The 2017-2018 competitive season is rather different than any previous season, as teams are forced to produce results at all stages of the year to gain enough points for an invite to The International. Valve has scheduled over 25 Minors and Majors over the entire season, with qualifiers taking place every day. As a fan, it’s basically impossible to follow every region, let alone their meta differences.
Here’s a short overview of noteworthy teams from each region and a snippet of this month’s regional metas.
Team Secret has been a dominant force in Europe, dropping only two games on record since The International. Since qualifying for three events and being invited to a fourth, Secret is well on their way to earn points for the next TI, with no team in Europe, Liquid aside, looks quite as strong yet. The, the team, with its veteran Puppey, has established its own meta, forcing enemies to ban the likes of Chen, Broodmother and Pugna against them. Ace’s addition has added a whole additional layer of strategies and picks Secret can use, as the young Dane is known to have a wide and rather unique hero pool.
This year, for the first time ever, fan favorite Natus Vincere failed to qualify for The International. As a consequence, it was no surprise the team immediately made roster changes, though it was quite surprising to see that they stuck with their core of Dendi, GeneraL and SonneikO. Together with coach Xboct, former Team Empire’s Rodjer and youngster Crystallize, Na’Vi has now qualified for just as many LAN events in the span of a month as they have in the previous season. The Ukrainian squad may still be behind Virtus.pro, as seen in their 1-2 loss against the Russians, but they’ve shown more promise than their previous team and Na’Vi has a history of performing on LAN when it matters, especially at Kiev’s Cyberarena in previous StarLadder installments.
Vici Gaming has struggled a lot in the past season. None of their teams did particularly well and only VGJ was able to qualify for LAN events. The main roster was plagued with instability and needed to be reformed. They’ve since added former EHOME trio of LaNm, Fenrir and eleven to their roster, as well as explosive iG.Vitality carry Paparazi. Together with Ori, this team has looked like a completely different thus far, much scarier in fact. The team has already qualified for the StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 3 and is well on its way to qualify for two more Minors. With their dynamic cores and a rejuvenated LaNm, VG looks to reclaim their spot at the top of China.
Earlier this year, Mineski.亿鼎博 decided to take necessary steps to establish themselves at the top of South-East Asia again. By building a team around superstar and veteran Mushi-, Mineski hoped to qualify for The International. While that plan didn’t work out, the team has restructured since and looks much stronger than ever before. Together with Singaporean fan favorite Iceiceice, Mineski has looked rather dominant thus far and almost went on a sheer undefeated run, much like Faceless did last year. While not undefeated, Mineski has still managed to qualify for three Minors. Their approach to the game and their willingness to look outside the box, including an offlane Winter Wyvern, coupled with the players’ individual and collective experiences, make Mineski a scary opponent to face going forward.
SG e-sports team was the first ever South American team to qualify for a Valve event and caused one of the biggest upsets in Dota 2 history by beating Team Secret in the playoffs at the Kiev Major. Since then, it has become rather quiet around the team and organization, as they fell short to several competitors, most notably against Infamous. Following the conclusion of TI however, SG has rebuilt their team and has very much become a favorite in their own region. Qualifying for two Minors and the ESL One Hamburg Major, SG has started out strong.
compLexity Gaming had a rough season. Failing to qualify for either the Kiev Major or The International, the team around captain Kyle, formerly Swindlezz, hasn’t looked strong at all. Sticking to the core of Kyle, Zfreek, and Moo, coL has looked towards old friends to regain old strengths. Together with the Swedish brothers Limmp and Chessie, coL has been a dominant force in North America, qualifying for two Minors and reaching the top four in the remaining qualifiers. The team has established its own meta with various unique picks, such as Underlord, Sniper and core Jakiro, often times forcing enemies to counter pick coL’s comfort picks.
The meta right now, as most high level pubs may have realized, focuses a lot on objectives and teamfights. With key picks such as Nature's Prophet, Venomancer and Necrophos (top 5 most contested heroes across four qualifiers), teams often look to anchor themselves with reliable pushers and laners. All three heroes are difficult to dominate in lane and Prophet and Venomancer tend to at least draw even in terms of farm.
Spirit Breaker has established himself as one of the more popular roamers, especially in North America. Europe and CIS have discovered Broodmother for themselves and China, as always, has set itself apart with a rather unique meta. China prioritizes supports, Night Stalker, Nyx Asssassin, Ancient Apparition etc, and doesn't focus Necrophos as much as other regions.
South-East Asia has a rather special meta as well, as both Mineski and Fnatic stand out with unusual picks, such as Visage mid or the aforementioned offlane Winter Wyvern. South America has a solid mix of NA and EU picks, with a larger focus on Bloodseeker.