Leading into the Major there are a lot of questions that need answering. It’s been over a year since the last truly international competition on LAN and each region has developed its own meta and power ranking. Most of the usual suspects are making appearances in Singapore and the tournament is really up for grabs. Most fans of the DPC can probably agree that there are a couple of favorites to win the title but how about the teams that maybe snuck in under the radar? Here are three teams that might go overlooked as contenders who could make deep runs into the bracket.
The craziness of the Chinese roster shuffle was definitely overshadowed by the global pandemic and subsequent lockdown. There were big shoes to fill on Vici after super-team Elephant pulled away Eurus (Paparazi) and Yang from the roster. Vici’s replacement carry was meant to be 23savage, who spent a bit of time with the team and was being taught Chinese to communicate better. With travel restrictions in place though, Vici ultimately decided to stick with an all Chinese roster. They slotted in Erica, now poyoyo, who had been their sub while 23savage worked on integrating into the team initially. Long-time veteran and 2018 Vici member, old eLeVeN replaced Yang in the offlane role.
Despite all the commotion, Vici came out swinging with a 5-1 record in the first six games. Their only loss came to first seed Invictus Gaming and they boasted 2-0 wins over Aster and the Elephant squad. In the final week of play, Vici lost a very hard-fought series 1-2 against PSG.LGD to drop their record to 5-2. Unfortunately for Vici, the Chinese region is incredibly tough and both iG and Aster finished with 6-1 records. As a result, Vici will have to fight their way into the Major through the Wild Card stage. Considering the caliber of player on their team, it feels like Vici probably would have taken a top-two spot in basically every other region.
As a rule of thumb, Chinese teams tend to be overlooked because the scene is pretty hard to follow for western fans of Dota. Plus, only having seven best of three series determine the seeding means that the power ranking landscape is a lot less clear than you might think. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Ori, Dy and the gang make a run into the top six with their clean and aggressive style of play.
Alliance surprised a lot of people when they took the second seed in Europe’s absolutely stacked Upper Division. Sure, this is a big-name org with well-known talent but even the most hardcore Alliance fanboys would be lying if they denied viewing the team as an underdog over the last couple of years. Ever since adding fng to the roster, Alliance have looked very solid from a strategic standpoint. In theory, the lineup looks like one primed for a deep tournament run. Strong leadership, veteran experience, extremely talented but hungry players in all the main skill positions.
The biggest thing Alliance has always lacked with this roster is consistency. LIMMP in particular has been criticized for crumbling under pressure despite being one of the best mid laners in the game. Heading into the Major there is some good news for Alliance fans. Not only did the team show much-improved consistency to show up and play well week after week but LIMMP, Handsken, and Nikobaby all appear to be in the best form of their careers. It has been quite some time since Alliance won a tournament of note and a deep run at the Singapore Major is definitely possible.
Of all the regions, South America remains the most underrated as a whole by the greater Dota community. Over the past couple of years, increased infrastructure and opportunity has led to a huge boost in the quality of Dota coming out of the SA region. Beastcoast has been at the forefront of this surge. Since their exciting TI9 performance, beastcoast have mostly maintained a clear lead over everyone else in South America. They experienced a bit of a slump in performance early in 2020 but have since been able to right the ship.
They cruised to the top of the South American Upper Division and are poised to once again prove that they belong on the international stage. Their wild style of play has earned the team a lot of fans and makes them a dangerous opponent for anyone in the Major. Despite entering the tournament as one of the top six seeds, there is a strong likelihood that many fans will expect South American Dota to fall short. From an outside perspective, the SA region is starting to look a lot like Southeast Asia did a couple years ago when they started to punch above their weight and cement the entire region as a true competitor on the big stage.
Can a team in the upper bracket, with the best record in all of the DPC really be underrated? Not sure but generally, the CIS region gets forgotten quite often when it comes to international competition. As previously stated, Virtus.pro only lost ONE game the entire season, back in week four to Team Spirit. Even so, I’m not sure that casual fans really know just how good this team is.
When the former Virtus.pro Prodigy squad showed enough promise to oust the struggling main roster not many expected them to reach anywhere near the level dominance we saw from VP in 2017-2019. The switch has reinvigorated the Virtus.pro brand and as it so often the case, comes down to individual hunger from the players. This absolutely explosive roster has found their stride and never looked back. The one possible area of concern is just how young the entire team is and how they will handle travel and LAN pressure. This could be amplified by having to play with a stand-in for their carry player, Nightfall. VP recently disclosed that the player had become too ill to travel and will be replaced for the Major by iLTW, a former VP member and one of the most reliable stand-in players in the CIS/EU region.
Great Dota Awaits
The field of teams at the Singapore Major is definitely the best lineup of talent that any tournament has brought together since before the pandemic lockdowns. There are sure to be some stylistic clashes happening and it remains to be seen which region has the best idea of how Dota should be played on the current patch. Fan favorites or underdogs alike, this should be one of the wildest Majors in Dota history due to the global context. It might also be the most important. There are wide-reaching TI10 implications both for the teams involved and for the world to see whether producing a successful and safe Dota LAN is possible in 2021.