International Dota 2 is finally on the horizon, and the ONE Esports Singapore Major 2021 kicks off in the most hype way possible: Wild Card tournament! Traveled all the way to Singapore to compete in the Major? Not yet you haven’t!
Certain teams will have to run the gauntlet that is the Wild Card to even get a chance to compete in the group stage. The Wild Card is one of the most hype tournament systems in Dota 2, a little warm-up to get your toes wet before the main event. If qualifiers were LAN events, this is what they would look like. Teams have fought a brutal Dota Pro Circuit group stage far for the chance at the Wild Card with many having traveled 12 hours + to get there and immediately find their tournament on the line.
The wild card event starts on the 27th of March at 3 AM CET / 10 PM ET with 6 teams from China, Europe, CIS, and Southeast Asia all competing for the converted slots. The Wild Card format is a round-robin group stage only the top two teams advancing and everyone exiting the event early.
Without any international play in the last year, it’s going to be a very interesting Wild Card event. Before the event kicks off let’s rank the teams from most likely to qualify and see how wrong we get it!
Coming from the Chinese region, Vici Gaming look like the strongest team in the Wild Card. VG only narrowly missed out on qualifying directly to the Major with a score of 5-2. Just one more win would have forced tiebreakers.
Taking a look at VG’s first season in the Chinese Upper Divison, it’s really surprising that they find themselves in the Wild Card. Until the final week, the only team they lost to was Invictus Gaming who ended up being first in the group stage. With VG’s last game being against a struggling PSG.LGD, it looked like they would force tie breakers with Aster and IG but an upset by PSG.LGD meant they narrowly lost out on the chance after losing the series to LGD 1-2.
The top three was a complete circle with IG beating VG, VG beating Aster and Aster beating IG to complete the loop. With some inconsistent European teams and underdogs from the other regions, Vici Gaming find themselves at the top of the Wild Card stage.
The European region is one of the strongest regions around, along with China, and even with Team Liquid and Nigma just making it into the Wild Card, those teams still beat some very strong opponents to get into this spot.
Team Nigma managed to get into the Wild Card without any tiebreakers but also find themselves to be a very inconsistent performer. They boast a huge amount of experience together, having competed in the International finals multiple times. Four players have even won that event.
Any team led by Kuro "KuroKy" Salehi Takhasom is always in with a shout, and Nigma definitely has the results to back up this. This team is in with a very good shout to make it out of the Wild Card but with their inconsistent performance, you could also say they’re the wild card!
It’s not hard to imagine Team Liquid taking the other spot in this Wild Card stage but it’s also very possible to see this team finish the other side of the table. Team Liquid has been one of the most inconsistent teams in the European region, for example, they are one of only a handful of teams to have beaten Team Secret this year with Secret being the team to beat.
However, this steam struggled in the Upper Division and only scraped themselves into the playoffs after two rounds of tiebreakers, having lost to some weaker teams but also beaten some stronger teams.
Currently, PSG.LGD find themselves shadows of their former selves with a struggle in form meaning they were only able to qualify for the Wild Card event. However, the team has lots of experience on it with former Wings Gaming members in Zhang ‘y`’ Yiping and Zhang ‘Faith_bian’ Ruida who won The International 6 in a very unique style of just picking whatever they wanted and dominating the opposition.
One benefit for the PSG.LGD squad is the reduced travel time they’ll face compared to other teams coming from further afield. PSG.LGD making it into the tournament would be an upset but it’s also not out of the realm of possibility with the talent this roster possesses.
T1 finished 3rd in their region behind Fnatic and Neon Esports narrowly losing out on a place in the group’s stage with a loss in the tiebreakers to Neon 1-2. Since then T1 has made a roster change introducing Nuengnara "23savage" Teeramahanon to the carry role who is one of the strongest carries in the region. However, the SEA region doesn’t look particularly strong with lots of rosters rebuilding and the domination that the European region and China region have possessed in recent times. The wildcard is a very competitive tournament and it’s hard to see T1 beating the likes of Team Liquid, Nigma or VG gaming who have all looked strong even with inconsistent results.
As Monaco Gabmit secured their place in the wildcard tournament by beating Team Spirit in a tiebreaker 2-1 but with a group stage score of 4-3 things don’t look great for the squad. Captained by experienced leader Akbar "SoNNeikO" Butaev the team looked very promising when they first started out as Live To Win placing 2nd in the Epic League Season 2 Divison 2 but since then have looked lackluster. The team has undergone some changes when they removed Rostislav "fn" Lozovoi for Vladimir "None" Minenko who was most known for his time with a dominate Virtus Pro roster but has since yet to find a long-standing team.
The wildcards are going to be an exciting event with lots of great quality teams and only two able to advance through to the group stage. There are a lot of wildcard teams within the wild cards with PSG.LGD in the mix and even T1 or AS Monaco Gambit could take the slot. All of these teams are very good and are in the top 3-4 for their region but it’s been so long since we have seen international competition, it’ll be very exciting to see how each region has progressed with their time away from the international stage.