ESL confirms details for 2021 Dota Pro Circuit, direct invites for CIS regional league

Virtus Pro and Natus Vincere are looking like strong favorites ahead of the league's start.

Photo via ESL

ESL has finally confirmed the details for its portion of the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit, the CIS regional league, which will run from Jan. 18 to Feb. 16. 

Just like with the other leagues that have already been detailed by PGL and Dota Pit, there will be a total of 16 teams competing in the CIS regional league, eight in the upper division and eight in the lower division. Overall, there will be $280,000 in prize money to divvy up between both leagues in season one, along with the corresponding DPC points. 

For the upper division, which begins on Jan. 21, ESL has given its four direct invites to Virtus Pro, Natus Vincere, Team Spirit, and Live to Win. These are the four top teams in the region, with Live to Win making it despite losing Igor “iLTW” Filatov due to contractual reasons and Spirit being invited after signing the Yellow Submarine roster. 

ESL has also provided more information for how the Major qualifications will work this season, showing while three teams from CIS will receive an invite to the first DPC Major in March, each team will be seeded differently. 

The top team from the region will be given a spot in the Major playoffs, while the second-seeded team will be added to the group stage. The third and final team that makes it in will be playing in a wild card game to see where they end up in the Major. 

To decide the final four teams competing in the upper division, ESL is hosting closed qualifiers that will be split into two stages, starting with a best-of-three bracket that will end with the top four finishers moving on to the upper division. The bottom four teams will be joined by an additional eight teams that will qualify through a separate open qualifier, with the top eight teams out of that second stage making up the lower bracket.

The bottom two teams from the upper division will be relegated to the lower division at the end of the season, with the top lower division teams replacing them. Likewise, the two bottom finishers in the lower division will be eliminated from the DPC and an open qualifier will decide the two new teams joining the lineup. 

The open qualifiers begin on Jan. 5 and will run until Jan. 10 ahead of the regional leagues starting on Jan. 18.