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Would you believe me if I told you that the Dota 2 player base in China is remarkably small compared to other MOBA titles, with games like League of Legends and Dream of the Three Kingdoms being the frontrunners? Dota 2 hasn’t had its last say though, and the Winter Major will soon rock Shanghai with its $3 million prize pool.

The group stage of the Shanghai Major kicks off in a few weeks time, with the main event happening from the 2nd to the 6th of March at the snow-covered Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. As stated, the prize pool is a staggering $3 million and the winners will take home a little over $1 million.

The teams that will be participating are: OG, Evil Geniuses, Team Secret, EHOME, CDEC, Vici Gaming, Virtus.pro, Alliance, Team Liquid, Team Spirit, Team Archon, compLexity Gaming, LGD Gaming, Newbee, Fnatic and MVP Phoenix.

Layout and format

The group stage comprises of four groups of four teams. Games will be played as a double-elimination best of three (Bo3), with the top two teams advancing to the upper bracket of the main event and the bottom two teams making up the lower half of the bracket. The main event sees eight teams in both the upper and lower brackets, with the first lower bracket games consisting of Bo1 matchups. The rest of the matches are played as Bo3s apart from the grand final which will be a gruelling best of five series.

The format is pretty standard for all Majors events with little to no change in the event setting. All things look good preparation-wise heading into the first week in Shanghai.

Thoughts and predictions

With all the important stuff out the way, let me whip out my fact book on Shanghai. Did you know that Shanghai means “on top of the sea”? Me neither.

After Alliance’s domination of the StarLadder i-League, a few patches were issued but nothing drastic enough in my opinion for Alliance to perform terribly. They’ve been the standout team this patch and take my vote as favourites heading into the tournament. The team is in a good position at the moment, generating unrivalled play that we have yet to see defeated.

Alliance may be my favourites, but there are just a few things I have to point out. The event is being held in China and there are many Chinese teams that have only now started to show off their 6.86 knowledge. Whether they took longer than others to adjust or have just been waiting for a home tournament to shine in, they should be feared. EHOME conquered Evil Geniuses last month at the MarsTV league, an event held in China. This drives my point home that host countries usually excel in these situations. My choice to go with Alliance is heavily patch related and not based purely on skill nor home-ground advantage. My prediction for the tournament is Alliance to take the Major, EHOME to come a very close second and Evil Geniuses, OG and Vici Gaming to fill the rest of the playoff positions.

The Shanghai Major will be an intense encounter especially when the Chinese teams arrive on stage. The Chinese public are some of the most avid and intense fans I have ever seen and will be sure to scream loud enough to breach the soundproof booths.

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