The Strongest Teams Headed to the Singapore Major
The ONE Esports Singapore Major 2021 kicks off in just a few weeks. And while we’re still waiting for China’s Upper Division to wrap up, we already have a good picture of which teams are headed to the Major.
But it’s been a long time since the last international LAN competition. Even the best teams headed to Singapore have had a long time away from in-person competition. With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of all the strongest teams headed to the Singapore Major. But beyond that, we look at the last time they appeared on LAN.
After their incredible 2020 and now a near-perfect run through the DPC league Team Secret has turned their eyes towards the Major. What they’re hoping for is a victory lap for this roster. A roster that’s been robbed of the kind of accolades it rightfully should have earned. This is truly a team with world-class talent at every position including coaching.
But beyond that, it’s the uncharacteristic consistency that’s kept Secret in the top tiers of Dota. Lasse Aukusti “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen looks more at home in the one position than he ever did at solo middle, a welcome surprise. But if the superstar Finn isn’t able to carry his team to victory on any given day, Michał “Nisha” Jankowski is equally ready to step up and put the team on his back. Not to mention the fact that Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg can be relied upon to have be given almost no resources and still finish the game with an incredible score line.
Team Secret are scary good, and really only the fact it has been so long since we’ve seen them on LAN is a question mark. But when you consider that’s the same for every team at the major, a trip to the finals seems like a forgone conclusion.
Last International LAN Competition: February 2020
At the start of 2020 Team Secret were on the start of a roll. They racked up a first place at DreamLeague Season 13, and a second place at WePlay! Dota 2 Tug of War: Mad Moon. Their opponents were Evil Geniuses, and Team Nigma respectively. Both series were best of fives that went the distance. These close series show that on LAN, Secret may not be as infallible as they seem, but it’s still expected to see them deep in the playoff bracket.
There were few better stories in 2020 than the rise of this current Virtus.pro roster. Signed early in the year as VP.Prodigy, a youth team, by July they were being sent to events in place of the main lineup. While Virtus.pro’s “super team” stack of veterans struggled to find consistency, VP.P wracked up wins, eventually being signed as the main roster.
But the squad didn’t allow a main roster spot to make them complacent. The squad went undefeated in the CIS DPC League, a flawless run for a team that was already used to the best CIS and Europe had to offer. A team forged in the online era of tournaments unsurprisingly did incredibly well in a new online DPC format. Now we’ll get to see whether this level of performance can be replicated on the international stage for the first time.
Last International LAN Competition: With this lineup – Never
While Virus.pro is a constant figure in Dota competition, this current lineup has a much more limited amount of LAN experience together. The former VP.Prodigy roster is a product of the pandemic online events, and their success comes primarily within those confines. It remains to be seen how this squad will handle the added pressure of Singapore Major.
The best team in North America was poised to have a return to form in 2020 with a second place finish at the first Major. But a complacency struck EG as the wave of online events started. Clearly, the squad struggled to justify the effort of playing online events, especially when many of their members, including formerly Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev, were in different time zones. But with this lack of competition has come a leveling of the playing field. Now many of their rivals in NA look just as strong, if not better than, EG on some days.
But if the team is now equaling score lines with the likes of Undying, Quincy Crew and even 4 Zoomers, is this still the dominant international team it was in 2020? Could this EG go toe to toe with Team Secret as it did over a year ago? Their sixth-place finish at the OMEGA League: Europe Immortal Division would suggest that this iteration may struggle when it comes to Singapore.
Last International LAN Competition: January 2020
When the pandemic hit, EG found themselves with an issue. Isolated from the rest of the world, it had no way of continuing what was an incredible start to it’s 2020 with a second place finish at DreamLeague Season 13. The team hasn’t really stagnated, but it’s safe to say they haven’t been truly tested either. A near-flawless run through the hardly competitive North America Upper Division has meant that a year after the fact, EG can attempt to prove it has what it takes on an international stage.
A potent mix of veteran wiles and young talent, Alliance are the strongest they’ve looked in years with their current roster. Gustav “S4” Magnusson may be the captain of this team, but he’s far from the star player. Linus “Limmp” Blomdin take Nikolay “Nikobaby” Nikolov turns leading the team in kills, with their methodical and intelligent approaches to the carry roll more often than not bringing the team victory.
There’s some questions about the consistency of this roster. Occasionally a draft will bizarrely cram the most meta heroes into a team composition without them necessarily complimenting each other. Other times a gamble on a late-game hyper-carry will go wrong, and the team will be left fighting for scraps. However, Alliance is always quick to bounce back, and with plenty of best-of-threes there’s more than enough time for this squad to the challenges the Major will bring.
Last International LAN Competition: March 2020
Of the teams on this list, it’s Alliance who were the last to have actual in-person LAN experience. That was all the way back in March 2020 with the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 3. At that event, having fallen from traditional Major contention Alliance looked to claw their way back to a Major spot. Instead, they fell to second place versus Team Aster. The squad has changed a lot since then, but with it’s veteran talent, this could be one of the more comfortable squads on LAN in Singapore.
The biggest team in SEA took back their title from the upstart usurpers of TNC Predator in the wake of 2020. While their rivals in the 2019-2020 DPC fell sharply off in the wake of the pandemic, Fnatic managed to build a consistent and winning roster. This meant the squad was more than ready for the DPC format, having spent much of 2020 winning or at least coming top three in online events.
At the major though they’ll face new challenges. Much of China’s scene seemingly went to ground during 2020, avoiding online competition. As a result, Fnatic will face a much wider field of international competition than they’re accustomed to. Watching them in isolation, Fnatic’s macro and individual play look world-class. But when faced with the best China, Europe, and the rest of the world has to offer, they may still crumble.
Last International LAN Competition: January 2020
It was just two members, supports Djardel Jicko B. “DJ” Mampusti and Anucha “Jabz” Jirawong, who headed to DreamLeague Season 13 last January. There, Fnatic did not look like the dominant SEA power they’ve become in the meantime. However, with the least amount of jetlag to worry about, and a LAN with an effective home-field advantage, Fnatic could be deadly for opposing teams at the Singapore Major.
The ONE Esports Singapore Major 2021 is set to start on March 27, running through until April 4. You can catch all the action on the ONE Esports official Twitch channel.