Winter Shuffle 2018: Top Dota 2 Players Who Could Make an Impact

There’s no official Winter Shuffle 2018 this year. Players are free to leave and join teams anytime they want, albeit at the expense of a hefty point deduction from their DPC points. That means that for teams who have yet to get themselves on the board, they can experiment with their rosters all they want.

With only so few Minors and Majors this season, you’d best bet that there are more than a couple of teams who’ve missed out on a chance to secure DPC points this early on in the season.

Below, we rounded up players who we believe could make an impact this Winter Shuffle 2018 and help turn a team’s fortune around.

Per Anders Olsson ‘Pajkatt‘ Lille

Winter Shuffle 2018

While not a major game-changer on his own, Pajkatt is easily one of the more solid free agents this Winter Shuffle 2018. (OpTic Gaming)

For a longtime veteran of the game, and one of its most stable carries, Pajkatt surprisingly only had the opportunity to win his very first LAN with OpTic Gaming last season, and he has yet to win his second.

After a respectable Top 8 finish at The International 2018, the US-based organization let go of its roster as the players went their separate ways. Of the five, only the Swedish carry failed to find a new home for the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit. Whether it’s by choice or because the market really is dry for a hardened veteran who plays safe and knows how to farm effectively, we’ll never know. But, what we do know is that Pajkatt can play pretty much any carry hero well enough to give a team a safe fallback option.

Neither an explosive play maker or an aggressive risk taker, Pajkatt should slot in quite nicely in a roster who’s looking for someone to stabilize their lineup. Like, for example, the defending champions, OG, who are on the market for a hard carry with Anathan ‘ana‘ Pham choosing to take an extended break.

Dominik ‘Black^’ Reitmeier

Winter Shuffle 2018

While Black^ has always had a penchant for casting and analyzing games, it’s no secret that he is at his best playing the game that he loves. (Valve)

From one veteran carry to another, the occasional analyst and caster possesses some of the best mechanical skills in the game, especially when left to wreak havoc on his signature hero, Anti-mage.

Extremely efficient with his farm and movements, Black^ is the type of player who can soak up every inch of space that you give him and do something with it. Unfortunately, according to him, a hand injury prevented him from playing earlier this season, but should it have already healed, Black^ is one of the best pickups this Winter Shuffle 2018.

Steve ‘Excalibur‘ Ye

Winter Shuffle 2018

Excalibur, who started his career with n0tail and Fnatic, could find himself playing with everybody’s favourite flower once again. (Beyond the Summit)

Speaking of OG, can someone remind Johan ‘N0tail‘ Sundstein that Excalibur is still a free agent this Winter Shuffle 2018?

These two go way back, with Excalibur having made his professional debut while playing with N0tail in the then-Europe-based Fnatic squad at the very first Summit LAN tournament. He also stood-in for OG for a couple of months in 2016, so these two know each other.

A high MMR player who plays pretty much the same heroes that ana does, Excalibur could be the perfect fit for OG as they look to round out their roster.

Kim ‘QO‘ Sun Yeob

Winter Shuffle 2018

The centerpiece of MVP.Phoenix’s “caveman doto” playstyle, the uber-aggressive mid could find success yet again this season should he come back and join another team. (PGL)

Currently on break from Dota 2, the ultra-aggressive Korean carry player has almost always found success wherever he’s played, whether it’s with MVP.Phoenix from 2014 to 2016 or Fnatic at The International 2017. Although his reunion with his former Korean teammates with Immortals didn’t go as well as initially planned, QO played well enough and more than pulled his weight for a team that remained competitive for most of the first half of the season.

Having taken a break from Dota 2 ever since, QO should have no problem finding himself a team should he choose to come back — whether it’s this Winter Shuffle 2018 or after.

Filip ‘Fey Musialski

Winter Shuffle 2018

A former member of the All-Polish ALTERNATE aTTaX Dota 2 squad, Fey could be the next big Dota 2 player to come out of Poland. (ALTERNATE aTTaX)

With Michal ‘Nisha‘ Jankowski playing his brains out after getting picked up by Team Secret, helping the Europe-based organization win two LAN titles and make it to the Grand Finals of the Kuala Lumpur Major, most teams now have a template on how “easy” it is to incorporate a talented Polish player into your own system.

Insert Filip ‘Fey‘ Musialski.

At 19-years-old, Fey is young and should be hungry enough to be more than willing to prove his place in a proven team like OG, and considering n0tail’s excellent talent scouting record – n0tail and OG have won four Majors, as well as a TI, with a rookie playing as one of their cores — what’s to stop everybody’s favourite little flower from unearthing a diamond again as OG try to defend their title?

Fey was part of the MangoBay squad that beat Team Liquid, so he’s no stranger to playing against the big boys. All he needs now is a chance to prove that he belongs in one.

Chai ‘Mushi Yee Fung

Winter Shuffle 2018

It wasn’t so long ago when Mushi helped lead Fnatic to a Top 4 finish at The International 2016. (Fnatic)

Mushi has yet to announce his retirement, which means he’s still technically available for pick-up this Winter Shuffle 2018.

Whether or not he still wants to play is the question though. This season, the veteran carry player tried his hands in a support role, much to the dismay of Mineski, who posted lackluster results following the 2017-18 Dota Pro Circuit when they were arguably the best Dota 2 team in Southeast Asia.

While Mushi’s play has indeed dropped off from his heydays, there’s still a lot of value to be had with a veteran that has played 93 unique heroes in 1,335 games — a staggering number considering that he’s played from the mid or carry position most of his career.

Final Thoughts

The bad news this season is that there are only five Minors and Majors. The good news is that as many as twelve teams will receive a direct invite to The International 2019 in Shanghai. That means there’ll be plenty of chances to experiment this season.

Besides, you don’t always have to stick with the roster that you opened the season with. OG’s championship run serves as proof of that, and to some extent, Evil Geniuses’ third-place finish.

But, then again, the earlier you secure DPC points, the better, and for the teams looking to add a bit more firepower to their rosters, these players are some of the best pickups this Winter Shuffle 2018.

Which of these players do you think will find a new home during the Winter Shuffle 2018? Do you think there are players that we missed out on? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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