DPC 2021: Every Team Set to Compete in This Year’s First Season
The Dota Pro Circuit 2021 is set to kick off in less than a week, and finally we have the full list of teams competing. Details of the direct invites dropped earlier in the year, but now all the open and closed qualifiers are complete. As a result, the complete picture of the DPC 2021’s first season is looking a little clearer.
So in order to prepare yourself for all the pro Dota that’s set to start January 18th, we’ve compiled a full list of teams in one handy reference spot. What’s more there’s a preview of the big names in each region, and what to expect from them in this first season.
Virtus.pro were, of course, directly invited to the Upper Division. After a stand-out year as VP.Prodigy, this lineup was finally promoted to the main roster at the close of the year, and promptly grabbed some gold for their organization. If this team can repeat it’s 2020 performance, we’ll definitely be seeing them at the first Major.
Na’vi struggled to remain in the top-tier of relevance that it’s name and legacy should grant in 2020. However, after picking up the roster of FlyToMoon in December, the team ended the year on a high with a win at OGA Dota PIT S4: Europe/CIS. With their direct invite to the top division, they’ll be looking to replicate that success.
Better known as Yellow Submarine for the majority of 2020, the roster of Team Spirit shocked the world with a series of upsets throughout the year. Having now developed a reputation of punishing well above their weight, it will be incredible to see what this team can do in a league environment.
Live to Win
LtW, like many in this top tier of CIS squads, is somewhat of a franken-team with half of it’s players still signed to other teams and on loan. Nonetheless, the roster spent the last part of 2020 consistently earning prize money in top-level tournaments. A direct invite was perhaps a little generous, so the team will have to prove they deserve to be here.
Seemingly snubbed from a direct invite despite a consistent roster, Team Empire rightly earned their spot here through the decider tournament. The squad is now poised to play with a chip on it’s shoulder, and show exactly why it should have had a given spot instead of pub-stomping it’s way through qualifiers
Another franken-team with members of the former Virtus.pro roster teaming up with a collage of loaned players. With a league spot and a roster of significant names including Alexey “Solo” Berezin, Bakyt “Zayac” Emilzhanov, and Vladyslav “Crystallize” Krystanek, it really doesn’t feel like this squad will be without a sponsorship for too long.
Despite having two offlaners under contract, EXTREMUM took the interesting option of loaning them both out, and grabbing a third, Maxim “Shachlo” Abramovskikh, inactive from Gambit Esports. Regardless this team has really upgraded itself from being a spot filler in the CIS tournaments of 2020. Hopefully they can make a step towards the top-tier in 2021
A mix of ex-players from teams like Cyber Legacy, Team Unique, and B8 has defied the odds and made it to the top tier. It’s almost poetic considering some of those teams were gifted seeded spots in the decider tournament while NoPango grinded through the open qualifiers. The name could use some work though…
- Winstrike Team
- Gambit Esports
- ImperialPro Gaming
There’s a lot of surprising names in this Lower Division, if only because of how recognizable the names are. Danil “Dendi” Ishutin continues to make news with B8, first by swapping half his roster for South American talent, and second for playing in a decider tournament while having COVID-19. I really don’t expect this Lower Division to stay static. Half these teams could consistently beat the Upper Division teams. It feels in part that the CIS has been constructed so we get lots of drama at the end of season one.
The biggest name in Chinese Dota was of course the first team picked for a direct invite. Unveiling a new roster in September, the team took a step towards simply picking up half of EHOME’s roster. The move seems to have worked, but the squads performance fell off towards the end of 2020, namely in the face of the new super team Elephant.
EHOME’s latest roster is built around the core of it’s 2020 roster, with the addition of Lai “Ahjit” Jay Son as the core carry. The organization is regularly seen as the third best team in the region, and with the addition of Elephant to the scene, they could easily slip to fourth-best. EHOME could struggle to reach international competition this year.
