Read our guide to the Dota 2 teams to watch for the 2019-2020 season, from OG to TNC Predator, understand who to watch this season.
Even though the official Dota 2 2019-2020 season has already started and it’s already under way, here is a short breakdown of the most interesting teams for the rest of the season. 5 Majors and Minors are already behind us, and 3 of them were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The International 10 (TI10) has also been affected as it has been moved to next year. However, teams have busy schedules as a lot of regional online tournaments are going on simultaneously.
Clement “Puppey” Ivanov has very rarely had a team that wasn’t among the best in the world, but the 2019 Secret squad was probably the best roster he has had since leaving Natus Vincere after TI3. Not only did they dominate last season, winning two Majors and becoming the most winning team in ESL Dota 2 event history, they also earned the highest placement in the organization’s history of competing at The International. Since Puppey arrived, the team has made it to every International, but after stomping Vici in the playoffs, Secret secured a top-four finish for the first time. It was especially impressive because the team had some late struggles last year at the end of the regular season. But Puppey rallied his troops and both Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg and Michał “Nisha” Jankowski performed at the highest level as they broke through that ceiling to get to the top. That success emboldened Puppey to make some big changes in the offseason, bringing in both Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen and Lee “Heen” Seung Gon to counter some of their weaknesses and hopefully make it even further in 2020.
And exactly that happened. Team Secret opened the new 2020 season in an impressive way by taking 5 title championships in a row. They’ve won 6 grand finals in a row without losing a single map. That’s how dominant they are on the European scene currently. Team Secret is surely one of the strongest teams out there currently and are top 5 contenders for The International 10. It will be interesting to see how long their championship win streak, since currently they are playing in the playoffs of the Beyond Epic tournament.
LGD is China’s premier team. Both the oldest and most consistent, LGD figuratively and literally runs the Chinese scene. With outstanding performances like 3rd place at TI5, 4th at TI7, and a recent 2nd place at TI8, 3rd place at TI9, LDG boast an impressive record. Currently led by the legendary support player FY, LGD were the favourites to win TI8 after taking over the scene in March securing a Major victory. They pulled up just short going down to OG in the final. With a multitude of lower tier teams producing players for them, LDG possess the youngest and greatest talent the Chinese scene has to offer. While the Chinese scene is often isolated from the rest of the world it can be tricky to gauge their current standings, however you can always be sure LGD will give you their best and will always be a tough opponent.
Overall, they had pretty strong last season with very few poor showings that fy and the team can be proud of. Even if they’ve entered the 2020 season with few roster changes, and are currently featuring eLeVeN as their position 3 stand-in player, they are dominating the Chinese scene this year. Only this year, they won 3 championships and they’ve had 2nd places in Chinese Dota 2 leagues. Pretty impressive.
Vici were one of a few Chinese teams that got a fair amount of hype heading into the 2019 season with a team of veterans led by Pan “Fade” Yi. And they delivered pretty consistently throughout the year. It was a bit of a slow start, but after winning the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season One the team really clicked and ended up winning two of the last three Majors outright. That pushed them over PSG.LGD in terms of ranking and they overtook Evil Geniuses for the third spot in the DPC. That put a lot of pressure on the team to perform at TI9, which Fade’s squad did live up to for the most part. Other than a pair of bad losses to LGD and Team Secret that ended up getting them eliminated from the event in a tie for fifth, it was a strong overall season that put the team in a great place for the 2020 season. But the squad had to deal with some internal struggle that forced them to part ways with Fade and switch up the roster. The organization is still looking good, however, after ending 2019 on a high note.
Their last roster change was in September 2019, as their support player Fade was replaced by Pyw, and since then they are playing with the same lineup.
The start of 2020 was very good for them and they’ve managed to make some pretty good results. They’ve finished in 1st place in OGA Dota PIT 2020 Online: China, 2nd place China Dota2 Professional League Season 1, and at the beginning of the year they’ve finished 3rd in the DreamLeague Season 13. Let’s not forget about their 2nd place at MDL Chengdu Major which brought them a lot of DPC points. They are currently 2nd ranked team in the Dota Pro Circuit 2019-20 rankings and surely one of two best Chinese teams.
There was never a question that the first two-time and back-to-back International champions were not going to hold one of the top spots on this list.
OG didn’t really even show up during the regular 2019 season, skipping the first Major, missing out on the second one, and posting two different fifth-place finishes as the high mark for the Majors they did attend. It wasn’t a stellar showing from the defending champions, but Johan “N0tail” Sundstein and the boys came out swinging on the opening day of TI9. The flower power was on full display as OG dominated the group stage and completely flipped the meta on its head during the playoffs with some insane Alchemist lineups and Anathan “ana” Pham’s Carry Io that broke the draft board. It was incredible to watch such a unique brand of Dota utterly crush the competition. The way OG play so freely, which was emphasized by Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen jumping into action fearlessly, is a rarity; it almost always looks like they play as if they are leading the game. Even when they are behind, they execute where they need to and don’t let the other team dictate the pace more than necessary. N0tail and his team were already one of the greatest rosters in Dota history before TI9, but now they are likely going to be remembered as the best and most dominant to ever play the game.
