With the new (and improved) Dota Pro Circuit season ahead of us, every major Dota 2 region in the World’s has gotten a league of its own. Organized by ESL, the ESL One CIS Online Season 1 will feature the region’s very best teams battle it out for a 280,000$ prize pool and a spot at the upcoming Major.
Like the rest of the regional leagues in the DPC calendar, the tournament will feature two tiers of competition, the Upper and Lower Division. Teams from the Upper Division will battle it out for a 205,000$ prize pool and a highly coveted spot at the upcoming Major.
Although less prestigious, the Lower Division gave everybody a chance to qualify through the Open Qualifiers. Both PuckChamp and Imperial Pro Gaming emerged triumphant through the stacked Open Qualifier gauntlet, and will get a chance to not only fight for the 75,000$ prize pool, but more importantly a shot at qualifying for the Upper Division.
With CIS Dota on the rise again and teams like Virtus Pro and Natus Vincere looking like dominant forces in Dota 2’s landscape, the ESL One CIS league might prove to be a springboard for a team in the highly competitive region.
Only time will tell which teams can defy the Dota 2 odds and go well beyond the call of duty to emerge as a force to be reckoned with in the regional scene.
ESL One CIS Online – Meet The Teams
The CIS scene has gone through a shuffle of yet unseen proportions. While teams like Virtus Pro, Natus Vincere, and Team Spirit (ex-Yellow Sumbarine) are at the forefront of CIS Dota for the time being, there are a number of upcoming stacks that could throw a wrench in the machinery.
But for the time being, the balance of power remains with those top-three teams as any would-be usurpers will have their work cut out for them.
Although the rest of the teams are pretty evenly stacked up, their overall quality at this moment in time pales in comparison to the European and Chinese scenes.
The former VP.Prodigy squad had a monumental last season, crawling from the regional CIS scene to the very pinnacle of Dota 2 in a span of just a couple of months. Rewarded for their efforts with a promotion to the main roster and with the addition of Illias “Kingslayer/Illias” Ganeev, VP went on to win EPIC League through a dominant show of force. They are without a doubt the team to beat in the ESL One CIS Season 1.
2. Natus Vincere
Natus Vincere’s comeback to the apex of Dota 2 has been a long-awaited affair. Although numerous iterations have failed, the former FlyToMoon roster is the closest they’ve came. Already a top regional team in its own right, the squad upped its game after getting signed by Na’Vi. A second-place finish at ESL One Germany 2020 and a strong showing at EPIC League were topped by the team’s victory at OGA Dota PIT Season 4. A clean sweep over OG in the OGA Dota PIT finals showed that the roster is working like a well-oiled machine and is a clear sign that Na’VI has finally arrived!
3. Team Spirit
The current Team Spirit roster came into the Dota 2 limelight under the Yellow Submarine moniker. After getting over the injustice dealt to them during the EPIC League qualifiers, the squad went on to dominate the EPIC Division 2 Group Stage before eliminating Just Error in the Play-In’s in what is largely seen as a case of poetic justice. Although the roster couldn’t overcome OG, they proved that they’re a force to be reckoned with, and can give anyone a run for their money.
4. Live to Win
Live to Win has emerged as arguably Russia’s best team that has still not signed with a major organization. The pubstack already has some experience on the big stage, as the team finished as the runners-up at EPIC League Division 2, but still left a lot to be desired when paired up against other European teams. Although the team has a lot to prove on the international, they’re without a doubt one of the CIS scene’s finest at the moment.
NoTechies emerged as a new entry during the early beginning of the current DPC season. Captained by the legendary Alexey “Solo” Berezin, the team is looking like the most promising pubstack on paper. Although the team has a lot to prove, the amount of talent featured in the lineup is substantial, and the team’s two victories over Winstrike Gaming and B8 prove it.
6. Team Empire
Team Empire came into the 2021 DPC Season featuring a roster comprised of relatively unknown players. The team went through countless roster changes last year, but looks to finally have a stable core locked in. Although it’s far too early to tell, the team is seemingly clicking together well and will have a chance to test their metal against the region’s finest.
7. Team Unique
Team Unique got a place in the Upper Division after picking up the No Pangolier stack. The team clawed their way to the Upper Division through the Decider Tournament. Although three matches in, the team shows a lot of promise on paper with a lot of international experience between all five of its members. All things aside, the team is definitely looking like one of the better up-and-coming stacks in the CIS region.
EXTREMUM is another team that went through substantial changes heading into 2021. The roster is lead by veteran player Sergei “G” Bragin, and has already beaten the likes of Dendi’s B8 and the stacked Hellraisers roster. The newest iteration still has a lot to prove, but are currently looking like the complete outsiders heading into the Upper Division.
ESL One CIS Online Season 1 – Our Predictions
Virtus Pro are the absolute favorites here, and only a strong run by either Na’Vi or Team Spirit can stop them from finishing first.
While there is a lot of talent spread out across the remaining teams, Virtus Pro is currently a top-three team in the world on any day of the week, and will almost surely have an easy time trampling over any team apart from the two mentioned earlier.
NoTechies has dark horse potential but even they, like the rest of the division, are looking like a rock-paper-scissors type of matchup.
With the rest of the division seemingly looking neck and neck, expect a lot of teams in the rest of the pack to be divided by only one game, and that one game could be the decider between survival and elimination in the Upper Division.