WePlay Esports, the prominent Kyiv-based tournament organizer, is finally getting a chance to host its first Dota 2 Major and it's a big one.
As the second and last Major of the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit, the WePlay AniMajor will serve as the last chance for many of the Dota 2 teams playing at the tournament to qualify for The International 10 in August. Although a huge chunk of the $500,000 prize pool is nice to have, most teams will probably want to go home with as many valuable DPC points as possible.
At the moment, only a handful of Dota 2 teams are guaranteed a spot at the $40 million Dota 2 tournament after successful showings at the ONE Esports Singapore Major 2021. This means that every Dota 2 team will be gunning for as high of a spot as possible.
With that said, as much as every Dota 2 team may want to win big at the WePlay AniMajor, not every team is built equally. Some teams are just plain better, whether it's because of the talent on their roster, experience, skill, chemistry, and all of the above.
If you'd like to know how every Dota 2 team at the WePlay AniMajor stacks up, scroll down to see our WePlay AniMajor power rankings.
Execration beating Fnatic in a tiebreaker game to qualify for the WePlay AniMajor is more of a testament to how far the former top Dota 2 team from Southeast Asia has fallen and less about how well Execration is playing.
This isn't necessarily to say that Execration is a bad team. However, when the player with the most experience in your team is longtime Execration player, Kimuel "Kim0" Rodis, who is now the coach, and you're flying halfway across the globe as a relatively unproven team, things don't exactly bode well for you and the rest of your squad.
It'd be nice to see Execration make a nice run if only for a feel-good story. The team fields one of the youngest rosters at the WePlay AniMajor as three of its players are either just 19 or 20. But, as it is, Execration would be lucky to make it out of the Wild Card stage.
AS Monaco Gambit
AS Monaco Gambit finds itself in an unenviable position heading into the WePlay AniMajor. Two key players in Vladimir "No[o]ne" Minenko and Akbar "SoNNeikO" Butaev just left, so the team is now stuck playing with two stand-ins. The worst part is that AS Monaco Gambit is playing in the Wild Card stage, so it'll have to jump through a couple of hoops to make it to the Top 8.
Considering all that has happened so far, don't bet on AS Monaco Gambit making it far at the WePlay AniMajor.
beastcoast comes from the weakest of the six competitive Dota 2 regions and the only thing that the team has going for it is that they've all played together since after TI9 in 2019. This means that they have chemistry. But, on the other hand, the team has also had nothing to show for having stuck together since, which definitely isn't a good thing.
Make no mistake. beastcoast hosts some pretty good Dota 2 players and beastcoast can make a deep run at the WePlay AniMajor. This is especially since beastcoast will be playing from the Group Stage, so that's one less hurdle they'll have to tackle.
Unfortunately, it'd take a herculean effort from beastcoast to even make it past the likes of Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses, and PSG.LGD, among others.
NoPing Esports isn't even the best Dota 2 team in South America. This honor belongs to Thunder Predator, a team that, unfortunately, failed to make it out of the qualifiers. Then again, it's not like NoPing Esports did not earn their spot at the WePlay AniMajor. The team played phenomenally, suffering only a single loss en route.
The problem with NoPing Esports is that it's a team that hasn't really had much experience against international competition.
Gone are the days when teams would have dreaded facing off against TNC Predator. The team remains a powerhouse, especially in Southeast Asia. It's just that, compared to where they were previously, TNC Predator has definitely seen better days. This is probably why management saw fit to bring in two new players to make it an all-Filipino lineup.
Already, the move has yielded results for TNC Predator as the team made it to the WePlay AniMajor with a chance to go far. However, TNC's offlane and captain are both relatively unproven against international teams, which could very well be their undoing at Kyiv.
If you don't recognize any of the names on the Team Spirit roster, we wouldn't blame you. These are some of the youngest and freshest Dota 2 players around, with Ilya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk being only just 18 years old. Yet, despite the young age of its players, Team Spirit has been on quite a roll lately and the team may peak at just the right time.
