The Chongqing Major, the second Dota 2 Major this season, is nearly upon us. Let’s take a closer look at what we can expect and why we should watch!
The Chongqing Major will run from January 19-27, with sixteen of the world’s best Dota 2 teams competing for $1,000,000 (US) and 15,000 Dota 2 Pro Circuit (DPC) points. It will be held in the BLOOMAGE Cultural and Sports Center in Chongqing, China, and is being run by StarLadder and ImbaTV.
With sixteen teams competing, the Major is stacked. Ten of the top twelve teams in the DPC standings are attending the Chongqing Major. Six of the teams at Chongqing could potentially move up into the top twelve in the standings, displacing other teams from those coveted invitation-to-The-International-9 spots.
The teams have been divided into four groups for the group stage. A GSL-style group stage will seed two teams from each group into the Upper Bracket of the Playoff, and two teams into the Lower Bracket. All of the group stage series will be best-of-three. The Playoffs, which will run from January 22-27, are a double-elimination bracket. The first round of the Lower Bracket are single game series for elimination, but all other series will be best-of-threes until the Grand Finals which are best-of-five.
That’s a lot of Dota!
Let’s look at each of the groups.
Virtus.pro looks like an obvious favorite from Group A. They won the Kuala Lumpur Major, they’ve been consistently strong for more than a year. This is a team to watch at the Major.
That said, EHOME was strong at the Bucharest Minor, so don’t discount them. They face Virtus.pro first, and that should be a great series to watch. Also in this group are the Chaos Esports Club team. This is the former paiN Gaming squad playing under a new banner. They’d surely like to improve on their last-place finish at the first Major.
However, it’s TNC Predator who is really the other story in this group. The team’s playing with Ryo “RyOyr” Hasegawa in place of Carlo “Kuku” Palad, who had qualified with the team. Kuku was banned from playing at the Major by Valve, and subsequently has taken some personal time. Because ryOyr has been playing for the squad since early December, they’re at much less of a disadvantage than teams forced to use stand-ins due to more recent circumstances.
In Group B, Team Secret lead the way with second place in the DPC standings thanks to their second-place finish at the Kuala Lumpur Major. They also have a history of being strong during the season (and maybe not as strong as fans would like at The International…).
The other big name in this group is PSG.LGD, who are sure to have eyes on them after the recent release of the True Sight episode featuring the Grand Finals of The International 8. PSG.LGD did not qualify in the first place for China—that was done by Team Aster—but PSG.LGD are in fifth place in the DPC right now and will surely be a strong team in the competition.
Forward Gaming qualified in second place out of North America, a quite competitive region. They’re currently in tenth position in the DPC and will want a stronger finish in Chongqing to position them more safely within the top twelve. Their first-round game versus PSG.LGD is the one to watch if you have to pick.
Rounding out Group B is Thunder Predator, a Peruvian team. This squad replaced Pain X/test123 who were disqualified by Valve for being not a South American team. Thunder Predator are playing with a replacement player. Mid-player Jeremy “Jeimari” Aguinaga left the team in December due to personal reasons and has since been replaced by Leonardo “LeoStyle-” Sifuentes.
This group is a big question mark and that’s a lot due to changes in team rosters.
Let’s start with Team Liquid. The squad is debuting in the second season of the DPC at this event. They’re playing without star mid-player Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi who is sitting out for personal reasons. Replacing him is Chu “shadow” Zeyu who played for the TI6-winning Wings Gaming squad.
Additionally, The Pango (formerly NoPangolier) will be playing with a stand-in due to visa issues. Position four player Bakyt “Zayac” Emilzhanov of Kyrgyzstan is unable to attend. In his place will be Rinat “KingR” Abdullin, who most recently played for Gambit Esports, one of the two top twelve teams that did not qualify for the Major.
J.Storm, the first-place qualifying squad from North America, had a voluntary change of roster. They replaced Milan “MiLAN” Kozomara with Clinton “Fear” Loomis in the position four support slot. This was a controversial decision at the time, and we shall soon see if it pays off for the team.
Last, but certainly not least are Vici Gaming. This is the only Group C squad to arrive at Chongqing intact! They’re no slouches, they sit in eighth position in the DPC rankings. They qualified second out of China, but they recently won two Chinese region tournaments (facing EHOME in the Grand Finals of each of those).
This is the only group to have four teams with no roster surprises or changes. Evil Geniuses may be the favorites because they took third place at the Kuala Lumpur Major. But they did finish in third place in the North American qualifier, so are they looking shakier, maybe with the recent patches? Or was that result just an “off day” sort of thing?
Meanwhile, Fnatic and Team Aster both took first place in their respective regionals. Alliance is coming in as the third team to qualify from Europe. Fnatic and Alliance are sitting in seventh and ninth place respectively in the DPC standings. What does it add up to? Certainly, all of these teams are capable of playing incredibly good Dota, but none, perhaps, are favorites to win the event.
Overall, all of these groups have some really strong teams in them. It’s difficult to predict how the teams will do, especially since we haven’t seen some of them compete since the qualifiers. We could easily see some upsets in more than one of the groups. This could be a very exciting Major to watch!
One interesting note about this Major is that the English talent list for it is the same length as the talent list used at the Bucharest Minor, a competition with half as many teams. It will be long days for everyone involved. Not the most desirable circumstances to welcome a new desk host, Richard Campbell, but there you have it. He’s making his Dota 2 debut alongside some fan favorites. The full list includes Toby “Tobiwan” Dawson, Ioannis “Fogged” Loucas, Gabriel “Lyrical” Cruz, Kyle Freedman, David “GoDz” Parker, Dominik “Lacoste” Stipic, Alan “Nahaz” Bester, Dominik “Black^” Reitmeier and interviewer, Lawrence “Malystryx” Phillips. No surprises here, lots of professional experience in the group. It’s a solid line-up.
The Chongqing Major will give us nine days of top-notch Dota 2 to watch. There are great storylines to follow. There are some teams in a position of having to adapt already due to stand-ins. This is an opportunity to see some shake-ups in the DPC standings. Virtus.pro winning would cement their invitation to TI9.
With only five Majors to watch this year, hopes are high that the Chongqing Major will meet expectations not only for Dota but also for the spectacle of the event itself. After the Minor made so much great filler content, the pressure’s on for the Major to step it up and entertain us, especially on the stage at the arena.
Good luck to all the teams! You can watch them on Starladdder’s twitch channels:
Remember to check our hub for daily coverage of the Chongqing Major!