The Singapore Major is already a historic moment in Dota. It’s the first international event since the start of the 2020 pandemic, but the several drops show that COVID is still impacting the Dota scene. Between the release of Dragon’s Blood and the release of the new player experience, there’s a lot of pressure to make Singapore shine. Day 1 of the Wild Card stage has set the tone for 2021’s first Major.
The first European Wild Card Team Liquid is off to a very convincing start. They started the competition with consecutive 2-0 victories over both Team Nigma
then ended the day with a sweep over Southeast Asian dark horse T1.
With their 3-0 record, Liquid’s high horse is at the top of the leaderboards.
Their drafts and playstyle will likely impact the other squads’ decision-making going forward. International events tend to produce a unique metagame from the usual pub standard. Liquid captain Aydin "iNSaNiA" Sarkohi
appears to favor one core for each stage of the game. EU DPC all-stars Timbersaw and Puck form their comfort shell, covering the early and mid game respectively. Throw in a win condition like Max "qojqva" Bröcker’s
Huskar or Lone Druid and every game is within Liquid’s reach.
This is a far cry from the aggressive tendencies of Southeast Asia and the 45:00+ comfort zone of China. While the rough runnings of Team Nigma prove the European teams aren’t unbeatable, Liquid is now a very clear threat to the Group Stage and Playoff teams alike.
World War Dota
Europe is considered the strongest region in Dota, so it's a shock that Liquid and Nigma went 3-0 and 0-3 respectively. SEA is the only region to not win a match. Here’s where the game records of each region stand:
The 2020 pandemic greatly stratified Dota’s regions, but the 2020 DPC provided a solid training ground in anticipation of Singapore. It's still too early to call which region is strongest, but the current record points to a continuation of the pre-pandemic pecking order.
We won’t get to see any new international matchups until the group stage, where all six regions are represented. Traditionally, Europe and China stand above the CIS and Southeast Asia. The Americas sit at the bottom. With over a year since the last international event, this is every region’s chance to protect their position or move up the totem pole.
Does absence make the team grow stronger?
Dota news leading up to the Singapore Major was filled with the announcement or drops, missing players, and stand-ins. Of the 90 players invited to participate, 20 of them are unable to attend. Some fan-favorites like the newly rechristened OB.Neon, Team Aster,
and Quincy Crew
aren’t playing with a full deck.
Both Nigma and T1, the two Wild Card teams with subs, didn’t win a single game on the first day. In fact, a subbed team has yet to defeat a full-stack at the Singapore Major. It’s worth noting that none of the direct-to-Playoffs teams have subs, a symbol of their regional success.
There’s no precedent for so many subs at a $500,000 event, but the early signs point to the obvious. Playing in a LAN environment with a new player isn’t easy. Captains have to enforce their team’s specific playstyle while also accommodating different personnel. These are problems that Nigma and T1 have to deal with now, but plenty of other incomplete teams are scrambling to find a solution.
The Group Stage of The Singapore Major will begin on March 29. Catch all the action in our Singapore Major hub.
*Header photo credit to DreamLeague.