The past three weeks have been bustling with activity as teams played in a flurry of both major and minor qualifiers. Notably, the North American region will be fielding a different team in all three upcoming tournaments, StarLadder, PGL Bucharest and ESL One Hamburg. Thanks to the new required qualifiers, each region will get the opportunity to field at least one team. With only one invite per region though, the qualifiers so far have been fierce but also an excellent showcase of each region’s talent.
The first event of the new competitive season will be StarLadder, from October 12-15. The North American qualifiers have become stuffed with talent. New teams like VGJ.Storm, The Dire and the new Leviathan roster battled against established North American teams like Evil Geniuses, coL and Digital Chaos. In the end, coL ended up taking the win with a decisive 2-0 win over The Dire. The bracket was much more exciting than the grand final result though. North American titan Evil Geniuses received a thorough bell-ringing in the form of two huge upset losses. The first, to coL and the second to Team Leviathan. EG’s loss to Leviathan is one of the largest upsets in North America, especially considering that the team had just swapped Andrew “Jenkins” Jenkins for Jaron “monkeys-forever” Clinton the day prior.
At the PGL Open in Bucharest the next weekend, the ex-MVP.Pheonix roster, now Immortals, will be representing the North American region. Immortals’ entry into the realm of Dota 2 has added yet another contender to the North American ring, and it’s one that can clearly take games off the other top names. They pulled off a 2-1 win over The Dire in the grand finals in addition to besting Digital Chaos in the semifinals. With the favorites going into the season, EG, directly invited, there was much more room for teams to succeed. Experienced teams like coL, Immortals, DC and The Dire staked out their spots on the top, but between these teams competition was tight.
The real prize of the three is the ESL Hamburg Major spot, which was secured by Evil Geniuses in a dominant win over VGJ.Storm. After their shortcomings in the StarLadder qualifier, EG didn’t drop a single game qualifying for ESL Hamburg. On their way to qualifying, EG played and defeated both coL and Immortals, and undid some of the damage that their losses in StarLadder did. Despite putting on such a dominant show to qualify for ESL Hamburg, StarLadder showed teams that EG can be beaten. With so much resting on qualifiers in the new competitive system, it's vital that regions are not dominated by a single team. This stifles growth as the teams below them constantly miss out on chances to play LAN events. North America has become such a contentious region thanks in a large part to previous tournaments deciding to give EG direct invites. This allows teams like coL, Digital Chaos or The Dire to blossom and fully realize their talent.