Carno's Team Tier List: February 2017
I feel that the world of competitive Dota is in a great spot. At most premier tournaments, it's difficult to call who's going to win on Sunday, or even get to the finals. We'll have one team win one weekend, and then proceed to be dramatically upset the next week. With top teams sometimes dropping out in quaterfinal stages, a concrete top-10 is difficult to be certain upon. Consequently, I wanted to take a different approach to ranking the best of the best in Dota 2.
A Tier List Within a Tier List
Rather than making the traditional approach, with a numerical ranking list, I've decided to adopt a tier list format. If you enjoy fighting games or the FGC in general, you'll be familiar with this format when ranking characters.
The tier list is organized as follows:
S Tier: Teams that are extremely likely to reach grand finals or better.
Simply put, teams that are considered S Tier are the favorites to enter the event.
A Tier: Teams that are likely to reach semifinals.
This tier is essentially the "always the bridesmaid, never the bride" tier. Teams in this catergory are very close to breaking into S Tier; all they need is to consistently beat the teams that are keeping them from reaching the finals.
B Tier Teams that are likely to reach quarterfinals.
These are teams that consistently make it out of the group stage at a tournament, whether as the top seed or the second seed. However, they won't make it much further than the quarterfinals.
C Tier: Teams that could possibly reach quarterfinals.
Similar to A Tier teams, these are squads that are on the edge of making it to the next level, but are still lacking something to push them over the edge.
D Tier: Teams that qualify for events, but do not reach quarterfinals.
With these teams, we're near the cut off point for tier one professional Dota. These are the teams that just scrape by in regional qualifers. They can make it to the big stage of premier tournaments, but once they're there, it's unlikely that they'll win big games.
The factors that determine placement are first and foremost form at offline tournaments. The larger the tournament, the more weight it has, and strength of oppositon matters greatly.
Tier List for February 2017
S Tier: Evil Geniuses and OG
If I had to pick either of these two teams as the best team in the world, it would be Evil Geniuses. The current iteration has been consistenly successful since their debut in September. Since then, they've proven that they're just as good as any iteration under the leadership of Peter "ppd" Dager, and have crafted a new identity of their own. With the best overall placements out of any team on this list, and by winning the direct matchup with OG, they are currently the best team in the world.
OG has a great case for being the best team in the world. They have proven that they have what it takes against almost everyone in the world, they have added another major trophy to their legacy, and have some of the best players in the world carrying the Green Dream forward. However, it all boils down to the head-to-head matchup with Evil Geniuses, which favors the North American titans.
A Tier: Digital Chaos and Newbee
Moving on to the A Tier teams, we have Digital Chaos and Newbee. These two teams had a spectacular showing at ESL One Genting, going the distance in a best-of-five.
DC has really developed as a team since acquiring David "MoonMeander" Tan, and has performed up to standard over the past three months, specifically at the Boston Major and at Genting. DC would have been included in S Tier had it not been for their poor performance at DotaPit, which bumped them down a notch.
Without a doubt, Newbee is the best team in China in terms of international performance. Alongside the strong showing at Boston, they followed up in 7.00 with a stellar performance at ESL One Genting, forcing DC to the full five games. While they wouldn't win the tournament, they still showed potential to reignite the drowsy Chinese scene.
B Tier: Virtus.pro, Ad Finem, Wings Gaming, Team NP
These four teams are those you can expect to make it out of the quarterfinals stage.
The point of contention for this group is obviously Virtus.pro. The CIS team has been hyped up time and time again leading up to big tournaments, yet they have yet to deliver. A promising performance at the Summit 6 was followed up by a disappointing finish at both Boston and Genting.
On the other hand, the next member of this group is Ad Finem, who shocked the world with their Cinderella run at the Boston Major, going all the way from the regional qualifier to the grand final. While they haven't had an opportunity to make the same run they did back in December, they have earned a spot amongst the best of the best in today's meta.
It seems that Wings Gaming has finally succumbed to the TI winner's curse. After BEAT in November, their performance has seen a sharp downward trend, with poor performances at Summit 6 and Boston. While they almost redeemed themselves in Genting, it's still doubtful that they will see a resurgence.
Finally, we have Team NP, who has proven to be capable of handling nearly any team thrown at them at any given tournament. Interestingly enough, the teams that they have the hardest time with are regional rivals EG, DC, and coL. When they manage to figure out the demons knocking on the door, we may see NP take a step up to the next level.
C Tier: compLexity, Cloud9, Team Secret, TNC, Team Faceless, and Team Liquid
All six of these teams could make it to quarterfinals with the right group stage. Each team in this tier is driven by something different from the rest. For Team Secret, it's vengance. Rightfully shamed by the community for the organization's ethically-questionable actions in 2016, the European stack has been dying for a chance at revenge, and at DotaPit Season 5, they got a taste of the highest level of Dota once again. All Clement "Puppey" Ivanov's team wants is another shot to do it again.
Speaking of DotaPit performances, Team Faceless delivered in Croatia, a tournament that could have been the SEA stack's last stand. Some may wave their result off as an overperformance, but beating DC and VP in two consecutive games is no small feat.
TNC and Cloud9 had great tournament debuts at WESG finals, but they are in the C Tier because of a lack of significant competition at the event, and a lack of offline tournament experience from the past three months.
Finally, we're left with compLexity and Team Liquid. With how stacked Team Liquid is, they still have yet to attend an offline tournament, and therefore cannot be placed any higher on the list. Liquid certainly has potential to be a force to be reckoned with, but they have to prove it first.
The way the Americas have filled up with a number of good teams has not helped coL. Over the past three months, it's become all but impossible for the South Florida stack to make it to an offline event. However, they're in C Tier based on their performance at the BEAT Invitiational and at the Boston Major.
D Tier: MVP.Hot6, Vega Squadron, Ehome, Fnatic, and LGD Gaming
This tier should honestly be called the "if they can make it to a LAN, then they're D Tier." These teams have the potiential to make it to any premier tournament, if they can get it together against the local talent. That being said, that's not easy. For Vega Squadron, it all comes down to the format of the qualifiers. If the tournament organizer guarantees a slot to a CIS team, and VP is invited, then they have a chance to make it. Vega would also have to contend with Empire and a newly reformed Na'vi.
The Chinese scene has been stuck in a rut for nearly a year now. After a disastrous performance at the Shanghai Major, the only highlight teams for China have been Wings at TI6, and Newbee's promising form as of late. Apart from those two teams, the Chinese have been unimpressive, to say the least. Ehome showed a small spark of life in November at BEAT and at The Summit 6, but were nowhere to be seen in December and January.
Finally, we're left with Fnatic and MVP.Hot6, the two SEA hopefuls. With Dota's weakest region also its most volatile, it's difficult to say who exactly would make it out of an online regional qualifier for any given week. It'll be interenting to see if either Fnatic or MVP can make it out of the qualifier stage for DAC 2017.
This is the first edition of Carno's Dota Tier list, and feedback on this project is eagerly anticipated. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
You can find Carno on Twitter at @Carno_.
Special thanks to Waves for his help on this project.
Be sure to follow him and the official GAMURS Dota 2 Twitter: @GAMURS_Dota2. The GAMURS Dota 2 Twitter is where you can keep up with the Dota 2 pro scene.
Art Credit: Valve Software