The ONE Esports Dota 2 Singapore Major has concluded, with top Chinese team Invictus Gaming (IG) pulling off an epic reverse sweep over North American powerhouse Evil Geniuses (EG) in the finals to become the first Major champions of the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC).
While much of the spotlight falls rightly upon the champions, the Singapore Major also saw a number of teams rise to the occasion and greatly exceed expectations while others faltered under the pressure and disappointed.
Read on for our review of the performances of each team in the Major in order of their placement in the tournament:
Placement: 1st, Grade: A+
While IG dominated the DPC's Chinese regional league, they looked shaky in their first two matches against Vici Gaming (VG) and EG, who knocked them down to the lower bracket.
However, their run in the lower bracket to the finals — which saw them take down Thunder Predator, Team Secret, and PSG.LGD — would have been enough for them to earn perfect marks.
The fact that they were then able to reverse sweep EG in an instant classic of a finals is just icing on the cake.
Placement: 2nd, Grade: A
If only EG were able to close out that third game of the finals or any of the two that followed, then they would have earned a perfect grade.
While they looked vulnerable during the regular season, they looked unstoppable in the Major... at least before that fateful third game of the finals. When they were the ones under pressure, EG's drafts and play didn't seem as ironclad and coordinated as they did before.
With all that said, it must be noted that this is still only the first LAN tournament for this squad. The fact that they reached the finals of their first Major together is proof enough they are one of the world's best already. They will definitely can, and surely will, improve.
Placement: 3rd, Grade: A+
PSG.LGD almost didn't qualify for the Major, as they had to outlast the Elephant superteam in the Chinese regional league's tiebreakers just to punch their ticket to Singapore.
Their run in the Major itself certainly wasn't easy either, as they had to survive both the Wildcard and the Group Stage just to get to the Playoffs.
They then made Team Secret look mortal before being narrowly edged out by the two teams in the finals, an outcome that is certainly nothing to be ashamed about. PSG.LGD is already one of the best teams in the world, and it isn't too far-fetched to say they could've been the Major champions if only some things had gone their way.
Placement: 4th, Grade: B
Team Secret were the overwhelming favourites to win the Singapore Major prior to the tournament. After all, they were the best team by a mile in Europe, the region many considered to the best in the circuit. However, it turns out Europe wasn't that strong and Secret weren't exactly unbeatable.
Their Top 4 placement, which is nothing to scoff at, belies the fact that they could have been knocked out in 5th-6th place. OB Esports x Neon were this close to knocking them out in game three of their match in the lower bracket, and that series was only saved by Clement "Puppey" Ivanov pulling off our early pick for play of the year:
With all that said, we know Secret can be much better than this. You don't just dominate Europe, even if the Major showed the region wasn't as strong as we previously believed. Secret can still be the juggernauts many believed they could be. Hopefully they prove it in the next Major.
Placement: 5th-6th, Grade: A+
Thunder Predator had an incredible run in the Major, as they came out of nowhere to top the Group Stage against some very stiff competition and were only finally stopped by the eventual champions.
This team made a lot of people rethink some things they thought they knew about Dota 2, a couple of lessons learned include: never underestimate South American Dota again and maybe all regions should have at least three Major slots?
If nothing else, it was a breath of fresh air to see a team of underdogs like Thunder Predator perform so well. They were one of the two dark horse teams of the Singapore Major, but by the next one they should definitely be viewed as one of the clear contenders.
OB Esports x Neon
Placement: 5th-6th, Grade: A+
We would have easily forgiven OB.Neon if they had a lackluster showing in the Major. After all, their carry player couldn't make it, forcing them to play with a substitute and shuffle their roles around, and then that first substitute had to be ruled out so they had to get a second substitute in the middle of the tournament.
But against all odds, OB.Neon finished in the Top 6 alongside Thunder Predator and came this close to knocking out Secret. Hopefully their full roster can show what they're truly capable of in the next Major.
A couple of noteworthy points about OB.Neon's run in the Singapore Major: their no-hard carry, hyper-aggressive playstyle was so fun to watch and Erin Jasper "Yopaj" Ferrer is one of the best midlaners in the world and almost single-handedly knocked Secret out of the Major.
Placement: 7th-8th, Grade: B
While a Top 8 finish is by no means a bad outcome for VG, it should still be disappointing for one of the best teams in China. They did well to survive the Wildcard and top the Group Stage, but they looked shaky in the Playoffs against IG and OB.Neon.
