As we wait for the next Dota 2 Minor, The Starladder IMBATV Minor, we already have the next Premier event on the cards. ESL One Birmingham will take place from the 28th of May 2019 till the 2nd of June. ESL One events pride themselves on being the tournaments outside of the Dota Pro Circuit but with all the top teams in the scene. ESL One Birmingham will not be so different as we will see the top teams in action at the tournament.
There are twelve teams in total with the event hosting a total prize pool of $300,000. Eight teams received a direct invite to the tournament. Three teams qualified from the regional qualifiers, one each from North America, China and Southeast Asia. The final slot belongs to the winner of GG.Bet Birmingham Invitational which took place in early April 2019. Alliance won the tournament after defeating Old But Gold in the Grand Finals 3-2.
The tournament features many of the top Dota 2 teams such as Team Secret, Team OG, Evil Geniuses, PSG.LGD, Team Liquid as well as the Ninjas in Pyjamas. Let’s take a look at these teams and their chances of winning this event.
Team Liquid will be attending an ESL One event after a long time. The TI7 winners have proved themselves to be one of the top teams in Dota 2. While they have qualified to almost every Major, however, their results in these Majors have been quite inconsistent. We have seen Team Liquid’s results range from a last-place finish to an appearance in the Grand finals at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major.
Despite their performances, Team Liquid still remains a contender for this tournament. However, they will eventually run into the bigger teams at the event. Team Liquid’s playstyle sees them often being extremely predictable in their draft. They rely on Miracle to have a great game and build their mid-game strategies according to their farm. One crucial determining factor in their playstyle is their understanding of the team’s timing. We have seen Team liquid play on the back foot for the entire game and when they get a few crucial items such as BKBs, Force Staffs and certain levels, they are ready to fight the opponent head-on.
The X-factor on this team is GH, his skill level as the position 5 player is just too high for many opponents. He is able to single-handedly turn the tide of the game with well-placed Fissures, Echo Slams and the likes. In fact, at the recent Major, Earthshaker was one the most played heroes in the tournament. GH’s efficiency with the hero was extremely high and it resulted in multiple small advantages for Team Liquid.
Team Liquid will aim at securing a Grand final spot in this tournament. It is easier said than done for many, however, Team Liquid’s appearance at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major Grand finals raises hopes for their result at this tournament.
The undisputed Number one team in Dota 2, Team Secret has found a renewed confidence in their playstyle. Team Secret was always known for their unique drafts and often out of the ordinary hero picks. Team Secret recently won the MDL Disneyland Paris Major after a stellar performance throughout the event. They won the Grand finals against Team Liquid 3-1.
With Enigmas, Rubick and Doom bringers, they always have a strategy in mind. With Yapzor on the roster, they sometimes prefer to play an almost greedy style of Dota. As many analysts say, Team Secret does not have a position 4. Instead, they have two positions 3 players with Puppey doing all he can to support the rest of the squad. However, Puppey’s influence on the team’s practice is quite evident in their playstyle. They have a set strategy in mind with their draft and it is very difficult to actually counter Team Secret in the drafting phase.
With a wide array of heroes in their pool, the team is extremely comfortable trying out new strategies. As an opponent, you will always be left guessing about Secret’s plan for the game. They are already qualified for The International, but with the next Major coming up within a month, Team Secret will need the practice to keep up with the meta. ESL One Birmingham will be played on the new Dota 2 patch and if there is a player who can keep up with regular changes in the meta, it is Puppey. He will come up with a draft based on what he sees as the strongest changes in 7.22.
PSG.LGD is the best hope for Chinese Dota 2. Despite being one of the strongest regions in Dota 2, no Chinese team has remained a top contender in this Dota Pro Circuit season. Vici Gaming did win Dreamleague Season 11 and that was via the route of the Starladder Minor. However, it was a very surprising result, one that they have failed to live up to in terms of performance and results.
PSG.LGD has consistently secured the top spot via the China qualifiers for Dota 2 Majors. However, going into these Majors PSG.LGD has always managed to finish around the 4-6 position.
The team has some of the biggest names in Chinese Dota 2 right now. Players like Ame, Somnus, xNova, Chalice and fy have a great understanding of their game. They are also able to play on the pace of their opponents game plan and often defeat them at their own game. The team has a great individual talent and ensures a decent rotation plan for their supports. We have seen xNova being very precise with his positioning on the map. Many times he can single-handedly stop the opponent’s push by applying pressure ( as a position 5 ) on the opposite end of the map.
The Ninjas in Pyjamas are led by Peter Dager, one of the most prolific players in the game. The NIP team is consistent with their results, but for the most part, they are seen as the bottom of the Tier one teams in Dota 2.
Their last three Major performances saw them lose to various teams such as EG, OG and PSG.LGD. For now, they seem to be unable to crack through the top teams in Dota 2 and that is a disadvantage for them.
With 2470 points, NIP has already secured a Direct Invite to The International 2019 in Shanghai. However, if they are to have a decent chance at placing well in the tournament, they need to start winning against Tier one teams, something that has been avoiding them for some time now.
OG has made a resurgence of late with Ana back on their roster. The team was the winner of TI8 with their splendid performance, however, post the International the team tapered off in performance. Right now, it does seem like the team is beginning to rise once more after a few strong performances of late. Most notable is their performance at MDL Disneyland Paris Major where they managed to secure the 5th place. The team’s performance saw lose to Team Liquid and Secret.
Regardless of their performance, one cannot count OG out of contention for this tournament. They have been able to challenge some of the best teams in Dota 2. However, not many consider them to be extremely strong when it comes to their chances of making it to the Top 4 of the upcoming tournament.
ESL One Birmingham is not a Dota 2 Major, but it still has a great lineup like the Dota 2 Majors. Birmingham has a great lineup and OG will have their task cut out for them at this tournament.
The only hope for North America, Evil Geniuses proved itself as one of the best teams at the MDL Disneyland Major. EG won matches against OG, Team Liquid at the Major. The performance of the team has evolved from rotating solely around Arteezy with a hard carry. Ofcourse in the new meta, things might change dramatically as the meta will almost surely undergo a shift.
With some of the biggest names in Dota on their roster, there is no limit for EG. However, their playstyle needs a significant improvement and a bump. Evil Genius does have the crowd support in many countries that they play. They are a fan favourite team and this will also affect their performance
This year the focus is especially on offering the passionate community an ultimate Dota 2 fan experience by transforming the Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg into the gateway to the world of esports.
Senior Vice President of Product at ESL, Ulrich Schulze.
Despite not being in the Dota Pro Circuit, ESL One Birmingham is no less than any Valve Major. The lineup of teams at this event definitely inspires confidence in the quality of Dota 2 at the event. We hope to see the teams in action and ESL will always put up a great production at the event.