And we will see if they have enough in the tank to do it again in 2020 to further cement their legacy. Even though they’ve entered 2020 with a new lineup with Sumail and Saksa instead of ana and Jerax, they still kept their top spot as one of the top European teams. Even if this season they are far away from Team Secret for now, they are doing well. They won 2nd place at ESL One Los Angeles 2020 - Online: Europe & CIS, 3rd place at OGA Dota PIT 2020 Online: Europe/CIS and 2nd place BLAST Bounty Hunt. Decent, but far away from their real potential. Even though this is not the same 2018-2019 OG anymore, they still have firepower. It will be interesting to see how this team will work out through this season. They are sure to be one of the teams with the most potential to have some significant results in 2020.
Team Liquid (now Team Nigma) were almost a mirror of Secret during the last 2019 season, struggling at the start and then making some small adjustments to push back into the TI9 picture with several top finishes. Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi made arguably the boldest move by a captain of the year, choosing to remove Matu from the roster despite having placed second at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major and a strong middle of the season. But, as it turned out, injecting Aliwi “w33” Omar and his different style was a great call that helped Liquid break their mold. Following that move, Kuro was able to use new strategies that featured different core heroes since w33 had different specialties than Matu, which also threw off a lot of opponents who were still preparing for the older, more traditional plans that Liquid had perfected since winning TI7. It wasn’t like those Matu-era plans just vanished either, but the team was able to move beyond that and become something new. Their run at TI9 was historic, winning five series without dropping a single game in the lower bracket and then beating LGD to make it into the grand finals with only one loss.
Today, Team Nigma is a separate organization and is one of the strongest European teams and championship contenders. They’ve started this year on a good note taking 1st place WePlay! Bukovel Minor 2020, 1st place at WePlay! Dota 2 Tug of War: Mad Moon, 4th place at ESL One Birmingham 2020 - Online: Europe & CIS and 3rd place at BLAST Bounty Hunt. Not too good results for the previous The International winners, they surely can and must do better moving on in 2020. Even though in the recent weeks they are underperforming, I cannot leave them out of this list. It would be a big mistake, they deserved their spot in the top 7 of the 2020 teams to watch for.
We must not forget about the SEA region and one of their strongest representatives, TNC Predator.
TNC Predator has become one of the biggest names in esports, as a leading Dota 2 squad that has reached incredible heights in this highly competitive industry. Established in 2015 out of the Philippines, TNC, as they were then known, took the world by storm, and specifically in the South East Asian area with quick success by coming 2nd in the WCA SEA qualifiers and eventually finishing 5th in the WCA 2015. 2016 was another good year for the team where they saw themselves qualify for The International 6. They went on to take out team OG, who were expected to walk away with the top spot. Not done with 2016, the team also did the Philippines proud by winning the WESG World Championship, by beating Cloud9 of Denmark. They took home $800.000 in prize money.
In January 2018 the team announced that their name would become TNC Predator. That year they went on to place 4th in the Dota 2 Asia Championship. 2019 kicked off with a bang for the top-notch team when they won the World Electronic Sports Games. The year also ended on a high as they took the top place in 2 tournaments. Firstly, ESL One Hamburg, a major tournament that gave them a win of $125.000. Next, was their victory in November at the MDL Chengdu Major, lining their pockets with a further $300.000. The team has become legendary within the esports circles making not only their home country proud, but also becoming champions in the SEA region. In the meantime 2020 has gotten off to a busy start with them playing qualifiers in the ESL One Los Angeles South East Asia and StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 3. They have also taken part in the WeSave! Charity Play as well as recently taking part in the BTS Pro Series: Southeast Asia Major. Their best result in 2020 is 2nd place at BTS Pro Series: Southeast Asia.
All things aside, TNC Predator has cemented its place as one of the SEA top Dota 2 teams. The Filipino team has indeed become one of the prestigious forces in the world of competitive Dota 2.
Currently, Fnatic must be the #1 SEA team. Originally an EU organisation, Fnatic stepped into the South East Asia region in 2015 after acquiring Team Malaysia. They’ve always hovered around the top teams but have struggled to maintain consistent success. Fnatic became more of an international team in late 2017. Hosting stars like American player Universe, winner of TI5, and Canadian EternalEnvy, the polarising talent known for his highly unorthodox strategies and mercurial performances. After a considerable amount of good results but no tournament wins, they came into TI8 looking like a solid contender. However after a disappointing performance they ended up being eliminated in the 1st round of the main stage and finished 13th-16th. The international stars have since left leaving a more local team with some of the best South East Asian players. The young talent of Abed and Dj have remained and are now joined by SEA veterans like the fan favourite IceIceIce who provides leadership and stability to the team.
In March this year, they won DOTA Summit 12. After that they’ve taken 3 online championships - ESL One Los Angeles 2020 - Online: Southeast Asia, BTS Pro Series: Southeast Asia and ESL One Birmingham 2020 - Online: Southeast Asia. They are currently the most dominant team in the SEA region and are one of the teams to watch out for in the 2020 season.