The team missed out on all of August’s events so it could solidify a new roster and sign one of SEA’s best players in Nuengnara “23savage” Teeramahanon. However, this dramatic shift didn’t yield the results they wanted, and the SEA player was dropped. Now the team desperately needs to gel as a team to keep their spot in a highly competitive region.
The super team which was originally a joint effort between 4AM and Elephant is now just a single organization project. That doesn’t mean this team has missed a beat though. This team dominated the OGA Dota PIT S4: China event and the China Dota2 Pro Cup Season 2. They’re living up to their super team moniker so far.
Despite the team still currently looking for a full-time support (instead of having coach Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng stand-in), Aster is one of the most consistent and strong teams in China right now. However, this team will have to push forward and prove it can compete at a high level domestically again so it can once again head to international events.
With an incomplete roster, it’s hard to quantify this team. Based on raw performance though, this is an incredibly impressive stack who swept through their qualifiers defeating iG and LBZS on the way to this upper bracket spot.
This relatively new team (formed just four months ago) has quickly risen in the ranks to compete at the highest levels. From pub stomping almost every tournament they entered in November and December, to securing a spot in the Upper Division here, there doesn’t seem to be a ceiling on this highly impressive team.
iG have found themselves left out in the rain by a wave of newer teams bursting onto the Chinese scene, such as Sparking Arrow, Elephant and Team MagMa. Even so, this team has enough raw talent to occasionally upset the very best in the region. It will be exciting to see if they can reach international competition again this year, somewhere where they really excel.
- Phoenix Gaming
- Royal Never Give Up
- Dalajing Gaming
- Sparking Arrow Gaming
- CDEC Gaming
- Xtreme Gaming
How the mighty have fallen. It’s kind of surprising to see RNG and CDEC Gaming here, but not when you consider their dismal 2020 and their lack of star power. Sparking Arrow being drained of it’s talent by aggressive trades and buyouts sealed it’s fate after an incredible 2020. Another lower division that feels like it could easily take spots off the upper division squads if given the chance later in the year.
Perhaps the biggest esports name in Europe, Team Liquid’s direct invite is a product of perseverance. This lineup has stuck together for close to two years now and their results show it. After knocking off Team Secret as their pinnacle achievement in 2020, they’ll be looking for some gold at majors this year.
The two-time TI winners only missed out on a three-peat only because of COVID. Rumors swirl that we might see Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka return to the lineup, but honestly they don’t need him. On it’s best day, this OG roster is just as good as the one that won a pair of TIs. Whether that world-class talent appears on any given day in the league remains to be seen.
In 2020, Team Secret were the winningest Dota 2 team in history. Their record breaking run and supreme dominance, was only tempered by the fact that all it earned them was a direct invite to this year’s DPC (and a lot of prize money). This year, with their roster completely intact, Secret would love to replicate their past success.
TI winners, TI runners up, and on the hunt for a record matching second Aegis. Last year Team Nigma struggled with the injury and absence of captain Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi. But honestly if there was a year where a team could have their shotcaller absent for half of their tournaments, it was 2020. That was all just a dry run for the ‘real’ test this year…
The most exciting thing to happen to Europe Dota 2 in 2020 that wasn’t Team Secret’s winning streak. Like Team Liquid, this is a testament to sticking to a roster, and letting them develop together. In many ways they were snubbed by not getting a direct invite, but with the sheer amount of talent in this Upper Division, that can be forgiven. A wildcard to take games of any squad in the division.
Despite having one of the most reliable and potent carries in Europe in Nikolay “Nikobaby” Nikolov, Alliance struggled with consistency as it found its footing with it’s hybrid old-and-new roster. A team that on a good day could sweep everyone, but on others looked like they lacked basic communication. The more time this roster spends playing together the more dangerous they become.
The unsigned Mudgolems were almost a “revenge” project against Alliance for the unceremoniously dropped Neta “33” Shapira and Adrian “Fata” Trinks. But since then the team has evolved into more than that. This squad regularly pushes the top four in Europe to the limits, and are now going to create havoc in the DPC League.
