We’re halfway into the second season of the Dota Pro Circuit, and something has become very clear. North America is the least exciting region out of all six regions. But why? And what can be done about this?
What’s up with the North American region?
The most obvious and clear-cut reason is that the teams are all on their own level. You can easily put Evil Geniuses at the top in a tier of their own without any concern. EG recently managed second at the Singapore Major after losing to Invictus Gaming 2-3. The next highest place North American team was Quincy Crew, who managed 9-12th. While there were only two spots for NA, the difference in results between those two was big.
You then have the second major spot being fought for by Undying, and Quincy Crew, with QC taking the edge last season and with past performances, has got to be favored over Undying.
All three teams can have good games against each other, but those games are kept last to keep the ending exciting. This creates a photo finish for the region; all the additional weeks can feel lackluster.
The next exciting area to look at is the opposite end of the table - the relegations. Unfortunately, many Dota fans won’t have heard of the teams and players fighting for their Upper Division chances. Compare that to the European region, which has the likes of Rasmus "MISERY" Filipsen, Marcus "Ace" Hoelgaard, and Adrian "Fata" Trinks.
How do you solve it?
There is no magical fix for the region, but there are some tweaks to make.
Having the teams only play each other once doesn’t give any chance for revenge or a comeback. Making each team play each other twice could lead to a closer region as teams have an opportunity to learn from their first series and then later on once they’ve practiced and become stronger to tackle the team again.
Currently, each season starts very slowly as teams play once a week, except one week where they play twice, and so far, it’s been the top versus the bottom in North America. Doubling the games means you can spread out these Evil Geniuses versus Quincy Crew match-ups, so all the exciting games aren’t piled on toward the end of the season.
By this point last season, we had seen three 2-1 series with Evil Geniuses dropping a game to both 4Zoomers and S A D B O Y S. Currently, in season two, we had seen only one — when Black n Yellow lost to simply TOOBASED. EG looked to have tightened things up in that regard, so the chance for teams to upset them seems less likely.
If we look at the first two weeks for the Western Europe division, there have already been ten 2-1s. The division is extremely close, with teams beating each other and then losing series to someone else. Nigma started the season beating Team Secret, who was untouched last season, so you might think that Nigma is now the top dogs in the region. Wrong. Nigma has since lost games to Alliance and Team Liquid in 1-2 sets. This closeness and unpredictability mean that the outcome of each series is uncertain, and each game has a lot of weight behind it for the final placings. Even Hellbear Smashers, who find themselves at the bottom, have won 3 games taking a game off every team they have played so far. Compare that to the two bottom teams in North America S A D B O Y S and The Cut, who are yet to win a single series or game.
The top of the NA region is in safe hands with Evil Geniuses and even Quincy Crew challenging the rest of the Dota scene, but the tier two and three teams need help to make the scene exciting. We don’t need all the North American teams to be dominating the rest of the regions to have an interesting season; we just need some of the teams to be even remotely close to each other.
Then there is the issue of the roster stability within North America.
Taking a look at North America and there is only one squad that has been together for a long time; Quincy Crew. Apart from them, every team is either completely new for this year's DPC or has included lots of roster changes.
Europe has some of the longest-standing squads playing together. The current Team Liquid roster has the second most played games together, beating the TI3 Fnatic that lasted 608 games. You’ll also notice that the current Nigma roster has also played together for a long time; since their win at The International 7, they have only changed one position and kept the core four players together.
North American hasn’t been all dome and gloom thanks to a few exciting games from Jacky "EternaLEnVy" Mao and the team of Black N Yellow. But the region looks pretty predictable so far, with Evil Geniuses tightening things up and the bottom teams unable to pick up a single game. However, the final few weeks will bring us exciting games with the top teams of Evil Geniuses, Quincy Crew, and Undying, yet to play each other. Last season these teams required tiebreakers to settle the difference.
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