Uncertainty is over and now confusion takes its place. Many notable rosters have decided to change organizations and are going to represent a different tag. With so many heavy changes the questions remains: where do the fans go? Do they keep being loyal to the team or to the players?
Virtus.Pro is finally settled, at least for the first round of the DPC. The only remaining players from the legendary roster are VP.No[o]ne-♥ and VP.Solo, so the backbone is still there, giving fans a bit of hope.
The addition of Resolut1on as an offlaner is also a move that can pay off greatly. Roman is still among the most mechanically gifted players in the scene, though position three might take some time for him to adjust to. He is mostly known for his farming prowess, not for his playmaking capabilities. On the other hand, a player that typically overperforms at the International and gets charged by the crowd might be a right move for the organization with an underwhelming TI history.
The last pieces of the roster are both incredibly young and very new to the professional scene. VP.Save started his career in May, playing for FlyToMoon and so far didn’t have a chance to make headlines. He will take over position four support role. VP.epileptick1d is even younger and even less experienced—Virtus.Pro is his first professional team. But he is consistently in the top of MMR leaderboards, currently being the first in the core list.
Great leadership, experienced playmakers and young talent on the flashy roles—this roster is reminiscent of Chinese rosters in its approach. Will it pay off for the former CIS powerhouse or will we see further reshuffles for the team? We don’t know, but it does look promising.
The team that almost made it to TI through the DPC and then faltered during the qualifiers might be back with a vengeance. Perhaps the most international squad of the CIS with players from four different countries is going to keep its captain in Gambit.fng who has already proved himself countless times.
The only other experienced player on the roster is Gambit.Shachlo who has a long history in Dota, but so far didn’t have a lot of success. Given the current trends of offlaners mostly being utility, there is an argument to be made that this role should be filled with sacrificial experienced players and Shachlo fits the description perfectly. He can be a playmaker, a frontliner and, given the experience, a great help for fng in terms of in-game coordination.
The last point is going to be incredibly important, given how the rest of the roster is filled with young, promising talent. The oldest of them, Gambit.XSvamp1Re, is a 21 years old player from Kazakhstan who previously played for The Pango in ESL One Mumbai. He will take over position four support role in the roster.
Gambit.gpk is best known for his run in the CIS qualifiers with Vega Squadron, where his team went undefeated in groups, but then couldn’t compete with the experience of Na’Vi in BO3 double elimination playoffs. He is an explosive mid who is currently the second highest MMR core in the European leaderboards.
The last player on the roster is going to be Gambit.dream`, who grew from the Empire’s academy teams “Hope” and “Faith”, before becoming a part of the main roster. While Empire didn’t look particularly impressive last season, it could be the same old problem with the lack of leadership in the region, rather than skill. Dream` currently holds the fifth position in the European core leaderboards and we believe that under the guidance of fng both him, XSvamp1re and gpk can grow into respectable and well-known players.
Once again NiP are rebuilding around NiP.ppd, this time with a mostly American squad. Peter is still among the most renowned NA captains who moved to Europe in the last DPC season and had decent success at Minor and Major tournaments. His TI9 run, however, was anything but successful, with a last place elimination during the group stage, so the change was needed.
On the new NiP he is going to be reunited with a former teammate he lifted the Aegis with—Universe. One of the most experienced veterans of the NA scene, Universe has been rather quiet after leaving EG last year. He will take over his iconic offlane role on the new squad and will hopefully return to his former form, where he could be considered the best in his position. Shifts in meta towards heavy utility offlaners can help him greatly in that regard.
NiP.Gunnar had an interesting and dramatic story last year, where he would often get kicked out of his teams by EternalEnvy. It is hard to tell whether it was skill or personality-related, but we hope his road to a potential TI this year is going to be less bumpy and he will get a chance to prove that there is still new talent in the NA region that can compete at the highest level.
NiP.Skiter will take over the hard carry position for the new roster. A relatively unknown Slovakian player has almost four years of experience in the professional scene, but most of it comes from playing against Tier 2 teams. His adjustment to playing higher level Dota is crucial for the success of the squad, considering how the rest of the roster, Gunnar included, lean towards space-creation and not outright carrying the game.
The final part of the squad is going to be Biver, who used to play for Na’Vi several years ago. It looked like it would be the high point of his career, but the Danish player refuses to give up on his dreams and comes back to prove himself once again. Unlike most position four supports, Biver is not greedy and not particularly flashy. In the current meta it can become a bit of a detriment for the squad, but perhaps the reliability is what Peter needs from his second support.
The new Alliance is an interesting team. You have Alliance.Fata and Alliance.33 who came directly from NiP, with former finally letting younger players take over the core roles. This duo should be quite impressive, given how 33 is still rated highly as one of the most versatile offlane players in the scene that can adapt to any situation and Fata has almost eight years of experience.
You also have Alliance.Limmp and Alliance.Handsken who have played together on different teams for so many years and have already played for Alliance previously. It’s hard to call them star players on their respective positions, but they’ve always managed to achieve stable results, no matter what roster they were on.
Finally, there is Alliance.Nikobaby who, we feel, is going to be the x-factor for the team. He’s been in the scene for a while, but never on a top team. This The International, however, he just exploded, becoming one of the scariest carry players in terms of stats. Yes, there is a bit of chaos and instability in him, but this team really needs it, given how the rest of the players are mostly praised for their consistency and versatility, rather than their ability to play their heart out on a good day.
It is hard to tell whether this Alliance is an upgrade over the old roster, but it certainly deserves at least some attention.
Despite losing in the first round of the loser’s bracket, this team has caught the attention of many last year with their relentless and incessant improvement from tournament to tournament. Whether it was Loda’s influence or the players started gluing together better, but by the end of the year they were a team to be taken seriously and we don’t think that the change of organisation is going to change that.
Liquid.iNSaNiA will have incredibly big shoes to fill as the captain of the new Team Liquid, going up against Kuroky, but a lot of the last year’s growth can be attributed to his personal growth as a captain. It might be a bit early to call him accomplished, but if he keeps on developing with the same pace and consistency as last year, by TI10 he will surely be regarded as one of the best.
Liquid.Taiga❤ is going to be the second part of the support duo and we feel like Taiga might be underrated or at least doesn’t get highlighted as much as he should be for his position four plays. He is the epitome of what current meta demands from position four supports: farmed, but not greedy and flashy, but not reckless. If the whole game doesn’t suddenly turn on its head with the next big update, Taiga will still be able to have a lot of impact in his games.
The core trio of Team Liquid consists of Liquid.miCKe, Liquid.qojqva, Liquid.boxi. All three have been in the scene for a while, with the latter starting his high-profile professional career in Alliance almost two years ago. Unlike most teams, it is really hard to highlight a definite star player among those three, with the share of responsibilities and farm being spread almost equally. It doesn’t mean that these players don’t deserve the attention or are somehow inferior to cores in other teams, but rather says a lot about the approach the team takes to the game.