We're not huge fans of Team Spirit yet, but the team could make believers out of a lot of us if it plays well in their home turf at the WePlay AniMajor.
Both Quinn "Quinn" Callahan and Yawar "YawaR" Hassan have spent years as "high potential" players and it's now time to wonder if both have reached their respective ceilings already. The rest of Quincy Crew don't inspire a lot of confidence either, which is a bad thing when you're a team who've spent a little over a year playing together.
The good news for Quincy Crew is that the team will start in the Playoffs. This means that the worst thing that can happen is for the team to lose in the lower brackets. The bad news is that this is likely what's going to happen to Quincy Crew at WePlay Esports.
There are very few Dota 2 players in the world whose mere presence in a team automatically gives that team a realistic shot at winning a tournament and Syed Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan is one of them.
The rest of Team Liquid has played together for the better part of the past 4-5 years, which meant that they had enough chemistry built through the years to know how to adjust their playstyle to better accommodate the brilliance of SumaiL and it immediately yielded results as Team Liquid went and secured a spot in the Group Stage after only making it as a Wild Card previously.
Now that Team Liquid is here, all bets are off. This isn't to say that Team Liquid will definitely win the WePlay Esports Major. Rather, we wouldn't be surprised if that happened or, at the very least, SumaiL shows off and ends up basically carrying the rest of the team to a deep run.
Nigma has a championship roster. There's no doubt about that. Lest we forget, this is a team with 4out of 5 players being part of the same lineup that dominated in 2017 and won The International 2017 while placing second at The International 2019. What is doubtful is if the collective talent on the roster will ever come together again to result in a trophy.
If it's any consolation, Nigma has called it quits on Aliwi "w33" Omar, bringing in Igor "iLTW" Filatov, to see if the 21-year-old is the final piece to the proverbial puzzle.
In any case, talent and skill should be enough to get Nigma by the teams it is up against in the Wild Card and Group Stage to make the Playoffs. Whether not Nigma will make it close to a podium finish at the WePlay AniMajor is something that only time can tell.
Vici Gaming is a talented roster on paper. It is also a team that's historically done well in Dota 2. Weirdly enough, its latest roster doesn't seem to be playing as well as it should, losing to OB Esports x Neon at the ONE Esports Singapore Major 2021 and playing rather poorly within its region, which resulted in it having to play in the Wild Card of the WePlay AniMajor.
It's one thing to play well knowing that you'll still have a second chance if you lose. It's another to play in games where each loss could mean elimination and we're highly doubtful if Vici Gaming can take that pressure.
If Vici Gaming heads into the WePlay AniMajor mentally prepared, it'll be one of the most feared Dota 2 teams in the tournament. If not, Vici Gaming might be one of the first teams to be eliminated.
After a lackluster showing at the ONE Esports Singapore 2021 Major, T1 will look to redeem itself at the WePlay AniMajor and we're betting that it'll make quite the statement.
T1 is easily the most dominant team in Southeast Asia when everything is clicking. The only problem is that the team lacks consistency, which shouldn't be surprised when it's fielding two core players in Karl "Karl" Jayme and Nuengnara "23savage" Teeramahanon, who are both known for their mechanical skill and penchant for risky plays.
If Kuku can find a way to temper T1's aggression a bit without making too many compromises, T1 has the potential to win it all in Kyiv.
Bringing in former Evil Geniuses captain and TI5 winner, Peter "ppd" Dager, paid dividends for Alliance, controversies aside. The team went from upstarts to very nearly qualifying for WePlay AniMajor without losing a single game, which is all the more amazing when you consider that the team's been playing together for more than a year already.
With Gustav "s4" Magnusson now allowed to focus more on being a captain in-game as ppd takes care of strategizing and drafting before each game, Alliance is one of the teams to watch at the WePlay AniMajor.
PSG.LGD was very close to securing a Playoff spot at the WePlay AniMajor right off the bat. Unfortunately, it had to settle with a Group Stage seed, which probably shouldn't pose too much of a problem for one of the more consistent Dota 2 teams in the world.
