The grueling road to The International has begun for the teams that were unable to earn enough points during the regular Dota Pro Circuit seasons. With only one team from the region, Virtus.pro earning a TI slot through points, the Eastern European qualifiers are a hefty double-elimination bracket. Seven Upper Division and seven Lower Division teams all square off for that one chance to fight for Dota history and a share of the $40 million prize.
Based on the most recent results from the DPC season two and some third party tournaments there is a pretty clear hierarchy in the region. One day of play has already concluded with Trident Clan and NoTechies already dropping from the running. Here is a quick overview of the remaining teams with realistic shots at competing for a TI berth.
Likely to qualify
Team Spirit looks like the easy pick to take the Eastern European TI slot. After a poor showing in season one of the DPC the team has shown immense growth over the past several months. They finished second in season two and knocked Alliance out of the AniMajor to finish in the top eight and earn some DPC points. Spirit also recently dominated the Pinnacle Cup, a third-party event where most of the qualifier teams also played. Spirit’s one major weakness is their inexperience in high-pressure moments but after showing poise while grinding through the AniMajor’s group stage it is hard to knock them for even that at this point.
Tumultuous is the best word to describe the DPC seasons of AS Monaco Gambit and Na’Vi. Both teams shuffled their rosters a number of times in the last couple of months and neither has been able to find the secret sauce for success. Generally, results speak for themselves in Dota and neither team has looked capable of challenging Team Spirit of late. It would be exciting to see them clash at some point in the qualifiers as Na’Vi likely coaxed None and SoNNeikO to leave Gambit for greener pastures just a month ago.
One other team to keep an eye on comes from the Lower Division. HellRaisers dominated DPC season two of the Lower Division and also had a strong showing at Pinnacle Cup before their elimination at the hands of Team Spirit. The roster boasts TI regular names such as Resolut1on, lil and Zayac. HellRaisers has shown steady improvement in 2021 and could be peaking at just the right time.
An outside shot
Despite so many of the DPC teams participating in the qualifiers, the field is probably one of the least competitive of any region. Eastern Europe has had a very clear stratification of its teams for all of 2021 and most of the Lower Division and bottom half of the Upper Division appear to be clearly behind strategically. With only a double-elimination bracket to qualify, there is not much time for adaptation or meta shifts either.
Despite plenty of recognizable names on squads like Team Unique, EXTREMUM, Winstrike, and B8, the chances of any of these teams making a qualifying run is quite low. In 2021 most Eastern European teams have been plagued by inconsistent performances. Dota can prove to be a game of momentum so it is worth watching these teams with veteran leadership to see if they can pick up some steam in the lower bracket and make a Cinderella story come to life.