Dota 2 is clinging onto its status as the world’s most lucrative esport and it enjoys viewership figures that rival titles can only dream of. It has displayed remarkable endurance over the years and its competitive scene continues to become more dynamic and exciting with each passing season.
That is largely down to the success of The International, which has turned a number of Dota 2 pros into millionaires.
Last year Team OG romped to victory at the US$25.5 million ($36.8 million) tournament and an Australian was in the thick of the action.
Melbourne native Anathan “ana” Pham was a key member of the team that vanquished the mighty PSG.LGD 3-2 in the final and that instantly catapulted him to fame and fortune. It will be fascinating to see if Team OG can defend their crown at The International 2019, which will be held in Shanghai from August 20-25, as it promises to be as ferociously competitive as ever.
These are the five most exciting Dota 2 teams to follow in the build-up to The International 2019 and at the other big tournaments of the year:
N0tail, JerAx, ana, 7ckingmad and Topson continually defied the odds to clinch The International in a real Cinderella story last year. They were plunged into a group of death along with Team Liquid, PSG.LGD and Mineski and few fans expected them to even reach the latter stages of the competition.
A humbling at the hands of Liquid saw them plunged into the lower half of the group, but they thrashed Fnatic and scraped a top-four finish to ensure an upper bracket slot.
Group B victors VGJ.Storm understandably picked OG as a first round opponent and they were expected to cruise to victory, but OG defied the odds to secure a rousing triumph. Next up they toppled the mighty Evil Geniuses, eliminating former teammates Fly and s4 in the process.
It led to a final showdown with PSG.LGD. It was only the second time a Grand Final went to five games and OG, who began the campaign as an unfancied Open qualifier, showed tremendous resilience to prevail.
This year has not quite gone to plan for Team OG, as ana took a few months out to recuperate and spend some of his hard-earned cash.
With career earnings of US$2.86 million ($4.14 million), he is the 11th highest-earning esports star of all time, and it is largely down to his starring role at The International. He returned to the team in time to inspire them to a fifth-place finish at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major, but it was still not enough to see them qualify for The International 2019.
It is now imperative that they do well at the US$1 million EPICENTER Major in Moscow on June 22-30, or Team OG will not even be able to defend their crown in Shanghai later this year.
Liquid is the world’s most successful esports franchise and that is mainly down to its Dota 2 team’s performances at The International. They took home US$10.86 million when they won it in 2018 and earned another $1.78 million when they finished fourth last year.
They have also won the China Supermajor, the Manila Major 2016 and EPICENTER 2017 and it has ensured that team captain Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi is the highest-earning esports star in history.
He lines up alongside Miracle-, MinD_ContRoL, GH and MATUMBAMAN in a star-studded European side and they will be among the leading lights battling for victory at the big tournaments this year.
They will also be at the upcoming EPICENTER Major and it would be fascinating to see them lock horns with Team OG again after beating them in Birmingham two weeks ago.
This collective was set up by Dota 2 legends KuroKy and N0tail back in 2014, with Puppey, Fly and s4 rounding off a magnificent roster. They went into The International 2015 as favourites to win it, but they struggled and could only finish 7-8th. The team disbanded and it was left to Puppey, the sole remaining member, to put together a new side.
He is a mainstay of Team Secret and he is now joined by Nisha, MidOne, zai and YapzOr. Things have really clicked for Team Secret this year after finishing 5-6th at The International 2018.
They landed the $350,000 Chongqing Major and the $350,000 MDL Disneyland Paris Major, and they are now clear favourites for big tournaments when leading betting sites like Unikrn release futures odds.
Secret will be the team to beat at The International 2019 and their current form will strike fear into the hearts of their rivals.
This North American team was founded in 1999 and it has enjoyed great success at a wide range of esports over the years. Their Dota 2 collective was formed in 2011, featuring PlaymatE, DeMon, MiSeRy, Fear and Pajkatt.
They lost a few key players in the ensuing years, but Fear was still part of the team when they won The International 2015 alongside Suma1l, UNiVeRse, Aui_2000 and ppd.
It remains the only major triumph for an American team at one of the big esports. Nowadays the roster comprises of Arteezy, SumaiL, s4, Cr1t- and Fly, who all joined between 2016 and 2018. They finished third at The International 2016 and The International 2018, and they have recently seized glory in the Manila Masters.
They are currently second behind only Team Secret in most power rankings covering Dota 2 and they have a chance to overtake Liquid as the highest-earning esports team in history at The International 2019.
French football club Paris Saint-Germain joined forces with Chinese esports powerhouse LGD Gaming last year to create PSG.LGD. The LGD Defense of the Ancients team has been going since 2009 and they enjoyed reasonable success over the years.
The arrival of PSG sparked immediate success as they won two Majors last year and secured a direct invite to The International 2018.
They were in magnificent form throughout the tournament and they were expected to wipe the floor with Team OG in the final, but it ended in heartbreak for Ame, Somnus-M, Chalice, fy and xNova.
They have not been quite so dynamic this year, but the potential of this team is vast and it would not be surprising to see them challenging at the business end of several big tournaments in the months ahead.