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    Dota 2 – Reviewing The Shanghai Major Qualifiers

    The Shanghai Major has now concluded its qualifier, 2 months ahead of its main event. Let’s look qualifiers and its winners and what the road to Shanghai from here on out will look like.

    Qualifier and its winners

    The qualifier had only a few surprises and upsets. Most of the teams that were expected to go through the qualifier with ease did just that. Team Liquid, PSG.LGD and Fnatic were heavy favorites going into the their regional qualifiers and proved why. All three teams only gave away a total of 2 games each in their entire run.

    As for the Americas qualifier, it wasn’t as clearcut going into it. Team Archon certainly was amongst the favorite, but it seemed to be a three-way race between them, Digital Chaos and compLexity Gaming. Archon prevailed against both squads, forcing them to decide the 2nd place in the lower bracket, which coL took home.

    South-East Asia also had a rather big favorite for 2nd place in MVP Phoenix, but WinteR’s Mineski Malaysia gave them quite the run in the groupstage, forcing a tiebreaker.

    China and Europe fielded a more competitive and close fighting field–thus creating a few more upsets and surprises. In China, TI2 champions INVICTUS GAMING fell short to their youth squad iG.Vitality, whereas CDEC.Avenger, the third CDEC squad, took first place in their group against the likes of Newbee or Wings Gaming.

    Interestingly enough, if the format for the groups had been the same as it was for Frankfurt, where a win in the bo2 series would result in 3 points, as opposed to now 2, Wings Gaming would’ve advanced as 2nd in the group. Instead, both teams were tied and Wings lost the tiebreaker. Eventually Newbee even took the 2nd place in the qualifier, thus making it to Shanghai.

    Europe was dominated by a vast line-up of strong CIS teams, but even going into the qualifier, one stood out to be potentially the strongest and they proved it immediately as well. Team. Spirit has taken the 2nd EU spot convincingly and outshone the rest of the competition. The qualifier still saw a bit of a surprise, as former Frankfurt Major invite Vega Squadron only placed 4th.

    Regional Metas

    Everytime there is a large qualifier across multiple regions in such a short timespan, you’ll truly see how the metas in each region differ, as there is usually not enough time for teams to pick up on strategies and metas from other regions.

    Pick differences

    There are a few notable heroes that get picked more often in certain regions, while completely ignored in others. Faceless Void is a prime example here. He’s been picked a total of 33 times throughout the past week, but not a single European team played him. In general, Europe has been the “least diverse” region, as they have a total of 31 heroes that were neither picked nor banned throughout the qualifiers, the highest amount out of all regions. (SEA: 30, China: 29, Americas: 26) The Americas seem even more flexible when looking at the amount of heroes that have either been picked or banned only once. While they have only 7 heroes in that regard, Europe and SEA both sit at 14 and China at 17.

    Witch Doctor was the 6th most picked hero overall, but almost half of those games (28/63) were played in the Americas qualifier. Similarly, Invoker has seen much more play in the Americas and South-East Asia, which is most likely due to a higher banrate in Europe and China. There, he was banned in 30 and 34 games respectively, compared to the Americas’ 22 and SEA’s 23.

    Speaking of notable bans, Enchantress was banned in a total of 38 games in just the Americas, where she has been played 11 times, out of a total of 24 throughout the entire qualifier, almost exclusively as an offlaner.

    Each region seemed to had its unique flavor and preferences with China standing out quite a bit. Chen, one of the most successful heroes of the event, has been almost entirely neglected by the Chinese teams. The Chinese however have put much more emphasis on one of the new additions to the Captain’s Mode, Earth Spirit. While Earth Spirit has been a more targeted ban in Europe, mostly towards Team Liquid’s JerAx, China seems to be more scared of the hero. This is probably due to his consistent winrate of over 50% in 5k+ MMR pub games in China, with a pickrate of now 31% this month. In comparison, you’ll only see ES in 13% of your games at an only 52% winrate. In fact, looking at China’s inhouse league CDEC Classic, you’ll see that he’s been banned in 63% of the games ever since he’s been introduced into Captain’s Mode.

    For Europe, the flavor has been push orientated heroes. Aside from Chen, Lycan and Lone Druid have been rather popular.

    Winrates differences

    Now that we’ve looked at the different pick behavior, let’s see how successful certain heroes have been in different regions.

    A lot of winrates directly relate to the pick behavior as well. Chen, 71% winrate, and Lycan, 71% winrate, have both been so popular in Europe because they are also successful. Amongst the heroes that have been picked in Europe at least 10 times, these two have the highest winrates. In fact, they even occupy 2 top3 spots for winrates with at least 15 games played across all regions. Only Sven has been more successful (73% in 15 games). To round out the top 5, Death Prophet, 63% winrate in 41 games, and Earth Spirit, 63% winrate in 27 games, join the fray.

    Aside from Death Prophet though, none of these heroes were consistently picked across all regions. So what about these heroes that have been consistently picked? Tusk has quite the steady winrate of around 50% in EU and SEA, and 60% in China and NA/SA.

    Gyrocopter is also still very much popular and remains a solid pick with an overall 53% winrate. Just beware in Europe, he’s been much less successful there (37% winrate)

    As you can tell by both win and pickrates, each region is still finding their own meta and only slowly will we see a more global one. Historically speaking, we should see a much more refined meta the closer we get to Shanghai with common core picks and bans.

    Road To Shanghai

    So what can we expect to see in the next few weeks leading up to Shanghai?

    Right now, StarLadder and i-League are running their LAN finals in Minsk, with 9 teams attending that will also be at the Shanghai Major. Later this month, MarsTV’s MDL will carry out their Chinese Qualifier for their own LAN event, which already has invited OG, Vici Gaming and Evil Geniuses, while compLexity and Team Spirit also qualified.

    No other LAN event has been announced yet. It is a timeframe that organizers want to avoid, as the Chinese teams celebrate Chinese New Year on February 8, followed by weeks of vacation.

    There are however DotaPit qualifiers to look out for, as the LAN finals will take place shortly after the Major. Only 4 Major participants (Liquid, Alliance, Spirit and coL) will play the qualifier though.

    In 7 weeks from now, the Shanghai Major will open its doors, although the groupstage will possibly start sooner. The 16 teams are set, the favorites are starting to establish themselves, but the line-up looks quite competitive yet again. Looks like we’re in for a treat.

    As seen on Dotabuff

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