The eight direct invites for the 2017 DotA 2 Kiev Major have been handed out and the teams selected were a bit surprising.
The eight teams are as follows:
Before I address the elephant in the room, here's a breakdown of the invited teams per region:
No surprises there with OG and Team Liquid, though I still think OG is the heavy favorite going into the majors. Excluding TI6, they've won three of the last four majors and are definitely looking strong enough to take home a fourth one.
Team Liquid, on the other hand, has been a consistent force in any major DotA tournament; always finishing in one of the top spots makes them a legitimate threat to anyone looking to win.
Then we have Ad Finem. After finishing second in the Boston Majors, the team has gone off the rails and has been playing poorly, forcing the team to get dissolved. The invitation stays with the players though, and they are expected to announce a new team soon.
How could a team with such obvious problems still be invited? Ad Finem seems to owe that to their second place finish at the previous majors, as Valve consistently invites the top four teams of their previous events.
Nothing comes unexpected on the North American side, as both Evil Genius and Digital Chaos have dominated the DotA scene since last year. Both have shown impressive performances in regional and international tournaments.
China's picks created quite a stir in the DotA community, as they have three direct invites for the tournament. This means that there will be five Chinese teams in the upcoming Kiev Major. This seems to be Valve's way of recognizing the level of competition in the region and the huge DotA community in China.
Setting aside the number of Chinese teams that will be present in Kiev, no one can argue that they don't deserve the recognition. Wing Gaming is the reigning TI champion, so it wasn't surprising that they got the invite (even though they've been a bit shaky in their recent showings).
Newbee is probably the strongest Chinese team out there right now. With their patented consistency that they have since winning TI4, they have been dominating the very strong Chinese region.
Last but not least is Vici Gaming J, an up-and-coming team looking to make their mark on the international stage. After defeating OG and coming up second to Team Liquid at the StarLadder event, they've shown the world that they can hold their own against the big boys of DotA.
Now, for the problems with the picks.
The decision to give three invites to the Chinese region is a huge blow for the Philippine teams and the Southeast Asian region in general. Not having a direct invite means that there are only two slots for SEA teams. That one lost slot means that the team that would not have been in the Regional Qualifiers will be competing with the rest of the teams in SEA.
This is a huge setback for the Philippines, as a lot of people were confident that TnC Pro Gaming would get an invite after winning WESG and placing well at other international events. Now they need to compete with Philippine teams Execration, Mineski, Clutch Gamers, along with other teams from Southeast Asia, just to get into the event.
That's a lot of teams to go through to achieve our dreams of winning a DotA Major tournament; and based on how things are shaping up, the Philippine teams are going to have a hard time just qualifying for the damn thing.
Regional Qualifiers are on March 10 to 13.