With 12 teams in the field battling for a share of $564,261, the Dota 2 Asia Championships will represent the best view of the competitive landscape before the Kiev major. Over half of the competition for the major will be in attendance, so the DAC will be a perfect preview for fans and analysts alike.
Four teams were invited to the event: Evil Geniuses, Wings Gaming, OG and Newbee. The rest of the field came together through various qualifiers from China, Southeast Asia, Europe, CIS and Americas. Here's the breakdown on which teams possess the best potential to push past the group stage.
The ever-consistent juggernaut Dota 2 team is arguably the tournament favorite. Behind the steady call of captain Tal "Fly" Aizik and the backbone of the team, Jesse "JerAx" Vainikka, no team possesses a better support duo. Between OG's clean laning phase and lightning-quick rotations, it is incredibly difficult to defeat this team in the early game. OG shouldn't have much trouble getting out of the group stage.
Runner-up: Team VG.J
Linsanity may run rampant at the DAC, and really, that's no surprise -- this is a loaded team. With veteran leadership from captain Bai "rOtK" Fan and longtime support duo Lu "Fenrir" Chao and Xu "fy" Linsen, you simply cannot sleep on this team anymore. Yes, rOtK occasionally throws, loses his lane or calls a bad fight, but it is offset by the supreme abilities of both fy and Sun "Agressif" Zheng.
Favorites: Team Liquid
Team Liquid headlines this ridiculously difficult group because of its consistency and sheer talent. Fresh from a StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 3 victory, this lineup is already in peak form. The seamless transition of Maroun "GH" Merhej widens this potent team's already-deep hero pool and allows the team's star players to truly shine in their role. Let's check the boxes: high individual skill, flawless team fighting execution and one of the best midgame transitions in Dota 2. The names are eye-popping, from Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi to Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen, but there truly is no weak link from top to bottom.
Runner-up: Evil Geniuses
This spot could easily belong to Newbee, but Evil Geniuses is the team with the more complete package. The edge for Evil Geniuses is the team balance. Artour "Arteezy" Babaev and Sumail "Suma1l" Hassan can be temperamental and reckless at times, but they are quelled by the combination of the cool and collected Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg and the consistent play of Saahil "UNiVeRsE" Arora. Add in the spectacular drafting ability of Andreas "Cr1t" Nielsen and this team is not lacking in any real department. Its biggest weakness may just be simple counterplay and tournament experience as a full lineup.