The 2021 Dota Pro Circuit season has almost started and there is already a lot to look forward to for Dota 2 fans.
While the Dota 2 pro scene has struggled mightily to highlight new talent over the last several years, a long list of newcomers are set to get a crack at the big time. That’s great, but with a number of brand new teams formed in the last few weeks it might be hard to keep track of who is competing where, and who has the best shot of earning a spot in the first major of the season.
Here’s the full list of teams competing in each Dota 2 region’s upper division, and an overview of each league.
Europe’s upper division is the most star-studded and talent-rich. Team Nigma and OG are former The International champions, Team Secret had a historically strong 2020, and Team Liquid has been a steady presence in Europe’s upper echelons for years now. Vikin.gg and Alliance have both been able to hang with all of those teams, while mudgolems and Chicken Fighters have both shown flashes of being serious contenders as well.
While some teams certainly have a higher ceiling than others, the door is open for any one of these squads to make it to the major. Most of those teams have had consistency issues over time, and with OG and Team Nigma, those troubles run deep. Even Team Secret, which won eight tournaments in a row in 2020, had a skid towards the end of the year.
Secret will enter as the favorite to win while Chicken Fighters will be the most likely to face relegation. Everything else is up for grabs.
China is historically the deepest region in Dota 2 and the qualifiers spoke to that fact. Royal Never Give Up and Sparking Arrow Gaming missed out on the upper division despite having a strong year in 2020, as the unheralded Team MagMa and LBZS both earned their way into the top tier. The key difference between China and Europe is that while Europe’s standings are looking to be up in the air, China has a fairly rigid hierarchy.
Team Magma are the first ones on site for their DPC CN media day. Excited for their first LAN experience, they arrived an hour early this morning! pic.twitter.com/M0u1cK3mHR
— Perfect World Dota ⚔️ DPC CN (@PWRD_DOTA2) January 12, 2021
PSG.LGD and Elephant look to be the clear top teams in the region. Aster, EHOME, and Vici Gaming are the next best from there.
Unless one or more of those teams implodes, MagMa, LBZS, and Invictus Gaming are all on the outside looking in when it comes to this season. Odds are that two of them will be bumped down for some of the more established brands in the lower division.
Odds are that the final standings for North America’s DPC league look quite similar to the order of the invitations. Quincy Crew and Evil Geniuses are the clear favorites to qualify for the first major, with anything else being an upset. Evil Geniuses needs no introduction to Dota 2 fans, while Quincy Crew was untouchable during the online league portion of 2020.
Below that is 4 Zoomers and SADBOYS. 4 Zoomers was a staple of the online league era and looked solid at points, but was a step behind Quincy Crew throughout. SADBOYS is an untested team made up of strong veterans that could make some noise, but aren’t worth buying into quite yet.
Undying and Black N Yellow are two newly formed teams made up of talented journeymen from multiple regions that could hypothetically synergize into being contenders.
South America actually developed nicely during 2020. The season started with beastcoast being the lone formidable team in the region, with Thunder Predator popping up after a few months. Then Infamous started gaining traction, and Team Brasil started making noise before getting signed by SG e-sports. This makes for what is probably the most competitive league overall.
beastcoast is still the most intriguing team of the lot, as the squad placed in the top eight at The International 2019 and in the first two majors of the 2019-2020 DPC season. The team remained strong at the start of 2020, but fell off during online play, opening the door for other teams to gain traction.
Al igual que Mariano, dos jugadores más tienen un nuevo nick. ✌️
Este es nuestro roster oficial para arrancar el #DPC2021 💪
Ya regresan las jugadas, las ricas voltis y, obviamente, la verdadera comedia 🤡#GoINF #Dota2 pic.twitter.com/TCAsD7GhSP
— Infamous Gaming (@Infamous_GG) January 13, 2021
It’s possible beastcoast will return to form here and reclaim its spot as the definitive best team in South America, but it’s uncertain whether the players are actually in a position to accomplish this given the team’s struggles over recent months. With only two major slots up for grabs, they won’t have much margin for error as the other three direct invitees could all make a serious run, while the four qualifier teams could also pull together the necessary victories.
The CIS region is by far the most top-heavy in all of Dota 2 right now. Natus Vincere and Virtus.pro have the look of being truly elite-level teams. Past that, none of the teams are proven enough to take very seriously.
Live to Win and NoTechies are two teams made up of heavily credentialed veterans. Team Spirit and NoPangolier are made up of lesser pros. EXTREMUM and Team Empire are newer teams made up of young talent that will be looking to gain traction against stiff competition.
The Bears will start 2021 DPC Season from the 1st rank by ESL 😎
— Virtus.pro (@virtuspro) January 11, 2021
The CIS region has three major slots to work with, and Na’Vi and Virtus.pro are likely to get spots unless things change very suddenly over the next few weeks. Hypothetically, anyone could contend for the third spot, with Live to Win and NoTechies having the highest upside of the rest of the field.
Southeast Asia is in a similar position, but to a less extreme extent. TNC Predator and Fnatic have a long history as the best teams in the region and maintain that to this day, albeit thanks to squads like Team Adroit and Geek Fam dissolving. Past that is a mix of familiar and fresh faces that could make a serious run.
With three major slots up for grabs there’s theoretically room for a new team to step up and earn some respect, but BOOM Esports deserves some respect already. The team was quietly consistent throughout 2020 and reached the grand finals of a number of events. If TNC and Fnatic don’t come into the league looking sharp, BOOM could step in and make a run to the top.
T1 could hypothetically insert itself into that top three, but it faces an uphill battle. Though the iconic organization enjoyed some modest success towards the end of 2020, its roster eventually came apart. The new T1 roster is solid, but has yet to play a game together.
Outside that lot are a lot of unknowns. Neon Esports and 496 Gaming had some brief flashes of looking like serious contenders but haven’t been able to show any kind of consistent strength against formidable competition yet. Execration and Vice Esports have been underwhelming to this point, but have a chance to break out here.