We examine the format of the Dota 2 Frankfurt Majors China & SEA Qualifiers and preview the brackets for the best-of-3 series events.
Before we begin, we should briefly address the format of the qualifiers. The setup appears to be the same as the qualifiers for The International 2015, although this hasn’t been expressly stated for all aspects of the qualifiers. This mean we’re looking at ten teams split into two groups of five for each region, which play a round-robin groupstage in which the top two teams from each group advance to the double elimination bracket which will ultimately determine the two teams headed to Frankfurt from each region. What is not expressly stated but which can be expected is that the groupstage games are likely to be best-of-2 series which award 3 points for a 2-0 victory and 1 point for a 1-1 draw, a fact which can become very important in cases of close groups. The bracket stage meanwhile can be assumed to be best-of-3 series all the way through, especially since there’s no need to distinguish between the first and second place from each region as there is no wild card system for the Frankfurt Major.
South East Asia - 10th-13th October
SEA as a region is the most volatile and least defined of all the regions. It is generally considered the weakest region in recent years and especially the middle of the pack is very hard to predict. In terms of betting this means that you’re better off making value bets on high odds where there is potential for upsets or simply betting on the few strong teams of the region, who usually can be expected to defeat their lesser rivals. Overall, smart betting on SEA games is always reliant on paying attention to how teams are playing on the day and not betting too far ahead, as there’s less pedigree to depend on.
SEA Group A
Fnatic is the undeniably frontrunner of Group A and overall the strongest team of the region, as has been the case for some time now. Fnatic posted a 7-0 in series after the formation of their new lineup before suffering their first loss at ESL New York to Team Secret, 1-2. Not only were they 7-0 in series, they only dropped games in one of these series, a 3-2 victory over MVP.Phoenix as part of the ESL New York qualifier. It’s almost a given that Fnatic will come out on top of Group A.
The strongest competition for Fnatic in Group A will be TNC-Gaming, a team who have consistently been performing well since before the SEA qualifiers for TI5. They are posting 3-2 series for October and 4-2 for September, including a 3-0 record over SatuDuaTiga, who are arguably the third best team of the group. SatuDuaTiga in turn are 0-3 in October and 2-2 for September, but are ahead of the mostly dismantled MVP.Hot6ix who have only recorded one game, a loss, in the post-TI5 period.
The final team of the group is open qualifier winner 4Hate. This team has on its roster a number of known Singaporean players including former MVP player WarNutz and former Zenith player xFreedom. This team was mostly just formed for the qualifiers, something which may work in their favour as their opponents are unlikely to know much about their comfort picks and style. The team is also the only one playing from Singapore, which usually grants a slight edge as the SEA servers are located in Singapore, granting the team next to no latency in online games against the very varied quality of connections that the rest of the teams are playing on.
The strongest betting opportunities posed by Group A are likely going to be betting on a Fnatic win over TNC as these odds should be the best you’ll get betting on Fnatic during the groupstage. Otherwise, follow 4Hate’s first game and if they come out swinging then consider putting down bets on them especially against SatuDuaTiga and MVP.Hot6ix before the odds change to reflect reality.
SEA Group B
Group B looks to be considerly closer, especially with old favorites MVP.Phoenix flying in their star mid player QO for the qualifiers. After TI5 QO returned for a time to Australia in order to continue his studies, but is now back with his team in Korea for a few days already, which will help him out considerably in trying to carry this team to victory. MVP.Phoenix recent results have in fact been quite lackluster with him away, posting an 0-3 in October and a 2-1 for their September series. Still, these poor performances are going to be the bettors advantage if QO can turn the ship around, and there is good reason to believe he might be able to. MVP.Phoenix also is the only team in the region who has been able to go toe-to-toe with Fnatic, although that was early in the post-TI season with Fnatic still adapting to their roster.
While most would have expected MVP.Phoenix to be the top dog of Group B, it’s actually Mineski who have been the second strongest team of SEA in recent weeks. In September Mineski suffered losses to Fnatic and TNC, going 2-2 in series, but has started out this month with an impressive 6-0 run, including a victory over MVP.Phoenix on the eve of the qualifiers and with QO already back in Korea. This match was a fairly competitive 2-1 win which helped bolster faith in MVP, but it also made it clear that for now, Mineski stands atop the other challengers to the Fnatic throne.
Signature.Trust is the third team in strong contention for this group, having gone 5-3 in series this month and 2-2 for the previous month. They’ve matched up twice with Mineski, losing 1-2 in September and getting trunced 0-2 on October 8th, however they’ve not played MVP.Phoenix in the post-TI5 period, and this match-up may be the one that decides who takes second place in the group. Sig.Tr have faced Rex Regum Qeon, the fourth invite of the group, taking a 2-0 victory over them back on September 5th.
RRQ are coming into Group B on a 3 game losing stream post-TI5. This team has few chances to upset the stronger teams and actually look at face value to be weaker than the open qualifier team Spac_Creators, who recently took a game off MVP.Phoenix in the Nanyang qualifiers. ScT are sitting on a 1-1 record for September and 1-3 for October with their one October win being against a incomplete MVP lineup, which ultimately means that while they might take a game off RRQ, they are unlikely to accomplish much more, especially playing on higher pings due to being based out of Australia.
Overall, depending on how the odds are set once the schedule for the qualifier games is released, there’s good opportunities to place low risk value bets on MVP.Phoenix and Sig.Tr in this group, and potentially sneak in bets on Mineski if some betting sites haven’t caught on to their recent dominance. Just bare in mind the inherrent risk of SEA before parting with your dollars.