As Wang "Ame" Chunyu proved at the ONE Esports Singapore Major 2021, he is still one of the best carries in the world, and TI6 champion, Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida remains just as versatile as ever.
If Zhang "xiao8" Ning can prevent PSG.LGD from falling into playing comfort picks, especially in desperate situations, and take the necessary risks that take full advantage of the available talent on the roster, PSG.LGD could improve on its bronze finish in Singapore.
For the second Dota 2 Major in a row, Virtus.pro comes having gone on a 7-0 to secure its spot. However, unlike their run at Singapore, which was cut short after some obvious signs of inexperience, Virtus.pro now has the benefit of having learned from its losses.
Whether or not Virtus.pro can take advantage of such an expensive mistake is something that we'll only find out in Kyiv. What is certain is Virtus.pro will be playing in friendly territory, which could serve to its advantage.
Having already unofficially qualified for The International 10, Team Secret doesn't really have a reason to go all out at the WePlay AniMajor. This doesn't necessarily mean that Clement "Puppey" Ivanov won't take this opportunity to challenge himself though.
As one of only two Dota 2 players to have played at every TI and in multiple Grand Finals in the biggest stage of them all, Puppey knows all too well what it takes to win. He also knows the perils of heading into a big tournament with a huge target on your back, as the rest of the world will be busy dissecting your every move to try and devise a way to take you down.
Not that this really ever bothered Puppey though. Team Secret did go on an absolute tear in 2020, winning six out of the eight events that they played in.
Considering how Team Secret looked out of shape in Singapore and while qualifying for the tournament in Kyiv, one can expect Puppey to try and use the WePlay AniMajor to whip the rest of Team Secret into playing shape in preparation for TI10 in August while also trying out some experimental strategy that only he can ever pull off.
The champions of the ONE Esports Singapore Major 2021 will try and secure its second Major trophy for the Dota Pro Circuit 2021 at the WePlay AniMajor.
Will Invictus Gaming succeed? This isn't something that we can say for sure. What we can say is that their run towards the trophy should be interesting, at the very least. As a Wild Card, Invictus Gaming will be playing the full length of the tournament should it ever make it to the Grand Finals.
If nothing else, Invictus Gaming's perilous run towards a potential second trophy should make for some nice Dota 2 to watch for us, the audiences.
Anyone who found themselves by how well Evil Geniuses performed at the ONE Esports Singapore Major 2021 definitely needs to question the decisions they make in life. This is a roster built to win championships, so anything less is considered a failure.
Three of the most mechanically skilled players in Dota 2 call Evil Geniuses home (four if you include Daryl Koh "iceiceice" Pei Xiang) and it is helmed by a 4-time Major winner in Tal "Fly" Aizik, so the talent, experience, and skill on this roster are unrivaled. But, for some reason, whenever the stakes are the highest, Evil Geniuses seem to shy away from the pressure.
A good example of this is when Evil Geniuses failed three times to win a game against Invictus Gaming in Singapore after already going up 2-0.
There's little doubt that Evil Geniuses will show up and dominate again in Kyiv. The only question now is if the team can put up a consistent performance throughout the tournament that will finally give Artour "Arteezy" Babaev his first-ever Dota 2 Major trophy.
Historically, China has been the strongest region in Dota 2 and the best Dota 2 teams have come from China. This year is no different.
Team Aster, a team that only placed 9-12th at the ONE Esports Singapore Major 2021, is looking to prove that Chinese Dota 2 teams are the best in Kyiv. After a lackluster showing in Singapore, Team Aster made up for it. The result is Team Aster dropping only a single game en route to qualifying for the WePlay AniMajor, a run that saw Du "Monet" Peng and Liu "WhiteAlbum" Yuhao prove that they are a deadly combination.
So long as both continue playing like they have all season and the rest of Team Aster step up, a trophy run at the WePlay AniMajor isn't outside of the realm of possibility.