Two months after the last Major at DreamHack, now it is time for another one. This time it will be hosted by ESL in Katowice, Poland. Shortly after this, the PGL Major will take place in Bucharest, which means that there will be some very high quality Dota 2 games ahead of us.
The last ESL event – ESL One Genting had a big controversy with their decision regarding the so called “Facebook deal” that gave Facebook the exclusive rights to livestream the games in the tournament.
This resulted in a community backlash against the decision and ultimately in less people watching, because as we all know, Twitch is the main platform that everyone uses. Sadly, this ESL tournament also has its drama.
The schedule for the stadium portion of #ESLOne Katowice is already set.
Make sure not the miss the start of each main event day, live from Spodek Arena!https://t.co/fUmUm1je0a pic.twitter.com/9jznwCM1fN
— ESL Dota2 (@ESLDota2) February 7, 2018
In a tweet which was made in order to show the tournament’s schedule, it turned out that only the second quarterfinal, the two semifinals, and the grand finals are scheduled for the main event. This means that the earlier round and the playoffs will be completely left out from the live stage.
These situation have caused the Dota 2 community to express their feelings on reddit, especially those who had invested money and time into booking a hotel and buying a ticket to go to the event. Considering that the tournament has a Major status and has 16 teams in it, people would assume that it has to be more appealing for the live audience.
Despite all that, this is the first Major of the year and as the season slowly comes to TI 8, every single Pro Circuit point is invaluable.
Schedule, Format, Prize Pool and Participating Teams
This will be Poland’s first Major Dota 2 event. Sixteen teams from all over the world will be fighting for the $1,000,000 prize pool and 1500 Pro Circuit points. The playoffs will be held on February 24-25, 2018 at the Spodek Arena in Katowice, Poland.
As we said, the Major will feature sixteen teams. Eight of them are invited, while the other eight had to go through qualifiers in order to get their spot. There will be two double-elimination groups, each consisting of eight teams. The top teams of each group will advance directly to the semifinals of the playoffs, while the 2nd and 3rd will advance to the quarterfinals of the playoffs. The group stage will be held from Feburary 20th to 23th, while the playoffs will be from February 23rd to 25th.
This is the official schedule that was released by ESL
• Direct Invites – Team Liquid, Team Secret, Virtus.Pro, Newbee, Evil Geniuses, Mineski, Vici Gaming, Na’Vi
• EU Qualifier – Team Kinguin, OG
• NA Qualifier – Complexity Gaming, OpTic Gaming
• SA Qualifier – Infamous
• China Qualifier – LGD Gaming
• SEA Qualifier – Fnatic
• CIS Qualifier – Team Effect
After their latest extraordinary and dominating performance, Team Liquid got another trophy and more Pro Circuit points during the 2017-2019 season. The European team continued to outplay their opponents to consistently claim a podium finish at the top events of the year. Their’s victory became their fourth consecutive StarLadder iLeague championship title.
There can be no doubt in anyone that Team Liquid are the biggest favorites to win this. They are by far the best team that ever existed in pro Dota. What’s more, their captain KuroKy became the first ever play to win over 1000 Pro games! This amount of experience is undoubtedly the one of the core strength of the European powerhouse. Therefore, be on the lookout if you are planning to get versus them, because it might not be the smartest idea.
Following their win over Team Liquid at the ESL One Genting, the results reaffirmed Newbee’s position as the No. 1 team in China—crushing any thoughts of them getting worse after TI7. Every singe team member is in fantastic form right now and they are more then capable of winning this ESL tournament aswell. What’s more, their performance at the last StarLadder was pretty good, despite that fact that they “only” managed to finish in the 3rd-4th spot. I guess when you are as successful as them, you can’t be satisfied when you finish third.
Despite missing the StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 4, Team Secret are in really good shape the entire Pro Circuit Season. Having the likes of Clement “Puppey” Ivanov and Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng in your team always makes you a favorite. Team Secret are also still rank one in the official leaderboard. This means that they will certainly get a direct invite for TI 8. However, since the ESL One Katowice is a Major, they will still need a top finish in order to secure their place at TI.
Teams worth mentioning
The MDL Macau champions are back once again. Despite not getting a direct invite, this team is more than capable of upsetting the big favorites in this tournament. The combination of individual talent and the team spirit make the four times Major winners a force to be reckoned with.
Coming just after a recent transfer or Rodjer, VP are looking better than ever and will also try to make their mark in the upcoming major. They are one of the most stable teams through the entire Pro Circuit season and are currently third in the official leaderboard. However, since they just did a player transfer, you have to be aware of the fact that there will be some adjusting and they might not be able to deliver they best performance. Other than that, VP could easily finish in top 4.
I believe that this will be a really exciting tournament to watch, not only because of the Major status, but also the fact that the best teams in the world right now will be there. There are also some “salty” rivalries such as OpTic gaming versus EG (as we know, ppd salts them on a regular basis on his twitter account). Some other teams such as EG and Vici gaming are also capable of achieving high placing, but I think that Team Liquid will continue their dominance and will also take this one home.
Which team do you think will win? Will Team Secret and Team Liquid meet again in the Grand Finals? Let us know in the comments.