Each season's winds brings change. The trees shed their leaves, flocks and herds migrate, and Dota 2 players look for new teams to take to the next Major. Though there's something to be said for the (relative) stability of the modern Dota 2 scene, there is still plenty of drama surrounding the roster shuffle before and after each International.
Since the inception of the Majors system, the chaos has been more structured and reliable, but the post-International offseason alone had 447 different changes logged in the Majors registration database. Between players adding, joining, being dropped or just put on hold, this offseason was a major scramble. So who came out victorious, looking primed for the top, and who could use a second shuffle?
Wings is the softball answer to the question, keeping all five members of the TI6-winning roster on the same squad. These five would likely have little reason to want to leave. It's difficult to imagine if Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida's oddball offlane picks or Li "iceice" Peng's massive support pool could translate well to any other squad in China, let alone the world. There's always the post-TI curse to worry about, but unlike Alliance or Evil Geniuses, it's unlikely anyone has fully downloaded Wings yet.
Losing Adrian "FATA-" Trinks to a leave of absence and Jesse "JerAx" Vainikka to another European super-squad was difficult for Liquid. The two selected to take their spots, however, look to breathe some new life into the team. Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi is a playmaker, able to offer a one-two punch with Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen in the core roles. Though Kanishka "BuLba" Sosale is most recently known for his offlane play, putting him in the four-five support role as a co-captain with Kuro Salehi "KuroKy" Takhasomi adds some synergy and unity to the team. Smart additions were made here, rather than risky pick-ups, and the current Team Liquid roster looks every bit as fearsome as it did at TI6.
The third definite winner of the fall roster shuffle is one that made massive changes to the lineup. Losing three out of five players may look dire for most rosters, but Secret was already in the straits after consecutive disappointing performances in Manila and Seattle. Taking note of the big winners from TI6, Clement "Puppey" Ivanov and Johan "pieliedie" Astrom built around themselves a who's who of SEA titans. Former MVP players Pyo "MP" No-a and Lee "Forev" Sang-don, as well as Fnatic's rising star Yeik "MidOne" Nai Zheng moved over to form a better SEA-cret. It's hard to know whether communication between teammates will become an issue, but this international roster certainly lives up to the Secret credo of "all-star team."
It was hard to see Fnatic as a candidate for this category at the start of the roster shuffle. The organization parted ways with three players over the course of a week, leaving Chai "Mushi" Yee Fung with only an offlaner and plenty of spots to fill. In their place, though, Fnatic formed what might become one of the most intimidating rosters in the SEA region. Marc Polo "Raven" Luis Fausto, Nico "eyyou" Barcelon and Jimmy "DeMoN" Ho came over from a stellar TnC roster to fill the gaps, and now Fnatic looks even more promising than last year. The SEA region is steadily becoming a force to be reckoned with in international Dota, and Fnatic will be leading the charge with this lineup.
A bubble team for the winner's circle, OG's roster looks incredible on paper. Just looking at names like Gustav "s4" Magnusson and JerAx, you have two top-tier European competitors. Add the relatively unknown Anathan "ana" Pham, and you have a talented young rookie looking to make a name for himself in mid lane - a situation that has led to breakout players in the past. Once you start to segment off the roles, though, some holes start to show up. Magnusson isn't a tournament-tested offlaner in a meta where offlane play has become critical to success. Pham could certainly make plays, but it could also lead to a similar situation to last year's OG, where shutting down the mid means shutting down the team. There's too many question marks with OG, and this roster will need a LAN or two under its feet before conclusions can really be drawn.
The third time could be the charm for prodigal son Artour "Arteezy" Babaev, who has certainly been a playmaker for the team in the past. Under the tutelage of Clinton "Fear" Loomis, a player-turned-coach for EG, Arteezy could be a whole new ... Arteezy. In previous tournaments, though, EG has typically relied on its veteran players to direct the squad; Syed "SumaIL" Hassan, Saahil "UNiVeRsE" Arora and Ludwig "zai" Wahlberg are talented, but the guiding hand of Loomis and departing captain Peter "ppd" Dager were key to many of EG's major victories. Andreas Franck "Cr1t" Nielsen, who comes over from OG to take Dager's role as both captain and five-role support, has big shoes to fill. It's a new dawn for EG, and it could go either way.
Sometimes, to have a good roster shuffle, you just have to make your own team. Built on a desire to avoid organizational issues and just build a team of players who want to play together, Team NP has a pretty intimidating lineup. Kurtis "Aui_2000" Ling and Jacky "EternaLEnVy" Mao make for solid cores, and Theeban "1437" Silva returning to the five-role is great to see. The question marks are Arif "MSS" Anwar and Avery "SVG" Silverman, who have been on and off rosters with varying results, competing at mostly regional tournaments and qualifiers. The star power that left Secret is certainly enough to put NP on radars, but whether or not Anwar and Silverman step up will be a major factor in the success of the team.
After an incredible run at The International, TnC Gaming set records and broke barriers for the Philippines. It was heartwarming to watch a region so often overlooked make such a massive run, finishing higher than any Filipino team before it. The offseason was not kind, though, as teams took notice, and one-by-one the stellar players of TnC dropped and considered offers. Though two players, Carlo "Kuku" Palad and Sam "Sam_H" Enojosa Hidalgo eventually returned, TnC was gutted by the offseason, and now has to compete with several SEA rosters who only grew stronger from the shuffle.
The Chinese teams dropped all their players from their rosters and it was a bit of a shock for most. It was initially intended to de-incentivize players from using free agency to negotiate better contracts, but in some cases, it led to mass dissolutions of rosters, and LGD felt it the most. Left with only Li "Maybe" Yao, a team formerly made up of superstars and veterans dissolved into a one-man show. The new LGD roster is made up of former CDEC.Youth and Vici Potential players, but this team lacks international experience. Recruited mostly from developmental squads with inconsistent performances, Yao and LGD Gaming will need a lot of practice and LAN experience built up to be a competitor at the next Major.
This one hurts a little, as coL has been a personal favorite of mine to watch grow. But if the TI wildcards were unkind to compLexity, the offseason was brutal. Losing both Blomdin brothers and Simon "Handsken" Haag left coL in a tenuous spot, in desperate need of some new talent. The team was lucky enough to find some in David "Moo" Hull, but the counterweights are Justin "jk" Rosselle and Mihai "cancel" Antonio, two players who are untested on the international stage and generally known for pub play rather than competitive achievements. A full revamp for coL is definitely what was needed for the struggling NA team, but the new roster will be working overtime to establish itself against not one, but two titans in the American scene in EG and DC. Look for Kyle "melonzz" Freedman in his new support role to be the leader and X-factor.