With a little less than three months until the event, direct invites for ESL One Katowice 2019 are already being handed out to some of the world’s best Dota 2 teams.
The first of the eight initial invitations went out to professional staple, Team Secret. At the same event earlier this year, Secret finished in the top six and they’re looking strong a few months out of their return to Poland.
After winning ESL One Hamburg, the team followed that up with a second-place result at the year’s first Dota Pro Circuit Major, the Kuala Lumpur Major. The European powerhouse will compete in the Chongqing Major before focusing on Katowice. But if their impressive results early on in this DCP season are any indication, the premier event might have a favorite going in.
The second invitation was delivered to another familiar name that’s been a surprising contender following their shake-up that brought in an established squad to play under their banner: Ninjas in Pyjamas.
NiP’s new-look roster played well in their first matches under the organization’s name, but they still looked a little rusty after a group stage exit at ESL One Hamburg 2018. They quelled any doubt in their abilities, however, when they bounced back to take fourth at the Kuala Lumpur Major. After showing so much early promise, NiP will look to claim their first big win in this new era for the team.
The third direct invitation was a pleasant surprise as the reigning International champions, OG, are continuing their return to the DPC.
Following an extended break from competitive events, OG are looking to return to the scene. They have several opportunities with both the Bucharest Minor and Chongqing Major taking place in January, along with their confirmed attendance of ESL One Katowice.
The current champs are boasting a few changes to their roster and hope to brush off any rust they might still have in an effort to repeat at The International 2019.
The most recent announcement filled out the fourth slot with South American team, paiN Gaming.
The Brazilian squad has had mixed results after The International, with the highlight of taking fourth during the previous ESL event in Hamburg, Germany. They’ll look to improve upon their mixed record against some tough competition.
Alongside the four teams already confirmed for the event, four more teams will receive direct invitations in the coming days. The remaining four slots will be decided through regional qualifiers to bring the tournament’s total up to 12 teams. Those qualifiers will be in North America, China, SEA, and Europe.
This event will have one significant change, however: The fact that it’s not directly affiliated with the DPC. Last year’s event was a Major that had the normal prize of $1 million and 15,000 points, while this year’s tournament will feature a $300,000 prize pool, but no points toward The International.
Spodek Arena in Katowice, Poland is the battleground that will host the tournament from Feb. 19 to 24. But in standard ESL fashion, only the final three days will be held on stage for fans to watch live. For tickets and other information, you can visit ESL One’s official page.