Steven R. April 8, 2019
Something strange is going on with Dota 2’s Epicenter Major.
The event organizer made a surprise announcement that the qualifier slot allocation for the final event of the 2018-2019 Dota Pro Circuit season is being changed. Epicenter announced the news on Twitter.
“Europe, China and CIS will each have 2 slots on The EPICENTER Major due to an uncertainty in regional slot distribution and in communication with Valve on that matter,” Epicenter said. “Remaining 3 slots will be distributed by Valve later.”
On March 18, Epicenter announced that it is hosting a Dota 2 major in Moscow in June. In the announcement, Epicenter stated that the CIS region would be receiving an extra qualifier slot for the tournament with North America dropping from three slots to two.
Each Dota 2 major in the 2018-2019 season has included 16 teams, with a minimum of two slots being awarded to winners of the qualifiers for each of the six recognized regions. To this point in the season, North America, Europe, and China have received an extra slot due to the relative strength of the regions at the start of the season. The final berth has been awarded to the winner of the accompanying minor tournaments that take place in the weeks preceding each major.
Though few griped about North America losing its extra slot at the event due to the relative weakness of the region outside Evil Geniuses, many wondered why it would be transferred to CIS.
Outside a powerhouse Virtus.pro, CIS has been a shaky region throughout the season. Many regional staples such as Vega Squadron, Team Empire, and Team Spirit have been plagued by roster issues for months. Meanwhile, competitive teams like Natus Vincere, The Pango, and Gambit Esports have been unable to consistently perform in tournament play.
What prompted the reversal is currently unknown, and it's unclear when a final decision on the slot allocation will be made. Though each region has technically been reset to two slots, China and Europe will almost certainly retain their third slots. The remaining slot could go back to North America, but Southeast Asia is likely the next strongest region.
Per the original announcement, closed qualifiers for the event will begin on May 15.