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ESL One Hamburg is Major League Dota Event You’ve Been Waiting For

Michael Hassall  | 
ESL One Hamburg

ESL once again returns to the Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg Germany. (Image via ESL)

The start of the Dota 2 Pro Circuit season is tantalizingly close, but it’s not quite here. However, hungry Dota fans can sate their appetites with ESL One Hamburg 2019, which kicks off tomorrow. In the last ESL One Dota event of the year, 12 teams will clash in the Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Germany, to earn their share of an expected US$300,000 prize pool.

The event will be graced with a gifted lineup of announcers, including Toby “TobiWan” Dawson, Kyle Freedman, Austin “Capitalist” Walsh” and William “Blitz” Lee, and on-air talent such as Paul “Redeye” Chaloner, Richard “Rich” Campbell and Jake “SirActionSlacks” Kanner. The tournament runs from October 22-27, with a round-robin group stage during the week, and playoff bracket taking place from Friday to Sunday. What’s more, the list of teams competing is stacked, with several top organizations set to attend.

Visa Issues 

This incredible group of teams hasn’t come together without a few hitches. A plethora of visa issues has meant that original Southeast Asia Qualifiers, Geek Fam, and China Qualifiers, Invictus Gaming, have had to withdraw. They’ve been replaced by Alliance and Wind and Rain respectively, giving this tournament a far more European spread. Visa issues are nothing new to Dota 2 tournaments, but have been compounded by German requirements, which need a flight itinerary and confirmed hotel bookings to be approved.

The Big Names

As previously mentioned, there are some big names in this tournament, with the likes of Virtus.pro, TNC Predator, Vici Gaming, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Team Liquid, beastcoast, Gambit Esport and Alliance touching down in Hamburg. For many of these teams, this will be the first LAN appearance of the new season, and a chance to test the mettle of their lineups.

One interesting story heading into Hamburg is the clash of Team Liquid and Alliance. Or more accurately, “Old Alliance” versus “New Alliance.” After the organization couldn’t agree about their future together, the entire The International 2019 roster for Alliance departed, finding their way to Team Liquid shortly after.

After signing a new roster, centered around former Mineski TI9 core Nikolay “Nikobaby” Nikolov, the new Alliance has been putting on a clinic, cruising through the MDL Chengdu Major Qualifiers, and just yesterday, reverse-sweeping NA standouts Demon Slayers to win DreamLeague Season 12. Team Liquid and Alliance have already met once this season, in the Chengdu Major Qualifiers. Liquid will be hoping for a different result in this tournament.

The Little Guys

The four names you might not recognize are Quincy Crew, Vikin.gg, Fighting PandaS and Wind and Rain. Quincy Crew is a group of NA talents who have gathered around Quinn “CCnC” Callahan, initially to compete in the 2018/2019 DPC season. However, the team instead found offers from other NA competitors such as Forward Gaming and Team Singularity. Now the team has returned for a second chance at a DPC run.

Fighting PandaS might be recognizable as the Fighting Pepegas, the unlikely NA team who competed in Midas Mode, before upsetting J.Storm in a pair of qualifiers. The PandaS follow a proud tradition of unserious teams suddenly becoming a serious competitor. A banner previously wielded by NA’s Team Team before their acquisition by beastcoast.

Finally, the pair of Viking-themed teams, Vikin.gg and Wind and Rain, are stocked with (more or less) relative unknowns, who have started making waves in the early DPC season. These teams clashed in qualifiers, with Wind and Rain ultimately on the losing end. Both squads will be looking to prove they deserve to compete with the rest of this tournament’s big names.

What to Expect

ESL One events never fail to entertain. Perhaps because they’re not tied to the rest of the DPC season, teams often feel willing to take risks in picks and try out heroes they may not break out later in the year. There’s also something about ESL One events that makes the fans go absolutely crazy. Expect extra-loud crowds and plenty of chanting.

Match-up-wise, it will be incredibly exciting to see these teams match up on a big stage for the first time this season. CIS teams such as Virtus.pro and Gambit Esports are always a pleasure to watch in the early season, where they seem to perform best. But ultimately, the biggest story is still the aforementioned TL/Alliance clash. With Alliance looking so strong in their initial performances, and Liquid trying to prove that to their former organization that they would have been worth the money, expect the games between these two teams to be heated and hyped clashes.

ESL One Hamburg 2019 kicks off on October 22 at 1 pm CEST, live on the ESL Dota 2 Twitch channel, and the ESL Dota 2 YouTube channel. More information, full details, and tickets for ESL One Hamburg are available on the tournament’s official website.

Michael Hassall
Michael Hassall
Michael is a Brit-based esports generalist and timezone traveler. He spends his free time polishing his collection of fighting game tournament participation trophies.