Top Dota 2 teams heading into ESL One Hamburg

Red Bull eSports

Whilst the wait for a new gameplay patch rumbles on, the Dota 2 competitive scene is finally back underway after what seems a lifetime. It’s back in style, too, with four tournaments in as many weeks. There are three minors taking place across Kiev, Bucharest and Split, but all eyes will be on ESL One Hamburg, the first major of the new season.

With the new ranking system in place, it presents the first opportunity for top Dota teams to score some serious points on the long, arduous path to The International 8, but it’s a chance they’ll all undoubtedly relish.

With Hamburg only accommodating eight of the world’s finest teams instead of the previous Valve-run 16, there’s some household names missing. Alas, those that started the season with the required dynamism have been rewarded for their efforts. The International 7 winners Team Liquid and runner-up Newbee make up the direct invites. They’re joined by household names Team Secret, and Evil Geniuses whilst Keen Gaming, Happy Feet and SG e-sports complete the line up.

Although we’re yet to have a beautiful new gameplay patch bestowed upon us, there’s most definitely the chance for a patch to have hit by the time Hamburg starts. Each and every team has conquered the best of their respective regions to reach the first major, and with a whopping $1,000,000 on the line, no one will be taking it lightly. Here are three teams to keep an eye on out in Germany at the end of October.

With the new format meaning that one Chinese team could emerge victorious and join The International 7 runners-up Newbee as representatives from the region, all eyes were on the heavy hitters like LGD, LGD.Fy, iG or iG.V for the final slot. Arise, Keen Gaming.

Previously branded as EHOME.Keen, the largely unknown (in the West, anyway) Chinese roster surprised everyone enroute to Hamburg qualification. They’re now guaranteed a minimum of $20,000 in prize money having previously only amassed career earnings just shy of $4,000. On the road to Hamburg they battled through Open Qualifiers before beating both iG and iG.V, and edging out a stacked LGD team in the final 3–2.

None of the five players that make up the Keen roster are names that the bulk of the West will recognise, and with the team comes a keen sense of intrigue. Although they’ve not yet managed to back up major qualification with any other qualification of sort, the seeming lack of information and unfamiliarity teams have with Keen could well play into the Chinese squads hand. We’re most definitely excited to see what they bring to the table in Germany.

Team Secret

The replacement of Maurice ‘KheZu’ Gutmann and Pyo ‘MP’ No-a came as a surprise to many post The International 7. The team, however, did perennially underperform at The International, finishing in ninth to 12th position, which would have been hugely below pre-tournament expectations for esteemed Estonian captain Clement ‘Puppey’ Ivanov and team.

The two replacements, however, were intriguing. In the carry position, Secret opted for Marcus ‘Ace’ Hoelgaard, a Danish player who’d previously been involved with Cloud9 and Danish Bears amongst other squads. He’s been in and around the scene for the best part of five years and this comfortably marks his biggest break.

The replacement for KheZu is a fellow German, but a man who’s significantly better known in the Dota scene. Adrian ‘Fata’ Trinks has now played at the last five The International tournaments and with it notched over $600,000 in prize money. He’s played for squads such as mousesports, Cloud9 and Team Liquid in the past, but his role has predominantly been in the middle lane. However, with his move to Secret he’s moved to the offlane. Following in the footsteps of the likes of Gustav ‘s4’ Magnusson, a player who has very successfully swapped roles, the German will be hoping to emulate s4’s success.

There’s no one arguing that Secret aren’t an accomplished outfit, and they’ll be extremely well practiced heading into Hamburg. Having taken the European qualification slot for each of the first three tournaments, it’s going to be an extremely busy time for Secret, but practice makes perfect and there’s no better way to prepare for a major than competing against the world’s elite at premium tournaments.

Team Liquid

It’s impossible not to have eyes on the squad that won eSports’ largest ever prize pool. By winning The International, Team Liquid immortalised themselves in Dota 2 history. Not only did they take home over $10,000,000, but their run through the lower bracket and dismantling of Chinese dreams will be remembered for years to come.

Out at Starladder they started the new season in emphatic fashion, smiling and laughing in typical Liquid fashion on the way to the first minor title of the season. Having won The International, they’re quite rightly invited to all of the season’s first few tournaments and with the patch not changed just yet, they’re looking as strong as ever.

Arguably, the only thing that can stop the Liquid train is IceFrog himself. At the moment they look supremely comfortable on the patch and arguably more importantly, the team are all smiles. We’ve seen previous TI winners fall by the wayside as they struggle for motivation. After all, how easy can it be for a team to maintain the same levels of performance having already achieved all there is to achieve?

Luckily for Liquid fans, German skipper Kuro ‘KuroKy’ Salehi Takhasomi seems scarily motivated, and the youthful exuberance of his squad seems to suggest that they’re not going anywhere and have their sights firmly set on a second Aegis. With four 9k players, we wouldn’t bet against it becoming a reality, either.