The regional qualifiers for Dota 2 [official site]’s Shanghai Major tournament concluded in the wee hours of Monday morning, confirming which eight teams would join the direct invitees at the Valve-sponsored event in March. To find out who's heading to the tourney and to see the finest moments from the weekend's competitions read on:
Following four days of out-pushing, out-farming and out-playing, the qualifying teams are Team Liquid and Team Spirit from Europe, LGD Gaming and Newbee from China, Fnatic and MVP Phoenix from South East Asia, and Team Archon and Complexity Gaming from the Americas. Hooray!
The eight teams will join OG, Evil Geniuses, Team Secret, EHOME, CDEC, Vici Gaming, Virtus Pro and Alliance at Shanghai’s Mercedes-Benz Arena, where they’ll once again engage in breathlessly-commentated wizard fights for a chunk of the $3,000,000 prize pool.
There are few surprises where the winners are concerned; Team Liquid were easy favourites for an EU spot, having beaten Frankfurt Major champions OG at The Defense Season 5 in December, while LGD and Newbee were two big names in a qualifier packed with youth squads. Still, with that seven-figure prize pool on the line, all four regional qualifiers were hard-fought contests with plenty of close games and memorable moments. Here are just a few:
Na'Vi vs Team Spirit (game 2, EU Group A)
Na'Vi’s new lineup crashed out after a heartbreaking 2-0 loss to Team Empire (fun fact: Empire's current lineup actually includes former Na'Vi players XBOCT and Funn1k). Still, at least Na'Vi first got to pull off the qualifiers' flashiest comeback against the eventual group winners Team Spirit.
Faced with a heavy gold deficit and five approaching foes, professional Dota poster boy Dendi – playing Magnus – jumped into the gathered Team Spirit, used his Reverse Polarity (RP) ultimate to both stun and clump them together, shunted them back towards his squad, activated his Refresher Orb to reset the cooldowns on his abilities, then RP’d them again, allowing the rest of Na'Vi to pummel their locked-down quarry before chasing down sole survivor AfterLife.
It was a characteristically risky but rewarding play which brought back fond memories of Dendi’s near-identical double RP attack on Vega Squadron in The International 2015 qualifiers. The move irreversibly turned the game in Na’Vi’s favour. Here’s the full replay.
Team Spirit vs Mama's Boys (game 2, EU Group A)
Team Spirit managed their own cheeky outplay against Mama's Boys who were one of the EU open qualifier winners. After what looked like a disastrous four-for-nothing teamfight going the way of the Boys, Spirit's sole surviving player RAMZES666 noticed something: in his opponent’s rush for kills, they’d left their exposed Ancient undefended.
With his own Ancient still sitting behind two layers of tower defences, RAMZES666 went all in, using Boots of Travel to teleport directly into the enemy base and start chopping down that all-important glittery tree. Spirit’s Iceberg, with Boots of his own, bought back into the game and joined him. In a catastrophic case of mutual oversight, only one of Mama’s Boys - midlaner Hook - was able to teleport back, not providing nearly enough defence to prevent Spirit’s sudden victory. Always carry a TP scroll, folks.
Invictus Gaming vs iG Vitality (CN Group A)
For iG, the China qualifier merely continued a nasty rough patch, which has thus far included both a string of competition disappointments and the loss of their long-time support player Chuan to Newbee. This time, the veteran team were knocked out of the running by their own organisation's youth squad.
The youngsters undoubtedly deserved it, especially in game 2 after reversing a gold difference on the back of some lovely Batrider initations by midlaner yChen. But, as with Na’Vi, it’s sad to see how far these former champions of The International are from those glory days. Here’s the moment when the young blood took control of game 2 (go from 34:05 if the video doesn't start at the correct timestamp). Commentary is in Russian due to a lack of English VODs, though if you’ve ever played Dota 2 on a European server you’ll have probably learned to speak it fluently anyway.
Digital Chaos vs Team Archon (game 3, AM Upper Bracket Finals)
This crucial 55-minute game came to a wince-inducing end as DC pinned their hopes on how fast they could demolish Archon's Ancient... and lost. Archon’s Jeyo came stomping up to Digital Chaos's tier 4 towers (those are the ones guarding the Ancient itself) as Lone Druid, a hero whose summonable spirit bear is a notorious structure-murderer. But DC players Yawar and TC exploited an advantageous creep wave push to sneakily teleport directly in Archon’s fortress. It works because you can teleport to friendly units using Boots of Travel and DC's little minions had managed to get into Archon's base creating a shortcut for the two DC players. But the fact two of DC were on the opposite side of the map left their own Ancient wide open for Jeyo to attack, kicking off a frantic base race that either side could win with a few more autoattacks. Here's the split-screen footage of the race:
Ultimately the bear won out sending Archon to Shanghai. DC ended up in the Lower Bracket Finals where they’d be bested by Complexity 2-1.
In case you wanted to see the build-up to that base race here's the full DC/Archon game:
MVP Phoenix vs First Departure (game 2, SEA Lower Bracket Finals)
The South East Asia qualifier came to a close with MVP frankly brutalising First Departure. By killing all five of their Singaporean adversaries before the one minute mark – four in a single bloodbath as they squabbled over the first top rune to spawn (watch from 14:32 for that one) – MVP took a firm grip on the second game of the series and built that lead up snatching pickoff after pickoff on FD’s struggling cores.
In just 25 minutes, MVP were able to saunter into FD’s base along two of the three lanes. The push had them wiping out heroes and barracks alike and allowed them to punch their ticket to the Major in utterly convincing fashion.
So what happens next for these sixteen teams? Well, there's a bit of a wait until the group stage for the Shanghai Major kicks off on 25 February, then after that it's the main event which runs from 2-6 March. Check back for more coverage nearer the time!