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ESL One: Hamburg 2018 kicks off tomorrow, running from October 23 to 28, at the Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Germany. While not being part of the 2018/2019 Dota 2 Pro Circuit, teams will want to kick off their season with good showings. This tournament leads nicely into the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor and The Kuala Lumpur Major. For some teams this will be their first chance to show their performance in a LAN environment, especially with the post International 2018 shuffle.
Twelve Dota 2 teams in total are attending, with eight teams directly invited, and a further four in Hamburg due to winning regional qualifiers. The group stage runs from October 23 – 25, with two groups of 6 teams each. Games will be played as a best of 2 round robin, with the bottom two teams in each group at the end of the group stage being eliminated. The remaining teams then play from October 26 – 28 in a double elimination format.
Finishing first and second in the group stages gives each team a direct start in the Upper Bracket, while third and fourth start in the Lower Bracket. Due to the double elimination format, starting in the Lower Bracket isn’t ideal – one loss and you are eliminated. Traveling through the Upper Bracket gives you a bit more leeway, any team that loses isn’t eliminated instantly, but is relegated to the bracket below. In a departure from ESL tournaments previously, all games in the ESL One playoffs are best of 3, except the Grand Final, which is best of 5.
Evil Geniuses arguably have a lot to prove in this tournament. Prior to The International 2018 in August they picked up Fly and s4 from OG in a surprise roster change. While a 3rd place finish and a cool $2.6 million prize may sound good on paper, they have hoped to have gone all the way this year. Arteezy may still feel he needs to prove himself, having never won a Major, Minor, or International tournament, unlike his fellow players in EG. One big change for this tournament is that SumaiL will not be attending due to Visa issues. Quinn “CCnC” Callahan will be standing in for them instead.
Team Secret haven’t quite managed to live up to the expectations. This is despite having an accomplished captain in Puppey and stable players zai and Yapzor. They will be looking to kick start a great year with a good performance here.
Vici Gaming are coached by rotk, a highly respected veteran of the Dota 2 scene, and have a wealth of experience in both Yang and Paparazi. They’ll be hoping to finish strongly and prove they can compete at this level in ESL One.
Virtus Pro dominated the 2017/2018 Dota 2 season and were predicted by many to continue their form into The International. However, they only managed a 5th-6th place finish. They are, however, one of the more stable teams appearing at ESL One: Hamburg, with very few roster changes. They are also masters of mind games, using voice chat wheel spam to tilt their opponents.
Forward Gaming look strong on paper, with several notable players on their roster. Universe is an International winner, as is their coach Aui. Resolution, MSS and SVG have also all been on winning teams. However, like his brother SumaiL, YawaR failed to secure a Visa to Germany, so Steve “Xcalibur” Ye will be standing in.
Mineski is a team full of serial Dota 2 winners, with players having won Majors and Minors galore. Mushi is a veteran of the scene, with 7 years experience under his belt. Expect a strong showing from this team throughout the ESL One tournament.
Ninjas In Pyjamas
Ninjas in Pyjamas is another team formed from the post International shuffle. ppd left Optic Gaming to join his old teammate 33 in this new venture. ppd has a long tradition of captaining teams to great results, and he is sure to be hoping for the same here.
Pain Gaming continue to fly the flag for Brazilian Dota. With MISERY a recent replacement for the inactive Heitor “Duster” Pereira they will be hoping to show what they are capable of at this ESL One. Incidentally, MISERY was spotted still using an EG mousepad recently.
Alliance (European Qualifier)
Alliance attempt to write another history chapter, with the final remaining member of their dominant squad stepping down. However, Loda remains in the team as a coach, and will be hoping to guide this team to victories.
Complexity Gaming (North America Qualifier)
Complexity Gaming have had a tough year in Dota 2, it would be fair to say. After losing several players, they picked up Skem and Sneyking, rounding out their roster with EternalEnvy as captain. In a surprising twist, Envy is the teams position 5, the hard support. Typically known for his carry play, many viewers are keen to see how this role switch works out for Complexity.
Team Aster (China Qualifier)
Team Asterhas been formed by the legendary player, Burning. Dstones is the only relative surprise in the team, with the other players having been in the scene for longer. Chinese fans would prefer the team to be called Tea Master.
Evos Esports (Southeast Asia Qualifier – replacing TNC Predator)
Evos Esports is a relatively new organization, aiming to revolutionize the Indonesian Esports scene. This Dota 2 team has been stable for just under a year, and have beaten TNC Predator in the past. Fans will see how they will match up against other teams in a LaN environment with their appearance at ESL One Hamberg.
With all of these teams in the mix, who’s your favorite among the bunch? Stay tuned as this tournament goes underway and be sure to check out our other Dota 2 coverage!