If they performed up to their standards, then it wouldn't be far-fetched to say they would have made the Top 4. Hopefully they can show how good they really are in the next Major.
Placement: 7th-8th, Grade: B-
Prior to the Major, many considered Virtus.pro (VP) to be the second-best team in the tournament behind Secret. Ultimately, though, Secret didn't exactly end up the strongest team in the Major and VP fell way short of expectations.
VP's loss to PSG.LGD should be understandable considering the latter ended up finishing third, but the top team of the CIS should have performed better against an undermanned Quincy Crew and not looked as lost as it did against Thunder Predator.
While one could chalk it up to a young team's inexperience at LAN events, it's a certainly disappointing performance for a roster that talented.
Placement: 9th-12th, Grade: B-
Fnatic's loss to EG in the first round of the upper bracket was understandable, after all they lost to the team that almost won the Major.
However, their subsequent loss to OB.Neon in the first round of the lower bracket is puzzling considering Fnatic soundly defeated them at full strength in their previous meeting at the Southeast Asian regional league.
Was that a loss merely a fluke or signs that this roster is not enough to compete at the highest level? Apparently the latter, as Fnatic has already benched offlaner Natthaphon "Masaros" Ouanphakdee.
Placement: 9th-12th, Grade: B
Team Liquid had a great 4-0 start to the Wildcard, including two big wins over PSG.LGD. However, their performances since then have been mixed.
While they managed to survive the Group Stage, mostly scraping by because Alliance was just outright worse, they were quickly dispatched by VG in the first round of the lower bracket.
Liquid showed flashes of being a great team, but they need to show more than just flashes if they want to truly be considered a great team.
Placement: 9th-12th, Grade: B
Team Aster was one of the biggest surprises of the Chinese regional league, finishing in second place there behind eventual Major champions IG, and were thus expected to be one of the teams to show up in Singapore.
Unfortunately, Ye "BoBoKa" Zhibiao couldn't show up to the tournament due to "personal reasons" and Aster understandably played worse with their coach standing-in for their absent player.
Hopefully Aster can show up to the next Major in full strength and finally show what they're capable of doing on the big stage.
Placement: 9th-12th, Grade: A
North American team Quincy Crew had a good run considering they had to play without Arif "MSS" Anwar, as they almost got an upper bracket berth and were able to push VP to three games in their elimination match.
While Wilson "Poloson" Koh Chin Wei performed admirably as Quincy Crew's stand-in, he is still not MSS. It wouldn't be far-fetched to say Quincy Crew could have made a big splash in Singapore if they were there at full strength.
More than a few eyes will be on them, hoping that they can do just that in the next Major.
Placement: 13th, Grade: C
With all due respect to Alliance, they were the biggest disappointment of the Singapore Major.
Expectations were high for them considering they were the second-placed team of the European regional league. While the Major has proven that Europe isn't as strong as many previously believed, it hardly explains why Alliance just didn't show up.
Not much else can be said, but hopefully Alliance's failure in Singapore will light a fire in them and help them bounce back in the next Major.
AS Monaco Gambit
Placement: 14th, Grade: B+
Expectations weren't exactly high for AS Monaco Gambit considering how stacked the Wildcard Stage was. However, they punched above their weight and was barely edged out of a spot in the Group Stage by Liquid.
While it's hard to gauge how they would have fared if they got in over Liquid, it should be a good sign of upwards development for this squad heading into the next season.
Placement: 15th, Grade: B
Things went as expected for T1 considering they were playing without captain Carlo "Kuku" Palad.
But even if they were with Kuku, not many would have pegged them as a team that could've survived the stacked Wildcard Stage since they also just added Nuengnara "23savage" Teeramahanon prior to the Major.
Hopefully the team can qualify for the next Major and play at full strength there.
Placement: 16th, Grade: C
Prior to Team Nigma's announcement that Ivan "MinD_ControL" Ivanov would miss out on the Major, many expected them to be one of the teams to survive the Wildcard and make a deep run in the tournament.
Instead, Nigma won just one game before being unceremoniously sent home. Not making it through the Wildcard was understandable, but winning just one game is baffling.
After all, Nigma's roster in the Singapore Major was still comprised of four of their players that played in the finals of The International 9.
Hopefully they can go to the next Major at full strength and play like the Nigma we all expected to see.