LGD Gaming will have completed yet another mid-season turnaround.
3. Team Liquid – 4,734 QP
Team Liquid are a special team. Even if they ended up having to make it through the Regional Qualifiers to qualify for TI8 (a near-impossible scenario), they’ll still be heavy favourites in the eyes of many, and that won’t just be fanboyism. They are just that good. But, for all the times that Team Liquid have won, including multiple Pro Circuit LAN minors this season, the glory of lifting a Major trophy has continued to elude them.
While it’s true that the Aegis of Champions is easily worth more than multiple Major trophies, the fact that they have fallen short so many times this season, including finishing outside of the Top 4 for the first time in 320 days and 16 LAN tournaments at the DAC 2018 Major, it’s probably time that we penalize Team Liquid for failing to live up to the lofty standards that they themselves set.
2. Mineski – 3,150 QP
Kudos are in order for Mineski after making history at the Dac 2018 Major for becoming the first Southeast Asian team to win a Major tournament. Now comes the hard part: maintaining that success and parlaying it into a spot at TI8.
Mineski have been in this position before. Earlier this season, they kicked off the ground running, finishing second at Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3 (Minor) and winning PGL Open Bucharest (Minor) only to fall off the radar after, with only a Top 4 finish at Captain’s Draft 4.0 (Minor) since. But something tells me that Mineski’s form will last, especially because Tang ‘71‘ Wenyi is there to make sure that they don’t slack off.
1. Virtus.Pro – 7,872 QP
A Top 3 finish at the DAC 2018 Major doesn’t take away the fact that Virtus.Pro are one of only three teams in Dota 2 history — OG and Team Secret are the other two — to have won multiple Major titles. And it’s not like they limped to a Top 3 finish either, because it certainly looked like they were closer to winning their third straight Major title more than anything else. If not for LGD Gaming’s risky Underlord teleport play courtesy of Yang ‘Chalice‘ Shenyi in Game 3 of their series in the lower bracket finals, Virtus.Pro would’ve atleast made it into their third straight Major Grand Finals.
At this point, burnout is a real factor and Virtus.Pro can take things easy, since they have already secured a spot at The International 8. But because this is Virtus.Pro we’re talking about, we can’t just put it above them to put on a show in front of homecrowd at EPICENTER XL (Major) later this month.
If Virtus.Pro ends up winning yet another Major, they can just go hibernate and wake up again in August where they’ll definitely be the heavy favourites to win TI8 and break the cycle.
What do you think of our Dota 2 rankings post-DAC 2018 Major? Is there a team that you believe deserve to be ranked here? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.