The team that was good enough to get signed by Ninjas in Pyjamas… before that organization decided to drop Dota 2 completely. The Chicken Fighters are essentially that old NiP roster bolstered by OG Seed refugees Andreas Per “Xibbe” Ragnemalm, and Rasmus Johan “Chessie” Blomdin who emphatically crushed their opponents in the decider tournament to be here.
- Hellbear Smashers
- Spider Pigzs
- No Bounty Hunter
It was surprising to discover that there were simply just not that many top tier teams in Europe. The mixing of EU and CIS tournaments over the past year had definitely given some cognitive dissonance, and so perhaps there really are just 6-7 really good teams in the region. The top line of Hippomaniacs, Hellbear Smashers, Spider Pigz and Brame are the clear favorites here. Brame would be my pick to take it to the next level and dethrone someone like Chicken Fighters.
With the absence of any competition (and EG absent for most of the year), Quincy Crew were the best team in NA in 2020. It’s really a toss up between QC and EG as to who will win this league. The best talent NA has to offer in one lineup.
Despite having an identity crisis, dropping one of it’s players, and barely playing in tournaments for the latter half of 2020, EG were gifted a direct invite to the Upper Division. But even with some question marks around whether their roster had the results and consistency needed for a direct invite, this is still one of the best teams in NA. Expect to see them at the top of the table.
A dark horse team of NA pros who could easily challenge for the crown of Kings of NA. Some inconsistency in their play aside, this team was a natural pick for Direct Invite, and it will be exciting to see whether they can dethrone QC and EG.
Sadboys is Peter “ppd” Dager’s un-retirement team, and one of the more exciting new entrants to NA Dota. This team definitely has the pedigree to compete at a top level, but they’re still somewhat unproven. Could find themselves dropping games to some unexpected teams.
This new formation has three big names in the offlane, and support role: David “MoonMeander” Tan, Jonáš “SabeRLight-” Volek, Kim “DuBu” Doo-young. That alone should carry this team to a decent amount of victories, but a relatively untested one-position could hold them back in the long run.
Black N Yellow
A potent mix of veteran talent and new blood make BNY difficult to pin down. They absolutely swept through the competition in the Closed Qualifier, with only Team DogChamp giving them a hint of trouble. But this also means they’re untested against the top-tier of NA teams.
After being 2-0’d by Undying, 5Man Midas were pushed to the limit by the Lower Division’s Its Okay. The fact they struggled against a team like that doesn’t bode well for their future in the Upper Division. Expect to see them battling for survival by the end of the season.
After their original five position, Jimmy “DeMoN” Ho, was banned from all Valve events for misconduct, Aristotle were still able to rise to to the occasion and take an upper bracket spot. This shows that the team is more than just a few lucky players carried by a veteran. However, they may still struggle to hold onto this spot for more than a season.
- Arkosh Gaming
- Byzantine Raiders
- Electronic Boys
- Its okay
- The Cut
- Team DogChamp
NA’s Lower Division is a diverse roster of gimmick teams, and rosters with single familiar names. Former OG Seed member Zakari William Lee “Zfreek” Freedman rounds out an impressive Bros roster, while up-and-coming Byzantine Raiders have impressed in their games. But in this bracket, everyone’s eyes are on Arkosh Gaming… even if it’s not always for the right reasons.
The former Team Brazil roster who reliably competed in any NA or SA tournament they could get their hands on were one of the first invited to SA’s Upper Division. This roster hasn’t done enough to prove it has what it takes to hang with the calibre of squads in this division. Expect a baptism of fire this season.
A standout for the majority of 2020, Thunder Predator suffered from having their players signed away – a curse of all overachievers. With a more consistent league format in 2021, this team are expected to make it to the Major and represent their region.
