Teams to watch in 2013
Sun 6th Jan 2013 - 12:43pm
The Dota 2 professional scene has thrived 2012. With more teams, streams and prize money than ever before, and no signs that the growth will slow, this year is set to be bigger and better than ever. We've seen new teams emerge and old teams disband, East clash with West and a new champion crowned at The International, and through it all the competition between teams to be at the top has been fierce. With a mixture of old favourites and new faces, these are the teams that will be the ones to watch in 2013.
Invictus Gaming was created with the aim of revolutionizing Chinese e-sports. Which I think we can all agree, they've more than achieved. After a great deal of player shuffling and team work issues, iG quietly worked their way though The International 2 (TI2) to beat the favourites Na'Vi 3-1. Rightly considered the best Dota 2 team in the world, they sit at the head of the very strong Chinese scene. Their concise, methodical playstyle focuses on minimizing the mistakes they make, whilst pouncing on any made by their foes.
Since TI2, they've stayed mostly under the radar, appearing in few tournaments, but that doesn't mean the other teams have forgotten. Being at the top means having a target on your back, and every team will be looking at iG as the team to beat. With every Western team practicing to counter the Eastern play styles, and every Eastern team looking to topple them, they will have to work hard to defend their title at this years International.
Players: ChuaN, Faith, YYF, Ferrari_430, Zhou
Notable wins in 2012: The International 2012, World Cyber Games 2012
Fan favourites and juggernaut of the Western scene, many were surprised when they came in second at TI2. They fought hard to win their way up from the losers bracket into the grand final, but in an unusual move picked a very conventional lineup that iG had been scrimming against for some time and knew exactly how to counter. Normally however, they stand as a counterpoint to the playstyle of many other teams.
A willingness to constantly experiment with unconventional strategies and builds means their matches are always entertaining to watch, even if it may just for the showboating in an otherwise one sided match. The fact that their lineup contains two of the biggest personalities in Dota 2, Dendi and Puppey, makes them that much harder not to love. They have been accused in the past of not taking the game and practice seriously enough, content to merely rest on their laurels. However, with each new victory they prove the critics wrong. Will they be able to pull together and counter the Chinese playstyle in 2013, or will they be forced to play second fiddle to the Eastern scene?
Players: Puppey, XBOCT, Dendi, ARS-ART, LighTofHeaveN
Notable wins in 2012: The Defence, The Premier League, Starladder Starseries Season One, The Premier League Season 2, Starladder StarSeries Season Two, GosuLeague Season 3, joinDOTA Masters Special Edition, Starladder StarSeries Season 3, MLG Prizefights Showmatch, GosuLeague Season 4, Electronic Sports World Cup 2012, GosuLeague Season 5, Star Ladder StarSeries Season 4, Techlabs Cup Showmatch
One of the older teams in Dota 2 right now, Fnatic has had a Dota squad since 2009. After a great deal of player shuffling Fnatic decided in the latter part of 2011 to start afresh and move it's entire HoN squad over to Dota 2. Since then they've moved through the smaller tournaments and open brackets, winning the Dreamhack Open and Thor Open before coming up to the bigger tournaments and recently placing third in the Starladder Series 4. Their aggressive play and Sven carry have seen them rise into the top tier of Dota teams, a rise that is set to continue into 2013.
Players: H4nn1, Era, Trixi, N0tail, Bot
Notable wins in 2012: Starladder Proseries Season 2, Absolute Arena Dota 2 Invitational #2, Dreamhack Open 2012 Valencia, Thor Open
LGD suffered a huge setback in 2011 when, having been invited to TI1, four of their players moved to the newly formed iG and leaving them unable to participate. In TI2 they looked set to dominate the competition, going 14-0 in the group stages but lost to both iG and Na'vi in the winners bracket finals, leaving them in third place. Since then they've gone up against some of the best teams the Eastern scene has to offer and won, coming first in both The Asia and G-1 Championship League. Theis year could finally be the year they take that International they've been chasing after for so long.
Players: xiao8, DDC, Yao, DD, Sylar
Notable wins in 2012: Gigabyte Dota Masters, G-1 Champions League Season 4, The Asia 2012
An all star team composed of a roster of highly skilled players. Their names will be familiar to anyone who has followed the competitive Dota 2 scene, and reading Liquid'Nazgul's introduction of the team, it appears a lot of careful thought has gone into the player selection, instead of just throwing together a team of skilled players like we've seen so many times before *cough* Darer *cough*.
The fact that Korok, BuLba and TC are dynamically switching between roles 1, 2 and 3 means they can keep their opponents guessing, whilst ixmike88's careful data gathering, analysis and moustache ensures they'll have all the information they need to anticipate any opposing team's picks and strategies. Expect to see big things from them in the coming months.
Players: FLUFFNSTUFF, BuLba, Korok, TC, ixmike88
Notable wins in 2012: N/A
Originally a professional HoN team, they made the only sensible choice and moved to Dota 2 at the end of 2011. Like many teams they underwent a reshuffle after TI2, retaining only two players and accepting refugees from the sinking ships of other teams: Goblak and Funn1k from Darer and Silent from Moscow 5. Since then they've earned themselves a spot as one of the best Western teams, beating Na'Vi in the joinDOTA Special Masters II and coming second to them in Star Ladder Season 3 Finals and in Star Ladder Series season 4. The Eastern teams are seen as the ones to beat however, and we are yet to see how they fare against their very different playstyle. Do they have what it takes to go all the way to the top?
Players: Goblak, blowyourbrain, Scandal, Silent, Funn1k
Notable wins in 2012: Star Ladder Season 3 Round Robin, joinDOTA Special Masters II, RaidCall Dota 2 League Season 1, Asus Open 2012
Another all star team, these disparate players have pulled together to quickly make a name for themselves as a team not to be taken lightly. They wowed audiences in the Dreamhack Winter 2012 finals with their beautiful Roshan bait against Evil Geniuses, and AdmiralBulldog's Lone Druid has become feared (and revered) by many. They are yet to clash with many of the big name teams in Dota 2 though, so only time will tell whether their career will be a long and fruitful one, or merely just a flash in the pan.
Players: EternaLEnVy, AdmiralBulldog, Akke, Loda, s4
Notable wins in 2012: The Revenge #1, ESWC West Qualifier, Thor Open Qualifier, Dreamhack 2012 Winter
I admit I may be a little biased in this pick. Their repeated, solid performances and ability to go toe to toe with any of the top teams in Dota 2 show that they deserve to be on this list. Some unconventional picks combined with tight teamwork have led them to victory on many occasions. With the unfortunate departure of Sneyking, much of their performance this year will depend on who they find to fill out their squad. There are many skilled players that are currently unsigned but the decision is a difficult one that will require a great deal of thought. Hopefully the will be able to find a new member soon, and begin practice for the new year.
Players: Fogged, waytoosexy, Aui_2000, TidesofTime, ?
Notable wins in 2012: XMAS Skynet tournament, Alienware Arena Battlegrounds
So that concludes my list of teams that will be going far this year. Disagree with my picks? Your favourite team not on there? Make sure to let me know in the comments (caps lock optional!) Until next week, happy gaming!