The Dota Pro Circuit is back and OG are ready for the challenge
© Valve Corporation / Red Bull Content Pool
The new Dota Pro Circuit system is finally here. In just a few short weeks we’ll be back to enjoying the highest level of Dota and your reigning TI champs will be waiting to get started.
For the first time since 2011, Dota fans have been unable to enjoy their pinnacle event, The International. The Dota Pro Circuit, which usually begins at the end of September, was delayed and fans have had to wait an extra three months for it. On January 18, 2021, the Dota professional circuit will finally return in the form of a new regional league system.
At the beginning of the year, Valve announced that the next DPC season would again have some changes: this time the minors are out in favour of a regional league. The season will now be divided into three sub-seasons, comprising six regional leagues with an upper and lower division, each featuring eight teams. The aim of this regional league system is to introduce a more stable and deep scene, with each region having 18 teams competing – an unprecedented number of teams per region. This, in turn, gives organisations and sponsors a more predicable season, with teams playing consistent and regularly scheduled games.
As defending champions, and the only team to win The International twice, OG are looking to start the season strongly to defend their Aegis. It feels like a long time since we've seen OG participate in a Valve event, but they have a lot of reasons to be confident going into the new season.
New year, new roster
The OG boys are no strangers to roster changes, but the current line-up has spent most of the year together, with the newest additions Yeik 'MidOne' Nai Zheng and Martin 'Saksa' Sazdov both joining last January. MidOne has seen his fair share of success on Team Secret, where he managed a fourth-place finish at The International 9, their highest-ever placing. Saksa has also seen good results: back in 2016, his Digital Chaos roster managed to get all the way to the finals of The International 6 where they lost out to Wings Gaming. Neither of these players has managed to win a TI but they’re both widely regarded as one of the best within their respective roles.
Combine that with the already talented OG roster that includes Topias 'Topson' Taavitsainen (100 percent TI win rate) and the talented minds of Sébastien 'Ceb' Debs and Johan 'N0tail' Sundstein leading the charge and there's a solid roster. In a recent interview, Ceb noticed how the new additions were “great team-mates” and said they were “savvy about the game, so we learn from them back” which will be a great advantage to them with the new patch that just arrived.
The hidden buff to OG – the new patch
Valve recently released a new Dota 2 patch which has once again drastically changed the meta and brought in new items, new hero abilities and a new purchasable item for everyone, Aghanim's Shard. This change means teams will have to spend time playing and analysing the patch to work out what the strongest heroes are and how to play them. While initially things will get figured out, a patch of this size will leave teams learning for months after the fact. OG are no strangers to change and have become known for their theory-crafting. One example of this is the carry IO they used at The International 9, which became one of the strongest picks and even led OG to fountain farm teams with it. Topson plays a wide range of heroes in the middle lane, such as Ancient Apparition, that other mid laners aren't playing. Hopefully, this new patch will give OG a chance to shine with their theory-crafting and wide hero pools, allowing them to figure out the meta before other teams do.
The DPC factor
OG have always managed to turn it up another level when participating in Valve-sponsored events. This habit started from their first-ever Valve event back in 2015 with the Frankfurt Major. The team was new and people didn’t think they'd do that well. It seemed like the predictions were right as during the group stage they only managed to win one game, against Team Unknown who went 0-4. That form didn’t seem to matter to OG, as they made an epic lower-bracket run all the way through to the finals, where they beat Team Secret 3-1.
The same can be said for OG’s first-ever Aegis win, as a roster change prior to the event had left them, supposedly, weak. Some analysts even put them placing last in their predictions. While no one will ever consider them the weakest team now, there's a certain magic to OG when they enter a Valve-sponsored event and whatever that magic sauce is, you can bet they'll always turn up at a DPC event.
The road to TI10 starts here
Make no mistake: after a year long hiatus, the road to The International 10 starts here and OG will be looking to ramp things up in preparation. After all, they still need to defend the Aegis again and go for that unprecedented treble.
For many players, Dota life has been on hold of sorts as there was no official Valve event to participate in and certainly no TI. This new system should see a reinvigorated community and a chance to finally enjoy the new regional league system that Valve announced a long time ago. At the moment there are no confirmed times or dates for fans, but the DPC system is due to start on January 18. Keep an eye out, as information is sure to be announced closer to the time.