DreamHack and ESL will operate the official Dota Pro Circuit leagues for the European and CIS regions, respectively. The two sister companies revealed the format, qualification process, and invitees for the recently announced leagues.
Both leagues will follow the same format, which varies only slightly from the the recently announced plans for PGL’s Southeast Asian league. The tournament operators also announced the four teams invited to their upper divisions.
All DPC regions will feature a total of two eight-team leagues, each comprising an upper and lower division. The upper division teams will fight to qualify for a spot in DPC majors, while lower division teams compete for a spot in the upper division. Teams that find themselves at the bottom of the lower division will lose their spots in the league, with those spots being filled with an open qualifier series.
ESL and DreamHack are directly inviting four teams to compete in the upper division. Alongside this is an eight-team “decider tournament” that will determine the remaining four participating teams in the region’s upper division. Neither ESL nor Dreamhack have publicly announced participating teams, but information says that participants in the decider tournament will be determined by direct invitations only.
The four teams that do not make the fail to qualify in the decider tournament are instead relegated to the league’s lower division. The remaining four lower division spots will feature teams that qualify through an open qualifier.
DreamHack has invited the four biggest names in European Dota 2 to take part in its upper division. A case could be made that its choices were due to favoritism on the part of DreamHack, especially with other teams returning comparably strong resumes. That said, it’s hard to say that any of DreamHack’s invitees are undeserving of an invitation:
The biggest snubs on the list are Vikin.gg and Alliance. Even though Vikin.gg lacks the reputation of these ever-popular orgs, the team was a strong contender throughout 2020. As with every European team outside Secret, Vikin.gg has struggled with consistency, but the team posted first-place finishes in a number of smaller tournaments in addition to a recent third-place finish in EPIC League.
Alliance also wound up on the outside looking in despite a similar 2020 performance. While Alliance had skids that lasted longer overall, the team still managed a fourth-place finish in Omega League and eeked out a win in EPIC League’s lower division.
Both will almost certainly be announced as participants for the region’s decider tournament, where they’ll likely be joined by a number of newly formed teams. It’s also like that the league will feature the remnants of disbanded teams that made a splash in 2020, such as mudgolems and Chicken Fighters.
While DreamHack’s European league invites were controversial based on which teams missed out, ESL’s CIS invites are interesting because of who was included. Here are the four invitees:
Na’Vi and Virtus.pro are no surprise. Virtus.pro has the makings of what could be the best team in the world right now, while Na’Vi recently returned to prominence at the international level since it signed the former FlyToMoon roster. Both squads are proven threats after winning joint Europe and CIS events.
— ESL Dota2 (@ESLDota2) January 2, 2021
Live to Win and Team Spirit round out the ESL invitations, beating out a hodgepodge of teams that have been around for longer but have failed to stand out. Live to Win’s recent performances have been underwhelming even with the excuse of facing stiffer competition, but has a second-place performance in EPIC League’s lower division to hang its hat on. The former Yellow Submarine squad of Team Spirit has also struggled against top competition, but still managed to win BTS Pro Series Season 4.
Though Europe’s decider tournament will be relatively thin, there is a long list of squads for organizers to choose from in the CIS region. From tenured organizations like HellRaisers and Team Empire, to Danil “Dendi” Ishutin’s B8, to tier-two mainstays Nemiga Gaming and Extremum, there’s plenty of options.