Despite being one of the most storied brands in South American Dota 2, Infamous struggled to remain relevant as a new wave of organizations emerged over the last two years. A place in the DPC league will likely help secure this team’s legacy, but results will have to follow if it’s going to be a legacy worth having
In 2019 and early 2020, beastcoast punched above its weight and shocked many international teams. But confined to the South American region, the team has been treading water with only limited success. A natural pick for a direct invite, but will have to fight hard to retain it’s spot and once again head to international competition
One of 2020’s break out teams in SA, Omega Gaming were able to pick up a series of lower tier tournament wins, but struggled against the big names. The team will have to step up and be able to take down the likes of Thunder Predator (a squad they’ve never beaten) if they want to hang in this league.
A team with a lot of history in SA, Team Unknown has struggled with consistency as of late. The team was good enough to beat the likes of Infamous and Thunder Predator at some points, but those performances were few and far between.
The best team in Tier 3 South America for a time had secured an impressive run of podum spots in 2020. Between June and November the team came second or third in seven of the eight events they competed in. But the squad fell off towards the end of the year. The fact they were able to secure this spot might be a sign of their resurgence.
The LatAm Defenders dropped their entire roster at the end of 2020, instead opting to try an untested new roster. The gamble seems to have worked though, as the team defeated Incubus Club and several of their former players at Infinity Esports to make it to this upper division spot.
- Incubus club
- Infinity Esports
- blood for blood
To call the South American scene overloaded with talent would be an understatement. It always blows my mind to see how many teams that look competitive just spawn out of nowhere. It’s a fantastic testament to the region’s huge pool of talent. Infinity Esports (with much of the former Latam Defenders roster) is my pick to top this division and aim for the upper echelons this year.
The defacto 2019-2020 DPC champs return to defend their title. But this team has fallen a long way since upsetting everyone to win the first Major of last season. TNC always do best when they’re given plenty of time to master a patch. With a lack of events leading into the first DPC season, they might struggle to find their form.
The biggest name in SEA is another natural choice for a direct invite. Despite hemorrhaging players due to pickups from Chinese teams last year, the core of this Fnatic lineup, Djardel Jicko B. “DJ” Mampusti, and Kam “Moon” Boon Seng remain intact. Fnatic would love to return to their days of dominating the scene, but competition in SEA only grows with each passing year.
The South Korean organization has finally settled on a roster after almost two whole years struggling to find it’s identity. Just why a team that hasn’t had a solid roster at any point in the last 18 months deserves a direct invite (apart from the obvious big-brand appeal) is something that only God and Valve will know.
A stand out from the numerous online events of 2020, BOOM Esports are probably the most deserving of these SEA direct invite teams. A team which regularly recorded second place finishes in events will now have a chance to turn those into an appearance at a Major.
Another 2020 online event standout, Neon Esports’ near constant roster shuffling was likely the reason they missed out on a direct invite. There’s simply not many top teams left in SEA after the dissolution of Geek Fam and Reality Rift. It’s a massive shame, but great to see a squad like Neon get a chance in the DPC.
The Upper Division’s only Vietnamese team has struggled to pin down a permanent roster, and played the qualifiers with a number of stand-ins. Hopefully they can find a full-time position four before the start of the season.
A hugely storied Filipino Dota 2 team that’s genuinely been in the competitive scene since for as long as Dota 2 has existed. This is the team’s first DPC event in almost three years. A massive opportunity for the team to cement itself in the scene for good.
Forming a team in the middle of a global pandemic isn’t always the best move, but Vice esports have weathered the storm and earned a DPC spot. But even so, this team will likely struggle to compete with the top tier squads in this region.
- Galaxy Racer
- Omega Esports
- Army Geniuses
- Cignal Ultra
- Yangon Galacticos
There’s a lack of big-name teams but a cursory glance at the rosters of these teams reveals some top-tier talent. HOYO is the landing spot for South Korea’s most famous Dota 2 player Lee “Forev” Sang-don, who by any right, should be in an upper division roster. Omega Esports also is essentially the revival of the now defunct Adroit Gaming. Some of these players are only in the lower division because their team disbanded due to COVID. Expect to see them rapidly rise.
The DPC is set to begin for all regions on Monday, January 18th. You can catch all the action on each league’s relevant Twitch stream.