As stated above, Fnatic are the king of the hill for this region and are strong favorites to win yet another qualifier. Mineski poses the strongest threat to Fnatic, but have not so far been able to rattle them in recent match-up’s, although their last match was on the old patch and before Mineski’s strong run this month. MVP.Phoenix represent the dark horse, with QO the lynchpin who will decide how far they can go on the day. Unfortunately for TNC, while they are very likely to make it into the playoffs, their overall ran at this point is more than likely going to be the also-ran of the region.
China - 11th-14th October
China traditionally is considered to have a fairly big gap between their top tier teams and those under them, and with no less than four top Chinese teams directly invited to the Frankfurt Major, this means that the qualifier has a few select teams which on paper should be quite clear favorites. However, as we’ve seen recently with the rise of CDEC to become a new top tier team, there is some mobility even within the Chinese scene and there are some interesting talent that might throw wrenches of the more established players.
China Group A
Invictus Gaming has to be considered the top pick of Group A, having taken down an admittedly fairly weak Virtus.Pro at ESL New York, but also for being the runners up of both the ESL New York and the Nanyang Chinese qualifiers, both times coming in second behind EHOME. iG have recovered quite nicely from their underwhelming performance at TI5, posting 5-2 results for September and going 1-1 in October, both of their October games being from ESL New York where they also were missing their new captain and support player Super. Overall, iG comes into this qualifier and this group as the frontrunner and the ones to beat.
The second best track-record for the group belongs to FTD-Club, who took a series off CDEC.Youth in the ESL One qualifier and defeated Team DK in the Nanyang qualifier. Their overall record for September was 5-4, but they’ve yet to play a game in October as is the case for most of these Chinese teams. They beat out NewBee.Young, who’ve seemingly taken a step back from where they were ahead of the TI5 qualifiers. NewBee.Young had a 2-4 record in September, beating out FTD Club’s b-team twice, but have also not played since the latest patch hit.
If FTD-Club and NewBee.Young are fairly enigmatic they’ve little on the newly formed FanTuan, who’ve actually not played a single game as a team. This team does sport legendary players ZSMJ and YaphetS along with newcomer prospect InJuly, but in each case their Dota 2 history is less exciting than could be hoped for. ZSMJ’s old team HGT became famous for their ability to crumble under pressure and to lose games which they should have won and YaphetS is more known for being attached to teams that he never ends up playing with in recent times. This lineup can however be a dark horse, with the latest word being that YaphetS has been putting in work and improving with Dota 2. With the odds likely to be all over the place for this team, there’s bound to be some good bargains, just don’t bet on them beating iG for now.
The final team of Group A is the qualifier winner DK Scuderia. This team is a veritable unknown without any recognizable names and the odds of this second team of an already weakened brand are not particularly great. More than likely just in the qualifier for the experience.
China Group B
The favorite for this group should, according to conventional wisdom, be the 2014 worlds best team NewBee. However, the past year has not been kind to NewBee, and more importantly we’ve actually not seen them play with their new lineup. This is not to say that NewBee hasn’t played at all, as they took part in both the ESL New York and the Nanyang qualifiers fielding various stand-in’s and recording a 2-3 result, all during the first three weeks of September. Still, Hao remains the best carry in China and Mu remains a strong mid player and between the two it’s hard to argue that they shouldn’t be able to defeat the other teams in their group. Just hold off on betting until you’ve seen their first series play out, as just having big names is far from a guaranteed recipe for success.
The more secure contender for the top spot of this group is going to be CDEC.Youth, a team which brings back together InFlame, June and Demons after the two core players tried and failed to establish themselves as big franchise players over the past year. 3/5th’s of this team is then made up of the CIS-Game squad who under the heavy leadership of Black^ made their way to the 2014 International wild card matches, although they ultimatley came up short. An interesting addition is the new carry player Ame- who seems to have come out of nowhere but who has more than earned his place on the team in their early matches. The team posted a 7-3 score for their games in September and made the losers bracket finals of the Nanyang qualifiers.
TongFu aren’t quite as exciting as CDEC.Youth, but they’ve still made a reasonable run in recent competitions including a 1-2 loss to ViCi Gaming in the ESL New York qualifiers and defeating FTD Club as well as NewBee in the Nanyang qualifiers before going out due to 1-2 losses to EHOME and CDEC.Youth. The team strengthened their lineup in the post-TI5 shuffle by adding former iG captain Faith, who brings the calm experience of a once TI winning support to this team of mid level Chinese talent. TongFu’s overall record for September was 3-3 in series and it seems quite likely that they’ll be able to challenge the two presumed favorites of the group, although it remains to be seen if they can actually take them out when it matters.
The final two teams of the group are Wings Gaming and the as of writing undetermined second open qualifier team. Wings has not played a single official game in recent months. They made the top4 in the qualifiers for The International 2015, but have since lost several players and seem unlikely to be able to compete in a fairly tough group.
In terms of betting there’s a good chance that the odds of NewBee are not going to reflect reality, as the team had a rough time with their old roster and have not been seen with their full roster yet. This means that following their performance and betting accordingly is likely to provide some great opportunities in this group.
Going into the playoffs iG look to be the strongest team and the only ones with actual competitive experience on the new patch. However, their lead is not insurmountable, and the teams coming out of Group B should be able to match up reasonably well with what iG brings to the table. In particular a strong NewBee could pose a considerable danger, while CDEC.Youth has already shown they can take games off iG, losing their last encounter in the Nanyang qualifier 1-2. The second place team of Group A seems likely to be the weakest link of the playoffs, with FTD-Club unlikely to be able to play on this level and only a strong showing from FanTuan potentially disrupting what should otherwise be a three horse race.