The new Dota 2 competitive season is upon us. Ever since Valve announced that this year would feature a whopping , teams have been hard at work in preparations for seemingly countless upcoming qualifiers and LAN events.
Of course, no single team can possibly participate in all events, which is why the big teams are clearing their schedules only for the biggest of tournaments. One of those tournaments is the first major of the 2017/18 season – ESL One Hamburg 2017!
Dota fans should have plenty of fond memories of past ESL events. Whether it’s in Frankfurt, Manila, New York or any other great destination, ESL One has never failed in producing truly amazing moments.
Besides the big teams, exciting venues and attractive prize pools, the organizers always make sure to put together elite casting and analytical teams that go towards creating the best possible spectating experience.
Unlike previous years, this time around we a haven’t seen dramatic roster changes in the post-TI period. Bar a few exceptions, teams have decided to maintain their player core and bring in a couple of fresh faces at most. Of course, this is in due to Valve’s new point-based invite system for next year’s TI, which puts a great emphasis on team stability.
We’ll give you a rundown of some of the direct invites and tournament favorites ahead of ESL Hamburg, alongside a prediction on who will take the lion’s share of the $1,000,000 prize pool.
Team Liquid – Our Pick for Tournament Favorites
- Lasse Urpalainen – “MATUMBAMAN”
- Amer Al-Barqawi – “Miracle-“
- Ivan Borislavov – “MinD_ContRoL”
- Maroun Merhej – “GH”
- Kuro Takhasomi – “KuroKy”
Coming off fresh of a TI win just less than two months ago, Liquid are automatic favorites for ESL Hamburg, and deservedly so. Not only are they already a well-oiled machine that just won the biggest tournament in Dota’s history, but they have maintained the same roster while other teams may still be struggling for form and chemistry.
- Xu Han – “Moogy”
- Song Chun – “Sccc”
- Damien Chok – “Kpii”
- Hu Liangzhi – “Kaka”
- Zeng Hongda – “Faith”
Newbee have been towering the scene as China’s most fearsome team ahead of TI, and they continue to do so into the new Dota competitive season. With no roster changes to speak of and an incredibly strong lineup that finished runners-up at TI7, Newbee is undoubtedly one of the tournament favorites. They will be looking for a strong start, and who knows – perhaps a rematch with Liquid is on the horizon.
- Marcus Hoelgaard – “Ace”
- Yeik Nai Zheng – “MidOne”
- Adrian Trinks – “Fata”
- Yazied Jaradat – “YapzOr”
- Clement Ivanov – “Puppey”
Led by fan-favorite Puppey, Secret will always have a special place in fans’ hearts and minds. However, many remain skeptical of Secret going into the new season. With bringing in Ace and fata, while dropping MP and KheZu, plenty of fans will argue that Secret have in fact weakened as a team.
However, their results so far speak have spoken the contrary. Secret has already qualified for the PGL Open, Starladder Invitational and of course – ESL Frankfurt. Certainly, a team to look out for, as always.
- Roman Kushnarev – “RAMZES666”
- Vladimir Minenko – “No[o]ne”
- Pavel Khvastunov – “9pasha”
- Ilya Ilyuk – “Lil”
- Alexei Berezin – “Solo”
Virtus Pro is a symbol of stability, boasting an unchanged roster since August of last year. Sticking together through thick and thin, this VP roster amazed fans with vibrant performances at the Summit, Kiev Major and TI7 in 2017. We don’t believe they are still at a level where they can challenge some of the absolute greats, but they are getting there. If anyone has proven that hard work pays off, it’s Virtus Pro.
- Artour Babaev – “Arteezy”
- Sumail Hassan – “Suma1L”
- Saahil Arora – “UNiVeRsE”
- Andreas Nielsen – “Cr1t-“
- Clinton Loomis – “Fear”
With zai leaving and Fear coming out of retirement to assume the captain/drafter mantle from the hands of Cr1t-, EG remains full of familiar faces. The skill and experience packed in EG’s roster needs no introduction nor explanation- they have the potential to win any tournament. Yet, it remains to be seen how they fare under new captaincy, and whether any issues will surface due to new dynamics in the team. Despite their strength on paper, we wouldn’t go as far as calling EG favorites – not just yet.
Fans are awaiting ESL One Hamburg 2017 with great anticipation, especially when we consider the fact we should be getting two new heroes alongside a game-changing patch in the interim. It will be interesting to see who can bring the fight to Liquid, or perhaps whether the favorites themselves will falter and surprise everyone. In any case, we’re certain it’s going to be a great tournament, the first of many for this season.