This week, The Premier League returns for it's third season and as with everything DOTA, there are changes this time around. Firstly, the number of teams competing this season is down from 12 to 10, and the round-robin format of last season stays with us, with 5 matches broadcast per week for 9 weeks, allowing each team to face each other team once in order to decide the winner.
The prize pool is slightly smaller this time around, at $6,000, with $3,000 going to first place in comparison with the $10,000 and $5,000 respectively of Season 2. Make no mistake however, that is a lot of money and teams will be taking this seriously as one of the “premier” online-only leagues.
The teams competing have also shifted around somewhat, Mousesports, Mortal Teamwork, Darer, Moscow Five, NEXT.kz will not be joining us for another shot at the title (Infused is also not competing, but Skanes Elit will be, which is essentially the same roster), but the biggest blow to the league has to be the lack of last season's winner, Natus Vincere. Fear not though fellow citizens, new blood has arrived to entertain us. Absolute Legends, Quantic Gaming, Team Dignitas, Team Empire and Team Shakira will join compLexity Gaming, Counter Logic Gaming, Fnatic, Skanes and Virtus Pro to contest the grand prize. But with an absent defending champion, their crown is there for the taking, who wants it the most?
- Steven "Korok" Ashworth
- Braxton "Brax" Paulson
- Saahil "UNiVeRsE" Arora
- Josh "PAINTITGOLD" Amos
- Theeban "1437" Siva
Quantic, as with most Dota 2 teams, have gone through some roster changes in The Great Reshuffle of 2012, and fortunately, new boys Universe (from EG) and 1437 (from mouz) appear to be fitting in great. This is particularly apparent for Universe, as coming into this team he has experienced a role change, going from hard support under the EG banner, to more of an off-lane/utility role. His Windrunner play in particular has earned him praise and it's not hard to see why, he clearly knows his way around that hero on a level that not many others can claim.
Quantic are also one of the form-teams coming into this tournament. They boast positive records in both Starseries (8-5) and the EG D2L (5-3), which puts them on target for a play-off spot. Showing such a level of consistency in Dota is very rare, especially with new players still settling in; hence I think it's fair to expect good things from this squad.
Did you know? Quantic hate playing against Chen, he has been deemed worthy of a 1st ban in every one of their EG D2L matches.
- Vladislav "blowyourbrain" Morozyuk
- Roman "Scandal" Sadotenkov
- Airat "Silent" Gaziev
- Artur "Goblak" Kostenko
- Gleb "Funn1k" Lipatnikov
I talked a little about Quantic's form in the last paragraph, and while they may be heating up right now, Empire are HOT. Although they are not competing in the EG D2L, Empire are sitting pretty at the top of the Starseries ladder, with a staggeringly impressive 11-1 and will no doubt be looking to carry this momentum into TPL.
Empire's style is quite consistent through the games we have seen from them recently, in particular, a support core of Leshrac, Windrunner and Wisp has stood out. These three heroes have shown up together four times so far in Starseries under the banner of Empire, which definitely indicates an aggressive, gank-oriented style of play. By using the global presence of Wisp, combined with the fighting power of other Empire favourites such as Templar Assassin or Chaos Knight to swing fights in their favour, Empire are able to create space on the map, allowing for easy tower kills or safe farm.
Luckily for us, these two teams have already met each other in Starseries, which resulted in a win for Empire. That game was really something too, Empire allowed Korok access to his signature Morphling in exchange for the ridiculous team-fight potential that Naga Siren in combination with Enigma and Tidehunter provide. And of course, that staple hero of the Western Dota 2 scene, Batrider. That's a joke of course, but I don't think it needs to be, Batrider is incredibly strong if he is allowed to do what he wants to do, namely dominate his middle lane and transition into being one of the most effective gankers and initiators in the hero pool.
In their previous encounter, the game began with Batrider donating his life to Morphling in the mid-lane, who then proceeded to rack up a 10-0 score by 16 minutes, as well as a rampage. However, Quantic were unable to make the most of this and eventually succumbed to some very well executed team-fights from Empire, often in places that would be considered terrible places to lose such engagements, such as at Roshan. This was also where Scandal redeemed himself in my eyes with his Batrider, twice he knocked Brax's TA from the wooded area to the west of the pit, down the cliff and towards his demise.
I fully expect this game to have a somewhat similar feel to it when looking at each team's hero selection in comparison to their previous game's. Empire will almost certainly be looking to be the aggressor in this game, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them leave Korok's heroes unbanned as a bait in order to perhaps sneak through big team-fight heroes such as Naga Siren and the many other heroes that combo so well with her, such as Enigma or Invoker.
Both teams also love to run Templar Assassin, and I wouldn't be surprised at all to see her in the middle lane from either team, especially as she is becoming more and more popular by the day within the competitive scene, often attracting first-phase bans. Apparently, almost guaranteeing a won middle lane before the game even starts is a really good idea!
Morphling is also highly likely to make an appearance, as the signature hero of Korok and a common sight in Scandal's hands, both teams will probably be looking to pick him up for either the middle lane or the safe lane for some comfortable farm. I think the chances of a Morphling vs Templar Assassin showdown in middle lane come Wednesday are very high indeed.
In all honesty, I think it will be hard to look past Empire as the favourites here, they have a better recent record and favourable head-to-head stats, and statistics generally tell a good story. In this tale, I predict adventure, I predict sorrow, I predict Morphling.
Written by Jack