Valve has unveiled the eight teams invited for the Kiev Major, while the final eight teams will be determined through respective regional qualifiers. While it’s unclear how Valve determines which teams get invited—there are no guidelines, rankings, or any form of public communication—we can look at the trends of past events to suss out the company’s thought process.
First, right off the bat, the top four teams of the last event are invited to the next tournament, if their rosters are still qualified. Then, it’s on a case-by-case basis on how many more teams are invited after that.
Traditionally Valve has favored top performances at LAN events, and whether it’s an IceFrog or Valve opinion, they have also weighed Chinese events higher. It’s how a team like Newbee is a lock for anyone who has been following China’s DPL. It’s no secret that certain regions are stronger than others. This isn’t the first time that a SEA team hasn’t been invited to a Valve event.
The major controversy around invites surrounds the idea of how much a team can disqualify itself with a poor performance, if that team has already secured a spot with a top finish at a premier event. How secure is that expected invite? That was the case with TI6 invites and Fnatic, who fans felt that the team was unjustly punished for finishing last at ESL One Frankfurt. It’s also why fans feel like Ad.Finem shouldn’t have received an invite, because of their recent struggles.
If teams were punished for losing more than they were rewarded for winning, then teams just wouldn’t participate in any future events after a top finish at a premier LAN. One would expect that the act of poor sportsmanship is already disqualifying, since Valve does have a measure of subjective valuation when determining invites. To their credit, Valve has been consistent in inviting the top finishers at the previous Major to the next one, regardless of inconsistent tournament results.
Team OG is the king of the Majors, with championship wins in Manila, Frankfurt, and most recently at Boston. They also finished second to EG at DotaPit. They were an automatic lock for an invite to Kiev as defending champions.
EG’s top 4 finish at the Boston Major pretty much guaranteed their invite, but they also helped their case with a 1st place win at Dotapit. EG is not only a powerhouse but they’re a historic NA organization. It doesn’t feel like a Valve event without EG there.
ESL One Genting Champions, top 4 at the Boston Major, and a 2nd place TI finish, with a roster that was barely cobbled together before the deadline. Yes, their recent performance has been rocky, but they should be rewarded more for their accomplishments than disqualified for their failures. Even then, their recent losses have been to top teams in VG.J, wings.gaming, and Team NP, who won the DAC qualifiers.
Valve has held the tradition of inviting the previous TI champions to the next TI, regardless of performance during that time (see: Newbee). The reputation of wings.gaming precedes them. While they finished in the bottom 8 of the Boston Major, it was in a single elimination format, and they were eliminated by Evil Geniuses. The level of criticism wings has received is proportional to the expectations after their dominant TI6 win. They’re still a strong team, but just not leaps above the competition.
Ad.Finem has taken a heel turn since their dream run through the Boston Major. Despite becoming a the crowd favorite, fans are now asking what the team has done lately. They lost in the DAC qualifiers 0-4, and they’ve yet to place in any other event since the Boston Major.
If they were penalized for their post-Major results, it would set a standard that discourages teams from participating in future events after a strong finish at a premier event. In the case of Ad.Finem, after their 2nd place finish, they shouldn’t feel like they need to avoid playing in future tournaments to preserve what may be a secured invite to the next Major.
Newbee placed 2nd ESL One Genting and they won DPL (Dota2 Professional League), which is a tournament that’s relatively unknown outside of China. But DPL is a tournament, with a $800,00 prize pool, that is host to the most competitive region in Dota. It’s Dota at the highest level, and Newbee’s performance out of that gauntlet is testament to their standing.
VG.J has one of the youngest rosters, formed in September 2016, but is host to some of the most seasoned veterans in Dota, with four out of their five players having 2nd place finishes at a TI. rOTk returns as captain, and FY and Fenrir reunite as the famed support duo from TI4. The roster is filled with star power, which also includes the backing of NBA player Jeremy Lin, who the “J” in VG.J stands for. Since the roster formed, they are 10-2-2, qualified for DAC, and finished 2nd place at StarSeries 3.
Team Liquid secured their invite most likely with their Starladder i-league Starseries 3 championship, especially in a dominating grand finals 3-1 victory over VG.J. That’s notwithstanding their run of accomplishments prior to this, with a first place finish at DreamLeague Season 6 and topping out of their region for DAC’s Europe qualifier, without losing a game in the playoff bracket. With two premier tournament wins and the DAC qualifier, Team Liquid is on one of the hottest runs leading up to the Kiev Major.