Welcome to the second entry in our Shanghai Major preview series, with the focus of this article being on the region that’s a stone’s throw away from China: Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia has long been recognized by the Dota scene at large to be one of the weaker but more passionate regions out there, being host to thousands of fans who really love the game and plenty of players with untapped potentials. Underestimate the Southeast Asians at your own peril, lest you be taken by surprise by their hidden talents.
Typically speaking, Southeast Asia one of the most underrepresented regions in international tournaments, and unfortunately the same is true for the Shanghai Major. There are only two SEA teams in this competition, with both of them being qualifier teams rather than direct invites. We can only hope for more SEA teams in future majors, but for now let’s take a look at the two squads that hope to carry the banner of the tropics out in Asia.
MVP Phoenix (400/1 bet365)
As one of two South Korean teams that are actually still alive and playing after Nexon seemingly gave up on Korean Dota (the other one being their sister team MVP HOT6ix), MVP Phoenix live up to their team name — always around and never truly dead. At The International 2015, they posted an impressive top 8 finish for a team whose country is known more for producing superstars in League of Legends than in Dota 2, but for the rest of 2015 and what little we’ve seen in 2016 they haven’t done anything noteworthy. The best post-TI5 result they posted was a fourth place finish at the Game Show Global eSports Cup, where they eventually fell to Vega Squadron in the loser bracket.
Knowing this, winning the whole tournament is close to impossible for the Korean team, so naturally we cannot recommend betting on them in this market in particular. However, since they are a team that shows flashes of brilliance — especially in the big stages — we would suggest looking out for them in the group stages and in the playoffs. There will be several markets better suited to MVP Phoenix when the tournament really kicks into gear, so keep your eyes peeled for such opportunities. In terms of actual players to watch, pay attention to QO and March, who both have reputations for pulling rabbits out of hats when it matters.
Fnatic (200/1 Skybet)
Fnatic are a team that have some of the biggest names in the Southeast Asian Dota 2 scene, with the most famous one being Mushi, of course. His two friends from the old Orange eSports days Net and Ohaiyo are also on this team, as is Rave’s former star support DJ, so if we were going by names alone you would think this team would be a significant threat in the field of competitors at Shanghai.
Unfortunately for the Malaysian team, that hasn’t been the case at all. Ever since being picked up and renamed from Team Malaysia, they have done nothing significant except for a first place finish at the BTS Southeast Asia Series last year, which was just an online tournament. Prior to that, they bombed out of TI5, finishing in the same place as Na’Vi after losing to Virtus.pro in the sudden death loser bracket leg. For the rest of 2015, they were knocked out early by Team Secret at ESL One New York and didn’t even make it to the World Cyber Arena LAN Finals.
This year, they’ve done squat to make us realize they’re still even playing. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but really there hasn’t been a lot to cheer about for Fnatic fans out there. Given that 200/1 price on the team we’re still very hard-pressed to suggest them at all as an outright winner bet, but seeing how they look halfway decent (at least) when Mushi isn’t clowning around, there is hope for them in other markets.
MVP Phoenix to win the Shanghai Major with bet365 at 400/1 (401.00)
Honestly, this “recommended bet” is only here for formality’s sake and to keep consistency within this preview series, but you’d have to be either really brave or extremely foolish to put a significant amount of money down on such a wager. Neither of these teams have a realistic shot at the Shanghai title, but if you were looking to bet on at least one team per region, do it on the squad that actually shows glimmers of top level play every now and then. If you really, really had to bet on a SEA team with a bookmaker other than your usual picks, make it MVP Phoenix.