ONE Esports Singapore Major group stage: The proving grounds

Dota 2 Andreea “divushka” Esanu

Following the first two days of Wild Card stage, ONE Esports Singapore Major will move into the group stage where eight teams will play two game series in a single Round Robin group for seeding slots in the playoffs bracket. 

Unfortunately, for two teams, the Major run will come to an end here, with no prize money or DPC points to sweeten the bitter aftertaste.

Six out of the eight teams competing in the group stage have claimed a spot in this leg of the competition by placing 2nd in their respective DPC Regional Leagues. Once they reach Singapore, they will be joined by the top two finishers of the Wild Card and this is where it will all get more complicated than most fans anticipate.

Due to the hard times the world is facing tackling the coronavirus, the teams are set to arrive in Singapore about 48 hours before their first games in the tournament. Apart from the obvious quarantine issues that we explored in detail, this timetable has a very high chance to give an almost unfair advantage to the teams that actually failed to grab a spot in either the group or the playoffs stage. Reports from the teams competing cite that there isn’t much time allocated for practice games, nor a proper set-up for each team to benefit from their own practice room.

On top of that, for all those coming to the Major from regions other than Southeast Asia and China, the jet lag might also be a detrimental factor to their readiness to perform. Hence, the two teams that will join the group stage from the Wild Card will be at an advantage simply because they had more time to recover from the travel and also they would have already played a bunch of official games and will enter the group play warmed up.

ONE Esports Singapore Major group stage participating teams:

Natus Vincere
OB Esports x Neon
Team Aster
Quincy Crew
Thunder Predator
TBD (Wild Card #1)
TBD (Wild Card #2)

At the end of the group stage matches, the top teams in the standings will advance to the upper bracket playoffs, the bottom two will be eliminated, while those placed in the middle of the pack - 3rd to 6th place - will head to the playoff lower bracket. It’s needless to say that the top two is what everyone will aim for, but the news about last minute stand-ins for various teams are making the predictions really volatile. 

Alliance and NAVI fighting head to head for playoffs or do they?

Judging by how competitive the Regional Leagues were, Alliance should be the main favorites at claiming one of the top two spots. Luckily, so far, they are good to go with the whole team, which increases their chances to make a legendary run through the entire tournament.

Alliance are coming to this Major as one of the very few teams able to steal a game from Team Secret. They weren’t able to take down the European giants, but in the majority of their games, they locked in fast pushing drafts, anchored in the current meta, and most of the time they executed their strategies flawlessly. The fact that they didn’t show a clear preference for Dire or Radiant indicates that they are mainly looking to establish an early lead without being reliant on the jungle stacks for one of their cores. In fact, their trio-core, Nikolay "Nikobaby" Nikolov, Linus "Limmp" Blomdin, Gustav "s4" Magnusson is what makes the team scary. And on top of their cores’ consistency, Alliance have an ace in their sleeves named Nature’s Prophet, which at this point everyone on their roster can play and create chaos with it.

Anyone playing Alliance has to either be really prepared to get the Rat Dota treatment from Artsiom "fng" Barshak in the fifth position or get dismantled in under 20 minutes by a core Furion. 

As one of the teams that perfected heavy pushing strategies mixed with strong team fight tools, it should come to no one’s surprise that Alliance hold the record for the earliest tier one tower taken, just 6 minutes into the game, in the EU league.

Dota 2 fans were expecting this group stage to deliver a must watch “el clasico”, as Natus Vincere, Alliance’s archenemy across years of game history, have also made it to this leg. Unfortunately, due to the recent news of  Bogdan "Iceberg" Vasilenko and Andrii "ALWAYSWANNAFLY" Bondarenko being unable to play with the team, the question regarding NAVI shifts from “will they make it to the upper or the lower bracket playoffs”, to “will they be able to make it out of the group?”

One week is simply too short of a period for any team to adjust properly to a roster change, especially when travelling across continents is also on the schedule, and from being one of the favorites, NAVI have now become a big question mark.

Unfortunately, the same applies to Neon Esports, who have been nothing but spectacular in the SEA league and had the potential to be one of the big surprises of the Singapore Major. However, they are also arriving at the Major with a stand-in and a few role swaps inside the line-up in order to make room for Rappy.

Watch out for Team Aster

Assuming that Team Aster will be able to attend in full formula, they should be regarded as main contender at one of the upper bracket seeds. They finished the China league tied with Invictus Gaming and only a tiebreaker series could make the difference between these two teams. Aster lost the tiebreaker despite being able to take down iG 2-0 earlier in the league. If we look at their league results and the tiebreaker game score, Aster and iG are actually equal, both finished the six-week league with an overall 6-1 score, Aster hold a 2-0 victory over iG in the league but got bested 2-0 by them in the tiebreaker.

Without a doubt, China comes with the heavy artillery at this Major, and if one or both of their teams from the Wild Card will join the group play, then everyone else should be worried. Depending on who will make it out of the Wild Card, if it’s either the two European teams or the two China representatives, or a mix between these, then the group stage battle will be beyond fierce.

Singapore Major, the first real challenge for North and South America

photo: Beyond The Summit

Through the entire online affair of 2020, Quincy Crew were the absolute dominant force in NA. They claimed seven tournament titles, pretty much the same as Team Secret in Europe, but because the NA region is not regarded as a highly competitive one, QC’s stellar performance went rather unnoticed. As frustrating it can be for the players who put in the hard work and took the 2020 online season to perfect themselves, the fact that they weren’t on everyone’s radar can play to their advantage now. With Neon and NAVI having to readjust mere days before the competition, Quincy Crew can easily rise to the top of the standings.

For Thunder Predator, the group play will most probably be one of the toughest challenges they’ve been presented with in more than a year. South America was greatly impacted by the world lockdowns and by the fact that they had to play from home. More often than not, they had to play in the online format with high latency and keeping a stable roster though the whole year proved to be impossible even for Thunder Predator, who in terms of results were one of the most stable teams from SA.

Hopefully, they will be able to arrive at the Major with a full formula and will make a swift recovery from the long flight from Peru to Singapore.

The ONE Esports Singapore Major group stage is set to begin on March 29 and we could not be more impatient for the arena to finally open and allow the greatest teams across six regions to engage in the battle not only for the Major title, but also for a spot at The International 10!

Check out our in depth review of the Wild Card Teams HERE and be on the lookout for our Playoff team review coming soon as well as all the latest news on what’s going on with the ONE Esports Singapore Major

Singapore Major Format

  • Teams
    • Majors feature 18 teams from among the six regions
  • Wild Card
    • Six teams
    • Bo2 round-robin
    • Top two teams advance to the Group Stage
    • Bottom four teams are eliminated
  • Group Stage
    • Eight teams
    • Bo2 round-robin
    • Top two teams advance to the Upper Bracket of the Playoffs
    • 3rd to 6th placed teams advance to the Lower Bracket of the Playoffs
    • Bottom two teams are eliminated
  • Playoffs
    • Twelve teams, Double Elimination bracket
    • Four teams start in the Lower Bracket
    • Eight teams start in the Upper Bracket

Singapore Major Prize Pool and DPC Point Distribution 

Majors award $500,000 USD and 2,700 DPC points among the top eight teams as follows:

Place Prize DPC Pts
1 $200,000  500
2 $100,000  450
3 $75,000  400
4 $50,000 350
5-6 $25,000 300
7-8 $12,500 200



Do the teams coming to the Singapore Major with stand-ins stand a chance?

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Andreea “divushka” Esanu
I can resist anything but temptations... Follow me @DivDota


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