From January 9-12, we will see dozens of teams fighting it out in the ESL One Katowice Qualifiers to see who will advance and earn a chance to compete against the top Dota 2 teams from all over the world in the first Dota Pro Circuit this 2018, to be held in Katowice, Poland.
Expect to see some high quality Dota 2 action in the ESL One Katowice Qualifiers. Especially because there’s only 1 slot allotted per region for the 16-team tournament, with 10 teams attending the event by way of direct invite.
Having said that, let’s get right down to business to see which team from each of the six competitive regions will make it out on top.
ESL One Katowice Qualifiers – South America
SG e-sports and Infamous remain the best Dota 2 team in South America. However, paiN Gaming are not to be underestimated. And without Sacred to turn this into a four-man race, expect either one of the three to make it all the way.
Smart Money: This is SG e-sport’s to lose. Though they may not have the most star-studded lineup in the region, they serve as living proof that individual skill doesn’t always matter; you just need a team with good chemistry, and that’s exactly what SG e-sports have.
ESL One Katowice Qualifiers – North America
With Evil Geniuses having already earned a free pass to the tournament, it’s hard to single out one team from North America to win the qualifiers by default. Literally anyone can take a game off of anyone these days in the land of the free. Though it’s probably safe to rule out the possibility of Immortals or VGJ.Storm winning right now since they’re probably still adjusting to their latest addition.
With that said, we’re left with either one of CompLexity Gaming and OpTic Gaming to choose from and both aren’t exactly known for their stability or consistency.
Smart Money: If you’re looking to make bank, skip the North American Qualifiers entirely. There’s just too many unknowns in NA to consider with Evil Geniuses out of the picture.
ESL One Katowice Qualifiers — Europe
It’s quite tempting to say OG will run away with this, but they’re not exactly a shoo-in just yet. Though they’re the third-best Dota 2 team in arguably the most competitive region right now, any one of Planet Dog, PENTA Sports or Team Kinguin are capable of taking the 4-time Major champions down. In the case of PENTA Sports, they actually did do just that at the ESL One Genting Qualifiers.
Smart Money: Despite their inconsistency, OG are still the best Dota 2 team in the European Leg of the ESL One Katowice Qualifiers. For those looking for a dark horse pick, go for either one of Team Kinguin or Planet Dog.
ESL One Katowice Qualifiers — CIS
With both Natus Vincere and Virtus Pro out of the qualifiers, Team Spirit are the clear favourites to make it out of CIS. While Team Empire aren’t half-bad, they’re still clearly adjusting to each other. Meanwhile, most of Team Spirit have played with each other before and their chemistry are evident from the results they’ve had so far.
Smart Money: If you’re looking to take a risk, both Gambit Esports and Vega Squadron are sleeper picks who recently introduced marquee names into their lineups. Otherwise, Team Spirit should have this one in the bag.
ESL One Katowice Qualifiers – China
Apparently, there’s another way to spell stacked now and it’s C-H-I-N-A. Really. Because, how else would you describe their lineup for the regional qualifiers?
Yes, ViCi Gaming are out (thankfully) because they already received a direct invite, but good luck to any Tier 2/3 team from China trying to qualify for the event. For starters, LGD Gaming, LFY, EHOME, VGJ.Thunder and Invictus Gaming are all playing for one spot. Not to mention Keen Gaming (and their sister squad, Keen Gaming.Luminous) and other noteworthy teams are also playing in the qualifiers.
Smart Money: Skip this.
ESL One Katowice Qualifiers – Southeast Asia
Somewhere out there, TNC Pro Team and Fnatic are smiling knowing that they won’t have to make their way through Mineski just to qualify for the first Major of 2018. Neither one of the two teams can’t rest easy, though, because a lot of other equally capable Dota 2 teams also call Southeast Asia home.
Smart Money: TNC Pro Team have both chemistry and longevity over Fnatic. They also have more decisive wins over Fnatic, despite their 4-3 record for the season, which means they’re the safer pick 9 times out of 10. However, you can’t just discount Fnatic’s penchant for the dramatic. As evidenced by their 2nd-place finish at The Summit 8 Minor, you can always expect Jacky ‘EternaLEnVy‘ Mao and his squad to do the unexpected.