DAC 2017 Preview
The Dota 2 Asia Championships are upon us again after taking a year break. Acting as a in-between “informal” Major between the Fall Boston Major and the Spring Kiev Major, DAC 2017 is looking to offer a stacked international lineup with 12 teams – 6 Chinese and 6 international – clashing for the Radiance trophy in Shanghai, China on March 28. With old time veterans making their big stage comebacks, rookies looking to prove their worth, and champions looking to snatch another trophy, DAC 2017 is shaping up to be one of the defining tournaments of the new year. We’re going to preview some of the favorites, and some of the underdogs for this tournament.
Invictus Gaming: The Emperor Strikes Back
After an extended break from the public eye, the Emperor himself, B-God, First Man of Chinese Dota and one of the most dominant carries to ever play Dota, has come back in full force. Zhilei “Burning” Xu and his Invictus Gaming team, largely filled with rookies lacking in any LAN performances, was a disappointment at first. Despite the leadership of Burning and former CDEC support Bin “Q” Fu, the team stagnated in the Chinese tier 2 scene and was unable to make any headway.
The qualifiers changed all of that. The team seemed reinvigorated and surprised many by sweeping the DAC qualifiers in a dominating 10-0 fashion against teams like EHOME, LGD.FY, IG.V and VG.J. Furthermore they went on to place a competitive 4th place in their debut LAN at the last DotaPit, proving that the qualifier run might have some real weight behind it. Burning has historically been the example of what a hard carry “should” do in Dota, where farming takes the priority at the expense of every other aspect of the game, but recently he’s been switching it up and evolving with a newer, more teamfight oriented style of Dota that is more inline with modern philosophies of the game. DotaPit and the qualifiers were no different, with Burning abandoning free farm, something unthinkable in his older days, to deter ganks on other lanes and look for trades. With a new squad and a new playstyle, the Emperor will be looking to regain his throne.
Evil Geniuses: Same Crown, New Faces
The storyline last DAC was undoubtedly the rise of Syed Sumail “Sumail” Hassan, Pakistani wunderkind and midlane prodigy. Before DAC, Sumail was an almost complete unknown, a gamble by Peter “PPD” Dager and the Evil Geniuses squad on an unproven and untested midlaner. And he had big shoes to fill. The previous midlaner Artour “Arteezy” Babaev, had started a revolution in the midlane, creating a more farm heavy, carry focused role instead of the traditionally tempo based midlaners of the past. Of course, now Sumail is rightly celebrated as one of the best mid players in the world, and is a consistent fixture in Evil Geniuses’ successes.
At first, it seemed like the new pickup was overhyped. Sumail and the Evil Geniuses turned out a mediocre performance at the Dota 2 League Season 5, dropping to the lower bracket after a loss to LV Gaming, and getting beaten by CIS squad VP.Polar. However the team roared back at DAC 2015 and took home the trophy, beating superstar squads like Team Secret, Vici Gaming, and Big God and Sumail showed himself to be a star mid, equally flashy and consistent, exciting and calculating. Evil Geniuses will be looking to replicate that style of play as they gun for the Radiance at DAC 2017.
OG: Green Is Gold
OG have to be one of the most dominant modern Dota 2 teams in memory. 3 time Major winners, a smattering of other 1st places, and a strong showing of top 3 finishes round out an impressive resume. Part of their impressive showing is Tal “Fly” Aizik’s drafting, which continues to show a flexibility and depth that’s beautiful to witness, using a wide variety of heroes and running drafts that poke and prod at the weaknesses of the enemy lineup, while barely giving up any ground. Part of it is Anathan “Ana” Pham, who more than fills the void left behind from Miracle-’s departure, with his own, Gustav “s4” Magnusson influenced, style of mid play, relying on a rotation heavy, rune fueled way of play that can stabilize even the worst of starts. Part of it is Johan “Notail” Sudenstein’ unusual carry style, molded by the need to accommodate for Miracle-’s playstyle and idiosyncrasies Notail is more sacrificial than most 1 position players are and will often struggle in the safelane while his supports protect the mid. Despite this, he always manages to scavenge together a game after those starts. Or maybe, friendship truly is magic, and the bond between the OG members, who always talk about the importance of keeping the team like a family, is what makes them so successful. Whatever it is, it’s working, and we’re likely to see OG go very far at DAC.
Newbee: The Eternal Bridesmaid
Every time a major international LAN rolls around Newbee is always one of the teams that everyone believes can win it all, but for some reason or another they seem to fall short when it really counts. The team is stacked from top to bottom with some of the best talent China has to offer. Kpii is an experienced offlaner with a versatile hero pool and adapts to almost every situation given to him, Sccc and uuu9 are two of the strongest core players to come out of China in years, and alongside Wings Gaming look to carry on the torch of a new generation. While Faith and Kaka bring a strong support foundation and the stability needed for the playmakers on the team to perform. But somehow Newbee can never break through in the grand finals. If Newbee wants to take the gold, they need to start removing their mental stumbling blocks and looking at exactly what goes into their disappointing second places.
Team Liquid: The Unstoppable Wave
Team Liquid was looking a bit crippled at the end of last year. Their star support player Jesse “Jerax” Vainikka left the team for OG, their mid player Adrian “Fata-” Trinks decided to take a break from competitive play, and Jerax’s replacement, Kanishka “Bulba” Sosale, left the team after a few months. That, however, seemed to be the kick that the team needed. Bulba’s replacement, Maroun “GH” Merhej, took to the role with ease, and has since gained a following for his signature flair on heroes like Pudge, Io, and Rubick. Alongside Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi, who continues to impress as a mid player, they provide the giant explosive plays that have catapulted the team back onto the top of the local European scene.
DAC 2017 will be one of their first forays into the international scene as a team, and will be important in establishing whether this team has what it takes to reclaim its spot as one of the best teams in the world. With some big names, and solid lineups, Team Liquid will be looking to keep their fire burning.