The first season of the 2021 DPC is upon us. While closed and open qualifiers are getting under way, we’re here to take a closer look about everything we know about the EU region so far.
Upper Division invites
The four Upper Division invites for EU are Team Secret
and Team Liquid
. These aren’t a surprising selection; Secret dominated the majority of the last season. Nigma and OG were consistently top names last year while Liquid improved steadily across last year before eventually taking home their first trophy. These teams don’t have to worry about any qualifiers this season; they are straight in with a chance to compete at the first Major of the season. But who of these four will come out on top?
Team Secret appeared to fall off towards the end of last season, dropping out of tournaments earlier than anyone would expect and losing games they shouldn’t have. However, this is most likely the result of a long season of online leagues and an overplayed patch which they had already found success on numerous times. There’s no reason top think this incredibly roster has lost their touch – they’re likely to come back at full form and reclaim their spot at the top of the EU region.
OG have had plenty of time to settle into their new roster and to experiment with all sorts of funky drafts
in the past season. We know that Johan “Notail” Sundstein is looking to further his legacy with a third Aegis, but for the last two seasons, his squad have gone through some very lackluster performances before hugely stepping up their game when The International itself arises. This season, making it to TI after a bad season is very challenging. If OG don’t maintain a consistent enough season to qualify for a TI invite, their last chance is a singular regional qualifier slot. The question is, will OG be entering TI-mode early this year? And if they do, can they keep it going until TI10 actually happens?
Nigma’s players have a strong reputation from previous years of competition, with Major championships and an Aegis in their legacy. However, the previous season of online leagues was especially challenging for Nigma as they endured poor internet connections and captain Kuro “Kuroky” Salehi Takhasomi away from competition while recovering from an injury for most of the season. Kuro and the gang will definitely be eager to return to their former glory — with fewer obstacles in their way, it’s time for them to deliver.
Liquid are the small fry of the top four to be invited, but certainly viable contenders. After improving consistently across the last year, they finally won their first event as a roster. They still have plenty of work to do to keep up with the likes of Team Secret, but if they continue steadily improving, we may just see them take home some more trophies this year.
Closed Qualifier/ Decider tournament teams
These lucky teams are the eight that have a chance to make it to the Upper Division, and by extension, the first Major. This qualifier is arguably the most important of the season, as falling short here leaves them with no chance of making it to the first Major. The two safe bets to make it through to the Upper Division are Alliance
, both consistent contenders from the past season who we’d expect to make up the middle ground of the Upper Division. Vikin.gg in particular have been unleashing some serious star-power over the past season and we could see them push towards the top of the Upper Division.
The last two Upper Division slots aren’t easy predictions. Most likely to claim those spots are two of Mudgolems
, Hellbear Smashers (Ex- 5men
), and Chicken Fighters (ex-NIP
), all of whom have made some significant roster changes since last year. It would be quite a surprise if the other closed qualifier teams Spider Pigz
, Brame, or Hippomaniacs make it through to the upper Bracket, but with the number of roster changes made by their closest contenders, an upset isn’t far from impossible.
The bottom four of the Decider Tournament will enter the Lower Division. They will be joined by two teams from each of the Open Qualifiers. There don’t appear to be any big names brawling through the Open Qualifiers, meaning we can expect some fresh talent to enter the DPC. By next season, we may even see some open qualifier teams make it to the Upper Division. It’s a very long road to The International for an open qualifier team, but it’s not impossible.